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Old 01-11-09, 05:19 AM   #1
JimF22003
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Long Drive to a Long Ride

The weather report looked pretty dismal for Northern VA this weekend, and I just needed a nice long warm ride, so I decided to make a road trip. I started checking the weather forecasts on the web by going further and further south to locations I knew something about. Finally I settled on Wilmington, NC, about a 400 mile drive from here. I had worked there for a couple of years in the early 90's, but had never biked there, so I decided it was time for a Road Trip! I left the house about 2:30am and was on the bike by 9:00am.

The weather was gorgeous. Mid-60s, sunny, but a bit windy, but I would take it. Please forgive these lame pictures, but it was the first time I'd carried the camera on the bike. Most of the pics were taken while on the bike, so the composition is a bit lacking.

Also I have to say this. No offense to Wilmingtonians, but I would hate to have to ride there exclusively. The area is low, flat, and swampy. There might be some nice rideable country roads, but I wasn't able to find them.

Here's what the start looked like:


I started at the Porters Neck area. I don't have any pics of this, but it was a nice loopy residential ride for about five miles. Unfortunately I got majorly lost and spent a bunch of time on Rt 17 going the wrong way. Rt 17 is for all practical purposes like riding on an Interstate highway. I decided to bag it, and drive to another part of the route starting in Castle Hayne, which I knew how to find

Soon I was looking at a LOT of this:



and this:


and this:


I have a bunch more, but I'll spare you

(cont.)
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Old 01-11-09, 05:20 AM   #2
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Here what it looks like off to the side:







I found a route in mapmyride that looked plausible, but it turned out to be pretty hairy. I rode from Castle Hayne to Burgaw via Rt 117. This road was narrow and heavily trafficked. Here is a pic, but this was during a lull in the traffic. Imagine this road packed with cars, pickups, trailers and SUV's:



On the way back from Burgaw I had a killer headwind. Note the flag on the mailbox:



Instead of staying on 117, I decided to explore the side roads. Thank goodness for my Garmin 705 GPS. I was able to poke around a bit without getting completely lost. I even found some roads with a few curves:



I was self-supported of course, so I grabbed my break spots where I could:

A gas station:


A church:


and an interesting eating establishment with more interesting clientele:


I ended up doing about 101 miles, my first century for the year. Not the most exciting ride, nor the most pleasant scenery, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. It was WARM, and for now that's about all that counts

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Old 01-11-09, 08:14 AM   #3
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The terrain there resembles the area where I ride in Louisiana. Nice pics, and congrats on the first century for 2009. Northwest AR was cold and windy yesterday. Don't worry about lack of hills. AT least you had a good ride.
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Old 01-11-09, 08:30 AM   #4
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The picture of the "Sausage and Pork Outlet and Grocery & Grill" with the pickup truck with confederate flag make the whole trip worthwhile. You needed to get your bike into that picture. Nice job on the early century.
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Old 01-11-09, 11:28 AM   #5
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The Sausage and pork sign reminds me of the first day's ride I did in Texas. I'll have to go back and see if I have the photo still. Being a California gal I don't much see signs that advertise "deer processing"...
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Private docent led mountain bike rides through Limestone Canyon. Go to letsgooutside.org and register today! Also available: hikes, equestrian rides and family events as well as trail maintenance and science study.

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Old 01-11-09, 11:34 AM   #6
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Found it!



Here's something else you don't see around here locally as well:
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Private docent led mountain bike rides through Limestone Canyon. Go to letsgooutside.org and register today! Also available: hikes, equestrian rides and family events as well as trail maintenance and science study.
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Old 01-11-09, 12:38 PM   #7
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My friends' Christmas decorations: Look closely. They're catfish carcasses.
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File Type: jpg ericsfish2.jpg (41.0 KB, 21 views)
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Old 01-11-09, 04:28 PM   #8
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My wife and I were just B*****ng abou the weather up here - we are next door in DC. But driving to NC for a day trip? Wow!
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Old 01-11-09, 05:15 PM   #9
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Google says:



Dear Cecil:
Why do people hang catfish heads from their fences? I have looked everywhere and cannot find an explanation for this behavior. - Teresa, via the Straight Dope Message Board
Cecil replies:
Obviously you've never fished for catfish. They don't have scales, so it's fairly simple to clean them by pulling their skin right off. However, they're slimy and often pretty big, so skinning them is a two-handed job made considerably easier if you nail the head to something first. From there it's a short step to nailing up fish heads as a rural design statement. The resultant roadside displays do much to break up the monotony of a long country drive.
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Old 01-11-09, 09:46 PM   #10
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That's determination!

How was the sausage? Did you go for the hot?
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Old 01-11-09, 10:02 PM   #11
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I have oft thought of doing the same thing, have contemplated it for about 3-4 years now. But my problem is that there isn't any good weather that is just 350-400 miles south of me. That gets me down to around St. Louis. It is warmer there, and is sometimes warm (like being around 55-60), but it is usually more like 35-40, with the occasional warmer day. Much nicer than here, but one could make the drive only to "enjoy" a rainy, 40 degree day.

Except I would have made it an overnighter.
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Old 01-11-09, 10:11 PM   #12
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Wow, that's really dedicated. I would have hit the alarm at 2:30 a.m. and gone back to sleep. Glad you survived the wind.
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Old 01-12-09, 04:58 AM   #13
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I'll have to think twice (or three times) about driving that far for a ride again. I might do it once more before spring if I get antsy enough, especially if there's some freak weather conditions that make it nicer for riding a bit closer, down in VA Beach for example.

(Temps in the 20's for this weekend... hmm....)
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