Riding GAPCO has been on my bucket list for sometime. Otherwise known as The Great Allegheny Passage rail trail coupled with C&O Canal towpath, it's 335 continuous miles of mixed paved and gravel trail from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. It's the longest untrafficked bike/pedestrian route in the U.S., complete with ample campgrounds, tunnels, viaducts, towns for supplies—all loaded with history. I would've felt perfectly safe alone on this urban adventure. However, my favorite bike touring partner (my husband) and outdoorsy girlfriend (co-planner on last year's Provence adventure) are also accompanying me. I couldn't be more excited to ride as a three-some!
Planning GAPCO is a relatively easy as it's growing in popularity. There are several online resources like: Allegheny Trail Alliance, Bike Washington, and Bike C&O. And that's just for starters. I acquired Allegheny Trail Alliance's TrailBook 2013-14 edition. It's packed with so much more information than I thought anyone could add on top of all the Web stuff, plus history and a plastic map—all of which we could've lived without—though I'm happy to have it just the same.
Day 1 - With girlfriend Patty arriving two days earlier to visit family (she's using my Trek 830), we all drive to Pittsburgh. Patty and I remain with bikes and gear in a hotel. My husband continues driving towards Washington D.C., rests somewhere, then endures horrendous D.C. traffic, leaves vehicle at airport, then connects with a Friday morning flight to Pittsburgh. (I don't envy him this shuttle.)
Day 2 - Meet my guy near start of trail in downtown Pittsburgh. Ride for 30 miles to first campground.
Days 3-9 - Average 40-60 miles per day. There is some flexibility with our days, depending on what we decide to do along the way. And while I had misgivings about venturing off trail, I couldn't miss visiting Frank Lloyd Wright's famous Fallingwater residence. This necessitated a reservation too. I don't think I've cut it too close, and besides, we should be able to complete total trail miles in 7 days (we allowed 7.5). End of day 9, we need to be in D.C. at a hotel.
Day 10 - Patty leaves for her flight back to Oregon. Andy and I drive home.Wish us luck. We leave on Thursday. We are scrambling to complete last minute bike tasks, stock up on food for our children and relatives who've generously offered to assume live-in parent duties for 10 days.
P.S. Many thanks to the Pittsburgh bike community for their help in planning navigation and hotel suggestions. It's a big city for us little city folk.