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!
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
The ride is part of the Week A Year Tour in support of the East Coast Greenway (ECG), a 2,900-mile trail route that stretches from the Canadian border at Calais, Maine, to Key West, Florida. We will be riding 6 days — and it appears that on Day 1 we may have a special guest. Hurricane Joaquin! While the weather gods are still calculating the storm path, Virginia and North Carolina have already declared states of emergency! Oh let the fun begin!!!
When I first heard that there was a place in the US where cars were banned and travel was limited to foot, bicycle and or horse-n-buggy, I thought — this is a place where I need to be.
Since the late 1800’s – cars have been banned on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Located amidst the Straits of Mackinaw — where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet separating mainland Michigan and the Upper Pennisula – is Mackinac Island. Accessible only by Ferry, the island is known for continuing it’s car-less tradition, promoting bicycling or foot travels and no shortage of handmade chocolate and fudge. Bicycling, followed by chocolate. It doesn’t get any better than that! Continue reading Mackinac Island – a haven for cycling
My recent art project had unexpected beginnings, twists and turns and a surprising ending. Much like my favorite way of wandering through life. Without knowing the ending. Getting lost in the process. Let me explain.
It started as a bike ride with a long-time friend, along the Isle of Palms shoreline in the middle of January. It wasn’t particularly warm, and the wind was blowing whatever heat could be felt from the sun clear north to Canada. My friend Cindy and I were riding beach cruisers – which have no gears. This means you can’t shift down to make the pedaling any easier. I quickly accept this reality and worked extra hard to keep the bike moving into the challenging headwinds. Just having the opportunity to escape the more northern chill of a Maryland winter — via coastal South Carolina puts me in an excellent mood. The beach was mostly deserted with the exception of a few walkers.
In 30 minutes, Cindy and I reached our southern turnaround point – Breach Inlet. To go further south would require swimming. And, I would not be swimming today. Instead we turned our cruisers around, and quickly appreciated the strength of the new-found tailwinds. Barely pedaling, we are scooting along and catching up on days gone by. When suddenly, Cindy spotted a starfish. I missed it. We were cruising too fast. A minute goes by and this time I spotted 2 starfish. Not alive of course, but washed up on the beach. What a lucky discovery, I thought. Suddenly my mind went into “art mode”, and I wondered if there was an art project I could create that might involve a starfish? There was no time to finish that thought, as we pressed on with our bicycles. Continue reading A starfish afterlife
We are on a mini-vacation, which means that we have very limited time, to do way too many things. On my list of “to dos” is to bicycle hundreds of miles, ride my elliptigo, and run until I drop. But alas, I’m not 20 years old, and more importantly, Paddy has to buy in to this exercise theme. I wanted to bicycle ride to Berlin, hang in the historic town among shops that were likely not open (nothing is open, cuz it’s not “in season” along the Maryland eastern shore) – and then ride into Ocean City proper and visit the strip. But, would Paddy go for all of this?
It is extremely windy. The kind of wind, that can really push you around – on a bicycle. When it’s a headwind, you put all of your energy into pedaling, and you don’t go very far or very fast. When it’s a tailwind, life is effortless, and you are literally pushed along your travels. When it’s a crosswind, hang on and ride into the wind just enough to keep from being blown off the road, and not too much to end up in the traffic. That’s the kind of day we are looking at for our bicycle travels.
After researching the best bike route – we found a country road that would take us to Berlin, MD. What we hadn’t factored in – was the last mile that led to Berlin, was along a major route. A route with no shoulder and a lot of traffic. With Paddy on trike and me on a hybrid bike, safety trumped the need to visit Historic Berlin and visit shops that were not likely open. So, we rode within 1 mile of Berlin, and then turned around, and rode back toward the campground. But wait, Paddy is feeling strong (it’s the tailwind!), and we decide to keep going – onward to Ocean City!
To get to Ocean City, we have to travel 1/4 mile along highway Route 50, and then get onto this very skinny sidewalk to ride 3/4 mile over the waterway, with winds blowing a steady 25 knots, and gusts to 35. Somewhere in the middle of this bridge, the fencing disappeared, and we found ourselves riding on a super slippery drawbridge – where the grated metal allowed you to see the water below and feel more wind move your bike. Let’s just say that riding our bikes on this skinny bridge with the slippery grates in winds blowing up to 35 knots was beyond frightening! The only thing that would make this kind of effort worthwhile – would be finding a good place to eat.
That was the plan. Finding a good place to eat. Officially in “Ocean City”, we make our way to the boardwalk, and start looking for a restaurant. Any restaurant. Any food at all? We asked the locals – a postman — “are there any restaurants open“? And the answer — “not really, the only restaurant open is in Ocean City West“. Ocean City West, is 5 miles from our campground, and where we have been going for lunches the last 2 days. OK, so the food is on the other side of the bridge. Where we were, before we crossed the bridge.
It’s time to think about returning. With the wind blowing 35 knots, the only way back, is to cross this bridge again. On a bicycle. Here we go. I raced ahead of Paddy, and decided that faster speeds would be better than slower speeds. With a combination of headwinds and crosswinds, I had all I could do to stay on my bike. I took the slippery grate section (drawbridge) as fast as I could, and there was no looking back until I had reached land. Paddy had his share of challenges too. He was riding the skinny sidewalk on a wide trike with about 3 inches on either side to spare. He had just enough room to keep the wheels on the sidewalk without crashing into the fence, or barrier wall.
30 minutes after crossing the bridge, we landed at – the Sunset Grille. Our third day of eating lunch at this one and only restaurant open in the vicinity of Ocean City. It’s all good tho – as the food is fantastic, and we can see it is a local’s favorite. After lunch, we hop back on our bicycles for the last 5 miles back to our campsite. Slowly, with a massive headwind, we navigated back to the campground, and sat inside the RV trying to get warm, with the RV rocking back and forth with the wind.
And we were feeling a bit empowered. Empowered, knowing that 35 knot winds had not diminished our bicycle adventures one bit.