The two basic things you need to know before you embark on any trip are where the journey starts and where the journey ends. Right now Chuck and I don’t necessarily know that; at least the detail map coordinates for our GAP and C&O ride.
I’ve spent some time researching trail sites, personal blogs and trip journals for information on trailheads and their status. An interesting thing is that this research led me back to an old dependable web resource, Yahoo Groups. I don’t use them much any more, but they are still going strong in these days of increasing social networking.
Where do we begin our ride?
Using the input I got from members of the Great Allegheny Passage Yahoo Group, we will most likely start at the Duquesne trailhead, just east of mile marker 135. It’s pretty new and brings our start a few miles back towards Pittsburgh from McKeesport, our original starting point. There is a possibility that we will be able to start near the Waterfront Mall area of Homestead at about mile marker 140. The Duquesne to Homestead trail is complete in many sections with the last section through an abandoned steelyard is under construction. If the mid June opening remains on schedule, we’ll add another 5 miles to the ride.
A friendly cyclist gave me road directions from Three River Park in downtown Pittsburgh to Duquesne. It is not a very cyclist friendly route. The roads are busy and lanes are thin. I haven’t spoken to Chuck about this option, but I personally don’t feel real safe starting my ride under the conditions the cyclist outlines in his directions.
Where do we end our ride?
Chuck and I have evolved the end point over the past month. Our initial goal was to make it to milepost 0 of the C&O in Georgetown. It then seemed better to take the bikeways to the Mall which is about 2 miles. Our current thought is to cycle to the Chesapeake Bay and Annapolis.
I also used Yahoo Groups and found the Bike Washington D.C. Yahoo Group. I posted an inquiry asking how a cyclist would get to Annapolis from the Mall. A series of responses led to a reply from cyclist who has this as his daily commute from Annapolis into D.C. He posted a detailed map and cue sheet. It looks very doable; adding about 35 miles to our trip. It uses side streets and parkways. It does travel on some highways. He gave directions to complete the ride to the bay and downtown Annapolis.
I am pretty happy with the research that I have accomplished to date. I figure it’s something I can do. I know I am going to rely on Chuck’s knowledge of what we need to be outfitted for camping and packing the right things for our diets. He has a good amount of sports nutrition training and knowledge that I do not have. It is amazing how much planning needs to go into a Week plus of touring.
My only concern about his ride is being able to complete it in the 9-10 day window that I have. Chuck and I plan on taking our time and sightseeing along the way. I think the ride is doable in 8 days with sightseeing. We’re allowing 1-2 extra days for rain or other delays. Things should fit into the time box. If we are real close, I may take an additional day of vacation to reach the end. My goal is to enjoy some chowder and crab cakes with Chuck on Annapolis’s docks on the Chesapeake Bay.