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Pgh to D.C. - GAP biking partners and trip suggestions

I'm starting the process of planning a trip along the GAP and Cumberland trail to D.C. for the first time. It would be great to find others to join me instead of doing it solo. I am a beginner/intermediate biker and mostly commute and bike around the city. This will be my first biking tour. I plan on camping lightly or staying with friends along the way. I'm hoping to do this trip in July and expect to take about 5 days to get there. I'm 24 and looking for preferably someone else who is young and female to join. I'm happy to answer any questions about myself if you are interested in joining me. Also, if anyone has suggestions to help plan my trip that would be very helpful! Thanks! Lindsay
2015-05-31 13:18:49
Hi Lindsay! I have biked the whole route twice (once in each direction) and would happily answer questions if you have particular ones. There is a great booklet called Linking Up all about the trail including places to camp or stay in hotels, places to get food, and the mileage between towns. It is massively helpful in planning. Depending on your timetable, I could be down to join you on a first leg. I love Roundbottom so much! (It's about milepost 50, a good stopping point for a first day in my opinion, though you may want to go farther).
2015-05-31 14:25:05
My other suggestions kinda off the bat are: 1. Get fenders! 2. Do a practice overnight, to get used to your gear -- both the setup (stove, tent, etc- it sucks to be exhausted and unsure of how to work something), and how you do with carrying it. 3. Get stoked to eat a ton. You can eat so much on a bike trip. It rules.
2015-05-31 14:27:47
Lindsay, I am a guy but if that does not deter you I would seriously consider doing it with you in July. I have the whole month off so I am flexible with timing. I am also planning on having my partner pick me up from DC with the car that can carry two bikes. I am also looking to do it on a very limited budget so camping sounds great. We can discuss this further if you're interested but if not I understand. Alex
2015-05-31 16:08:48
I'd consider going as well, if time permits. It would be me and my 19 y/o daughter. She rode to DC last year and wants to do it again but doesn't have anyone willing to go so I offered to ride with her. A younger female crowd would be better than her old coot dad I'm sure.
2015-06-01 09:35:01
I went from Pittsburgh to DC in 2003. Here are some basic suggestions: 1. Pack light. 2. Be prepared for the unpaved C&O towpath. There were some tree roots and mud in a few spots. 3. There was a nice hostel in Meyersdale in which we stayed the first night. Not sure if it is still available. 4. We were able to buy food along the route at places like Sheetz. 5. A nice way to know if you are coming upon a town is to look for pedestrians and children on the trail. 6. There was one particularly dark tunnel along the canal. You might want to be equipped with a head light. 7. As others have said, test your bike with all of your equipement loaded.
2015-06-01 11:02:58
I recommend having good road maps for Maryland - if it rains on the C&O the roads are worthwhile. (And from Williamsport, through Antietam then down to the river, the roads are good and the detour roads you'd have to take anyway are not.) I bought a Delorme Gazetteer for Maryland and it really saved my butt. Even the dirt roads. AND elevations, too! I cut out the pages I might use and carefully packed them in a plastic bag, then sent the book home. I've never left the GAP while travelling. I had to wait half a day just East of Ohiopyle once. I couldn't even climb the slopes on foot to get around the construction, much less get a loaded bike through. I really thought I'd get on the road to keep from waiting a bunch of hours, but it's 10 miles with about 200 feet rise on the trail. On the roads, it's 23 miles with a 1400 foot rise (and 1200 foot drop). Just thinking about that made me so hungry, I stopped at an Ohiopyle restaurant and ate 4000 calories while I waited I recommend having a headlight - if there is any reason you're oon the trail after dark, it really is dark. I also planned my trips to have a waxing moon - it's up when the sun goes down. Make sure you train well enough for your plans. (Depending on how much type 2 fun you want on the trip.) I trained with three weekly workouts - one distance (sundays!), one hill interval and one 40 mine to an hour pacing. You probably wanbt your distance workouts to be 20% longer than your average daily distance on the trip. It's 335 miles. In 5 days, your average is 67 miles, you want to have a couple distance workouts that are over 80 miles. If that is too much, maybe you want to add days to your trip. I tried to do the trip in 5 days once when my distance workouts had been 45 miles. On the trip I ended up averaging 45 per day. (Isn't that a coincidence!?) One day I did almost 80 miles . "I'm getting this now! I'll make it!" The next day I did 30 miles and slept next to the trail without a tent in a non-camping zone 10 miles from my motel reservation. I had thought that because I was a year-round transportation rider that I was tougher than that. But afterwards, I did the math - I ride 20 to 30 miles a week, mostly in the relatively flat East End. Not good enough. If you are untrained now, the best thing you can do is hit yourself hard every other day from now until you leave. Recovery days speed the process.
2015-06-01 11:54:10