Yay! The Tar Heel State has been my home for the last 14 years, so it felt even more special to cross into our fourth state.
As different as we are in our habits and such (no judging, just observation, some people have a little more energy than others), Dee and I are well matched as riding partners. We are both early risers, we don’t care so much about our speed, and we remind each other to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. We’re reasonably flexible in planning, too. So although we went to sleep Saturday night still tickled with our rescue from the rains and planning on my brother picking us up the next day, we switched gears. The forecast wasn’t nearly as ominous and Ron and Adrienne, my sister-in-law, were willing to pick us up at Fort Fisher instead. So we got a nice 51-mile ride to Southport, NC, and a ferry ride across the Cape Fear River. (The kid in me doesn’t want to miss any ferry rides, Dee and I both love them).
Thus the asterisk —we have rearranged our itinerary for a few days, skipping the 30 miles to Wilmington, breaking up a 95-mile day to Fayetteville into two, and preserving our day off, our second rest day in 16 days. Seems like good choices.
We crossed into North Carolina within our first five miles yesterday. The first distinct difference: We had a few rolling hills to climb. What?? Hills? Also nice new asphalt the first 10 miles or so, past the little town of Sunset Beach where Ron and Adrienne lived for years (and Ron served as mayor!). But the new asphalt didn’t mean protection; Dee’s front wheel went flat just outside of town. Another tiny, staple like piece of wire, that’s what has caused all four of our flats. Now that we’ve each changed our back tire and front tire, we are even and balanced, no more flats needed. Got that, universe?
It wasn’t until our rest stop at a Marathon gas station at 30 miles that I realized we were passing by beach towns beloved by North Carolinians — Holden Beach, Oak Island. We were 10-20 miles inland of them but we could have been anywhere rural and green, like Ohio.
The last 20 miles were on a dead straight road, Southport Supply Road, taking us right to the sea. A little boring, especially as our side wind became more of a headwind. Excellent East Coast Greenway signage by my colleague, Kathryn! Riding into the town of Southport was a treat. At one point it looks like you can ride right into the water. The short road to the ferry took us a mile or so along the coast, all pretty.
Thank you, Cape Fear Cyclists, always love spotting the Greenway logo. Meanwhile I’m enjoying the occasional Coke in honor of my dad, Roger, whose last job was managing a Coke plant outside of Boston. He became fiercely loyal to the brand. Cheers to you, Dad.
Ron and Adrienne picked us up at Fort Fisher at the ferry dock and drove us to their beautifully renovated home in Wilmington. They took us to dinner last night at a restaurant downtown right on the river, a beautiful evening. Today we are enjoying a day off. Our agenda includes a yoga class, bike store visit, and trip downtown to see some of Adrienne’s paintings. The extra treat for me, being just hours away from my own sweet mutts — so close, and yet so far — is hanging with Bradley, Lily, and Cooper. What do you think, Cooper could fit easily in my handlebar bag, right, and help us navigate?