2015 Crush the Commonwealth
(Per a good suggestion from @kristopher, let’s start getting pumped for CtC 2015 on a new thread.)
The source of truth: crushthecommonwealth.com
My accumulated musings on the subject, including maps and general route info:Unofficial CtC FAQ
A bunch of CtC ride reports (among others): Pittsburgh Randos links
This year is eastbound to Philly, which I can promise is much less painful than westbound.
I’m leaning towards doing it this year…it’s been three years since I completed it, and I’m feeling a bit nostalgic. No specific goals as of yet, although, if I can get my lazy butt back in shape over the wintry months, a no-sleep sub-30-hour result seems possible.
Thanks reddan. Sub 30 is awesome. Out of my league. I’m shooting for the 40hr range with a stop in Chambersburg for bit of sleep.
So getting back to garmins and external power packs, I would take a photo of my external batteries if I could post a photo conveniently, but the icon to do so is missing.
My mother bought me a few of these a few years ago and that is what I bring with me.
Stef, what are you using for lights? I use a dynamo hub for primary headlight and taillight, and battery-powered lights on my helmet for secondaries.
(@Kristopher, I mention lights because that’s another thing to consider when planning what batteries and power packs you need to bring, and you will want good lights for this endeavour.)
I’ve been thinking about getting a dynamo-powered USB charging system (Supernova’s The Plug, which replaces the stem cap, has a lot of appeal), but haven’t done enough research to really figure out what makes the most sense.
I appreciate all the help Stefb. I’m going to get the Garmin soon and test the battery life and go from there. I’m thinking I could use the power pack to recharge my light too.
On the topic of lighting do you think 400 lumens is enough. That what I have now but I’ve been tossing around getting something in the 700 range.
@kristopher: IMO, 400 lumens is plenty; what’s more important is the shape of the optics, so that the light is focused where you need it, rather than spilling off high and to the sides. (Assuming we’re talking road riding, anyway; for mountain biking, I’d want a symmetric beam that illuminates low-hanging branches and bears charging from the side and whatnot)
Peter White has some great comparison beam shots (both dynamo-driven and battery-powered) on one of his headlight pages.
I’ve got to force myself to get out for some night rides in a really dark area….. No street lights and such so I can get a better idea of the beam. I rode over 6000 miles last year but hardly any at night.
Last question and I promise I’ll give it a rest for a while.
How about rain gear? Reading past years blogs the weather for CTC has been crap. Gotta get some rain gear and I’m looking for suggestions. Duel purpose Gortex like jacket or softshell and separate rain jacket?
Hello @kristopher, if you’re ever around Breezewood with your bike – I think the Abandoned Turnpike Tunnels would be the best place to evaluate how well a light dispels darkness. Caveat: significant ice buildup on the floor in the winter months.
Vannevar, I live close to the Montour trial and I’m going to put my light on my hybrid and ride there some night. There’s a good size tunnel at the 7 mile marker and the lights in it only work during the day. I think it will be a good test. Thanks for the info on the closed turnpike tunnels. Looking foresee to seeing them on the ride. My plan has me getting there after sundown so it will be quite the experience.
@kristopher: I’d recommend separate layers, so you can mix-n-match as needed. In mid-April, you can potentially enjoy a 40-degree temperature difference over the course of a day spent riding across the state, so you’ll need to be able to handle everything from 70s and drenching rain to 30s and, well, drenching rain.
Thanks to all for the advice today. I’m really looking forward to the CTC challenge.
I use cygolite mitycross 800. I use it as my commuter. We have been buying cygolites for years, and I have at least 3 batteries that I can charge and bring along. I mount to my helmet. There are a bunch of settings to save battery. I like being able to point my light where I am looking. I don’t use any handlebar lights. I also don’t mind carrying the batteries. I feel like it doesn’t matter once I have a ton of clothes for the changing weather.
Yes. The Velcro makes it easy to remove when I don’t need to wear it, and the headlamp slides on and off the mount easily. These batteries don’t have long enough of a cord to put in a backpack or mount elsewhere.
Thanks Stefb! I have the day off today so going to check some of this stuff out. You’ve been a great help.
My 400 lumen cygolite is enough for a tunnel or railtrail at night at a moderate speed. I only finding it limiting when I’m riding 20mph+
I do like having a second light, however, with my handlebar mounted light being constantly on and a helmet light turned on when needed. I like having two 400 lumen lights which gives extra light when needed and more importantly, redundancy if one goes out.
Re: raingear – if I was to attempt a venture like this, I would take something like this O2 raingear. It’s cheap, light, and packs super small. It’s basically Gore-tex film with the least possible material attached to it. I would think you need something to keep you from getting hypothermia, just in case, and that’s about it.
No plastic jackets – worse than nothing.
Also, wool. As much wool as you can manage.
There’s info on raingear on the BikingPgh Wiki. My experience has been that rain capes work much better than jackets. With rain capes, you get some ventilation from the bottom, even when there’s a lot of rain. With jackets, sweat just builds up inside, and you end up getting wet from that instead of the rain. I’ve wrung out a jacket on a brevet and watched the sweat run out just like rain.
I borrowed dan’s rain cape and still got wet. It was comfy and it did ventilate well, but there was so much rain that it was too much for anything that was supposed to be waterproof. So much rain. Ugh.
Ok…..jacket or cape still results in wet if it rains hard enough. Let’s hope for a fair skies this year and break the streak of crap weather. Then none of us will have to worry about it.
Ok…..jacket or cape still results in wet if it rains hard enough.
Yep. That’s why Bill’s advice re: wool is spot-on. You’re likely going to be soaked at some point no matter what; wool will keep you warm, even when wet.
That said, if you’re just dealing with drizzle or light rain, a rain cape is a good way to go to stay somewhat dry without overheating as much. And they’re quite attention-getting, especially if you go with day-glo plastic and put a blinky on flash mode inside.
Fair skies would be truly lovely. I shan’t hold my breath, though.
My wardrobe is slowly becoming 100% black merino
By which I mean ^ what those guys said about wool
It’s not like the commonwealth is gonna let you guys crush it without putting up a fight. Just sayin’.
Im actually a pretty big fan of the “rain cape” plastic style. They keep you
SUPER warm. They are good for stopping shivers and hypothermia.
They are not good for keeping you cool or dry, but warmth is the key.
The 02 stuff is nice as well. Super cheap and packable. They tear fairly
easily and are almost more disposable than a plastic cape.
I agree re: having an easily packable plastic shell. I’ve only needed mine on CtC a couple of times, but, when you need it, you NEED it. (2010, westbound, between Bedford and Somerset, pounding rain and temps in the mid-30s. I wore every garment I had, including a plastic shell, and it was barely enough.)
When I need to keep my legs super warm, like last winter, I used rain pants from REI as a top layer. Those things do not breathe. They are made of that plasticy material also. I laugh at the “breathable” label they place on them. I actually only use them when I have days I have to commute to work in 35 degrees and rain, and even then, my legs sweat with only thin bib shorts under them. They pack down nice and small. They really would mak good CtC shit weather-I think I am going to get hypothermia- clothing.
Is there a good convenience store in West Newton at 7:30 am? I remember having trouble there in 2013 and looking for better options? The RiteAid isn’t open until 8am.
Back to the wool conversation. I’ve discovered that Merino wool doesn’t have to be expensive. After lots of searching on the web and a visit to REI, I was still reluctent to part with big bucks for a wool underlayer. Of all places, I found a black 100% merino wool crew neck in fantastic condition(Banana Republic brand) at Red, White and Blue thrift shop on Rt 65. With a 75% President’s Day markdown, I paid all of $3.25.
How can you lose on a deal like that?
That’s a lucky find.
I have found that European stores like Wiggle (wiggle.co.uk) offer good prices, even counting the shipping.
I am seriously contemplating doing this ride, because I want to get a long one down before Memorial Day weekend this year, and it is always more fun to ride with others. I did this back in 2007 (I think) and it was a blast, but I doubt that I am going to be coming into Philly any earlier than late Saturday night.
If anyone is down for splitting a rental car to drive back to Pittsburgh vs taking the Greyhound let me know. I’d assume to be driving back Monday most likely, regardless of how long it takes to pedal there.
BTW in order for the rain cape to really keep you dry, you also need fenders. Without them, spray from the road gradually soaks you from below. Something to keep in mind for this year’s CtC.
Last year I had a cheepo plastic rain jacket that ripped. A clerk at a mini-mart gave me a large garbage back. This year I’m going with http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002ETVM0W/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1. It worked pretty well last night. It didn’t keep me totally dry, but it kept my core dry and has good ventilation. I don’t mind my legs getting wet. It packs a little large.
A battery pack charges my phone and gps quite well.
See you at the Point. I think there will be 3 or 4 new comers this year. I wonder if I’ll be the oldest competitor this year one week after my 51st Birthday :-)
durishange – i got you beat at 58 and i’ll be a couple months short of 59 by race day. first time for me, so who knows what’s going to happen. mostly just want to finish, but shooting for 40hrs.
If you hadn’t seen it, Pgh Randoneers have a 200K this Sunday and me a couple buddies are registered for that.
I picked up a waterproof rain shell at Wally World (Frogg Toggs), that folds up into itself for storage in my panniers and has enough elastic at the bottom to keep water from splashing up at you (if you don’t like fenders). It doesn’t breathe AT ALL but it doesn’t let any water in from the outside either. They make super-light versions as well for pretty cheap that are great for backpacking but not as durable.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic. Click here to login.