Welcome to the blog. I used to think blogs were a waste of time, but I think I understand one of their purposes now: sharing ideas. Well it looks like I finally have one 🙂
= More money spent. On my last bike tour, I purchased a brand new bike a few weeks beforehand. $900. I still have that bike, but now that my planned route involves a lot of trails, including the gravelly C&O towpath, I did my research and decided to go with the Surly Troll. $1700 woo! This bike appears to be able to go anywhere and that is exactly what I think I need. My original bike, a Soma Saga would certainly get the job done, but it is a road touring bike that doesn’t do as well on gravel. In case you haven’t heard of them, Surly appears to be the standard in steel touring bikes. Using their website, I was able to locate a dealer in Delaware, near my home state of Maryland. There are a few dealers in my area, but I went a little farther from home for this bike because they gave me a little discount for paying cash and no sales tax in Delaware!
I was very slow to adopt to the smart phone. I just got one last year. I suppose my reservations would be that I would get absorbed by the phone or the government would track me.
So the plan was to start early; no later than 9. However I didn’t sleep well the previous two nights so I allowed myself to catch up on sleep. So I wound up getting up at 9 and not leaving until about 11:30. I think it was worth it. I didn’t want to start the trip tired.
Ideally I have started today’s ride at 9, but 10 at the latest. I was able to get myself out of bed at 7:30, so I had a shot to start earlyish. I stayed up at my friend Allen’s place playing some bizarre video games until 11pm the night before. Probably should have gone to bed earlier, but when is the next time I will be able to play video games with a friend?
The C&O Towpath (trail) is 184.5 miles long and runs parallel to the Potomac River and the partially-completed Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. It runs from Washington DC to Cumberland MD (it never made it to the Ohio River). I have a history with this trail. On two occasions I have attempted to complete the entire trail from start to finish. Both times I failed due to poor preparation. I was overly prepared this time around.
Once you have completed the C&O canal from DC to Cumberland, you can continue directly onto the Great Allegheny Passage, or GAP for short. The GAP has a much better reputation among cyclists. The surface is crushed stone which is very tightly packed. It is also meticulously maintained. I saw crews in multiple locations either chopping up downed trees or regrading some muddy sections. They were smoothing out surfaces that were not half as bad as large stretches of the C&O.
In my haste to bike across the country, I didn’t get to stop and smell the roses very often. I couldn’t tell you much about anything I rode past. The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) trail has a ton of places to stop for nature or for touristy things. I recommend taking a 3 or 4 day tour on the GAP and you will have an easy ride with plenty to see and places to stay (you don’t have to camp).