The Pedalshift Project #199: Preparing for a Solo Bike Tour of the C&O

With the current global circumstances, I’m doing a different tour than I originally planned – a solo, non-contact, self-supported, socially responsibly distanced tour of the great C&O towpath. This is probably the solo bike tour that makes the most sense, and might be the most important one I’ve ever needed. In this episode, the preparation!

The Pedalshift Project #199: Preparing for a Solo Bike Tour of the C&O

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A Solo Bike Tour of the C&O Towpath

Going fully self-supported on the C&O
Intention is to carry everything I need for 4 full days
Round trip to my cabin in WV and back – about 65 miles per day
Will have a roof over my head for night 2

Why this?
I had previously scheduled vacation for 3 days, but I’m going to knock it to 2 and go into the weekend
I will be starting in DC and given a few factors, ending in DC is easier on family dynamics than ending in WV and having Kimberly drive out herself with all the dogs and cat
We’ve been doing essentially long weekends at the cabin, but are looking to shift to be in WV more than DC for the near term… and this helps facilitate that

What’s the C&O looking like?
Great question. I haven’t been riding it much  but it’s been an exceedingly mild winter so trail conditions are likely solid
There’s a low-level water crossing at MM52 that by all accounts is just fine
Rain hitting the trail before I ride so I expect it to be a little wet, but nowhere near the mud bog it could have been
Water is out at the campsites so I’ll need to haul my own and fill at the limited taps along the way
I expect the trail to be unusually busy by day users near DC, Great Falls, Brunswick and Hancock but very, very quiet otherwise. Could be wrong, but  I’m guessing I’ll be the only camper out there.

What gear?
Tuned up the Safari and it’s good to go. It needs some work after, which I’m looking forward to getting at my LBS.
I’ll be riding heavy for three reasons

  • I’m bringing my big stove because of the emphasis on cooking and cleaning (huge green propane cylinder – the “green dragon” I’ve called it)
  • Lots of food and water to avoid needing to go to the limited options (Point of Rocks and Brunswick are the only truly easy access points in this section of the trail after leaving the DC area
  • Layers and wet weather gear – looks like I will definitely have rain and the temp swings from early morning to late afternoon mean wool layers and full rain gear

Two panniers
Probably two dry bags (why not!)
Considered dragging the trailer for this one, but the low water crossing makes that a hassle. Maybe next time.
No Belle Starr for this one… looks like conditions are a little too adverse for her narrow comfort range!

Pack List

sleeping bag
spare tube
multitool and tool bag
Cook kit and Green Dragon stove
Camp soap and cleaning towel
Coffee kit (aeropress or drip? Not sure)
Bandannas x3
Camp towel
Wool layers
Puffer vest
Rain jacket and hood
Rain pants
LS shirt
Rain gloves
underwear x2
socks x2 (smart wool and waterproof)
toiletry bag (incl. ibuprofin, caffeine and electrolyte pills)
hats (cold hat plus ball cap)
batteries and cables (new wireless charging battery)
Headphones (wired and Airpods)
water bottles x3
water bladder
adult beverages
Sleep clothes
Flip Flops

Knorr sidekicks
Block of cheese
Pop tarts
Trail mix

What are the rules on this one?
Barring emergencies or mechanicals I can’t overcome, I’m not going into towns or shops – I think one could in these social distancing times but reducing to zero is best across the board.
If I run into folks on the trail I’ll interact as usual, just from a distance. Especially in camp.
Night 2 will be at the cabin, particularly if the ride ends up being wet.

While it’s no Missing Link tour of Southern CA, this is a trip I’ve always wanted to do… a round trip to my cabin using no fossil fuels, and just my two legs and a bike.

SprocketShift Happy Hour

Hey, let’s have a drink together! The next SprocketShift Happy Hour is TBA. More information on how to join here and watch the last two we’ve done.

As always we like to close out the show with a special shoutout to the Pedalshift Society! Because of support from listeners like you, Pedalshift is a weekly bicycle touring podcast with a global community, expanding into live shows and covering new tours like The Kessel Run and The Missing Link bike tours! If you like what you hear, you can support the show for 5 bucks, 2 bucks or even a buck a month. And there’s one-shot and annual options if you’re not into the small monthly thing. Check it all out at

Kimberly Wilson
Caleb Jenkinson
Cameron Lien
Andrew MacGregor
Michael Hart
Keith Nagel
Brock Dittus
Thomas Skadow
Marco Lo
Terrance Manson
Harry Telgadas
Chris Barron
Mark Van Raam
Brad Hipwell
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Mr. T
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Stephen Dickerson
Vince LoGreco
Cody Floerchinger
Tom Benenati
Greg Braithwaite
Sandy Pizzio
Jeff Muster
Seth Pollack
Joseph Quinn
Drue Porter
Byron Paterson
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Ray Jackson
Jeff Frey
Kenny Mikey
Lisa Hart
John Denkler
Steve Hankel
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Keith Spangler
Greg Towner
Dan Gebhart
Jody Dzuranin
Lucas Barwick
Michael Baker
Brian Bechtol
Reinhart Bigl
Greg Middlemis
Connie Moore
William Gothmann
Brian Benton
Joan Churchill
Mike Bender
Rick Weinberg
Billy Crafton
Gary Matushak
Greg L’Etoile-Lopes
James Sloan
Jonathan Dillard
John Funk
Tom Bilcze
Ronald Piroli
Dave Roll
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David Gratke
Todd Groesbeck
Wally Estrella
Sue Reinert
John Leko
Stephen Granata
Phillip Mueller
Kevan Olhausen
Robert Lackey
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John Hickman


You’ve been hearing about Jason Kent and his music for many fine episodes. Sunfields’ latest album may be their best yet. Go get it.

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