I have been working on this for a month or so, it’s time to declare my first bike tour adventure! I am going for CO GAP 2017, riding the C&O Towpath and Great Allegheny Passage bike route.
What is the C&O Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage?
The 184.5 mile long C&O Canal Towpath Trail is located along the north bank of the Potomac River, starting in Washington, DC and ending in Cumberland, MD.
The 150-mile Great Allegheny Passage connects with the 184.5-mile C&0 Canal Towpath at Cumberland, MD to create a 334.5-mile route between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC, free from traffic and motorized vehicles
Start in Washington DC and bike to Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. This will be a combination of camping and hotel rooms by me. This is a solo effort in August.
I needed a BHAG for 2017. My first thought was a century bike ride. Then I thought of riding the GAP, from Cumberland to Pittsburgh. Then I thought, why not go for the full distance, DC to PGH.
What I Need to Learn
Goodness, this will be a long list!
More time in the saddle
Packing for a bike/camping trip
More time in the saddle
I can break these all down into smaller components. I’ve begun assembling what I need, bit by bit.I hope to bring you along as you see how I learn to get ready for my first bike touring adventure.
The BT Blitz is based around the idea of getting our trail users out to enjoy the BT during this event, but we added a twist to the celebration. We challenge our trail users to do maintenance of any kind while they are out. Our goal is to maintain the WHOLE BT during the event! The Buckeye Blitz runs from May 28 through June 3, which is National Trails Day.
Who’s Buckeye Blitzin?
I crack myself up. I created good old Blitzin while hiking the Buckeye Trail at Salt Fork State Park. This is in the Belle Valley Section, Points 5-6.
I left very early in the morning, it is only about twenty minutes to the trail for me. I have run/powerhiked this section, years ago, and I remember it has several good climbs!
I took the loppers. I wanted to see how I remembered this section. There was quite a bit of overgrowth around blazed tree, and I tried to make the the blazes stand out.
This section is very wet right now, considering we have had several big thunderstorms in the last several days. Generally, this is a pretty dry section, but I do remember there are a few feet that are just kind of wet and mushy.
The turn into the woods from Park Road 55 is very well blazed.
I walked about seven miles of trail in just under four hours, there is four hours of Buckeye Trail Time for the Blitz!
The Buckeye Trail Blitz is an event that coincides with National Trails Day on June 3 an event that is sponsored by the American Hiking Society and motivates hundreds of thousands of people to get out and enjoy their local trail system.
The Buckeye Blitz Twist:
From the BTA Website: “The Buckeye Trail Blitz is based around the idea of getting our trail users out to enjoy the BT during this event, but we added a twist to the celebration. We challenge our trail users to do maintenance of any kind while they are out. Our goal is to maintain the WHOLE BT during the event. As BT users, this is a great opportunity for us all to chip in and make certain that the trail is clear for our hikers and gives you the opportunity to report any major issues on the trail that may need the attention of our Buckeye Trail Crew members.”
Going for the Full Week
Instead of just focusing on Saturday June 3rd, the Buckeye Blitz is the full week leading up to National Trails Day. Everyone is encouraged to get out on the Buckeye Trail and do a bit of maintenance. Pick up trash, bring a set of pruners or loppers and cut back vegetation. Want to join a BTA work party on June 3-4? There are at least two scheduled, check out the work schedule here.
Get Out on the Trail!
Off work Monday? Get out and celebrate on the Buckeye Trail! Do a little maintenance and let the BTA know about it! We want to log and celebrate our volunteer hours.
What am I Doing?
Shucks, we just finished clearing Leesville North and South Section in the Muskingum Lake District on April 27!
We should have waited two days, we could have logged those hours into The Blitz! Oh well, the work schedule worked out, with four of us working, we were able to take care of at least 8 downed trees on two sections in about five hours-thanks Nick, Steve and Dennis!
I think I am going to do a little hike on the Trail on the Salt Fork State Park section, bring my loppers and see if there is any pruning that needs to be done out there. I hope to see some hikers along the way!
The Conotton Creek Bike Trail is a bike trail that goes between the little Ohio towns of Bowerston and Jewett. It is eleven miles long. I was somewhat in the *area* and wanted to get a long bike ride in, so off to Scio I went. Scio is the little town in the middle of the bike path.
A nice feature of this bike trail was the little covered bridges along the way.
The bike trail is a bit rougher than I remember. There was an article in the local paper about applying for a grant to resurface the trail. I thought this would be good training for the more rough C&O Towpath Trail.
It was a cloudy overcast day for my ride. I think it would get a tad bit hotter in the summer months. There are little shelters every five miles or so along the trail, a good place to duck out a sudden thunderstorm.
I met Mr Snapper on his way cross trail.
lt was a little warm out, from the looks of my red cheeks! I kept expecting rain to occur, it was nice to dodge that bullet.
I have installed my rear rack and a water bottle rack! This was my first ride with these installed, I need to see if they need torqued down a bit. I carried my Wisp pack, with water and snacks brought along! I did drink all my water from the Camelbak, and was happy to have a granola bar at mile 18.
Twenty two miles in the book for this bike ridge! It was a change in my original plan, due to the overnight rain, but where there is the will, there is a way to fit in the training!
I have changed the date of my 335 mile bike tour from October to August. Yikes! That’s coming soon. It is time to hop onto the bike and start getting some miles under my butt.
Route: Park in Fort Laurens Park, Bolivar, Ohio. Ride two miles over the road to pick up the Towpath Trail. Ride through the cornfields for about 1/2 mile, then jump Rt 212 for about a 1/4 mile of sketchy road, then pick up the Towpath Trail again.
The Towpath Trail, in the south, is mostly crushed limestone, gravel in a few areas, pleasant to ride on. Nobody was out at 9 am on this cool spring May morning but me and the chipmunks, geese, and a few deer.
The Towpath Trail grows through the small town of Navarre Ohio. Do you know what is also located in Navarre? Nickles Bakery! Baking bread since 1909 and in seven midwestern states. Do you know what smells sooo good riding through town? Baking bread!
I continued north past all the great smells.
l noticed the familiar blue blazes of the Buckeye Trail on the Towpath Trail. These would be some pleasant non-road miles to hike on.
First Clipped in Fall
It happened! My first fall. It was a doozy. I was about two miles from Massilion, when a rock caught my eye. Yes, one of those painted rocks that is going around the internet. While I was thinking, “oh I should stop and pick that up” I didn’t compensate for the little slope I was starting up. I tried to shift, but already had lost momentum BOOM down I went.
I got a handlebar straight into my sternum. I heard my head hit the ground-thwock! OOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWWW! Somehow I was unclipped and stumbled away. Knees were a bit skinned but the pain was in my chest. I walked it off for a few minutes. I seemed to be okay, other than every time I took a big breath-it hurt!
Oh yeah, here’s the rock I picked up! 😳
I kept trying to decide where to turn around.
I knew there was a break in the trail. I was hoping the bike shop was on this side of the trail. (It wasn’t). I made the logical decision to turn where the Sippo Trail started.
The bike ride went well. I carried my running pack, since I have yet to figure out how to attach the water bottle cage to the bike. My private parts only got a bit sore, and I had less numbness in my hands. I think I need to move my handlebars slightly. The next day, nothing is sore except my STERNUM which is hugely painful.
I forgot snacks. I was tired near the finish. I thought I had left some gels in the back, nope!
The Towpath Trail will be good training grounds for the C&O Canal Trail. I am going to have to download audiobooks and podcasts to deal with the long green tunnel on this for August.
Who was the brilliant person that came up with the idea of TrailFest instead of “Annual Meeting”? Psst. It’s the one and same. At the annual meeting of the BTA, there are hikes and workshops you can participate in. At the Buckeye TrailFest, there are hikes scheduled, and speakers and workshops! And oh yes, the annual meeting of the BTA will be at TrailFest too!
Who wants to go to a *meeting* That word ranks right under *committee* for dullness and lack of appeal. But a *Trail Fest*? Heck yeah!
Stuff to Do
There were two different programs. There was the workshop/presentation program and a hiking program. I start to circle activities that I want to attend. Then hikes I want to go on-basically I want to go on all the hikes. Then I notice most of this stuff is going to overlap with each other-I have to make a choice! That’s pretty cool that there was so much to do at Trail Fest 2017 that you can to make tough decisions.
Camp Hugh Taylor Birch
The 2017 TrailFest was held at the Boy Scout Camp Hugh Taylor Birch. This is a super location right next to John Bryan State Park, and an easy hike to Clifton Gorge and Glen Helen Preserve. There was camping available in any form you wanted: tent camping, cabins, bring your own camper. Our meetings were held in the dinning hall and the Turner building, both comfortable facilities for the workshops.
There was a presentation on Thursday (which I missed) designating Yellow Springs as the most recent “Trail Town”.
I was happy I had glanced at the website last minute, because I noticed there was a showing of “Trail Magic” a documentary about Emma Gatewood, the first woman to *solo* 🙂 hike the Appalachian Trail. I knew about Grandma Gatewood, but I didn’t know her story. I encourage you to view the movie when you can and check out the book.
I decided to go on the Clifton Gorge Hike on Friday as it was supposed to be short and we’d be back in plenty of time for the afternoon presentations. That didn’t work out so well, as the Gorge was “gorgeous” and hikers were taking way too long admiring and taking pictures of flowers. Connie Pond was our leader and she could not have picked a better day with all the spring ephemerals in bloom.
I decided to skip the Saturday hikes in order to make the presentations. That worked out well with Mother Nature’s plan too, as it stormed heavily all morning long.
I was hoping it was just a Flash Flood Warning that lit up hiker’s phones in the room, not a Tornado Warning!
Much knowledge was obtained from a bunch from the different presenters this past week end. I have ideas on how to use different transportation to make a section hike, some new apps to check out, new trails to explore, how to improve my photo taking skills, the history of the Buckeye Trail. I’m glad I took notes!
Dinner and Auction
Stacey Kozel gave the keynote speech on her travels on completing the Appalachian Trail. Stacey is paralyzed. She was able to hike by use of exoskeletons on her legs. No wonder her nickname is IronWill.
Annual Meeting Sunday
This was my first TrailFest and annual meeting. It moved along smoothly and good knowledge was passed on, and the meeting didn’t drag on! It was then time to move on toward home and look forward to the next Buckeye TrailFest!
Will you be attending the 2018 Buckeye TrailFest in Hocking Hills?