The Pedalshift Project 042: Offseason bicycle tour planning

With so many parts of the world shivering through winter’s icy grip, isn’t it nice to warm up to some offseason bicycle tour planning? On this episode of The Pedalshift Project we chat about some touring news, updates on my spring California coast tour and trying to keep weight off in the winter months to prepare for bike tours to come!

Offseason bicycle tour planning

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Show news

The Journal

Car free in DC this May

17 miles of DC streets are going to be car free on 5/22! First ever DC Bike Ride… should be amazing (and sadly I have a weekend trip to NC already planned so no go for me!)

C+O Bikes in Hancock, no more?

Just found out that Dennis Hudson has sold C&O Bicycle to a Hancock businessman. It is not clear weather the new owner will continue to offer sales and services; and the operation of the bunk house is in doubt also. The shop is scheduled to reopen in April of 2016 so we’ll see then what changes have been made.

Update: Rumors are circulating that there will be no bicycle mechanic on duty, no parts & accessory sales and the bunk house will be used for lawn tractor storage. My take is that the new owners really don’t know anything about the bicycle industry and just bought the store for the “space”; will make a token effort to keep the “bike shop” going but will call it quits in 2017 because “it’s not making money”…

This is terrible news. Dennis was the king of the trail. It’s been the best shop between DC and Cumberland.

Bicycle tour planning for spring

California coast this April! Pacifica to I don’t know in late April. I have a flight booked out of LAX and zero chance of getting there by all bike so this one is going to be a play it by ear ride. Definitely hitting HMB, Santa Cruz, Big Sur, SLO and then maybe some of the central coast near Santa Barbara before figuring out the best fast forward to LA to finish up. Should be fun and it looks like special touring guest MJ will be along for the ride. Looking forward to it!

4 days enough to through-ride the C+O/GAP?

It’s totally possible to do 85 miles per day, but could suck if it’s not your idea of fun. Hell, it’s possible to do the whole trail in one day (not for me, but it’s been done!). Join me on nerding out with this bicycle tour planning:

  • If I had 4 days when I was a first timer, I’d have done all C&O or all GAP.
    • 4 days on the C&O averages 46 miles per day which means you can enjoy the time, take a dip in the river if you want, and even have time in some of the towns to explore.
    • 4 days on the GAP is perhaps a little too much for riding every day, but you could stay two nights in Ohiopyle or somewhere else scenic and enjoy being outside.
  • Amtrak fast forward options westbound (assumes a pickup or car rental in PGH at end of day 4.)
    • Alt 1
      • Day 1: DC to Harpers Ferry. Leave early enough and you can ride 60 miles, cross the Potomac bridge and grab the 5:16pm train westbound. Go two stops to Cumberland and stay at the Y’s campground in town ($10) or ride back 4 miles on the C&O to the free Evitts Creek campground.
      • Day 2-4 Ride the GAP to Pittsburgh in 3 days.
      • Easier because the mileage is flexible after day 1. DC to Harpers Ferry is a very typical first day. Downside is getting a loaded bike up the staircase to cross the bridge, but people do it every day.
    • Alt 2
      • Day 1: DC to HF
      • Day 2: HF to the Hancock area
      • Day 3: Hancock to Cumberland — grab the 7:17pm train and go to Connellsville. Camp at the free adirondack shelters at the western edge of town right on the trail (behind the grocery store… very well placed!)
      • Day 4: Ride 65 miles to Pittsburgh
      • A little more aggressive but gets you more exposure to the C&O plus a night at one of my favorite free campsites on the GAP.
    • Alt 3
      • Days 1-3: Ride the C&O
      • Day 4: Do a day trip on the GAP up to the eastern continental divide (about 25 miles) and then bomb down the hill again back to Cumberland. Get picked up there or take the 7:17pm train to Pittsburgh (pick up at 11:48 pm).
      • Gives you all the C&O plus some amazing views on the GAP with a rewarding downhill return to Cumberland. There’s also a train option to take you up the hill, but I recommend riding it. The end time in PGH is late.
    • Alt 4
      • Days 1-3: C&O
      • Day 4: GAP to Rockwood
      • Day 5: GAP to Connelsville, take 9:47pm train to PGH, pickup at 11:48pm.
      • Squeezing out a 5th day if you have a really helpful and understanding partner who also can handle that late PGH pickup!

The Lab

Miles per gallon.. of olive oil!

David Merfeld on FB: Last week I saw a courier with a bag saying something like “55 miles per burrito”. That got me thinking about what our “miles per gallon” actually are. So, here goes. Olive oil is 8.8 calories per gram, and is also 911 grams per liter. Since there are 3.79 liters per gallon, what works out to 30,384 calories per gallon of olive oil. Using rough numbers from various web sites, I found that a cyclist riding 11 mph needs 379 calories per hour, or 34.45 calories per mile. Divide that into 30,384 and, and you get 882 miles per gallon. Sorry, I’m a CPA, this is just the kind of thing we do.

Revisiting weight loss

Using Lose It, an app to keep track of my calories in the off season. As I’m typically accustomed to, I gain weight when I bike less and particularly when I go more than a few months since a real tour. This is becoming a part of my winter bicycle tour planning and prep that I’d prefer not to have to do, but it’s helpful for those hills come spring! Check out my past posts on this:


The Pedalshift Project theme is America courtesy of Jason Kent off his self-titled solo album. Check out his band Sunfields‘ album, Habitat, wherever cool music resides.  I just heard Jason’s new album and it is AWESOME. More info when that drops this spring!