The Pedalshift Project 144: Tour Journals Vol. 12: Great Allegheny Passage by Brompton, Takeaways

The Great Allegheny Passage is arguably one of the premier bicycle touring routes in the eastern half of the United States. It stretches from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD over a gloriously mountainy 150 miles of crushed limestone paralleling some of the great rivers of western Pennsylvania. My plan was to grab a cheap bus to Pittsburgh and grab the train home at the end of my ride. On this edition of the Journal, my takeaways from a short but sneakily fun tour.

The Pedalshift Project 144: Tour Journals Vol. 12: Great Allegheny Passage by Brompton, Takeaways

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The Journal: Brompton Great Allegheny Passage tour, takeaways

Watch the GAP by Brompton video

  • Next week is a best of… it’s a good one too, so stay tuned!
  • Pedalshift LIVE is coming in December! Friday, 12/7 at 9pm ET. It’ll be the holiday party pod put out the following week if you can’t make it. But you should come. pedalshift.net/live
  • If you missed it, check out the brand new Tour Journals Vol. 12 video over at YouTube – I did a hastily organized live premiere last week as an experiment, and I think I’ll do that for more videos in the future… just with more lead time!
  • Speaking of… here’s the takeaways episode for the GAP tour by Brompton!

General takeaways

  • Calling a tour before you want to is not fun, but it’s also not failure
  • You can prep for everything and still not be ready
  • Transitioning between heat and cold is jarring… it’s easier to handle cold when you’ve been exposed to it for a while
  • Inspect your gear – I had two critical issues with my wet/cold gear 
  • Know your bailout points in advance – if you’re hit with a deadline (say, a train in an hour) you have a better idea on what your choices are when you need to make a snap decision.
  • Or… go with the flow. I could have done a zero. I could have tried biking and either pushed through or turned back. I’m happy with my choice when I woke up warm on Sunday morning and saw it was 26F in Cumberland, imagining the awfulness of getting out of my bag! 😉

Brompton-specific takeaways

  • I’m not sure I’ll do the backpack method again unless there’s a need for a backpack
  • This setup carries almost as much as my light setup on the big bike, which is amazing
  • Keep things low on trails – spin more than press when you’re pedaling without coasts
  • Heal strike fixed?
  • Tires were fine on the trail, but less so on wet portions (evergreen statement)
  • I think 60 miles as a max is a good target for me on the Brompton
  • Security – the triangle is very small, so it’s hard to lock up

GAP takeaways

  • Off-season is so great. Quiet, beautiful.
  • Signage has improved greatly where it once was dodgy. Didn’t need Google maps once!
  • Surface was largely excellent, a few muddy spots, but no big deal.
  • Camping is really plentiful between Connellsville and PGH. 
  • Connellsville was spectacular… nobody else camping, no issues, amazing amenities.
  • PGH was great – I recommend Southside Traveler’s Rest if you want to stay a night. So close to a lot of amenities and fun, bike friendly, great bang for the buck and literally blocks from the trail.

Pre/post tour travel-specific takeaways

  • Megabus – It worked just fine but unless your bike is small or boxed I doubt they’d take you (please let me know if you’ve had success with them with a full-sized bike). This is in contrast to Bolt Bus, who at least considers taking full-sized bikes
  • Amtrak, as it has been in recent years, is a breeze with a Brompton
  • Duffle I recommend is by Stansport  I’ve used it for all types of travel. It never gets a blink when checking in any mode of transit and it’s enormous. It’s bulletproof canvas and rolls up small enough to carry or layer on the bottom of the rack for the dry bags to lay on. 
  • If you served in the military and have a duffle or have access to an Army-Navy surplus store, you might find a good value too.
  • Be mindful that carrying all of your gear in a duffel is awkward and heavy. It’s a testament to how efficient bicycles can carry the weight!

Errata

  • Dude, I’m barely coherent. Courtesy of Twitter @stopitbrrruce:
  • Dusquene University, not in Dusquene… apparently it’s kind of a rough town
  • River I was following out of PGH was the Mon, not the Allegehny (I think I really knew that, but just blew it in the moment)
  • Mea culpa!

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