PGH to DC solo trip. will i live to see next week?
EXTREME crotch agony
this is the name of my new band.
What did you find objectionable about the people of Cumberland?
thanks for the write-up.
gonna be doing this (well, at least most of it, we’re gonna start in ohiopyle and work our way to DC) in a couple weeks.
couple quick questions:
1) you mentioned being cold a few times. are you prone to being cold or was it really cooling off that much at night? i do often tend towards being cold, so i’m trying to figure out what i want to pack to keep warm at night.
2) which williamsport detour did you do? the “official” one or the 63/632 one posted above?
we’re doing a test ride this weekend — boston to confluence on saturday, camping at the Outflow campground and then riding back on sunday. this’ll test our ability to do multiple 60+ mile days. stoked.
FWIW I had no problem staying warm enough with a sleeping bag & a hammock (which should be cooler than a tent) a few weeks ago on a trip through the same area. It does cool off enough to definitely need the sleeping bag.
BTW in Cumberland the Inn at Walnut Bottom is good. Though when I stayed there a few years ago it wasn’t quite as nice as several years ago. Also nice place to pause before the hell of the C&O.
Guys, bees give you a head bump when they feel threatened. It’s a warning (it’s not a mistake and bees don’t get disoriented — they do it with purpose) and it’s well before they are going to sting. Just move away (30 feet is often enough) but do it “smoothly” no “hands flying around”, no running.
So glad i got on the bike board and saw a Venture Bros. picture..haha score.
it was cold at night because it’s in the mountains, which i failed to think about and didn’t pack anything warm. yes, even in july it gets plenty chilly at night. a sleeping bag would be good but takes up lots of space. a pair of sweatpants and sweatshirt is plenty.
i did the official detour. it’s really pretty and i always exaggerate hills. they’re not god-awful, i’m just a wussy.
the people of cumberland wouldn’t leave me alone about my tattoos, which was one thing i was looking forward to about the trip; not talking to people about my tattoos.
Ditto the chilly nights. We camped in Connellsville and Rockwood, both nights ended up being around 55 degrees. I wouldn’t bring anything lower than a 45 degree sleeping bag though. It was warmer once we camped along the potomac, but it still got pretty cool at night.
I don’t think I want to do this ride if spiders are involved. There will be a lot of irraional crying on my part. Great job on doing the ride solo! Glad you made it safey. I am glad you wrote about it. When I did the Philly to Pittsburgh thing, my lady parts hurt so badly. I understand your pain.
fun butt-pain update! i’ve developed a pilonidal cyst. check it out on webmd, and then revel in the fact that you know something terrible about my butt. but not just MY butt, potentially anyone’s butt that tackles the C&O on a road bike. the most important lesson that i have learned, i think, is that a good pair of bike shorts are essential. i saved my good shorts for the last two days, but the damage was already done. it’s worth it to own several pairs of good, expensive as hell bike shorts if you’re going to lay some pain down on yourself.
Awesome write-up! I read it with great excitement. I’ve thought about taking this huge leap and just taking two weeks off and taking my time on this ride. Someday for sure. Or i will join a group sometime next year on it.
two weeks would be awesome. enough time for really exploring the woods. group rides are rad, but the nice thing about going solo is you can stop and smell the roses when you want, and since there’s nobody around to complain to, you complain way less.
If it makes you feel better, people tend to be predisposed to pilonidal cysts if you were born with certain anatomy, if I remember correctly, so even a cross country car ride may have caused it at some point for you. My anatomy is a little funny in that area as well, and sometimes I get irritation from nothing apparent, but it usually heals up before it gets too painful or becomes a problem. Hope it gets better for you.
I’ll just add that you’re not the only one that has experienced the fun of a pilonidal cyst. It is influenced by heredity. My only advice is to take care of it as soon as possible!
I’ve had mine operated on twice in 10 years. (now you have too much information)
My only advice is to NOT look up that term using Google images. Seriously.
I’ve learned to never look up ANYTHING medical using Google images, since the top results are usually the grossest, worst-case scenario pictures of whatever it might be.
@parvipica – I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing a pilonidal cyst in the past. It was not cycling related though, and didn’t exist in the zone where my saddle would touch. Definitely not a fun experience.
I was a Senior in high school, had to sit on a foam donut in class for a month, great popularity enhancer for sure.
I luckily didn’t have any saddle related issues on my DC trip, but I also used chamoise butter very liberally and put on fresh shorts daily. I’m no conservative, watching my butt butter budget on a long trip.
i definitely think having a busted tailbone in the first place set me up for getting this cyst. i broke my tailbone in middle school so it’s all wonky and crooked.
i, too, was quite liberal with the chamoise butter. some days i had to wander into the woods to slather it on, as i was sharing a campsite with forty boy scouts. haha, i didn’t want to ruin any misguided ideas they had about women or cyclists by being really immodest with my buttered-up adult diaper-esque shorts.
we do gross things for the sport we love.
@parvipica – Just wanted to say thanks for the great journal write up. It was a great read and I enjoyed your sense of humor.
We (myself, a friend, and his son) are leaving in a few weeks to do the same ride. Been planning it since last year. Can’t believe it’s almost time to go! can’t wait…anyway…thanks again for writing that. Gave me something to do while I’m waiting to leave!!!
Spiders. Overnight, the spiders string webs across the C&O towpath. Sometimes you get the full elaborate orb with the spider hanging out in the center. Riding along, you will catch a glint in the morning sunlight and put your head down so that you don’t get a face full. Eventually, you have webbing all over your helmet. Sometimes you’ll be able to see the spiders hanging in mid air and stop before you run full into the web. You can usually get around or under it without disturbing it, leaving a faceful for the next cyclist to come along. That thing you feel on the back of your neck is a spider that hitched a ride when the web wrapped around your helmet.
This is actually fairly common on any trail but canals attract more bugs so canal towpaths attract more spiders.
Yes, and there are also the really large spiders that will occasionally snare an unwary cyclist bike and all, lifting him up into the trees, with the bike crashing back to the trail as the cyclist’s screams fade.
Also, Paw-Paw Tunnel’s canal side conceals an ancient octopus-like creature that will occasionally reach up an suck a cyclist off the trail, leaving their bike behind. Locals make a good business out of retrieving these bikes and selling them.
I honestly don’t know what’s more disturbing, spiders or anal cysts. Probably the former, actually. I know it’s irrational but I’d probably rather have an ass-cyst than to run into a spider web. But it sounds like you can have both. ugh.
eeeeew it’s not an anal cyst! it’s just near my buttcrack… there’s a difference.. heh.
And people thought the thread about peeing in washing machines got weird…
hey all, i did this ride again this summer. i wrote another journal if anybody wants to waste an hour of their life reading it. went from dc to pgh this time, and parts of the trail that were closed last year were opened up and niiiiice! much less bitching about butt pains in this year’s journal. i learned from last years mistakes, for sure ^___^ (enzo’s buttonhole cream is the BEST)
please enjoy! http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/10857 new journal begins on page twelve
Might’ve taken an hour but it wasn’t a waste. A great read! Excellent photos, too, especially the panoramas.
Excellent trip report, thank you for writing it down. The more people put trip reports out there, the more normalized these adventures become.
I’d like to ask a question, if I may. It seems like you had a much better trip in 2013 relative to 2012. Would you comment on: how much of that is due to direction of travel vs. having more GAP-C&O experience in 2013?
Second question, would you share the address of the place you found the wine? I’d like to have that in my notebook, a bottle of wine on the trail sounds like a great option to have.
Thanks, great trip report. V.
Great writeup, thanks for sharing! Gotta do this some day!
One thing that surprised me was how you mentioned several times that day 3 from Hancock to Cumberland was “quite uphill”, “constant rising elevation”, etc. But the elevation chart suggests the C&O only climbs about 100 feet in that whole 60 mile section. Maybe that was the heat?
@Steven, there’s a bit of climbing to get up and out of Hancock. There are also little hills at each of the locks. Otherwise, it’s relatively flat. Most take the W. Maryland rail-trail instead of the C&O for the first (twenty?) miles.
I really hated that section and will seriously consider taking roads between Hancock and Cumberland in the future. Amusingly, I lost my camera on that portion and got us on reddit…
When I’ve done the trip, I stayed at Bed and Breakfasts.
I have an aptitude for eating French toast.
It isn’t hard to do the trip with a roof over your head every night.
I really don’t like the C&O canal trail and would recommend avoiding it whenever possible. The WMRT is a fine alternative for as long as it runs. And the section of the C&O that parallels it has gotten more overgrown as cyclists have diverted to the WMRT.
I’m planning to ride the Pgh-DC trip again maybe next year and will try to find an alternative to the C&O trail.
Drewbacca wrote:I really hated that section and will seriously consider taking roads between Hancock and Cumberland in the future.
Once when it was raining and had heavy mud, I took the Oldtown-Orleans road.
Not issue free. Much climbing. Unpaved roads with serious washboards at the bottom of the rollercoaster hills so you can’t keep momentum.
@Mick, that’s good to know.
I would probably take Oldtown from Cumberland to the PawPaw tunnel, the trail through there because I like the tunnel’s weirdness, and then hop on the WMRT through to Big Pool, follow roads through Antietam, and maybe rejoin the C&O trail some place after Harper’s Ferry. I think it gets to be in better shape as you get closer to DC but I’m not sure where.
@vannevar- I think my extra experience made this year’s trip easier, but I really feel getting the c&o out of the way first, then enjoying the GAP had a lot to do with it. The wine place was somewhere in ohiopyle. I’ll try to look up the address for you.
@steven- as far as Pittsburgh cyclists go, i’m a terrible climber. A real wimp. I wrote the journal with all honesty, so when it felt like a climb, that’s what I wrote. Because it’s mostly a personal journal that I choose to share online, I describe things exactly how I feel them, and include notable dreams haha!
@ everybody- thanks for reading and enjoying! I know it gets real wordy, especially the day I found the man sleeping on the trail, but it’s such a great experience. I like being able to tell yinz all about it! I’d love to get a group ride together just to Husky Haven in the fall, because it’s probably crazy beautiful when the leaves are changing. Who’s in?
parvipica wrote:I’d love to get a group ride together just to Husky Haven in the fall, because it’s probably crazy beautiful when the leaves are changing. Who’s in?
That would be, like two days in each direction? (At least, for me it would be.)
I’m interested, but it might be more fun to just go to the Dravo Cemetary coampground. We did that for the solitice and it worked pretty well.
i’ve been thinking of heading to dravo cemetery for an overnight camp trip with some friends some friday night. does anyone have a feel for how crowded it might be around there? i don’t want to get there and have no place to set up.
When we went for the solistice it was way more crowded than I’ve seen it before, but there was still plenty of room for our 5 or 6 more tents.
I doubt that it would be more crowded in the off-season.
Plenty of room there in the less-groomed meadow SE of the toilets, so that even if occupancy doubled, you could likely get a space with some privacy.
Maybe if things keep growing that will change in a year or two.
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