Nearly a month after riding bicycles — through bouts of thigh-high ponding water, pouring rains, skinny shoulders, rumble-tumble-strips, the occasional trail, sand domes and fire ants, steamy temperatures, crossing busy highways, pelotons and caravans, dead armadillos, live alligators, bearded goats standing-on-sheds, getting lost, getting found, southern hospitality, hot towels and fresh cookies, high-octane metabolisms, daily ice cream, police escort thru the ‘Alley, hot showers in Savannah, and navigating conversations, potholes and vehicles — the memories are nearly as fun as the adventure. Below are the cyclists, who thrive for the ride. See you next year, ECG WAY mates!
The complimentary breakfast at our Beaufort hotel buzzed with cyclists half-woke, half-dressed wearing a pungent o-dear that was reminiscent of yesterday’ ride, walking straight toward the make-it-yourself waffle iron, the trays of english muffins and miniatures dollops of peanut butter where peanuts were the last of a 12-ingredient list that began with the words ‘corn syrup’. Today’s breakfast was our best by far — it included jellies that were close-enough to be considered fruit, and we slathered sugar-slime onto miniature brown and yellow muffins with more unrecognizable ingredients. Someone cut in line, a fellow biker with mismatched socks, and we waited patiently while he grabbed a second slice of wonder bread mumbling “bless his heart”, because after all it was Day 6 of hard riding. Everyone was growing weary, and that’s how one rolls in the south.
We departed downtown Charleston, with our morning ritual perfected. Drag luggage and bicycle to hotel lobby and park at the first open space making sure the other hotel guests had no access to the exits. Load water-logged (from sweat / humidity) luggage onto the U-Haul truck. Consume a Kind bar for breakfast. The same Kind of bar that will be consumed over the next 7 hours, and wonder if that is really a Kind way to treat your body. Check your bicycle lights, GPS navigation software, pump the tires and spin the wheels listening to the new whirring sounds that weren’t there before. Seek out the ECG bike mechanic and decide he’s too busy helping others. Decide to troubleshoot yourself. Or at least with select members of your riding team, those without advanced bicycle mechanic skills.
The morning ritual begins. Rummage through your bag looking for dry shoes and dry clothes. Wonder why all your clothes are wet, and realize the wet ones fused with the dry collection. Do the sniff test. Everything smells gamey. Open the hotel door to check the outside temperature, and watch the humid steamy air roll in. You feel your body temperature rise, and you instinctively wipe the steam off your forehead. Close the door, fast. Staying dry is out. It’s all about the nose. Choose the least gamey outfit and hope your bike-mates won’t draft too close.
After a long conversation with an Ocean Isle Beach native working the meat department at the town grocery, he assured me that not only are alligators good eating and taste like chicken, but they get ’em fresh from Georgia, which from my calculation was two states away.
Me: Will they chase us on bicycles?
The Butcher: Yes, ma’am.
Me: You, mean, while we’re riding our bikes, they’ll come out and chase us?
The Butcher: No ma’am. Only when you stop.
Whaaat? You’re doing what?
We are East Coast Greenway. Riding our bikes one week a year, to cover a segment of miles from Maine to Key West, FL – and this year, Wilmington NC to Savannah GA. Riding the congested east coast, as pioneers, bringing visibility to what roadways need to be more bike-friendly and tour townships on segments that include bike trails and low volume roads. The East Coast Greenway works with municipalities to form safe bike travels state-by-state – because who wouldn’t want to travel without a car?
Continue reading East Coast Greenway: Wilmington to Ocean Isle Beach NC
Day 4: Bicycling from Elizabethtown, NC to Moores Creek National Battlefield
40ish miles — and bonus points for headwinds
The fourth and final day of our East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour, cut short due to Hurricane Matthew began at the Corner Cafe in the heart of Elizabethtown. A cafe that is open “All Day” according to the neon sign on the window, or just until 2 PM according to the fine print. We were certain to be done with breakfast before 2 PM.
Day 3: Bicycling from Fayetteville, NC to Elizabethtown, NC
43ish miles — and who’s really counting when there’s so much to see?
The third day of the East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour began with breakfasts piled high with ham and bacon and a side of bacon fat with fresh steamed or raw vegetables a distant memory (unless you carried your own). With Hurricane Matthew dominating the news and expected to take out the Eastern seaboard from Florida to North Carolina, many cyclists who lived along the coast or needed to take care of business went off in separate directions. Those cyclists who were left behind were grateful for the chance to ride another day. And a half. Continue reading Wine’ing down
Day 2: Bicycling from Smithfield, NC to Fayetteville, NC
70ish miles — and who invited Hurricane Matthew to the Carolina coast?
The second day of the East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour began with new routines and new grooves setting in. The pre-ride routine included two trips (maybe more) to drag your luggage and bicycle from your room to the lobby. Bonus points were earned for not spilling your cup of Joe. If you made it to the lobby without losing Joe, you treated yourself to a sit-down in the lobby lounge, chatting with bike mates, and planning your departure time for the day’s ride. Minutes are ticking, and it’s time to keep moving, so you find your way to the luggage truck to hoist your bag onboard — a bag that has mysteriously doubled in weight — and discover there is still time for more socializing. You then grab a tire pump, one that puts more than 40 pounds of air pressure in your tires, and quickly realize you’ll be riding a lot faster today with air in your tires. A long glare at your bicycle seat followed by a quick request of the saddle gods to be kind, and your group-du-jour of riders — with bright visibility lights flashing — are ready to cycle on. Continue reading Hogs, Logs and Miles
Day 1: Bicycling from Raleigh, NC to Smithfield, NC
42.5ish miles — or more depending on bonus miles & wrong turns
The first day of the East Coast Greenway WAY (Week-A-Year) tour began in downtown Raleigh with nearly 40 cyclists jones’n to get on their bicycle legs. Many drove double-digit hour-long car rides, tipping the scales of 70 mph speed limits for the right to transition to a pace that resembled something much slower. Cycling at touring speeds, with the winds at your back if you were lucky. A pace that averaged 10-12 miles per hour once you factored in the stops – that were many, especially on day one. Continue reading Transitions