My oldest daughter Katie (who turns 15 today) and I are excited to begin training for our big vacation. We will be riding our bikes from Pittsburgh to Washington DC at the beginning of June. The ride begins in Downtown Pittsburgh and continues through Cumberland, MD, which comprises of the 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage. It then connects with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath to create a 335-mile non-motorized route between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. This vacation just might be the best ever with a some preparation and training.
Last year, the two of us escaped for a weekend, riding a 30 mile piece of the trail, where we met a great group of people along the journey. Later that evening when we rode into Confluence (our destination), we joined up with the group again at dinner and they explained that every year they all come together for this 335 mile journey. They invited us to join them for the next trip and the entire way back we talked about how fun the adventure would be. We decided to join Yockatomac Trek 2017 on the journey this year.
So now the fun part of planning and preparation begins. The team at Yockatomac is incredibly organized so all of the overnight, transportation, luggage and safety arrangements are already made. We have to focus on getting our bikes and bodies set up for the long ride. Last year Katie rode her Scott (which she has outgrown) and I rode the Trek hybrid. We had rear racks installed on both bikes and we were comfortable carrying our overnight gear.
I decided to ask Glenn at Big Bang Bikes to see if he can convert my Cervelo road bike to a gravel bike so that Katie could take the Trek. It turns out we have just enough room to fit a larger/gravel tire and have to replace the handlebars, shifters, stem and add suspension under the seat. We decided to make adjustments to the Trek hybrid to fit Katie. We should be good to go. We are both excited to get in the saddle.
As for training, I know that good ole Mother Nature will have a lot to do with the difficulty level of the trip. Riding a bike in the rain is quite a challenge, especially for a long distance. The hardest part will be the time your butt is on the seat and getting used to being able to cover 40 to 70 miles per day. The only way to practice that, is by taking the time to do it. We have about 60 days to get ready. I have a feeling we will spend a lot of time on the Butler – Freeport Trail, North Park, Psycle (spinning) and the Montour Trail. A good fitness routine, focused on the muscle groups that will be most impacted by the journey will make a big difference as well. I am hoping Bryan Stefanic at Elite Sports & Fitness in Mars can help with that. We are super excited and will post lots of pictures as we train and ride the Great Allegheny Passage.