- March 8, 2019
Weather Along the GAP/When Should I Ride?
Although Golden Triangle Bike offers great weather guarantee (just kidding), we still find it necessary to talk a as much as possible about the elephant in the room when it comes to bike trips: WEATHER!!! We have been in business long enough to see that the weather patterns have shifted since our humble beginnings. We get more rain, hotter days, shorter seasons, unpredictability, more remnants from hurricanes, early season snow, and everything in between. We want your expectations to meet reality, so we are going to lay it on the line and talk about the best and worst of the weather along the trail. Let’s break it down by season
Off season: December through at least Mid-March
Don’t ride the trail! You may be able to squeak out a ride at the beginning or end of this season, but its not likely. Constant freezing, thawing, snow, rain, and not much sun make the surface slow and alot like quick sand. It is not for the faint of heart….even on a fat bike. Go ride in the south at this time of the year.
Early Season: Mid-March Through Mid-May
If you are like us, you cant wait to leave the winter behind and get on the bike! As soon as the weather breaks, its go time. However here are some items to consider when planning an early season trip on the GAP/C&O
The earliest that we have sent folks down the trail has been the last week of March into the first of April. For the most part, those few people have lucked out and have had decent weather and trail conditions. Truth be told, depending on how harsh the winter has been, this time of year can be a adventurous and challenging. The GAP trail surface freezes in the winter and thaws in the early spring. Until it has had sufficient warmth and sun, it can be “mushy”….kind of like riding on sand. If you have ever done that, you know it’s not fun! It’s also not uncommon to see flurries during the first weeks of April…..on the flip side, we have also seen 70 degrees and sun.
So, the sum up the early spring riding season, you can expect a mix bag of weather ranging from flurries to cold rain to 70 and sunny. If you go before mid April, you may encounter less than ideal trail surfaces and conditions. Lodging accommodations usually have a lot of vacancies and some of the seasonal businesses (dining, bike shops, etc) are just starting to open for the season and may have limited hours. Our trip planners can talk you through the obstacles and benefits for riding early Spring.
Late Spring/Early Summer: Mid-May through June
A popular time of the year! New plants and flowers are blooming every day. The lush green landscape of the laurel Highlands is in its full glory. The trail surfaces have firmed. Temperatures are pleasant to hot. The threat of rain is always present. But for the most part, you’ll experience 60-80 degree range and sunny skies.
Because of the popularity of this time of year, you’ll have to plan early! Accommodations and amenities along the trail become more limited with each passing season as this awesome bike trip becomes an adventure for more and more people from around the world.
Mid Summer-July and August:
For the past 17 years we have been trying to understand why this time period is slow along the trail. While the temps are at their highest (usually 70-90 degrees) you’ll be less likely to see rain and have plenty of reprieve from the heat in the canopy or by taking a dip in any of the numerous trail side rivers and creeks. Usually, you’ll also have your choice when it comes to accommodations and amenities, since this is the calm before the storm in late summer/early fall. It’s also a great tie of the year if you want to plan a last minute trip along the trail. There are many benefits to riding July and August. Our trip planner will happily guide you through planning a trip at this time of the year.
Late Summer/Fall -September and October
The most popular time of the year to ride! Peak foliage is a moving target and can happen anywhere from early October to early November. There is nothing like riding on a crisp sunny morning under the canopy of color that encompasses the trail in these months. It’s no wonder it’s so popular.
Two things to consider if you want to go at this time of year. Accommodations can be limited so it’s crucial that you plan early. Plan 6-12 months in advance if you want to be able to have the best possible itinerary.
The second item is weather. For the most part the weather is great! We start out hot in early September, but as the month progresses it gives way to cooler temps and sunny sky’s. The one item that can throw a curve ball at your trip is a hurricane! The remnants of Atlantic and Gulf hurricanes can bring days of steady rainfall at any point in these months. It’s a slim chance that these storms pack enough punch to make an impact, but it’s been known to happen. Usually once every few years. That being said, the overwhelming majority who go during this time frame have the ride of their life and experience nothing but an awesome time!
As with any outdoor, weather can and will effect your experience. As stated in all of our correspondence with out customers, we recommend travel insurance to protect you in these instances. Let us know if you have any questions!
Late Fall/Early Winter: November
As the weather stays warmer in many of the recent years, November becomes more of a possibility for riding. You can usually find plenty of lodging accommodations, but the seasonal amenities (dining, side trips , etc) will be limited. Best to not plan this one too far in advance and watch the weather. Let us know if we can help