This tour is FULL. Please email JHanneken@EndsCycling.com to be placed on the waiting list. Welcome to our first-ever gravel tour! This 5 day tour combines the historic C&O Canal and the Great Allegheny Passage. We’ll traverse close to 300 miles through an area rich in history and geography, riding 55-65 mile days. The trails intersect in Cumberland, MD and, when linked together, provide a journey from Washington DC to Pittsburgh, PA. However, we will avoid the DC and Pittsburgh sections due to the urban congestion and unsafe group riding conditions there. Due to lodging restrictions, this tour will only be open to the first 18 cyclists who register (registration is not complete until payment is received). After the tour is full, others will be put on a waiting list. There will only be two Support Staff positions for this tour and they are already filled.
This tour is unique in so many ways. We will be riding entirely on gravel terrain while also lodging in quaint BnBs along the way. So, this is also the first “inn-to-inn” tour for Ends Cycling! Real beds, bathrooms with hot showers, and a little more privacy await you along with some nice hot breakfasts! On Friday, April 29th, Ends Cycling will host our standard Pre-field Orientation (PFO) at the Mar Lu Ridge Camp in Jefferson, Maryland. This is the perfect setting for out cyclists to get to know each other, assemble out bicycles and prepare for the glorious adventure. Going in the westerly direction, we’ll join the canal at Point of Rocks, MD where you’ll be introduced to the Potomac River and riding on the historic towpath that was trampled on by mules pulling the barges on the canal. Goods were transported on the canal from Washington to Cumberland, MD from 1850-1924. You’ll ride through several of the 74 locks that made the canal operable, making this a 19th century engineering marvel. Of the 184 miles of the entire canal, there is only 600 feet of elevation increase. The canal even goes through a tunnel. Fascinating!
You’ll see Harpers Ferry, WV., a place where the history of the canal meets the history of the Civil War. Union troops protected the canal and used it for transportation while Confederate troops made several attempts to damage the canal. Control of Harpers Ferry during the Civil War was fought over extensively as Union and Confederate forces fought to seize the canal, railroads, and an armory.
Arriving in Cumberland, MD will display the hard work of the people of Appalachia. While there, we will transition onto the Great Allegheny Passage, or GAP. Suddenly, you will find yourself no longer along the peaceful Potomac, but along a railroad bed making it’s way up through the beautiful mountains of Western Maryland and Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. The GAP begins with an introduction to these gentle mountains: rising about 1,800 ft.; in 23 miles, with a max grade of 2%. The Switchback Garden in Frostburg, Maryland is a sight to behold. At this point, you’ll cross the 2,392 ft. Eastern Continental Divide. Here, the GAP begins it’s long, but barely noticeable, descent over 125 miles into Pittsburgh.
Moving westward, the GAP will take you through valleys and around mountains and introduce you to the Casselman and Youghiogheny Rivers. You’ll be delighted to hear the rushing waters and pass through tunnels and over bridges along the way. A highlight will be riding through rugged Ohiopyle State Park, a popular whitewater rafting area.
Opportunities abound to experience local culture and food. You will self-purchase lunch and dinner at recommended restaurants in the towns the trails pass through. While you’re enjoying the trail each day, your luggage will be shuttled to the next overnight accommodation by our SAG vehicle.
Please plan to arrive to BWI (Baltimore Washington International) or Dulles Airport (IAD) on Thursday, April 28th or the early AM of the 29th. We can provide airport shuttles every few hours during that time, up until 10am on Friday, April 29th. Any arrival after 10am on Friday, April 29th will require you to find your own ride to Jefferson, MD - our starting line.
If you are local and plan to drive to the starting line, please kindly let our Ride Director, Dan Kriel (DanKriel1@gmail.com) know. We are only allowed to leave a maximum of 5 vehicles at the camp, so we may need to carpool.
On May 5th, the tour ends and we are driving participants from West Newton, PA back to Jefferson, MD. If you are booking a flight out that day, we recommend doing so in the later-afternoon or evening. If you choose to fly out the next day, May 6th, you will be on your own for lodging on May 5th. We may be able to help you get to the airport the next day, with shuttles running every few hours until early-afternoon.
Depending upon who you talk to, people that have ridden the C&O Canal and GAP Trail have the widest range of opinions on what type of bike is suitable/necessary for the ride.
Having ridden the COGAP in May 2021 with a group of 4 people, it is our STRONGEST recommendation that participants be on a GRAVEL BIKE or even a MOUNTAIN BIKE and would also advise against riding a standard road bike.
32mm tire-width would be the minimum we recommend. The Panaracer GravelKing tire is especially good for the riding conditions you will experience. Several of us ride on 36mm and 40mm tires and found the ride to be quite comfortable and safe.
For The Youth Of:
The Reason We Ride...
On this tour, you will be riding for the youth in Latin America. Our beneficiary ministry there is called Inca Link International. Here is a word from them:
There are 300 million youth of Latin America. A large section of youth in Latin America come from marginalized, forgotten, and impoverished communities. Many of these youth are stuck in cycles of poverty that have major generational impacts.
For the last 15 years Inca Link has worked in 6 countries (Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Guatemala) to serve, love, and reach the marginalized and forgotten youth of Latin America. Through weekly programs, education, sports, training, safe places to live and grow, youth are being developed emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. A team of local leaders and missionaries share the irresistible love of Christ with thousands of youth daily.
Inca Link has a vision to have a ministry center in every country in Latin America. This ride will provide the catalyst resources to launch a new ministry site in a least reached or under reached community in Latin America. This includes training and equipping leaders and providing seed money to start a program. This ride will literally lay the foundation for generational and community impact for the Kingdom.
Our dream is that through the emotional, prayer, and financial support from this tour Inca Link will be able to fully launch a new site in Latin America thus helping Inca Link reach the 300 million youth of Latin America with Christ’s irresistible love.
What do I get when I Register?
Pre-Field Orientation - April 29th at 1:30p - 7p*
April 30 - May 4th, 2022
Optional - May 5th - AM shuttles back to Jefferson Maryland
Mar Lu Ridge Camp
3200 Mar Lu Ridge Road
Jefferson, Maryland 21755
Cyclists (capacity 18) - $799
w/ $1000 Fundraising Pledge **
Only 5 days worth of AWESOMENESS!
Well, and a few other things that are listed here.
Quality B&B Lodging with a bed and warm shower. (Married couples will have a private room, singles will share a room with same-gender participants)
Intercontinental breakfast every day (you are on your own for lunch and dinners)
Snacks throughout the event (energy gels, granola bars, fruit, etc.)
Ends Cycling Jersey (by Primal – no jersey for support staff)
Laundry services every evening (for cycling clothing only)
Official Tour T-Shirt (Cyclists & Support Staff)
A support vehicle (S.A.G.) transporting your luggage from Inn to Inn. - near by in case of emergency
Corporate worship every night. Did someone say "Bonfire?!"
Custom Thank You cards to send to all of your supporters. (These will be mailed to you shortly after the ride is completed)
Water bottle (for cyclists only)
Transportation back to starting line
Airport transportation (at designated shuttle times)
Finish line pizza party on Wednesday
Cycling training in orientation
And More! See the Riders Handbook for more details.
*Participants are strongly encouraged to be at the starting location at 1:30pm - 7p, the day before for check-in for this important Pre-field Orientation. We will get to know each other, have a safety presentation and training ride.
**Fundraising Goal: $1000 (Minimum $500). Participants will not be eligible to ride if the minimum funds are not raised by event start date. If you have not raised the minimum by the start date, you will be expected to pay the balance the day the ride begins.
Thank you for your understanding.
How Are Your Cycling Groups Organized?
Most of our road cycling tours, we require cyclists to ride in a group at a pace consistent with others in that same group. This first-ever gravel tour is the opposite of that. We actually encourage you NOT to ride in large(r) groups, rather find a buddy and stick together at a pace you both are comfortable with. With regards to obstacles, such as tree roots, rocks, etc. - we believe you are safer without a wheel to follow directly in front of you - so it's our best-recommendation, that you and a friend or new-friend ride side by side as you are comfortable.