the towpath is almost like a paved trail, its got finely ground? limestone, not like gravel, pretty smooth, but not exactly like a paved trail. a comfort bike or mtn bike with slicks is usually what i would use, or my fair weather road bike. i think you will be fine, its not like mtn biking off road on single track which would be a pretty difficult ride for a first bike event. i agree, stop briefly for a snack, but dont over do it or stop for too long. it is going to be pretty hot tomorrow so be sure to drink you water and something with electrolytes.
you will probably want to clean your bike off when you get home with a gentle hose spray to get the dust off, wipe your chain off and lube it.
If you have egg-beaters, Looks or the like, don't forget your shoes.
27 miles in the trails isn't like 27 miles on the road bike. 27 miles is nothing on a road bike - I did 23 tonight just to test drive a new saddle. But 27 on a trail can be far harder than many people think. Even if it's rather flat, you aren't zipping along at 20+ mph, so be prepared for a few rest stops but don't indulge to excess with your bars and Powerade\water. I usually stop just once when I do a Metric Century, at a halfway point - somewhere around 30-32 miles. I would suggest you do about the same but maybe in thirds - 10\10\finish - but only if you feel the need. I don't know about you, but it seems that when I hop back in the saddle, after a respite, I simply can't get my groove back.
I hope this helps and best of luck to you on your first ride! I'm sure you'll do stellar.
Tomorrow I am riding in my first bike event/tour and I am super excited! It is 27 miles along the towpath trail in Cuyahoga Valley National Park in NE Ohio. We actually will be taking the train south and then riding the trail back North (downhill). There is a lunch stop about halfway, so I get the impression the ride is going to be very easygoing, which makes me feel really comfortable about it being my first ride. And if for some reason I can't make it the entire way back (which I don't anticipate) I can always hop the train back north again for $2.
(On a side note, if you're every traveling through Ohio and have your bike the CVNP/Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath is a beautiful ride!)
I have an Osprey (like a camelback) for water and some powerade in my water bottle. I am taking some clif bars for snacks, but there is a lunch stop a little over halfway...so I'm not too concerned about food. Also on my list of things: helmet, gloves, camera, and tire tools. Am I missing anything obvious?
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