Riding through Umstead State Park with Kinga this morning
Have you ever waited, full of anticipation, for a special day to come along, and then it turns out better than you even imagined? That was today's ride. In the last few days I kept telling Dee that she was going to enjoy the amazing network of greenways that would take us through the Triangle. But then I'd stop, worried I'd oversell the route. I shouldn't have worried. Plus my friend Kinga, who has biked with me since we were coworkers five years ago, was joining us. Plus we were stopping at my office, right on the route, to see my Greenway coworkers. Plus I was going home! To see my husband, sleep in my bed, wash my clothes!
We started early on a beautiful summery day. Right away, as soon as we got on the Neuse River Trail headed for Raleigh, the riding was delightful. Iron bridges, white horse fences, boardwalks over wetlands for miles and miles. What a cool way to come into Raleigh: after about 18 miles of pretty Greenway, there we were, and with a few turns we were downtown at Morning Times coffee shop on Hargett Street, where Kinga met us.
Checking out Raleigh's Pullen Park, with a renovated carousel and other cool stuff, with Kinga
We rode through NC State University, past Meredith College, and on to the NC Art Museum, all on easy greenway paths. The Reedy Creek Trail, winding and rolling, took us to Umstead State Park, with miles of gravel carriage roads. I've run in Umstead but never ridden my bike there; I loved it. Dave Connelly, a friend and East Coast Greenway ambassador extraordinaire, met us just past Umstead and led us for the rest of the route, meaning Dee and I could enjoy the scenery without having to navigate. We flew along through Cary on an impressive series of greenways, stopping for a picnic by the little beach at Bond Park.
Outstanding in their field: Dee and Kinga on the grounds of NC Art Museum
The last leg was the American Tobacco Trail, taking us to Durham with a stop at my office, the East Coast Greenway Alliance, before heading home. It was a bit surreal, after three weeks of riding, to be back on my home turf, riding my commuting route, my friends in tow.
Dennis Markatos-Soriano, our executive director, and Niles Barnes, deputy director, greeted their wayward colleague and her friend.
We rode 67 miles today and maybe 8 of them were on roads. Which means we enjoyed more than 50 miles of beautiful greenways under tree canopies, along rivers, and through parks, connecting the thriving communities of Raleigh, Cary, and Durham. I've known that the Triangle area is the most complete of any metro area on the East Coast Greenway, but this was the first time I'd ridden the various bike paths as one connected route. In a word, amazing.
You don't have to take my word for it; you can watch this Relive video of our ride.