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VeloDCity: a Washington Area Bicycling Group Message Board › Pittsburg ride??

Pittsburg ride??

A former member
Post #: 2
I have biked to Cumberland MD twice now, the last time solo, in two days. I would like to suggest a multiday ride to Pittsburgh along the C&O canal/ATA/Steel trail. I have not worked out the details, but would suggest camping along the trail. Ideally I would like to do this unsupported (ie. if you can't pack it in the paniers then you don't need it).

From George town to Pittsburg is 400miles, Cumberland is 187miles. I plan on 80-100miles/day.

Any interest here in the group?

Ian
Gregg
85632542
Group Organizer
Washington, DC
Post #: 37
Hey Ian,

Thanks for the post. That sounds like a great adventure. Would you be interested discussing the details of your trip at an upcoming meeting. There are many of us who would love to learn about the details such as planning, equipment, safety, etc.

gregg
Rob
user 2849637
Alexandria, VA
Post #: 1
I've been thinking about this exact ride for a while now and would love to go sometime. I went to school in Pittsburgh, so I'm comfortable with the area and the city. This will exceed my current longest ride by about 50 miles (which was also an unsupported camping trip, done in 3.5 days), and will definitely include more long distance inclines. I'm not quite back into that shape yet, but when I am count me in.

The ride FROM Pittsburgh might also be a good option - just take the train out to Pittsburgh with bike, and ride back. It's definitely a lot less intense (more downhill than up) and you might get more participation. Also means that when you're done you're home (which from experience is a great feeling).
A former member
Post #: 3
Rob/Gregg
I'm up for doing the Pitts-WDC direction, and also meeting up with the group and discussing what I found works for me. Maybe Rob can also. I found I always take to much stuff and end up not using half and forgeting the little things (tarp, flashlight batteries, spare spokes etc) and the fleece, 5 cans of pilchards...1 was enough. and the books....need a flash light and to bloody tired after 90miles on crushed rock trails.
Ian
Rob
user 2849637
Alexandria, VA
Post #: 2
I probably took too much stuff on my ride from Chicago to Cincinnati (my longest ride to date and the one I alluded to in my earlier post), but I have a whole lot of ideas for what to bring (and what not to bring) the next time. I must admit I took the easy route and bought all of my food and drink (except gel packs) along the way - so I wasn't hauling enough gear to survive out in the wilderness. My path took me through cities and towns on purpose for this reason. It also afforded me the option of staying in a hotel if camping just seemed too much trouble - though I stayed in a hotel the first night after riding 40 miles through the driving rain, and learned that it's really not all that much of a benefit if you choose a cheap little no-tell motel (however you do meet a lot of interesting personalities that way). I ended up staying at campgrounds along the way instead of side-of-the-road camping, and while certainly more costly, the ammenities are enough to justify it if it's an option. I like to ride and I like to camp, but after riding 100 miles in a day, I don't particularly feel the need to "rough it" in the evening if I don't have to :)

I'd never done a multi-day trip before that one so I was winging it - my Dad ended up having the bright idea to head to the laundromat to wash/dry my clothes along the way. That taught me that bringing too many clothes is also unnecessary if you'll be near a city or town.

I also didn't ride at night so while I brought lights, I didn't use them, and I could probably plan future rides to stick to daylight hours. If I did bring a light for the bike I'd probably bring a helmet light that I could use while camping (learned this from friends when we went biking/camping in Wisconsin).

I'm sure some of these things are obvious, but I learned most of them (and far more) on the fly or by necessity - so at least it's satisfying to know from experience. Later rides were more efficient - but I think every ride is fundamentally unique in some way, and it's important to plan your packing carefully - you don't have to solve all your emergencies yourself, just know what your limitations, circumstances, and options are at all times. For the record, don't count on being able to buy anything bike related on a Sunday outside of a major city - unless you can get it from WalMart :)

I look forward to talking more about past and future long rides, they're probably some of the most satisfying and educational experiences I've ever had.

-Rob
A former member
Post #: 1
i did this ride, starting from pittsburgh. or most of it, i got caught in a blizzard at harpers ferry and wasn't able to continue as the snow kept packing between my brakes. if i was smart i would've taken the brakes off - oh well. anyway, the great allegheny passage is mostly limestone and turns to crap if it's been raining a lot, but that shouldn't be a problem now. lots of places to camp along the way, free firewood, potable water and bathrooms at most sites, and in most of the towns there'll be a grocery store or a deli somewhere close by. ohiopyle is gorgeous and especially recommended. it's a gradual climb up to cumberland, i think about 3000 feet. sometimes there are issues with trail closure around big savage mountain. on the c&o side there are hiker-biker sites almost every 10 miles. there's a 20 mile paved surface near harpers ferry, so you can make up some time there. there's that scary tunnel where you're walking in pitch black for a few hundred feet and all you can hear is dripping water. i didn't enjoy that.

i did it alone carrying a sleeping bag and a one-man tent, never had issues. people told me they saw bear tracks in the snow, but i didn't see any bears. a few deer, and i got chased by some dogs but they couldn't keep up with this stallion. (actually it was kind of scary and i really wished i had brought some pepper spray.) i met a couple biking from cleveland to florida on a tandem and we shared a hotel room in cumberland. when i got caught in the blizzard i was fortunate to find a couple (steve and mary) who run a bed and breakfast in little orleans, just off the trail. they are the nicer pair ever and they'll take you out to show you some incredible mountain views. their patronage is highly encouraged (and inexpensive - about $40/night).

as far as coming back the chinatown bus now has service to and from pittsburgh. i believe bike policy is "allowed in a box," but it depends on the line and i haven't researched it. you can get the amtrak on penn avenue in pittsburgh and policy is $5 surcharge to carry the bike, but you need to call in advance.

i would be up for doing the trail again (maybe when it's slightly cooler than now), but i'd be also interested in going somewhere else. new york, maybe? or down to north carolina?
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