WABA in the Wild is summer camp for grownups: biking the C&O Canal towpath over three-and-a-half days, 184.5 miles from Cumberland to Georgetown.
It’s fun, it’s challenging, and, this time, you can have as many snacks as you want. Let’s take this journey together—WABA will take care of everything so you can focus on the ride and cross this awesome experience off your bucket list.
You’ll show your support for WABA along the way by raising at least $1,000 for better bicycling in the months leading up to the trip.
Mud. Wildlife. Good company. Yummy food. Showers. What’s not to like?
Need to break up the $250 registration fee into smaller payments? Email Anna McCormally at email@example.com.
- Start Date: Friday, October 11, ~1pm
- End Date: Monday, October 14, ~6pm
- Cost: $250
- Fundraising: $1,000+ by October 4th
- Start Location: REI Rockville (910 Rose Avenue, North Bethesda, MD)
- End Location: Thompson Boat Center (2900 Virginia Ave NW, Washington, DC)
- Average Daily Mileage: 63.3
- Number of Riders: 25
- Accommodations: Camping
- Showers: Yes
- Level of Support: Fully supported
- Surface: Unpaved bike path, gravel
- Total Days: 4
- Riding Days: 3
June – September
Over the summer, you’ll engage with WABA and your fellow riders a few ways:
—At a pre-ride orientation at the WABA office one evening;
—During a group ride, followed by dinner or drinks;
—Via phone and email, with the WABA in the Wild staff, who will support you with everything from what to pack to how to reach your fundraising goal; and
—In a Google Group, where you can chat with fellow riders and ride alumni and organize additional meetups or plan fundraisers.
Friday, October 11th. Cumberland. 0 miles.
We will gather as a group at REI in the early afternoon. You will meet the WABA tour staff, check in and review and finalize paperwork, pack your bike into a Uhaul, and get on a bus with the other riders to Cumberland. (You’ll have dropped off your gear at WABA earlier in the week.)
At camp, you’ll set up your tent and get to know the other riders before your first camp dinner, cooked by your friendly WABA tour staff! After dinner, we’ll have a fireside chat to talk about WABA’s work and the ride ahead.
Saturday, October 12th. Cumberland to Hancock. ~62 miles.
After breakfast, we’ll hold our first safety circle, and head to the C&O Canal trailhead together to take a group photo. Our ride will begin with the beautiful Appalachian mountains as a backdrop. You’ll ride the whole morning, with a snack break, before you hit the lunch stop in Paw Paw. After a delicious meal, you’ll get back in the saddle and head through the Canal’s most famous feature: the Paw Paw Tunnel. After a full afternoon of riding (and another snack break) you’ll hit Hancock, one of the Canal Towns. After setting up camp, you’ll dine at the renowned local establishment, Buddy Lou’s Eats and Antiques, before heading back to camp.
Sunday, October 13th. Hancock to Brunswick. ~69 miles.
You’ll hit a rhythm on your second day of riding: breakfast, safety circle, ride, snack break, ride—of course, admiring the scenery and getting to know the riders along the way. For lunch, we will stop in unique Williamsport, another Canal Town that will make you want to return for second helping, before heading on towards Brunswick. Here, you’ll be thankful for a hot shower to wash the mud off you and a gourmet meal provided, once again, by your talented WABA tour staff.
Monday, October 14th. Brunswick to Georgetown. ~55 miles.
Hopefully, you’ll rise on your final day well-rested, ready to take on the last stretch of the towpath. Touring will be old hat by this time: you’ll breeze through the safety circle and ride through the day, enjoying every last minute of your pedal-powered adventure. Once in Georgetown, you’ll feel like the trip both slipped by and lasted forever, but one thing’s for sure: you’ll be hooked on bicycling, and WABA, like never before.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does registration cost?
WABA in the Wild registration is $250. This covers all of the costs to put on the ride for you (transportation, lodging, and meals), meaning that 100% of what you fundraise directly supports WABA’s mission.
Will I have to take any time off of work to do this trip?
Probably. This trip takes three-and-a-half days: we will leave for Cumberland on Friday afternoon and return to Georgetown on Monday evening (which is Indigenous Peoples’ Day—a holiday). It will be worth the time off, though!
How much do I have to fundraise?
You must raise a minimum of $1,000 for WABA, but we will encourage you—and challenge you—to raise more! Everything raised directly supports WABA’s work to make bicycling better in the Washington region. In 2018, WABA in the Wild riders collectively raised $36,250.64, a huge accomplishment. (They can share their tips with you!)
Where do people send donations?
We will set up a personal fundraising page for you through the WABA website, using a photo and narrative that you provide. People who want to donate to your campaign can do so by credit card through this page. Fundraising through your page is not optional—this is how we track your progress towards your fundraising goal. While you may receive donations by cash, we ask that you make those donations through your own fundraising page in the name of the person, event, or group that provided them. We can work with you on any other logistics, including taking donations by check.
When is the fundraising deadline?
You must raise $1,000 by Friday, October 4th. If you sign up by the end of July, that gives you a little more than two months to fundraise the full amount.
What happens if I don’t meet my minimum fundraising goal?
We know that fundraising $1,000 might be an intimidating task for first-time fundraisers. We will do a lot to support you along the way. You can attend an in-person fundraising workshop, where we will walk you through developing a strategy; we’ll send you ample resources to help brainstorm how you will raise the money; and we will check-in with you personally at least once (and more if you’re eager to blow it out of the water).
We expect that everyone will meet, if not exceed, their fundraising goal. However, if you don’t fundraise the full amount by the start of the trip, you will complete a pledge form and your credit card will be charged for the difference after the trip.
How many miles per day will we ride?
You will ride about 65 miles per day. That adds up to more than 184.5 miles: you’ll bike a few extra miles over the course of the trip to get between the towpath and campsites, restaurants, and other sites.
I’m not used to biking that much—should I still register?
Most likely, yes! Our general rule is that if you have experience riding ~30 miles and you can do so a few days in a row, then, with a good pair of padded bike shorts, you can probably do ~65 miles a day. You also have plenty of time to get into shape for riding the distance (we’ll even provide a training plan!).
On the ride itself, people self-select into the “tortoise” or “hare” group based on their usual riding speed—the tortoise group will leave a little earlier in the morning to give you more time to reach each stop. Additionally, we will have a sweep rider to make sure that nobody gets left behind and give you a little extra encouragement if you need it to finish the last few miles.
And, keep in mind that over the trip, the only thing you have to do each day is ride—we’ll take care of almost everything else.
Do I have to carry all my stuff?
Absolutely not! Each morning, you’ll pack up your gear (in one soft-sided bag, such as a duffel, weighing no more than 50lbs) and pile it near the gear vehicle. We’ll load up your gear into the van each morning and have it ready for you each evening at the next campsite. You will need to carry water, snacks if you need to eat more than every 10-15 miles, and any other supplies you need to feel comfortable while riding.
What type of bike do I need?
You’ll need a bike that is comfortable for you, since you’ll be on your bike all day for three days—but it can be a hybrid, touring, road, cyclocross, or mountain bike! We don’t recommend using a racing, triathlon, BMX bicycle. E-bikes are not permitted on National Park Service trails, which includes the C&O Canal towpath. You may want to read about bike fit or get a professional bike fit before the trip. We also recommend you use wider tires (ideally 32mm or wider) that are a bit tougher and knobby. Although the Canal towpath is mostly smooth dirt and small crushed rocks, it does have larger rocks, potholes, wet spots, and ruts and wider, tougher, knobby tires will resist puncture and reduce slipping.
Can I bring multiple bikes?
No. Each rider can only bring one bicycle on WABA in the Wild.
Will there be a bike mechanic on the ride?
No. While there are bike shops in Cumberland, Hancock, and Brunswick, there will not be a mechanic associated with the trip. Because of this, it’s important to make sure your bike is in top condition before the ride. In the event of a mechanical failure, we will carry some basic supplies to fix it yourself or you can take your bike to one of the shops if necessary.
Do I have to wear a helmet?
Yes. You have to wear a helmet every moment you’re on your bike. WABA’s insurance requires it. This is standard for organized rides across the country.
What other major pieces of equipment will I need?
Other than a bike and helmet, you’ll need a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Read over our suggested packing list to see what else you might need!
What if I don’t have a bike, tent, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad?
You can rent the gear or borrow it from a friend! Let us know if you need some recommendations.
Will I need a lock?
We will lock all the bikes together each evening using a long cable lock and U-lock. However, if you prefer to use your own lock, please feel free to do so.
What does a typical day look like?
|7:00am||Quiet hours end; wake-up call, pack up camping gear|
|7:30am||Breakfast (e.g., build-your-own oatmeal, coffee, tea)|
|8:15am||Final preparation to ride|
|8:30am||Tortoises safety circle, Hares second cup of coffee|
|9:00am||Tortoises roll out (ride 10-15 miles), Hares safety circle|
|9:30am||Hares roll out (ride 10-15 miles)|
|10:30am||Snack break #1 (20-min limit), roll out (ride ~15 miles)|
|12:30pm||Lunch (e.g., sandwiches, chips, soda, water)|
|1:30pm||Roll out (ride ~15-miles)|
|3:30pm||Snack break #2 (20-min limit), roll out (ride ~20 miles)|
|5:30pm||Set up camp, free time, shower|
|6:30pm||Dinner (e.g., chili, toppings, corn muffins, sweet tea)|
|8:00pm||Evening programming (optional)|
|10:00pm||Bedtime; quiet hours begin (quiet hours until 7am)|
Do I need to bring food and water?
No. WABA will provide all meals, snacks, and water. However, if you like having extra snacks while riding, like granola bars, or if you have specific tastes in food or drink when you ride, you may consider bringing those yourself.
Are there vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free food options?
Yes! Once you register, we’ll ask you for your dietary preferences and needs. Our menu is vegetarian, with gluten-free options.
Can I stay in a hotel?
No. WABA in the Wild is incredibly special as a shared experience between riders, volunteers, and staff, and we do not have the capacity to account for riders splitting off from the main group at camp.
Will I get to shower on this trip? What about bathrooms?
There are shower facilities on all nights. There are permanent bathrooms at each campsite and at some points along the way. There are portable bathrooms available consistently during the ride.
Will campsites have electricity?
All three campsites have limited electrical outlets that will be set up with a phone charging station (or other small electronics). We strongly discourage bringing any large electronics, such as laptops or tablets. Priority use of electrical outlets will be given to WABA staff for meal preparation and any riders who need electricity for medical reasons, such as CPAP machines.
How do I get to and from the start and end locations?
The start location will be at REI Rockville, which is 0.3mi from the White Flint Metro Station (Red). You will not be able to leave a car at the start location over the weekend.
The end location is Thompson Boat Center (TBC) in Georgetown, Washington, DC. If you have a family member or friend with a car picking you up, TBC has a pay-to-park lot where someone can pick you up at the end of the ride. Or, TBC is 0.6mi from Foggy Bottom Metro Station (Orange/Blue).
Can I drop off my bag beforehand at the WABA office?
Yes. In fact, any gear you want us to transport for you, you must drop off in one soft-sided bag, such as a duffel, weighing no more than 50lbs, at the WABA office (2599 Ontario Rd NW, Washington, DC) no later than Wednesday, October 9th at 6pm. We will transport your gear directly from the office, and you will not be able to access it until we arrive at camp in Cumberland on Friday evening.
Do I get anything to commemorate this huge personal challenge?
Each WABA in the Wild rider will receive a new, custom WABA in the Wild jersey, thanks to our friends at Primal Wear. Primal supports biking at all levels, from multi-day road races to advances in local bike infrastructure.
What is the cancellation policy?
Registration for WABA in the Wild, like our other signature events, is nonrefundable and happens rain or shine. If you cancel before registration is over (July 30), you are not liable for the $1,000 fundraising commitment. If you cancel after registration closes, you are liable for the $1,000 fundraising commitment, except in situations with extenuating circumstances. We’ll address these on a case-by-case basis. This ride will sell out, and dropping out will not only impact fundraising for WABA, but will take away another member’s opportunity to participate.
I have more questions.
Please ask us! Contact the WABA events team at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-518-0524 x218 with any questions.