In Part 1 of Cycling Beautiful North Carolina, you learned what it was like to cycle through tropical storm Ana as it moved on shore. In Part 2, I’ll share the remainder of our cycling tour through North Carolina. It was nothing less than magical – for the most part, we had great weather, great roads, beautiful rural scenery, and friendly people.
Rest Day (Surf City)
We visited a local coffee shop for breakfast and stopped at an amazing outdoor shop on the way back to the hotel. Many purchases were made, including a new collar for Sadie, Merrill sandals and a cute tee shirt. A short walk on the beach, then most of us cleaned our bikes. A few headed into town for a massage. We wrapped up the day with a lovely dinner at Sear’s Landing. Soft shell crabs were in season!
Early to bed before the next day’s 97 mile ride to New Bern.
Surf City to New Bern (97 official miles, 100 miles completed)
We got an early start and a wonderful tailwind for the first 20 miles or so. We averaged close to 18 mph the first part of the ride! Woohoo! A stretch on a four lane state road (Highway 17) and then we made the BIG turns to make a broad sweep around Jacksonville and Marines Camp LeJeune, which added 20 miles to the Adventure Cycling Association route. The area was beautiful. Flat, rural, lakes, forests, farmland, quaint houses, small towns. A few bad roads, but for the most part, nice, quiet roads.
Of course, in the middle miles, we faced our friend the headwind again. (It seems destined that our trip will be marked by prevailing headwinds.)
And it was a hot and humid day – highs in the upper 80s, which felt like mid-90s with the humidity. Several women from more northern climates ended the day with heat rash! Ugh!
At about mile 60, I was feeling a hot spot on my right foot, so I broke off from my group, took off the bike shoes, drank a lemonade and put ice in my backpack, bra and back pockets. I stopped again at mile 80 for an iced tea at a convenience store to cool my core temp. Loved chatting with friendly folks who wanted to know how far we were going and why!
I actually had a blast just going at my own pace, stopping for pics, talking to people and enjoying a beautiful day. Once I made it to New Bern, I joined the group of faster riders for lunch at the History Center, after they explored the town. New Bern was settled by Swiss and German immigrants and is actually named for Bern, Switzerland, where its leader came from. It is the second oldest town in North Carolina, and very well kept. A lovely riverwalk runs along the downtown area. And of course, there was a great bike shop many of us checked out!
With the trip into downtown and back to the hotel, we completed a century. This was my first century on a road bike – all prior rides of 100 miles or more were on my tri bike. My tri bike is faster, and with the fully loaded “trunk” on my road bike, a good deal lighter! For two of our riders, it was their first ever century ride! Not the easiest of ways to ride your first century!
Early on on the ride, we topped 1,000 miles on the trip!
New Bern to Plymouth, NC (73 miles planned, 74 miles actual)
Another blue bird day, but a bit cooler. We all loved it! More rural, flat, farmland with a couple of small towns and the Potach plant for seven miles to the ferry. I had fun taking pictures of yard/building self expression on the first half of the ride. The yard with the rebel flag and “redneck” painted on a banner, the yard with two USA rockets with the US flag between the “rockets” and the Sportsman Saloon, with shotgun and rod n’ reel.
We learned the evening before the ride that we would have a ferry ride at mile 35ish, and believed the ferry would leave at 11:15 am. So we enjoyed the ride, took it easy and cruised into the ferry area around 10:25 am, only to learn the ferry wouldn’t leave until 11:45 am. So a long stop, but SAG Nancy was there with food and water and we hung out around the shaded picnic tables.
Once on the other side, we rode ten miles and into the town of Bath. Bath is the oldest incorporated city in North Carolina. Very picturesque! Old homes along Main Street, which ran along a river.
Then, on into Plymouth. We snacked at Bojangles, cleaned up, dinner and early to bed.
Plymouth to Elizabeth City (64 miles)
An even lovelier day than the one before! Temperatures started in the mid-50s and ended in the upper 60s. We faced direct headwinds most of the day, so we started at an easy pace.
At mile 20, we passed over the Albemarle Sound on a bridge that stretched three miles. Thankfully, we had a headwind and not a crosswind on this two lane bridge with a low wall!
As we rode past the sound on rural country roads, Ann from Peachtree City played her tunes aloud. Susan and I had a BLAST singing at the top of our lungs along with tunes! Motown, the Mammas and the Poppas, and more! I can’t remember having more fun on a ride!
We went through the adorable town of Hertford. A thriving downtown, beautiful old houses on the water and great river views on both sides of the road.
Elizabeth City to Suffolk VA (65 Miles)
Our last day in North Carolina! We have all heard that Virginia would be equally beautiful and welcoming. But the days in North Carolina were so beautiful, it was hard to contemplate leaving the state behind.
My roommate and I were the last to leave our hotel. It felt INCREDIBLY hard to pedal – I thought I must be really tired. Soon enough, Susan, my roomie pedals up and lets me know that my “trunk” rack is riding on my back tire! No wonder it felt so hard! I guess the rack dropped when I replaced the seat the day before. Another Susan savior!
I soon caught up with the five Kathy’s as we stopped to take pics. More beautiful weather, lovely fields, bucolic scenery. I loved every bit of it!
More miles filled with farms, great weather, friends and fun! Perfect days! I couldn’t wish for more! I’ll always have great memories of our ride through North Carolina – you can be sure I’ll be back!