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Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

A small group of us are planning a ten day, self-supported cycling trip from Pittsburgh to Baltimore.  We will be taking the bike path out of Pittsburgh, connecting up with the old C & O towpath toward Washington.  At some point we want to leave the towpath and head northeast toward the Baltimore airport.  One of the questions is where is a good point to do that so that we miss the busy roads but still get a fairly direct shot at the airport.  Secondly, can anyone recommend a bike shop not far from the airport where we could get our bikes boxed up for the return flight home?  Any other ideas, comments, suggestions would be helpful.  Incidentally, I read that the towpath has a crushed gravel surface.  Has anyone been on the path recently?  Can we comfortably do it on loaded touring bikes with 28mm tires, or are mountain bikes required?  We have cycled extensively in Europe, but  are not at all familiar with your area and need all the advice and help we can get.  Thanks.

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

I rode the tow path from Williamsport, MD to Georgetown ( about 100 miles)about 7 ~ 10 years ago. I rode a Surly Crosscheck with tires that I think are 700*32 (maybe 700*35) pumped to 90 pounds.  There were several sections where a mountian bike would have been more comfortable.  If I was doing it again I would use mountain bike.  However, if I rode the Surly again I would try to lower tire pressure by about 15~20 pounds or install a suspension seat post.

I cannot comment on diverting from the tow path, but others here probably can.

I live in Catonsville which is about 10 minutes from BWI airport.  There is a bike shop in Catonsville that recently opened which is also close to the airport.  I cannot comment on how good they are, but since they are new they are probably trying hard to be successful which means offering a group like yours the help that you need.    The shop is in the 21228 zip code, I do not recall the name.

Jim Guild feltb2@yahoo.com

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

Aviation Velo is right next to BWI airport and the BWI trail around it. info@aviationvelo.com

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

Pittsburgh to DC on the trail seems like a fantastic ride, but not on 28mm tires.
C&O canal path is mostly dirt and can vary wildly in condition. Could be fast and bumpy when dry or an impossible sloppy mess when rainy. 28's would be fine for hard dry conditions with very little weight on the bike, but you should be on 35s if you want to enjoy the ride.

Speaking of enjoying the ride, if it were me, I'd ride all the way to DC and then up to BWI. It would be way more exciting getting in to DC by bike than crossing over in the trafficky suburbs north of DC to BWI. The trip to DC and back up is probably 25 miles longer, which for you is nothing. However, here is my route between Baltimore and Leesburg which can be modified to BWI.  http://ridewithgps.com/routes/546734

Email me for more details if you like. bobwag@gmail.com   enjoy the tour!

-Bob

bobwag@gmail.com
4130 on 28's @ 15
http://randoramble.wordpress.com/

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

I cannot speak to the route but I would listen to Bob Wagner who is very experienced in long distance rides in the Baltimore - Washington DC area.
Looking at a Google map of bike shops near BWI, I would opt for either RacePace Bicycles (racepacebicycles.com) or Aviation Velo (formerly Bike Doctor of Linthicum, bikedoctorlinthicum.com). Race Pace is near BWI in Columbia and I know their mechanics very well-they are extremely reliable.
Aviation Velo is right on BWI's doorstep. I just do not have any personal experience with them. They have been around since 1996 and recently left the Bike Doctor group of bike shops in the Baltimore area.
I would pick the shop based on your route into the Baltimore area. Bob Wagner's suggested Washington to Baltimore route is a well established ride. He leads a century every year from Baltimore's Washington Monument to the one in Washington DC and back.
Good Luck,
Ed Cahill

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

I wonder if you have thought about taking a train back to Pittsburgh?  I did this ride the other way several years ago and took the Amtrak back to Union Station in DC.  At that time they had bike racks available so that you did not have to pack up the bikes.  The racks were limited and needed to be reserved.  Of course, you can pack up the bike as well and bring it back as checked baggage.   The cost for the ticket was around $100-$125, and there was a small fee ($10?)  for bringing the bike on..  I had planned to ride back to Baltimore from Union Station, but I weenied out and got a ride.  The major drawback with the train is it takes 7-8 hours.and there was only one train each day.
However, it was much more relaxing and roomy than sitting in an airplane, plenty of room to get up and walk around, and I slept most of the way.

Just a thought.  BTW, the station in Pittsburgh is on Liberty Avenue, near the Convention Center.

Myslím, že je ?cas, abych se létat.

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

Let us know your target month for the trip.  Perhaps some of our members could ride some of your trip with you?

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

Ed Cahill wrote:

Looking at a Google map of bike shops near BWI, I would opt for either RacePace Bicycles (racepacebicycles.com) or Aviation Velo (formerly Bike Doctor of Linthicum, bikedoctorlinthicum.com). Race Pace is near BWI in Columbia and I know their mechanics very well-they are extremely reliable.
Aviation Velo is right on BWI's doorstep. I just do not have any personal experience with them.

RacePace Columbia is my favorite area bike shop, particularly for maintenance -- one of my bikes is there right now, getting a drivetrain overhaul -- but, while it's true that Race Pace is "near" BWI, mapwise, it's not easily/pleasantly reached by bike.  Aviation Velo is  very easy to get to by bike.  I've had work done on my bikes there in the past; they do all right.

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

Aviation Velo is definitely your best choice for dropping the bikes off.  The shop is about 1 block off the Light Rail that can then take you into Baltimore or down to the airport.  Last time I shipped a bike from there it was about $50 for the box and packing, then the cost of the UPS.  Come and visit, Baltimore and DC are great towns.

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Re: Arizona Cyclists, Pittsburgh to Baltimore

Thank you all for your time and advice.  It looks like we must save this very interesting ride for another day.  A couple of us don't have mountain bikes, and it looks like wide tires are a must on this path.  Instead, we have opted for the Erie Canalway across northern New York.  It seems that it is doable on 28mm tires.  Again, thanks for the help.

Arizona Cyclists

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