Two days ago I broke out a short sprint to pull even with my wife’s car as she climbed the high rise bridge over the intercoastal waterway separating Ocean Isle Beach, NC from the mainland. I hadn’t seen her for a week, not since she dropped me off at a bike shop outside of Raleigh to catch a bus to the Biltmore Estate near Asheville. From there I pedaled along with more than 1000 other cyclists across the state, through the heaviest rain in years, some sun, one incredibly (tail-) windy day as part of the 12th annual Cycle North Carolina.
There are a lot of ways to break the ride into chunks: eight days, 467 miles, 260,700 pedal strokes. Nothing really works for me. I saw so much, had so much fun, met so many people that even as it happened it began to blur.
So here are some highlights:
Day 0 – I took a charter bus from Cary to Asheville with other riders. Our bikes followed in a Ryder truck, the handlebars turned and the pedals removed. After getting my bags at the Biltmore camp site, I found some friends from last year, set up my tent near them and set out on a low key bike ride around the massive grounds of America’s largest residence. I didn’t even wear cycling shoes, just some WalMart sandals.
You can pedal all over the estate, the house is several miles from the entrance. I mean, the place is over 6,000 acres. The roads are well maintained. Because two rivers dissect the property, it isn’t exceptionally hilly but there are a few steep pitches to remind you where you are.
I went to sleep early and listened to it rain throughout the night. I didn’t get too down. I’d been following the weather reports all week. I got out my rain jacket and felt happy that I’d put all my stuff in waterproof bags – if such a thing really exists.
Next: Day 1, Asheville to Marion – The Ambulances Start Rolling