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Reply to C&O MD to DC - fatty on a fatty in 4 days?

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dcswindler4 from Culpeper, VA on 2/4/2020 1:04:13 PM:
Hey everyone, Just want to get your opinions. I'm thinking about doing the C&O from Cumberland to Georgetown in early July (weekend after Independence Day) Saturday to Tuesday on a fat bike pulling a modified bob ibex trailer (fatty on a fatty, I'm 34, 5'-6", 215lbs, muscular build that can benefit from some sit-ups and less beer). I've never done any long distance riding, I'm usually limited to riding only a hour at a time due to my schedule and can do 8-12 miles in that hour fairly easily (assuming 6mph average on the trail). Planning it right now as a solo trip with the possibility of a friend joining if hes in town that time frame (he has a 27.5 giant MTB...a Talon 3 maybe). Planning to camp each night at H/B sites. Do you think I am allowing enough time to complete the trail for someone with limited distance training? Just train more and get more saddle time? Should I reconsider? Thoughts?

Tom from Robinson Twp on 2/4/2020 2:39:02 PM:
If you have given it this much thought, you know you have to do it. At 34 yrs old you can overcome any obstacles you may run into on this trail. As you said, get some saddle time because if you don't, there will be no part of that saddle that will be comfortable to sit on come day 2. Rain and heat are two things that might slow you down in early July. Just stay hydrated and hope for good weather. Cumberland to DC is a nice easy pace for a 4 day trip. That's good because there is so much to see historically and the natural beauty of this area is something you won't soon forget. You really don't want to rush through, especially if this is your first trip. Check out a site called "Pedalshift" for a really good look at all the hiker/biker camp sites. Also, if you have access to "google earth", you can actually see what all portions of the trail looks like with their street-view option. As I said, you have to go through with this because you will regret it if you don't. I'm exactly twice your age and I'm attempting another solo DC to Pittsburgh trip in June. If I can do it, you sure can.

Rivnuts from Homestead, PA on 2/4/2020 7:32:48 PM:
I concur with Tom from Robinson's appraisal. In my opinion, the most challenging portion of the C&O is that from Cumberland to Little Orleans, especially if there has been rain and knowing you'll be towing a trailer. Just beyond Little Orleans you can switch over to the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail that parallels the C&O to approximately 11 miles beyond Hancock, MD. That is a nice respite from what could be a muddy trail. The H/B campsites are spaced closely enough that you can adjust your daily plan easily should any given day or personal condition requires it. There's plenty of daylight in June so you'll have lots of hours each day to get to you next overnight so there's no need to push hard or punish yourself. By going in June and staying at H/B camp sites don't forget to include bug spray among your packed materials.

Matt from Charlotte on 2/4/2020 9:49:05 PM:
Do your best to add a longer ride in on the weekends. it will go a long way to preparing your body for the 40-50 miles your going to want to cover each day. Beyond that, do your best to break your day into smaller rides. get up, eat breakfast, ride to second breakfast. eat second breakfast, ride to lunch... 45 miles is pretty easy to cover in bite sized pieces.

dcswindler4 from Culpeper, VA on 2/7/2020 6:13:28 PM:
Thanks for all the input. You're making me think I can actually do this. Hopefully the weather cooperates, originally I was going to try it this past April when I was between jobs for a week but the weather that week was nothing but rain, I wouldn't have been prepared anyways. My goal is to get at least to Little Orleans the first day to set the pace, anything above that will be an ego boost and make the following days a little shorter. If that section will most likely be the hardest part, even better. I'll definitely have bug spray, did a beach biking/camping trip down in False Cape last year and the bugs were ridiculous, bug spray was worth more than gold that weekend. Thanks for letting me know about Pedalshift. Looks like a good resource, and I've starting listening to his podcast. I'm hoping to leave a vehicle near the end at Georgetown but not sure if I should spend a couple hundred for a spot for a couple days close by or price out areas a little further out like across the key bridge and ride there, maybe leave it at a metro station and take the metro? Not sure about riding the metro with a fatbike and a bob trailer though. Any recommendations?

Matt from Charlotte on 2/9/2020 6:35:51 PM:
if your up for a short ride from G-Town, consider leaving your vehicle in longterm parking at Ronald Regan airport. <6 miles via Mt Vernon Trail. you can park an offsite lot for around $10 per day. you can even pre-book your parking at https://spothero.com/washington-dc/dca-airport-parking

BBiker from Reston, VA on 2/10/2020 12:20:54 PM:
DCSwindler....I'm also a "larger framed" biker, 5'11" and 225, muscular, late 40s and a friend and I have twice ridden the Pitt to DC Gap trail and C&O in 4 days. The first trip, the most I ever rode was 20mi in a day and we were putting in average of 75mi/day. We don't pretend to be even average lever bikers, but wanted to see if we could do it...The 2nd trip, I trained better...with the longest training being a 40mi/day... Like someone else said, you would benefit from some longer distance training, and the longer daylight hours in July will help, as avg days were about 9-10 hrs for us. Cumberland to DC is definitely doable in a 4-day time-frame. Weather was hot, but shaded and we didnt have any rain. The washed out bridge/trail at Brunswick was passable on foot by shouldering the bike and tiptoeing across the rocks to the other side. The trailer might be more difficult unless you made 2 portages. Good Luck!

Rick from Grafton, Va on 2/20/2020 3:51:52 PM:
I've biked the C&O on my Monster Gravity Fatbike. It was a great ride. I used panniers (no trailer). The bike handled the terrain very well. We averaged 35-45 miles with 1 shorter day that had us stay overnight in Harpers Ferry so we could get a shower. We completed the route at Great Falls the following day. Fat bikes are a great option for the trail. I do a bunch of rides on various rail trails and if you'd like to contact me feel free. athiker80@cox.net

dcswindler4 from Culpeper VA on 6/25/2020 9:59:03 AM:
Where around Grafton do you ride? I have an uncle in Gloucester Point I visit a couple times a year. It's official, I'm going to try the trip so if anyone sees me on the trail (Felt fatbike with a heavily modified Bob Ibex trailer) July 11-14 going east, a word of encouragement will be greatly appreciated. Still trying to figure out the logistics of getting to Cumberland, may need to bribe my brother to drop me off Friday night and camp out at the YMCA in Cumberland to get an early Saturday start. Also still debating on leaving my car in Rosslyn or Reagan airport

dcswindler4 from Culpeper VA on 7/12/2020 5:56:01 AM:
Got an early start from the YMCA yesterday, struggled but camped at Licking Creek at MP117...got my first metric century. Planning the next 3 days as 40 milers. Not sure my butt or quads could handle longer days to make it by Monday. Scattered Thunderstorms the next 2 days also will make it harder. This is much harder than I expected

WKR from Brunswick, MD on 7/12/2020 6:37:48 PM:
Huh, I should've looked at this before I went out riding today. I went out and back brunswick to sharpsburg and did see a rider on a fat bike pulling a trailer. If that was you does that mean you went more than 40 miles today? I didn't make it to MM77.

dcswindler4 from Culpeper VA on 7/12/2020 7:04:05 PM:
It was probably me. Was I lying down gasping for air? I did go further... currently stranded just after the trail bypass in Brunswick, cassette nut worked loose and I can't pedal.... anyone have the socket in the Brunswick area willing help out? I was on track to finishing tomorrow

WKR from Brunswick, MD on 7/12/2020 9:32:56 PM:
Sounds like you went a lot further. You're talking about a shimano cassette tool? I do have one of those. Send an email to k i r k r o y AT gmail.

dcswindler4 from Culpeper VA on 7/13/2020 9:32:38 AM:
Got it "tight enough" with a multi tool and camped at bald eagle. Still loose though. Going to try and limp it into Georgetown. 44 miles to go...

dcswindler4 from Culpeper, VA on 7/14/2020 4:28:23 PM:
With the thunderstorms that came through around Harpers Ferry, my shoes and padded shorts were still soaked Monday morning. I rode the first 20 miles barefoot while my shoes dried. Had to remove the rear wheel 10 miles in to re-tighten the cassette locknut again. It eventually got me to the finish line. I was able to finish yesterday, around 4:15. - Day 1 I did the ride from the YMCA to the start (1.2ish miles) then to licking creek campsite at MP116 for 68.5 miles of the trail, My first ever metric century. - Day 2 I rode to Bald Eagle campsite at MP50.3 for 65.7 miles of the trail (My 2nd metric century, back to back days). - Day 3 I finished the 50.3 miles left of the trail then another 1.75 miles to my car in Rosslyn. All said and done, it was a great trip that was much more taxing on my body than I had expected. It challenged me physically and mentally and I almost called it quits twice. Thanks everyone here for all the info and support to make it happen. -dcswindler (fatty on a fatty)

Richard from DC on 7/14/2020 7:18:54 PM:
Fatty, Thanks for telling us how it turned out. I was wondering. I think you should celebrate with Fat Tire beeer.

WKR from Brunswick, MD on 7/14/2020 8:48:10 PM:
Nice! Glad it worked out.