WABA in the Wild

Save the date: October 6th-9th, 2017

Registration opens June 1, 2017!!!

WABA in the Wild is a way to make bicycling better by going for an amazing bike ride.

We held our inaugural WABA in the Wild bike tour in early October 2016 and it was a huge success! Want to keep track of updates? Sign up for the interest list here.

WABA in the Wild is three days and three nights on one of the nation’s best long-distance trails: the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath. That’s three days and 184.5 miles of car-free gravel happiness. We provide delicious food and so many snacks, campsites, SAG support and gear transportation, so all you have to do is ride and enjoy the wildlife. If you’re an experienced bike tourist or if this is your first bike overnight, this guided scenic journey from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC is perfect for you.

This adventure is a peer-to-peer fundraiser ride to support WABA’s mission to get everyone within one mile of a safe, dedicated place to ride a bike.

Scroll down for WABA in the Wild FAQs!

Throughout the WABA in the Wild weekend, riders will:

  • Depart on the adventure of a lifetime
  • Bike a total of 184.5 (plus a few) miles
  • Learn about the history of the lock houses, the canal, towpath, and future plans for preservation and maintenance (perfect for all you history buffs and touring geeks)
  • Be escorted by experienced bike tour guides on a fully supported trip with all meals and transportation included for your gear (great for those new to bike touring or those looking for awesome camaraderie)
  • Enjoy s’mores and good conversation around a campfire and under the stars
  • Have the opportunity to think deeply and chat about bike advocacy in the Washington region
  • Get a super sweet custom WABA in the Wild bike jersey
  • Help make bicycling better in the DC region!

Check out WABA in the Wild from last year:

In October 2016, we held our very first WABA in the Wild, a three and a half day bike tour and camping trip from Cumberland, Maryland at one end of the C&O Canal Trail to Georgetown, Washington, DC at the other end of the C&O Canal Trail.

Riders in Cumberland

A wet but happy start in Cumberland, MD

Simply put, WABA in the Wild was epic.

Take a look at the adventure below and read on to hear what a few ride participants had to say about their experience. Plus, this event was a peer-to-peer fundraiser ride that raised almost $14,000 for WABA (and for this year’s WABA in the Wild, we anticipate raising over $30,000 for better bicycling!).

Here’s what people said about the trip last year:

Waba in the Wild was an incredible experience for more reasons than I even anticipated.The ride itself was an extraordinary immersion in nature and cycling all day; the WABA crew was amazingly hospitable and thought every detail through, allowing us to just ride, make friends and marvel at the scenery; and I got to try a short bike tour with all the logistics taken care of- and instead of paying a tour company, I got to raise money for an organization that directly makes me safer and happier on my bike.

I’m so happy WABA decided to organize this trip because I’ve wanted to bike the entire C&O canal for years but was having trouble with logistics. WABA arranged everything seamlessly and gave me the opportunity to do this not just for myself and my own achievement but also to raise money to support making biking safer. I learned so much about what I can do in my community, it was so inspiring!

Favorite parts of the event for me were the camaraderie and moments to ride and chat with both the riders and the WABA crew; Camping, campfire and camp meals; Learning more about the WABA mission and goals. Lastly, being completely consumed in the event from start to finish.

I am still basking in the WABA in the Wild afterglow! I’ll start by expressing my appreciation for the way you handled the logistics for this event. The guidance you provided in advance of the trip from fundraising through packing lists and daily schedules were thorough and immensely helpful. I felt a part of the WABA team in reaching the goals and from wheels up at Walter Pierce Park. I also felt that friendships were formed among the WABA crew and all of the riders. I feel a connection to everyone who participated. There are many challenges presented in riding and camping the C&O canal. Conditioning, hydration, nutrition, recovery are all a part of what each rider has to do. WABA injected massive amounts of fun into every aspect of this adventure. I truly felt like I was being taken care of throughout. WABA in the Wild was a memorable experience. Thank you!


WABA in the Wild FAQs:

Q: How many miles per day will we ride?

A: Day 1 is 62 miles. Day 2 is 66 miles. And Day 3 is 63 miles.

Q: Wait, that’s more than 184.5 miles. What gives?

A: There are a few extra miles on the beginning to get from the campsite in Cumberland to the start of the Canal, and a few extra miles to get to the campsite/bunkhouse in Harper’s Ferry.

Q: Do I have to carry all my stuff?

A: Nope! We’ll load up your luggage and camping gear each morning and have it ready to unload each evening at the next campsite. Just make sure you can carry some snacks and water bottles with you on your bike – we suggest a small handlebar bag, saddlebag, or putting things in pockets.

Q: What does it cost?

A: This is a fundraiser ride for WABA!  We require you to pay a deposit of $200 to join us for the ride, and then fundraise an additional $1,000 for WABA. The $200 you pay covers all of the costs to put on the ride for you, meaning that 100% of what you fundraise goes directly to support WABA’s mission. We ask that you pay $100 when you sign up, and the remaining $100 of your deposit is due two-weeks before the ride.

If this isn’t your cup of campfire-brewed tea, other tour groups offer similar 3-day Canal tours ranging from $350 to $700, or you can do the tour by yourself and take Amtrak to Cumberland. But trust us, it will be much more fun to join WABA in the Wild!

Q: I’m not used to biking that much – should I still sign up for the ride?

A: Most likely, yes! We will be bicycling at a fairly slow pace and it will be no drop, though we do encourage everyone who signs up to be in good physical condition and able to finish each day. If you have experience biking 30+ miles and could do so a few days in a row, then with a good pair of bike shorts and a some chamois cream, you can probably do 60 miles a day. We’ll also circulate a “training” plan for you to work up to that many miles.

Q: What type of bike do I need?

A: A bike that is comfortable (you’ll be on your bike basically all day for three days) and that has wider tires – but it can be a hybrid, a touring bike, a road bike with wider tires, a cyclecross bike, a mountain bike, etc. We recommend that you have tires that are at least 28mm wide – but wider tires (32mm or wider) would be best! We also recommend you use cyclocross, mud, dirt, or mountain bike tires that are a bit tougher and knobby – this is because although the canal is mostly smooth dirt and small crushed rocks, the canal does have some larger rocks, potholes and ruts.

Q: What if I don’t have the right bike? What if I don’t have a tent, sleeping bag, or sleeping pad?

A: You can certainly rent the gear (or borrow it from a friend). We’ll provide you with a list of bike rental partners and you can arrange to rent a trail bike for the tour. We’ll also provide you with a list of local retailers you can borrow or rent camping gear from (ie: the REI in Rockville, MD rents camping gear).

Q: Are there vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free food options?

A: Yes, once you register, we’ll ask you for your dietary preferences.

Do you have other questions or concerns?

Please ask us!! Contact the WABA Events Team at events@waba.org or 202-518-0524 ext 218 with any questions.

We will also host a WABA in the Wild Info Session in mid-June for folks who are interested in learning more about the trip – stay tuned for when that will be!


Primal Logo

Each WABA in the Wild rider will receive a new, custom WABA in the Wild jersey!! Thanks to our friends and official Merch Sponsors Primal Wear. The colors are bold, the design stands out, and the quality endures. Based out in Denver, Colorado, Primal supports biking at all levels, from multi-day road races to advances in local bike infrastructure. Thanks to Primal’s support we’re able to offer WABA members 20% off jerseys, socks, and t-shirts and use the funds to support our work for better biking.