Bike Touring Lessons Learned So Far: Two Days and 84 Miles

Ready to roll with my trail bike rented from Bike the GAP and Eric’s commuter bike, which we brought with us in a box.

 

Great Allegheny Passage starting marker in Pittsburgh.

At mile zero in Pittsburgh.

None of this will be news to people who have bike toured for years, and I’m sure blog posts and videos and lists abound that could have spared me some of the lessons. But hey, I’ll remember all this firsthand learning.

1) I overpacked. Some of this was due to not fully factoring in the chance to do laundry even though I knew that would be available. Some of it was not realizing how truly warm it would be farther south. I mean hey, it’s fall, which means frosty mornings. Except when it doesn’t. I packed the right things, just too many of them, and one heavier wool top layer I truly won’t need.

So tomorrow morning I’m walking to the post office to mail a box of extra duds home. This will cut down on weight and make it easier to root around in my bags.

2) Eat before you think you need to, which I know from past long rides. Slower, flatter miles aren’t so much easier that this doesn’t apply.

I’m not into the nutrition science that some people really dig, so I don’t calibrate the carb/protein ratio in my meals or anything like that. It’s uncomfortable to ride on a really full stomach so I’m not tanking up to the brim at meals. This means a bar of some kind is my friend, especially if I eat it before I start feeling like I’m running out of fuel.

3) Read the cue sheet before you start to ride. We’re almost entirely on a separated simple path but at the very beginning, caught up in photographing the marker and starting my tracking app, I forgot we had specific instructions for leaving the park. So we toured a scenic construction project, then a nice couple steered us out and onto the trail.

4) I now have a list of little things to pack for the next tour, like hand sanitizer (some park potties don’t have it) and a corkscrew. None of these are fatal, just nice-to-haves.

5) The rain cover for my bike bag makes a great impromptu laundry bag. 

On the trail at a bike fix-it station. Nothing broken, fortunately, just checking the air in Sweetie’s tire.

So far so good, though! Some warm rain, mostly of the veggie mister variety with one soaking bit as we wrapped up Sunday’s ride but at least it ended rather than started the day. People on the trail are friendly — lots of waves and hellos — and the mileage has been challenging but doable. Not that I’m sorry that tomorrow mostly consists of touring Fallingwater, then riding just 12 miles to our next overnight.

Day 1, Pittsburgh to West Newton, 41 miles

Day 2, West Newton to Ohiopyle, 43 miles

Total mileage so far: 84

(Total mileage per day includes getting to and from our lodgings so it doesn’t match the trail mileage)

At Backyard Gardens Market in Ohiopyle they track where people came from and why they’re in town: biking the GAP, whitewater rafting, Fallingwater, something else. We were the first this year from Seattle to add a blue dot, representing riding both the GAP and the C&O.

 

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