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A Solo Bike Tour of the C&O Towpath
Going fully self-supported on the C&O
Intention is to carry everything I need for 4 full days
Round trip to my cabin in WV and back – about 65 miles per day
Will have a roof over my head for night 2
I had previously scheduled vacation for 3 days, but I’m going to knock it to 2 and go into the weekend
I will be starting in DC and given a few factors, ending in DC is easier on family dynamics than ending in WV and having Kimberly drive out herself with all the dogs and cat
We’ve been doing essentially long weekends at the cabin, but are looking to shift to be in WV more than DC for the near term… and this helps facilitate that
What’s the C&O looking like?
Great question. I haven’t been riding it much but it’s been an exceedingly mild winter so trail conditions are likely solid
There’s a low-level water crossing at MM52 that by all accounts is just fine
Rain hitting the trail before I ride so I expect it to be a little wet, but nowhere near the mud bog it could have been
Water is out at the campsites so I’ll need to haul my own and fill at the limited taps along the way
I expect the trail to be unusually busy by day users near DC, Great Falls, Brunswick and Hancock but very, very quiet otherwise. Could be wrong, but I’m guessing I’ll be the only camper out there.
Tuned up the Safari and it’s good to go. It needs some work after, which I’m looking forward to getting at my LBS.
I’ll be riding heavy for three reasons
- I’m bringing my big stove because of the emphasis on cooking and cleaning (huge green propane cylinder – the “green dragon” I’ve called it)
- Lots of food and water to avoid needing to go to the limited options (Point of Rocks and Brunswick are the only truly easy access points in this section of the trail after leaving the DC area
- Layers and wet weather gear – looks like I will definitely have rain and the temp swings from early morning to late afternoon mean wool layers and full rain gear
Probably two dry bags (why not!)
Considered dragging the trailer for this one, but the low water crossing makes that a hassle. Maybe next time.
No Belle Starr for this one… looks like conditions are a little too adverse for her narrow comfort range!
multitool and tool bag
Cook kit and Green Dragon stove
Camp soap and cleaning towel
Coffee kit (aeropress or drip? Not sure)
Rain jacket and hood
socks x2 (smart wool and waterproof)
toiletry bag (incl. ibuprofin, caffeine and electrolyte pills)
hats (cold hat plus ball cap)
batteries and cables (new wireless charging battery)
Headphones (wired and Airpods)
water bottles x3
Block of cheese
What are the rules on this one?
Barring emergencies or mechanicals I can’t overcome, I’m not going into towns or shops – I think one could in these social distancing times but reducing to zero is best across the board.
If I run into folks on the trail I’ll interact as usual, just from a distance. Especially in camp.
Night 2 will be at the cabin, particularly if the ride ends up being wet.
While it’s no Missing Link tour of Southern CA, this is a trip I’ve always wanted to do… a round trip to my cabin using no fossil fuels, and just my two legs and a bike.
SprocketShift Happy Hour
Hey, let’s have a drink together! The next SprocketShift Happy Hour is TBA. More information on how to join here and watch the last two we’ve done.
As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like The Kessel Run and The Missing Link bike tours! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at pedalshift.net/society.
Mark Van Raam