A C&O and GAP bike tour! I rode from DC to Pittsburgh on the C&O National Historic Park’s famed towpath, connecting to the Great Allegheny Passage from May 23-30, 2015.
The Chesapeake and Ohio National Historic Park towpath stretches from Washington, DC to Cumberland , MD. From there the Great Allegheny Passage connects Cumberland to Pittsburgh, PA. That’s about 330 miles of contiguous, car free bicycle touring paradise.
And it was cursed. Well, at least for me. I’ve ridden the C&O multiple times, since it’s southern terminus is practically in my backyard. And I’d ridden the GAP up from Cumberland to the summit of the Eastern continental divide… but I never had time to continue on. And Pittsburgh alway beckoned… like a siren. But we all know what happens to sailors who follow the call of the sirens, right?
In 2014 I finally had a chance to through-ride the GAP and C&O, choosing to start in Pittsburgh and bike home. That failed pretty spectacularly, with a tire blowout and some pretty fierce tendonitis. You can read more about that trip over at pedalshift.net (just search GAP and follow the aroma of failure).
The following spring, I was determined to make it happen. This time I was solo and I also chose to reverse the ride, going from DC to Pittsburgh. And the curse lifted. Sort of. I finished, but I’ll let you be the judge of whether my through rides of the GAP and C&O are cursed.
This route is one to repeat again and again. There’s so much to see, so much history… so much to love about being on a bike and away from cars and rolling deep into the wilderness.
Pedalshift Tour Journals Vol. 2: DC to Pittsburgh – Intro
The ride by the numbers
390 miles (with detours)
2 adirondack shelter nights
1 night in a hammock
1 spill led to a few bruises, a cracked iPad screen, a lot of sunblock in my hammock and a pretty scraped up leg.
1 lost and 1 recovered iPhone led to 46 additional miles. some dramatic podcast episodes and a renewed sense of humanity. For now.
1 lost pair of sunglasses, swim suit and bike undershorts
1/2 flask of whiskey and 2 beers… that’s it!
Highlights + favorites
Completing the ride itself
Podcasting the whole ride and getting real time feedback
Helping out bike tourists in need (Sam and Anthony)
The inspiration of Segway guy
Interviews with turtles… and snakes
Eating whatever I wanted
Biking through the history of the region
Not being beholden to my original schedule
Repurposing of old technology (towpaths and rail ROWs) into bike-friendly routes
Adirondack shelters and trail towns that “get it”
Lowlights + meh’s
Did I mention I lost my iPhone?
The realization that my route could be driven in 4 hours.
41 episodes in .mp3 format, 3 hours 28 minutes (includes Pedalshift Project 021)
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