Cycling the C&O and GAP Trails (Reloaded): Conclusion
My bicycle tour from DC to Pittsburgh is in the books and it was a very successful trip. I'll be using this trip as a template for future trips. After each trip, I like to reflect and identify what worked well and what did not work so well so that I might review this next year as I'm preparing for future trips.
What didn't work so well
Despite having three dang lists to work from, I managed to forget my chamois cream. Rashes on the booty is a lot like pain management in that you really have to stay ahead of it. Once you're in pain, well it's already too late. A kind stranger gave me some stuff to use - although it wasn't chamois cream. It would have been much worse otherwise but it would have been much better if I was slathering on the button hole straight from the get go. Lesson learned: DON'T FORGET THE DANG CHAMOIS CREAM
I also had some difficulties keeping my phone charged. I was using a non-Apple charging cable and the thing failed on the evening of day 2. I managed to find a gas station and get another little cheapy but that one started to fail a few days later. Additionally, I over estimated how bad ass my new external battery charger was so by the 5th night, it was drained. I should have taken more care to charge the external battery. Lessons learned: Go ahead and invest in the dyno hub so that I can charge while pedaling. Additionally, stick with official Apple charging cables and maybe even pack a spare; they're small and light.
I want to reduce my kit. I had a whole bag full of stuff that I barely even broke into - GoPro mounts and odds and ends. I think I can probably fit my kit into the two rear bags if I strapped my tent to the top of the rear rack. I also carried too much food. I ended up eating a fair amount along the way. There's something really nice about pulling up to a diner or pub at the end of a long day of pedaling. In the future, I'll probably carry less food while planning to eat along the way.
Trip template going forward
- Ship bike ahead to a bike shop near starting point using bikeflights.com. $49 for shipping plus whatever the bike shops charge ya to box and reassemble. Probably close to $200 total.
- Fly to the destination. I was able to get a ticket to DC for under $150. More than the bus ticket I purchased last year but way more convenient.
- Use my new North Face base camp duffle to check all my gear on the flight. Last year I shipped my gear ahead to the motel. Checking my stuff was way easier and less stressful.
- Give myself at least one whole day in the starting city/town to get things together. Plus it'll be nice to have a little extra time visiting a new place.
Since Pittsburgh is relatively close to Nashville, I was able to use hotwire to rent a car to drive myself and all my gear back to Nashville. After fees and such, it was only $38 from Thrifty. Tank bicycle fit perfectly into the trunk after the laying the seats down on the Chevy Cruz.
Finally, I wanted to give a huge shoutout to our friend Eve in Pittsburgh. She let me couch surf while in Pittsburgh so I saved a lot of money on motel costs. She was an excellent tour guide and showed me around the city Saturday.