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+1 I rode Route S from near Philly to Rockwood. Some of it is fairly busy roads but much of it is highly rural PA e.g. Burnt Cabins. The western part is quite hilly. I managed to miss the old turnpike tunnels as you will if you follow the Route S signs, perhaps as well as I didn't have much in the way of lights or a map to show me where the tunnels were. i was unimpressed by the GAP. When it's wet the crushed gravel makes a paste that clings to your bike, especially to fenders. i ended up sharing a room with a complete stranger in Ohiopyle because the camping facilities near there were so poor.I'm working on alternative routing in case this proves to be a problem. This would put me on country roads through small towns, but in Pennsylvania and Maryland instead of Kentucky and Missouri.
If you are not set on starting in D.C. or can get yourself up to it, you might consider signed PA Bike Route S to get around the C&0:
Heading west, Route S joins the GAP at Rockwood, PA. However, you can take U.S. 220 from Bedford, PA to Cumberland, MD if you want to pick up the GAP from the beginning. I did the reverse when I rode from PGH to Philly in 2013. I picked up U.S. 220 north of Cumberland by following smaller roads out of town. The road has a decent shoulder and traffic was not that heavy on a Monday afternoon. Let me know if you want the exact routing between Bedford and Cumberland. Personally, I found the portion of the GAP between Rockwood and Cumberland to be the most interesting so I wouldn't miss that portion if possible.
Also, if you pick up Route S anywhere east of Hustontown, PA and have a strong from light or headlamp you can take an easy detour from the route and ride a stretch of the abandoned portion of the PA Turnpike. Very neat ride (It was used in the filming of "The Road" starring Viggo Mortensen), but there are two long tunnels that are not lit, hence the need for a good light. At the western end of the rideable portion you will find yourself back on Route S at Breezewood, PA.
FWIW, the care my chains get is mostly sloshing on some lube and wiping it off with a napkin. They very rarely get any cleaning beyond that.Hmm. It could be I'm not oiling my chain often enough. I took the Dumond label at its word when it says not to relube until you can hear the chain. I'll try more frequent oiling and see if that makes a difference. I can live with oiling more but the cleaning razmtaz is insufferable.
That surprises me. It sounds like you change chains every 1500 miles or so and that cassettes only last you maybe 4,000 or 5,000 miles. Is that correct or am I reading that wrong? Is that with a steel cog cassette? Aluminum? Something else?No you're not reading it wrong. Good for you with the chain life thing. Can't be bothered myself. I use vanilla SRAM or Shimano cassettes whatever the LBS has in stock. Different strokes, different folks
Chains typically last me 10,000 miles or so (with very minimal care) and truth be told I have only rarely ever worn out a cassette, but some of them have certainly lasted me 20,000 miles or more, some of them probably a lot more.
when I did the NT I replaced my chain twice. I look on chains as disposable and not worth the effort and mess of trying to make them last by cleaning etc. It's a 5 minute job replacing a chain like a SRAM that has a Quicklink if you know the trick for opening gummed up Quicklinks. And they aren't that expensive. I carry a Park CC-1 chain checker and replace them sooner rather than later to preserve the teeth on the cassette (generally I get 3 chains to a cassette another consumable)
Is there a special lube that stays clean that I'm not aware of? Wax lubes stay clean but a person would have to reply it every day, is that what touring people do? My experience with drip on wax lubes is that my chains get about 2/3rds LESS mileage on them before they are worn out, so replacing a chain once or twice going across country would be ridiculas too.
I am going a different route...This sounds like a good way to go. Now, does the BA pocket work with Thermarest pads or do you have to use the BA pad? I suppose I could ask them at REI but they have been wrong before today.
Big Agnes has a line of sleeping bags where there is a pocket to put your mat in. I did a fall hang where it got down to 32F both nights and I was quite comfortable in my Big Agnes bag.
Wherever my bag went, my mat was forced to follow.
chiptoothed, I have to totally agree with what PeteJack responded with. Going alone is a great way to travel for sure on such a personal adventure taken, and for the obvious reason he mentioned. My own travels alone have been chock full of many great memories and experiences had, as well as other similar travels having been made with fellow cyclists. Remember, the TransAm route is an established bicycle route, and odds are pretty good that you will easily see, and come across many other cyclists who are both coming & going while your out there on the entire distance.+1 One thing I would urge you to do is to tell your new friends "You guys go ahead. Don't wait for me" if they are obviously more comfortable with a faster pace than yours. It's all too easy to let your ego spoil your fun. I did that twice on my last NT.Edit. Told people to go on that is.
I myself will be starting the same route as you at the end of April - east to west direction. I am cycling solo too, well kind of I guess I would say since my wife and family pet will be traveling along just shortly ahead of me daily in a family vehicle.
+1 It is amazing what a difference a properly fitting bike makes.
If you haven't already, consider going to a certified bike fitter to fine tune how your bike fits you.