Final photos from North Carolina

A last look at our hurricane-shortened bike ride along the East Coast Greenway.

This is (most of) the group as we gathered in Raleigh. No sign of the hurricane yet:


And where many of us went to dinner in Elizabethtown three days later:




Which set of wheels?


Dennis showing off his yoga skills on a bouncing “bonding board” at Cape Fear Vineyard and Winery in Elizabethtown:


Chris’s bike matches the East Coast Greenway colors! (OK, also, Holiday Inn’s)

ecg-greenFor another perspective on our hurricane-shortened adventure on the East Coast Greenway, read this blog. The wind and rain is fierce in North Carolina today — we all know the ride had to end when it did. Here’s to sunshine next October as we head from the Wilmington area to … Savannah?

Once again, thank you to everyone who supported the East Coast Greenway through my fundraising efforts. I hope you’ll go enjoy your own bike adventure.

Day 1 — 49.1 miles from Raleigh from Smithfield

I’m back in love with the trails in the Raleigh area.

ecg-raleigh-trail-2Wow, what trails!

I can’t rave enough about the first 20 miles of our ride today. We were outside of downtown Raleigh within a matter of blocks and on a trail in just over a mile. And then we stayed on them for 20 or so meandering miles, at times along a river, at other times along fields (apparently full of sunflowers at the height of summer). Sometimes we saw neighborhoods with a connector to the trail. Lots of boardwalk (so lots of money spent), many short bridges and then some serious ones. It’s all part of the Capital Area Greenway Trail System. We rode parts of the Little Rock Trail, the Walnut Creek Trail and Neuse River Trail into the next county.

This fuzzy photo of a map gives a sense of what Raleigh has to offer — and remember that we rode from Durham to Raleigh via Cary last year primarily on trails too, and I fell in love then. So those red lines capture only part of what the area has to offer, and obviously it’s more than just the East Coast Greenway. But like the East Coast Greenway, it shows the power of connecting trails.


Here’s a view from the trail:


That may look like a harmless stream or creek but clearly it had recently flooded:


A view from a bridge:


The value of trails couldn’t have been made clearer than when we reached the Clayton River Walk’s trailhead at Covered Bridge Road and had to leave the trail. We had a long, steep-ish hill on a somewhat curvy road with the tiniest of shoulders. One motorist patiently held back behind a few riders slightly ahead of me, and traffic started backing up. The third in line became impatient at one point, pulled out and zipped past the two cars in front. Another thought about doing the same. I was equal with him at that point and the passenger window was open. I could see a car in the oncoming lane and quickly said there’s a car coming. So one mess averted. But I do wish there had been a trail to take us to downtown Clayton.

We hit another lovely (much shorter) trail toward the end of the day — the Buffalo Creek Greenway/Smithfield Neuse Riverwalk. Unfortunately, the local hotels are a few miles away at the other end of town, by the interstate.

Why is today’s distance longer than advertised? A bit of backtracking to reach that last trail — and more backtracking from the hotel to visit the Ava Gardner Museum that tacked on about four miles.

Day 0 — Raleigh

I’m ready for this 325-mile bike ride along the East Coast Greenway in the Carolinas.

ecg-raleigh1-2016I’m ready to start this six-day, 325-mile bike ride along the East Coast Greenway. It’s great to see so many familiar faces among the riders and to start catching up with people, some of whom I haven’t seen since we ended last year’s ride in Raleigh. Thank you, Sherri, for welcoming all of us on the beautiful terrace in your downtown building. And now we’re all well-fed after that dinner at the Greek restaurant next to the hotel! Lovely to be eating outdoors, especially after all the rain and fleece-like weather we’ve had at home.

Tomorrow’s ride will have a good chunk of trail. That’s a nice way to get out of Raleigh, letting us avoid traffic. We’re headed to Smithfield 42 miles away. It’s a county seat with a population of about 13,000. So I’m really hoping our dinner choices are better than Chipotle (one of the three suggested options). But I’m definitely checking out the Ava Gardner museum.

Got to be ready to go at 7 a.m. Someone’s coming to film us heading out for some documentary that’s in the works.


Carolinas, here I come

I’m getting ready for my second big bike ride of the year along the East Coast Greenway.

East-Coast-Greenway-logoThis is the second big East Coast Greenway ride of the year. It’s 325 miles — similar to the fall rides of the past two years — but crammed into six days instead of seven. That’s what happens when hotels dictate where you can stop.

So I’ve got three days over 50 miles and one that is just under that. On the flip side, it’s mostly flat, unlike Maine, the hilliest section of the 3,000-mile route. I figure it will be cooler too — yay. There are 40 of us riding (plus staff and support), and I’m looking forward to seeing many people I know from previous rides. It’s going to be fun! Just hope we don’t have any big storms.

Here’s the itinerary:

Sunday, Oct. 2: We gather in Raleigh, NC, where we ended last year’s ride.

Oct. 3: 44 miles to Smithfield, NC.

Oct. 4: 69 miles to Fayetteville, NC

Oct. 5: 40 miles to Elizabethtown, NC

Oct. 6: 58 miles to Wilmington, NC

Oct 7: 66 miles to Ocean Isle, NC — after an early-morning boat cruise on the Cape Fear River.

Oct. 8: 48 miles to Myrtle Beach, SC and a celebration to mark a trail opening. Then we get shuttled back to Raleigh.

carolinas-routeAny suggestions for sights I should see out? Places to eat? If Maine was about lobster, this ride may be about barbecue…

After this, I can say I’ve ridden from Philadelphia (really just outside, in Conshocken) to Myrtle Beach — about 1,000 miles. Plus, of course, there’s the Maine ride earlier this year as well as training segments in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

I’ll be blogging every day of the ride, so check back for tales from the road.

Finally, this is a fundraising ride for the East Coast Greenway. If you’d like to support the cause, you can donate here. All the money goes to the cause; I’m paying for food and hotels.

Trail angels in the Triangle

Pickles are a thing on North Carolina bike rides. Really.

More kindness in North Carolina:

The “stuff lady” — Stephanie Loyka of GoTriangle (sorry, I had mistakenly credited Triangle Bikeworks previously) — came with a bag of front, back and spoke lights. We got to pick one. I’m trying out the spoke light. Thank you!

goodies for riders

Two local rest stops. Who knew that pickles are a thing on bike rides? Apparently they (or at least the pickle juice) is good for fighting cramps. So are a couple packets of yellow mustard. (I have yet to test this last idea, but I did try a pickle.) Mount Olive, NC, east of Fayetteville, is a big pickle area, but it looks like it might be too far east of the East Coast Greenway route we’ll be biking next year (to Fayetteville, Wilmington and along the coast).


And then these homemade cookies! I admit I can’t resist a chocolate chip cookie or three, but if there’s oatmeal in them, then they are healthy, right?

Thank you to everyone who helped with these two stops.

homemade cookies at rest stop

Seems like someone else couldn’t resist either:

rob takes the leftover cookies

Day 6 – Love those trails in the Triangle

I fell in love with the American Tobacco Trail and other trails in Durham, Cary and Raleigh.

american tobacco trail2

This was our last day — and what a glorious day it was. It was sunny and warm, I had a chance to catch up with a friend over 7 or 8 miles before he had to peel off — and then those trails!

They connected from Durham through Cary to Raleigh with almost no time on roads. They were straight, they curved, they swooped, they climbed … great variety. And they were well used, not only by cyclists.

I immediately fell in love.

Oh, if only more cities thought the same way.

Continue reading “Day 6 – Love those trails in the Triangle”

A month to go!

Come Saturday, Oct. 3, I’ll be heading down to Fredericksburg, Va. and the start of the East Coast Greenway’s 2015 Week-a-Year ride.

Come Saturday, Oct. 3, I’ll be heading down to Fredericksburg, Va. and the start of the East Coast Greenway’s 2015 Week-a-Year ride. It’s all part of an effort to ride one week of this 2,900-mile route each year and make it to Key West in 2019. (I missed this first three years — from the Canadian border in Calais, Maine, to Philadelphia, so I have a lot of catching up if I’m going to claim I’ve ridden down the east coast.)

pit logoWe got more information about the week on Friday, and I am excited that our final group dinner, on the next-to-last day, features Carolina barbecue. We will be eating at The Pit in Durham. This is “eastern Carolina” style barbecue — roasting the whole hog and using a vinegar-based, not tomato-based, sauce — and I suspect I will be getting a barbecue education on this trip. Anything I should know before I start eating?

I’ve already got one other food spot I want to try on the route — the Peter Chang Chinese Restaurant in Fredericksburg. No, it has nothing to do with P.F. Chang’s. It’s been on my list for this ride since I read a New York Times article more than a year ago.

We’ll be staying in downtown Richmond, in Petersburg, South Hill and Clarksville, if anyone has recommendations for those places.

There’s already a bit of advocacy on the calendar — we’ll be having lunch on the Thursday with the mayor of Oxford, North Carolina, a town of about 8,500.

And on the final day, our ride will join with a one-day ride from Durham to Raleigh. I’m excited that a friend who has moved back to Raleigh will be riding, and I’m looking forward to catching up over the 50 miles.

I’ve said it before and I know I’ll say it again, but thank you everyone who has supported the East Coast Greenway through my ride. Creating an off-road trail down the coast and through major cities is an amazing vision that I want to see turned into reality

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