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FINAL THOUGHTS: What we learned from our COGAP adventure

FINAL THOUGHTS: What we learned from our COGAP adventure

We’ve been back home for a couple of weeks now. We’ve never taken a two week vacation before, lots of one-weekers, but never two. Something about taking that second week makes you feel strange when you come back home, kind of like an alien. It was difficult to get back into our old skins. But by this time, we’re firmly re-clothed in our ol’ St. Louis lives. We’ve got really nice lives here so it’s not so bad. But we sure wish we were back on our bikes!

It was a fantastic adventure for us. Every day was full of rich experiences, beautiful country and meaningful encounters with interesting people. And the weather… I can’t say enough good about the weather. It was miraculously perfect.

This tour was a great test. Craig retires in four short years. Our plan is to spend the first several years after he retires bicycle touring around the United States. Then we’d like to tour around Asia, Europe if we can afford it, and Australia and New Zealand if we can figure out how to get there. So all of our shorter bike tours are tests to figure everything out: what gear we need, how to make the touring process work the most efficiently, and decide if we reeeeeally want to go on extended bike tours.

Our shorter tours have always been very successful and we’ve returned from each one with renewed commitment to our future plans. But as the tours get longer there’s always that chance that we’ll get burned out or realize that we’d rather be sitting at home. But so far that hasn’t happened yet. After this tour we’re convinced more than ever that this is the lifestyle for us. Even at the end of our two weeks, we wanted to keep going. And soon we will…

Now for some specifics about the C&O Canal Path and the Great Allegheny Passage. After reading my journal, one fellow was worried that my description of the C&O might discourage people from trying it. I sincerely hope not! The C&O was a marvelous experience and I recommend it most highly. The C&O runs through some fantastic territory and is well maintained. The lock houses and locks (77 of them!) were delightful and the free hiker/biker campsites were convenient, clean and usually in beautiful locations along the river. Don’t let reports of the mud, roots and rocks dissuade you from experiencing this amazing trail.

Just be prepared! I would avoid the C&O in rainy weather. It gets muddy and slippery and would be rather tortuous in the rain. SO if you plan to ride the C&O, check the weather forecast and try to schedule your ride during a sunny dry week. Also I would advise against trying to cover too many miles each day. It does take longer to traverse through the rougher sections. On smoother trails (like the Great Allegheny Passage and the Katy Trail) our average speed is 10-12 mph. On the C&O we couldn’t go faster than 8 mph. It took us a lot longer to reach our destinations than we were used to.

The Great Allegheny Passage was divine. Anyone can ride this trail and everyone should. It’s in perfect condition, perfectly maintained, and runs through lots of neat little towns with services. It’s much less remote than the C&O, more accessible and a much smoother ride.

My only other comment is about direction. The C&O would be easier from north to south (the opposite of the direction we traveled). Most of the trail is pretty flat but there are short slightly steep hills at each lock and they would have been nice little downhills if we had been going the other direction. The GAP is highest in the middle so either way you go, you’re going to climb at first and end with a downhill. But the grade on the southern side is much steeper. So again it would be an easier ride from north to south. In retrospect I still think we made the right decision because we wanted to get the most difficult section finished first. But many people would probably prefer to ride the trails from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

Thank you for reading my journal! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please leave me a note in the guestbook. I plan to edit the video that I took during our trip as soon as I have time so I’m not closing out this journal just yet.

We’ve started planning a THREE week tour next fall. We’re not sure where yet. We’re open to suggestions! If you’d like to keep up with our adventures, you can check my website atwww.bluetapp.com.





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