Plotting a course

Earlier this week Chuck and I set down to map out our GAP and C&O trip. We’ve tossed emails around and chatted about the possibilities of miles per day and overnight stops. It seemed to be a good time to really look at this tour in a little more detail.

We spent over two hours analyzing maps, checking web sites and reading guidebooks. I think we came up with a pretty practical approach to tackling the ride. We decided to set targeted overnight stops and on many nights we set stretch goals. We know where we want to spend more time and looked for opportunities to get ourselves a little farther ahead to accommodate some leisurely time at these destinations.

Chuck and I are both history buffs and look forward to visiting Civil War sites such as Antietam and Harper’s Ferry. We are hoping to do some kayaking on the Potomac. Ideally, we want to spend a day in D.C. Add to this, we are both photographers. As you can see, there is a balancing act of moving forward while allowing ourselves to stop to smell the roses.

The biggest problem we face is the unexpected. We are both novice bicycle tourists. Our stamina of cycling 40-60 miles a day for 8-9 continuous days has not been put to a test. We have 100 miles of constant uphill cycling facing us in Pennsylvania. These all add up to one big unknown when plotting our days and nights on the trail.

Right now we plan on crossing the GAP in 3 days. We’ll spend our first night in a commercial campground, the second in a hostel and the third at our friend Aaron’s apartment. We’ll take 5 days to cross the C&O. We will camp on 3 nights, stay in a B&B one night and a hotel on the final night. If we are on schedule, we’ll spend a day in D.C. before pressing on to Annapolis on the final day.

We are both going into the ride knowing that this is a vacation. We don’t plan on making our lives miserable. We will cycle until we are tired or just want to call it a day. We plan on doing some sightseeing and side trips to points of interest. We are not on a strict schedule but will keep our eye on how we can make it to our finish line in the time allotted. I think our planning affords us with opportunities to do all of this.

As Chuck told me yesterday, “He needs time to digest it all.” I could not agree more. I think we are going to have to be quite flexible once we are on the bikes. The first few days will tell us a lot about the practicality of the goals we have set. Schedules and stops may change. Mother Nature may toss us a curve ball. We’ll just keep pedaling along knowing that it is a vacation.

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