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OBX Cycling: Bike tripping the yellow brick road

By a leisurely 8:30 am we hit the bicycle trail that ran parallel to Route 12 and headed south from Corolla. Winds blew strong from the south – at least 25 knots, and the beauty of riding into the winds meant we would finish our loopy ride with a tailwind. The bicycle trails twist and turn among giant sand dunes that resemble small hills, and weave through crooked low-lying trees and brush — the Outer Banks version of Florida mangroves — which protect this delicate sandbar from hurricanes and storms. When the trails meandered closer to the Sound-side, we soaked in spectacular sights of a vast waterway, tall sea grass and the occasional blue heron. As we neared Kitty Hawk, we caught a glimpse of the ocean where the dunes were short, and beach access included ocean views. We rode past a street corner garnished with yellow bricks, and on top of those bricks sat two ruby slippers, and we bonded with a ‘no place like home’ vibe.

Drifting sand rules Kitty Hawk

Arriving at Kitty Hawk, we rode the western shore of these Outer Banks, and noted a distinctly wooded terrain with bogs and wildlife one would expect to find on the mainland – not on a barrier island. The homes were built year-round residents – smaller in size with personal touches, less opulent, and constructed before regulations required homes to be built on tall stilts. Bicycling east, toward the ocean, the sand dunes were tested, with blowing sand fighting developers who built defying Mama Nature. With bicycle lanes covered in sand, it’s time to ride inland from Beach road.

An Olympic perfect 10

We stopped for lunch, and apparently, I stopped too fast, and the biker behind me (Paddy) also stopped too fast which sent him flying into one of the most graceful depart-your-bike-go-airborne-then-tumble I had ever seen and rolled out into the middle of the road. Normally, one would be concerned about falling off a bike, and especially falling out into a lane of traffic, but the Outer Banks are empty this time of year, and I considered holding up 10 fingers for a perfect score but alas we were not in the Outer Banks Olympics. Moments later, unscathed and wearing a how-cool-was-that-grin, bike-man was back on the saddle, and clearly, we needed nourishment after riding too many miles into a headwind.

Benefits of bicycling  20 miles into 25 knots of headwinds

  • Builds stamina
  • Opportunity to take lots of pictures – nothing is missed while traveling at single digit speeds
  • Plenty of time to make note of places of interest for the return trip
  • Consider replacing your bike computer – it doesn’t seem to be registering mileage
  • Swallow any purist biker pride and draft off the guy in front with the electric bike
  • When the electric biker guy sees you getting too close and uses his throttle to speed off, and after you’ve lip-synched a good dose of swear words, consider attaching a towrope to his seat-post

Benefits of bicycling  20 miles with a tailwind

  • Let your mind wander and pretend to be an elite bicyclist
  • Pretend to have no shortage of stamina
  • Decide your bicycle computer – and specifically the display of big MPH numbers — is working perfectly
  • Look for, and never find those places of interest because you’re cycling too fast
  • Finish the daily ride having completely forgotten the first 20 miles and feeling exhilarated

More on bicycling the Outer Banks during the off-season:
5 reasons to bike Corolla NC in February
Objects appear fuzzy
The Yellow Brick Road
OBX Turn-by-turn
As good as it gets

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