Day 0 — To Moores Creek, with a helping of BBQ on the side of the road

This is what I call breakfast plus lunch!

IMG_1099When all you had for breakfast is a Clif bar and you spot barbecue being sold under a simple white poop-up tent on the side of the road… of course you stop.

Good thing too, since the scenic route back from Moores Creek to Wilmington ended up on a different route, missing the planned lunch spot and stopping instead at a “famous” hot dog place after 45 or so miles, which most certainly wouldn’t have been what I was looking for.

This signed lured us in.

IMG_1093And this is what I got for $10. More than enough for breakfast plus lunch! Sorry, vegetarians, even the rice and okra had meat in it. No idea about the collard greens. Awesome ribs, with meat falling off the bone.


We were told the sale was to help one of the workers get his own place. Just a mobile home, nothing fancy. Hope it works out.

The day’s ride was to close the gap from the end of last year’s abridged ride at Moores Creek from Elizabethtown and the start of this year’s in Wilmington. But with our detour, it was more than I bargained for — probably 60 miles all in, including my ride to and from the start.

Bet you haven’t heard of this Revolutionary War battle in North Carolina

The battle at Moores Creek probably doesn’t get much attention beyond fourth-grade North Carolina history class. But it’s the colonists’ first victory.

ecg-moores-creekOur ride ended prematurely, as I mentioned earlier, at Moores Creek National Battlefield about 20 miles outside of Wilmington, NC. It bills itself as the first victory by the American colonists, in February 1776, and came more than four months before the Declaration of Independence. Depending on who you believe, the fighting lasted as little as three minutes (an early account) or 20 to 30 minutes (the volunteer at the visitors center).

This is a battle that I am guessing doesn’t get much attention beyond fourth-grade North Carolina history class. Basically, a group of Scottish loyalists needed to get to Wilmington to link up with the British. In their way were a few groups of patriots who came together at Moores Creek. The loyalist commander sent an emissary the night before saying give up and all will be forgiven … or else. And reported back that it was just a small group of fighters. The main group was actually across the bridge, and the small group moved there under the cover of night. So when the loyalists attacked just before dawn (with just broadswords, not guns!), well, it didn’t go well. It’s a really swampy area (this is the view from the boardwalk, not the bridge), so no one knows how many drowned as they fled.


Beyond the immediate victory, this battle undermined hopes that the South would side with Britain. Instead, North Carolina was one of the first to instruct its delegates to vote for independence a few months later.

Stopping at sites like this is part of what I enjoy about touring by bicycle. This is not the sort of National Parks Service site that draws lots and lots of visitors. How many will detour off Interstate 40 for this? But it’s on the East Coast Greenway. And I would have stopped even if it wasn’t the end of the ride.

Another factoid: in the aftermath, the patriots captured more than 15,000 pounds, which is nearly $14 million today (maybe I should say $13 million given the pounding sterling has just taken!).

The bridge itself has been replaced many times since the battle, most recently after Hurricane Floyd demolished it in 1999. Here’s hoping Hurricane Matthew doesn’t do the same.

Day 4 — Biking 39.1 miles from Elizabethtown to Moores Creek Battlefield in North Carolina

The ride is over after just 3 1/2 days and 200 miles, thanks to Hurricane Matthew.

ecg-nc-recycled-wadersThis year’s East Coast Greenway ride is over early, thanks to Hurricane Matthew.

We ended at the day’s lunch spot, a Revolutionary War battleground, about 20 miles shy of Wilmington, NC, our original plan. I’m now home after about 200 miles on the bike in what I am calling 3 1/2 days. All to be continued next October.

Thursday was a gray day, and it felt like we were just a smidgen away from mist. The wind was in our favor until almost the end. But rivers are swollen from a recent storm, so there’s no place for all this hurricane rain to go. Wilmington is still coping from that, which is what kept out from a full fourth day. At the battlefield, they’re expecting to be waist-deep in water, which seems to be what happened after Hurricane Floyd in  1999. I’m feeling for everyone along the coast.

Bales of pine-needle mulch, spotted from the road
f=””> Bales of pine-needle mulch, spotted from the road[/capt
As for the route, this was another trail-free day. Flat, too. The roads were generally quiet and motorists respectful of cyclists, but North Carolina doesn’t seem to build wide shoulders. Perhaps it’s to save money. Perhaps we northeners like our shoulders as a place to dump snow in the winter, and they don’t have that concern. The lack of shoulders was felt more getting in and out of towns, as you’d expect. So while you might feel comfortable bringing a teenager on our route, you’d want to feel confident about an elementary school student’s ability to keep a fairly straight line, especially when there is traffic. I don’t know how runners feel about this. But given how rural this area  is, it’s hard for me to see how any off-road route for the East Coast Greenway will be built.

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