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bike bags - recs needed
stella from plainfield, IN on 09/03/2019 09:44 PM
Getting ready to head from Pittsburgh to DC in a few weeks - still need to pick up a handlebar bag of some sort (2 of us going - one pulling BOB trailer and one just doing bike bags). Any suggestions? This is our first time doing the route (and our first bike trip) - so will take ANY words of wisdom/suggestions (in addition to handlebar bag recommendations) folks have!

One other question - we are hesitant to plan out stops, because want to be flexible on what the weather gives us and how we feel each day to decide how many miles we will get in. Will we regret the "wing-it" approach? Thanks in advance to all who respond!!

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/03/2019 10:38 PM
Take a look at this one. I bought it on eBay. It's design is virtually identical to that of Ortlieb but at much lower cost.

RockBros Bicycle Handlebar Bag 14-15L Cycling Extra Large Capacity Bag Black

If you are camping, then there is no problem with "winging-it". You just need to know where the various camp sites are located along the trail. If you are staying indoors, you could have some issues. If you choose to wing it, I would recommend you seek out multiple lodging options along the way to insure you can find a room on short notice. Some of the options could be a way off the trail itself.

As a former Hoosier born and raised in Decatur Township and having moved to and lived in Pittsburgh for many years now, I've ridden the GAP/C&O several times and will be doing so once again the end of the month. if I can be of any assistance, including guiding your way out of Pittsburgh, or provide any information just drop me a note.

Copydoc86 from Clayton, IN on 09/05/2019 05:02 PM
I am from Clayton, Indiana, just down the road from Plainfield, I will be doing the GAP and C&O with my sister-in-law starting on September 12. We have hotel reservations along the way, and train tickets reserved for us and our bikes. I am using panniers, and a trunk bag on a rack on the back wheel.

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/05/2019 06:50 PM
Clayton indeed. I've ridden along portions of SR 39 near Monrovia and through Cartersburg while visiting family in Mooresville and Plainfield. If you'd like a guide out of Pittsburgh or even some of the local sites there, I'd be happy to meet you downtown and ride a ways down the trail to where the trail is straight forward and beyond the urban portions.

If you need any local info or details about the train back, just let me know.

Regardless, have a great trip. You'll enjoy it even more if you read a little of the histories of the GAP and the C&O before riding them.

MPM from Jax Bch FL on 09/07/2019 09:00 AM
Handlebar bag:
My favorite handlebar bag is by Jandd, one of the Touring Handle Bar Pack series. It mounts easily on most types of handlebars and has a map case on top. The only disadvantage is that it is not waterproof, but it is way cheaper than the waterproof Ortleib handlebar bags. I use a large ziplock to protect all my essentials inside the Jandd bag.
I have ridden the C&O/GAP many times, as it is by far my favorite ride (350 miler w/ NO cars!), but you must be prepared for rain. The GAP is very smooth and easy riding, with many small towns and camping opportunities. The C&O is much more of a challenge, as it is rough in many places and is no place for a road bike. There are primitive campsites every few miles and a few nice towns. You should check the website before you go for updates on washouts and other detours.

Anonymous on 09/07/2019 09:16 AM
I used the Ortlieb Ultimate 6 S Plus handlebar bag and liked it...I was able to put a mileage chart/itinerary/fact sheet in the transparent sleeve on the top, it was easy to access, held everything I needed and is waterproof (it didn’t rain on our trip so I didn’t get to really test this feature out) . I also had a Revelate Designs mountain feed bag that I LOVE! You can fit a Nalgene sized water bottle in there, but I actually kept things that I would need/want while riding, like my camera/phone, lip balm, sunglasses, snack bars, etc

Harpers Ferry spiral staircase
RW from Columbus, OH on 08/08/2019 07:21 AM
Hey riders!
I've heard a horror story regarding getting your bike and gear up a spiral staircase (which has been described as the Stairs of Cirith Ungol in Mordor) from the C&O up and into Harper's Ferry.
Can anyone give me another viewpoint?
Is this a total drag?


JK on 08/08/2019 07:35 AM
The staircase isn’t a huge deal except that you will likely need to first remove anything heavy off of your bike first. I think the stories are overrated.

ppvora from Downingtown, PA on 08/08/2019 08:17 AM
I was on the towpath from Little Orleans, MD to Harper's Ferry, WV and back toward the end of July this year. There were two instances where we had to lift our bikes and carry them up and down staircases: (1) In Williamsport MD, they are repairing the towpath and there's a detour in town over a wooden bridge. The wooden bridge has a rail on the side on which one can ride their bike up and down -- you have to angle it so that the pedals don't strike the rail. (2) In Harper's Ferry to cross the river one has to go up the bridge on the Maryland side but on the WV side there's a ramp for rolling your bike.

Neither bridge was too challenging. However, although we had heavy bikes, our panniers were pretty small and light. I saw bikers on the towpath with some serious panniers attached to their bikes that appeared to be laden with a lot of stuff. I'm guessing they would have to unhitch the panniers off the bikes and carry the bike and the panniers up separately.

In our case, we took at most 10 minutes on the bridges, so it wasn't challenging at all.

ppvora from Downingtown,PA on 08/08/2019 08:21 AM
One small addition to my previous post: in Williamsport, it is possible to avoid having to lift and carry your stuff up and down the bridge. On the south side of Williamsport, one reaches a lock just before reaching the town. You can exit the towpath at the lock to a small parking area that leads to roads into town that will allow one to go to the other end of the detour. Same thing can be done in reverse -- the lock on the south side of the town is the key to this strategy.

Ana from Durham on 08/08/2019 10:32 AM
We were coming from Cumberland to DC so we had to bring our bikes up the staircase. It looked worse than it actually was, definitely don't be discouraged! We took off our panniers and other heavy things like someone else noted, brought the bikes up, then went back down for the gear, loaded the bikes back up, and rolled into Harper's Ferry. All in all, probably took about 10 minutes. I can see how it would be more treacherous/difficult in rainy or icy conditions. Or if you were wearing cleats (we wore civilian shoes on our trip). There's a bike rack at the bottom of the staircase, and the staircase itself lets out on a bridge with a separate bike/ped path. Good luck!

Dave Gorman from Hollidaysburg, PA on 08/08/2019 04:26 PM
I think the main issue is that the bridge and staircase are metel so there may be a issue with regard to biking shoes.

SGK from Northern Va on 08/13/2019 11:49 AM
We used to bike the canal every October loaded with camping gear and never even shed our gear to carry our bikes up. I would carry my wife’s bike but it’s not really that bad a climb even with full gear. Don’t be intimidated.

Copydoc86 from Clayton, IN on 09/05/2019 05:11 PM
I was simply not going to visit Harper's Ferry when I read the description of the "spiral" staircase to get there. I have since changed my mind when I read the historical, and interesting features that Harpers Ferry had to offer. I also looked at the actual stair case on google maps. It looks like a reasonably wide stairway that wraps around a bridge support. It does not look like your typical spiral staircase. I will update my post after I have climbed the "Stairs of Cirith Ungol in Mordor" to let you know how it went!

Dave Gorman from Hollidaysburg on 09/05/2019 07:30 PM
I have done this and it is NOT Mount Everest but you should be careful if you have biking shoes as opposed to mountain biking shoes. If you take it slowly you will be fine. Plus if you have bags on your bike you can take the bags off take the bike up and then bring the bags up.

Lyn from Tuscarora pa on 09/06/2019 10:52 AM
You do not have to take the staircase and go to Harpers Ferry to continue on the C&O. You only need to drag your bike and all your stuff up the staircase if you want to go to Harpers Ferry you can continue along the path just fine without it

Richard from DC on 09/06/2019 12:22 PM
You probably shouldn't complain about taking a bike and gear up the spiral staircase. During the Civil War, Union troops hauled a 20,000 pound cannon up the road to Maryland Heights that looms above the staircase.

e-bike restrictions?
R on 07/29/2019 11:24 PM
Are there any rules or restrictions against e-bikes on the GAP or C&O?

telo from pittsburgh on 07/30/2019 07:51 AM
This subject was discussed in detail several months ago on this forum and it was determined that all types of electrically assisted devices are strictly prohibited from the C & O and the GAP trails.

Randy on 07/30/2019 08:59 AM
Is there a way to search this forum to find that discussion somewhere in the 106 pages?

Ray (webmaster) on 07/30/2019 10:18 AM
Randy that's a good point, thanks for bringing it up. In fact I do have a forum search on one of the other bike trail websites that I run (BikeKatyTrail.com).

This won't help you right now, but give me a few days and I will get that forum search feature integrated into THIS website. Then at least in the future you'll be able to do a simple search instead of digging through page after page looking for a topic.

More details soon - Happy trails!

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 07/30/2019 10:21 AM
I don't know for a fact if they are specifically restricted but I have seen them on the trail and have not seen any evidence of any attempt to enforce such a restriction. Of those that I have seen the riders are generally older and use them solely for power assistance and not speed. Any combustion engine is clearly prohibited.

The following are a couple of articles I found related to your question. The latter pertains to the Montour Trail around the south suburbs of Pittsburgh rather that the GAP Trail itself.



JK on 07/30/2019 11:11 AM
Not true

Randy on 07/30/2019 12:50 PM
JK...which comment above is "not true?"

Dewey on 07/30/2019 02:59 PM
C&O has an ebike ban because it's National Park Service who have a nation-wide ebike trail ban. GAP on the other hand does permit ebikes up to 750w source: https://gaptrail.org/plan-a-visit/trip-preparations/trail-rules

Tampa_Biker from Tampa on 07/30/2019 03:59 PM
There is a search already on the site. It is right next to the merchandise box on the top.

Also, you can do a Google search on any site by typing in the word site followed by a colon and then the website followed by a space and then the search term.

For instance, suppose you want to search all bikecando for tires. Type in the following into the search box: site:bikecando.com tires or suppose you wanted to search Trek's website for tires. Search for site:trekbikes.com tires (note: you may get advertisements too!)

I am assuming other search engines besides Google have something similar.

bike guy from robinson on 07/30/2019 04:31 PM
The 750w assist on the GAP is only good for "disabled persons", not for general use by non-disabled.

Randy on 07/30/2019 04:51 PM
@Tampa_Biker, I tried that and the search does not search the forum.

Ray (webmaster) on 08/01/2019 09:36 PM
OK, the forum search is now ready. It's on the right-hand side near the top of the forum page; look for the magnifying glass icon.

I tested it by searching electric bike (1 discussion) and e-bike (several discussions).

The topic of e-bikes has been pretty well discussed in this thread by now, but hopefully the Forum Search will be helpful for lots of other searches.

Happy trails!

Randy on 08/02/2019 11:56 AM
Thanks Ray!!!

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/05/2019 06:39 PM
As of August 30, 2019 the National Park Service has adopted a new policy that generally permits e-bikes within the national parks albeit subject to any specifically different policies of the individual parks. A search of the NPS webpage for the C&O Canal Towpath does not appear to identify any restrictions to the use of e-bikes therein.

Trail information
RonR from Barnesville PA on 08/26/2019 09:30 AM
I will be traveling on the C&O from mile zero to Cumberland MD starting on September 1st. Can anyone tell me what detours I may encounter along this route? If detours do exist what is the best way to get around them.

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 08/27/2019 05:37 AM
See the National Park Service web site for trail conditions along the C&O Towpath.

kb from bethel park on 09/03/2019 07:15 AM
Are there tunnels on the trail that lights would be needed?

bike traveler from Austin, Texas on 09/03/2019 09:26 AM
I went through all the tunnels without any lights. That said, you may be more comfortable going through Paw Paw tunnel if you have a light. It's over half a mile long and is completely dark inside. (You'll want to walk your bike throught Paw Paw regardless of whether you have a light.)

Rivnuts from Homestead. PA on 09/03/2019 03:51 PM
The Big Savage Tunnel on the GAP is long as well. I ride through it without a light but you may well feel safer with one.

Average temps mid October. Biking the 185 miles of C & O Trail
SCB from Salem, MA on 09/01/2019 04:09 PM
Looking forward to biking this trail in October, 2019. What are the average high low in mid October?


Ray (webmaster) on 09/01/2019 04:56 PM
Check the links at the bottom of this page:

...for temperature and precip averages by month.

Happy trails!

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