95 days… It’s hard to believe that Chuck and I will be departing on our Gap/C&O Canal Trail cycling journey in just a little over three months. The constant planner and organizer that I am, I’ve been reading just about any cycling touring journal on the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Trail that I can find on-line. I’ve read the official printed trail guide a couple of times. I am becoming more comfortable with the ride as I become more knowledgeable.
This trip has really opened my eyes to touring by bicycle. There are some good web sites where people share their personal touring journals and their knowledge on touring. I like Crazy Guy on a Bike. Although not real glossy, it has some of the best journals. These web-base diaries are perhaps the most helpful thing I have found-to-date on traveling long distance via bicycle. There is nothing like reading a person’s real life experiences on the trail. Most people are brutally honest. I especially like journals where people admit to things they did wrong. It helps me not make the identical mistake.
Since our trip will be self-supported, I’ve been trying to figure out what to pack for this journey. I’ve found some pretty thorough lists on the touring web sites. It takes some planning when you factor in the weight you add to your bike on a week plus trip. From most of the journals I have read, it will be somewhere around 40 pounds. One thing that has become evident to me is that you pay more for the convenience of lightweight and compact supplies. I found a good review on backpacking sleeping bags and found a recommended bag that compacts down to a small roll at a good price on Amazon. I will rely on Chuck’s knowledge and advice on most items.
I’ve begun the process of outfitting the Kona Dew Plus for the ride. I was lucky to have Andy at Blimp City Bikes do some good research for me on a front rack and panniers. I ordered them Saturday. Ouch to the price, but I know it’s an investment in quality outfitting. Luckily, I have a rear rack and bag with panniers. I hope that Chuck and I can distill down our supplies list in the next month so that we can have a good idea of our load for the ride.
The main thing I need to do is get my cycling endurance up over the next three months. We’ll most likely be cycling 40-50 miles a day with fully loaded panniers. The obvious thing I need to do is get my ride distance up. A recommended practice from experienced touring cyclists is to make as many practice rides as possible fully loaded with the same weight we plan to carry. Nothing would be worse than to show up in Pittsburgh, load our bikes and then take off and not being able to have a good ride.
I plan on posting weekly and possibly more frequently as I prepare. It is amazing how much preparation a 7-10 day self-supported cycling trip takes. Most of the upcoming posts will be about outfitting, planning and training. I am hoping that I can learn a lot from Chuck and his training and planning experiences from running and marathons. I know he has some good knowledge about nutrition and pacing oneself for an extended period of time.