Posts Tagged ‘touring’

Great place to ride: The Chesapeake & Ohio canal trail

2011-10-11 by neilfein. 0 comments

The C&O runs 180 miles along the Potomac river from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC. The surface is mostly packed dirt. You don't want to ride this one with skinny road tires. I managed with 700x32 standard touring tires, but riding here is more fun with knobby tires.

I've been on the trail twice, once as part of a Pittsburgh to DC tour, the other on a shorter three-day ride. (We rode the W&OD west for a day out of DC, then turned towards the more-or-less parallel C&O and doubling back towards the district.)

It's worth noting that the C&O meets up with the GAP trail in Cumberland, which takes you pretty much all the way to Pittsburgh, PA. The two trails are popular touring destinations.

If you're starting in Cumberland, check out the Cumberland Trail Connection, a bike shop that has catered to trail users for years.

The C&O itself starts more or less in the middle of town as a brick-and-stone trail:


Once you exit town, it quickly turns into the dirt trail it will be for most of its way to the nation's capitol.


You'll ride through fields, past pastures and horse farms, and through woods. If it's rained recently, you'll also get pretty filthy. I highly recommend fenders on this trail.

When I went on the northern half of the C&O, portions of it were very overgrown. However, they've since tamed the path a bit, which I think is a shame.


Bring lights along; there are a few unlit tunnels where you'll need them.


Most water available along the trail is from cisterns, and is treated with iodine. If you'll be on the trail for more than a few hours, check the status of these with the park service. Getting stranded overnight without water is, as I can testify, no fun.


Williamsport aqueduct

Fallen tree, about four hours south/east from Williamsport. I had to take an on-road detour, and I was glad I had a GPS for that bit.

Snapping turtle on the C&O, near the great falls

If you have time, stop and see the Great Falls. It's right off the trail itself, and maybe an hour or two from the end of the trail in DC. I found it breathtaking, and well worth spending a couple of hours.


Great place to ride: Pennypack Park, Philadelphia, PA

2011-09-19 by neilfein. 0 comments

I found I had an unexpectedly free weekend, so decided on a short weekend tour. Why not, yes? I had the time and the bike and the desire for it. My route would take me through Pennypack Park on the way out of Philadelphia.

The Pennypack Park path is paved, and is quite twisty and hilly. Since the first day of the tour was characterized by rain, I had to take it easy when rounding corners. The rain became more than an annoyance perhaps a mile after entering the park, so I took shelter under the Bensalem Avenue Bridge.


While waiting, I reviewed my directions yet to come. I didn't have long until I got to Tyler State Park and the hostel there. I had no idea at the time that the rain later that day would be so poundingly, painfully thick that I'd accept the offer of a ride for the last few miles.


The park is quite beautiful. I would probably be using the modifier breathtakingly if I had seen it in the rain. Pennypack Park is only a few miles in length, but it's well worth the trip.


This guy rode his bike to the park with his fishing pole. He clearly wanted to be left alone, so I did.


The park has nearly ten miles of path, but I left the trail at Lorimer Park, a mile or so before the end. This is a good place to park if you're going to drive here.

Pennypack Park is a great place for a day's ride. You'll use your hill-climbing gears here, but the hills are all short sprints. This'd be a challenge for kids or new bikers, or a fun diversion for seasoned cyclists.

Bike touring sites

2011-07-18 by neilfein. 0 comments

Aside from Bicycles.SE, these are the sites related to Bicycle touring I like the most.

  • Crazy Guy on a Bike is home to the largest collection of bike touring journals on the planet. Many of them are worth reading, and some of them are excellent. The site started out as simply a place for site owner Neil Gunton's journal, and is now home to nearly 6,000 journals (including twenty of mine). This one about a Florida-to-Washington tour is my current favorite. The forums there are also quite good.
  • Biking across the USA by John Dorsey is a sentimental favorite of mine. It's the first tour journal I ever read and it, along with this book, was one of the things planted the idea of touring into my head. I don't know if I'll ever do a tour loger than a week or two, but I found this site inspring. (If only he would finish the last few pages!)
  • The Touring Store is my favorite place to buy racks and panniers and other bike luggage. The proprietor is extremely knowledgable about his merchandise, and genuinely wants his customers to be happy with their purchases--and also for them to buy the right stuff in the first place.
  • The Touring subforum at BikeForums is also a very good resource. I've found many of the people there to be a good source of information, and sometimes to be very inspiring.
  • Warm Showers is a shared hospitality site for bike tourists, similar to Couch Surfing.
  • Icebike hasn't been updated in years, but the site still has a lot of great information. I've consulted it when planning winter tours.

Can anyone recommend any other really top-shelf sites that should be here?