Riding the North Carolina Outer Banks
This will be my 3rd long distance solo tour. Beginning to plan a September 2014 ride from South Carolina north most likely to Philadelphia. I've already researched one stumbling block, crossing the Chesapeake at Virginia Beach. I'd like to ride the outer banks of North Carolina. I'm most concerned about the NC part. It would be a big deviation riding inland as opposed to the coastal route.
Here is a link to my proposed route up to VA Beach: https://maps.google.com (https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid...38864,4.581299)
Couple questions maybe someone can answer/comment on:
-Is it possible to do this or are there places that are only cars can use? Google maps indicates this is possible.
-If this is possible anyone know of the condition of the roads, is there a shoulder to ride on, especially over bridges? September, is it congested with traffic?
-How about places to stay? I pull a small trailer, carrying a tent, sleeping bags etc. I'd be looking to camp. Last resort is getting a room.
-Please comment on: weather, rain, avererage temp from about Labor Day on; possibility of hitting extremely bad weather at this time of the year, i.e hurricane. Prevailing winds off the ocean East->West, we all know how much fun it is riding into a headwind.
Any piece of info would be appreciated, however small.
My 2013 tour: http://www.bikefriday.com/community/...w_england_tour
I was planning to ride an Outer Banks loop tour in September until the Congressional shutdown of federal facilities. My plans were to camp at national park facilities in Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but the shutdown made that impossible, and the weather had turned foul by the time the mess was worked out. Here are some links to information about riding on the Outer Banks and inner coast from the NC Dept of Transportation. More comments below.
Originally Posted by klnasveschuk
Absolutely not trying to dissuade you; quite a few people do bicycle tours on the OBX. However, I suggest you invest some time in a alternate inland route as a back-up plan. A big hurricane in June or July or August could make the OBX unfriendly for cycle touring in September. Parts of NC-12 get washed away almost every hurricane season; nothing bad happened this year.
Originally Posted by klnasveschuk
My recollection is that you'll likely find shoulders along much of that OBX route. 'Course, could be a game of dodge-em to avoid all the nails and screws and glass and etc., not to mention the possibility of sand periodically covering the entire shoulder in places.
If your travels on the OBX coincides with a warm weekend, plan on traffic, as many will head to the beach one-more-time. Weekdays in Sept., not so much traffic.
Btw, best sleep I've had in recent years was on the lobby floor of the Currie, NC post office -- approx 350-kms into a 600-km rando brevet in 2011. (Your route goes through, or at least quite close to, Currie.)
Thanks for the info. That answers all my questions.
I will have an alternate route with overnight stops picked out in advance (inland). I've ridden in my share of foul weather, a hurricane is too much though. Will have to play it by ear.
When I look at a trip I usually think about the positives first and then after I think about the negatives I try to decide if the positives out way the negatives. I’m guessing you did at least some of the positives already so I will do some of the negatives, then you can decide.
Originally Posted by klnasveschuk
Most of your plan in SC is dull with little to see. There are a couple of interesting towns on the coast but they are an out and back ride not along the road.
As for the Outer Banks of NC. The lower third is Cape Lookout NP. There is no road on Cape Lookout at all. You can camp on it. Pushing your bike through the sand will get old quickly. The “boat” out there will only run if there are enough people and there usually aren’t after Labor Day (LD). The ride to Cedar Island is flat and mostly deserted.
The ferry ride to Ocracoke is nice but not very often after LD and decreases frequency toward winter. Check schedule.
Once in Ocracoke you are on the middle third of the Outer Banks. There is a road from there north. Little to no shoulder. It is basically all Cape Hatteras NP except for a few very small towns which were there when the park was established. They can stay but can’t expand. The ferry from Ocracoke Island to Hatteras Island is free but on reduced schedule after LD. On Cape Hatteras NP there is camping only at the 3 campgrounds maintained by Park Service and only open during the summer season. The small towns are basically closed after LD also and aren’t much when open. Few places to stay or eat. Between the road and the ocean there are sand dunes all along. You can’t see the ocean. You will see the sound in a few places but not many. If there has been a storm, parts of the road may be closed due to sand. Usually removed in a few days.
I understand the recent “breaches” (places where the road and land is washed out after storms) have been fixed for now. For most of this summer traffic was by ferry for residents only to several sections from the mainland. Near the north end of this third is the Bonner Bridge. Check on it before you start. At some time in the future it will be replaced (they are fighting about with what) if it hasn’t collapsed. In the early ‘90’s engineers gave it a life of 4-6 years. The sand under several of the pilings has washed away and they rest on nothing but water.
When you get to Whalebone Junction (where 64 meets 12) you are out of the NP. From here North is the tourist section. Lots of rental units, stores and shops again mostly closed after LD. There are several fairly quiet roads near the ocean. This is a fun area to explore until you get beyond Corella. There the road ends and you will be pushing through the sand on the beach. They keep talking about building a road but hasn’t happened that I know of. On the north end of the sand is Virginia.
Also, September is still in hurricane season. Keep track of the weather. You usually have a few days warning.
For my money it isn’t worth it.
I think you've talked me out of the NC/SC coastal route, weather and road conditions.. I wanted to do this route so I could arrange to meet my wife in VA Beach and keep the climbs to a minimum. My last trip was a lot of climbs NY-VT-NH-ME. Looking into an inland route following river valleys. Thanks guys!
don't be talked out because someone you don't know paints a dark picture. Lots of people ride the OBX every year.
The main rivers in North Carolina (& Virginia) east of the mountains flow from the NW to SE -- nearly perpendicular to your desired route.
You might look to the East Coast Greenway for some ideas.
You might look to the North Carolina Bike Routes (the state routes) for some ideas. In particular BR #5 & BR #7 come to mind. You can find information regarding the NC Bike Routes on the NC-DOT webpage.
Don't rule out the option of riding up the "inner coast" of NC. The Outer Banks get all the attention but the inner coast is actually better for cycling, albeit without the uniqueness of riding on a ribbon of sand surrounded by ocean.
I had though about near the coast as opposed to Outer Banks originally. Still looking at all options also following the Mississippi and or the Ohio Rivers. All options open, I'd like to stay out of the mountains this year though. Thanks for your help.
Originally Posted by tarwheel
Livin the dream
Plenty of stuff is open after labor day. There are several private campgrounds on Hatteras too. Come up the coast but don't go to Corolla. There's no good way to get to Va on the beach. Ironically though a group of cyclocross racers are planning to do just that and ride the beach about 25 miles to va. Not doable on a road bike though. Good luck!
I will be in Rodanthe from Aug 23-29. If any novice riders are in the area lmk. I plan on riding every morning while there, weather permitted of course.
north carolina is a cool place. i expect that inland will have just as much as the coast. you could even change your tour to go through Upstate South Carolina and Piedmont North Carolina.
if you want to camp for free in a national forest, you could cut through the massive Sumter National Forests, then to Uwharrie National Forest. plus, there are many more cyclists in the upper halves of the Carolinas than on the coast.
if you like history, there are many Revolutionary War markers in and around Francis Marion National Forest, where the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, single-handedly drove the British out of the Carolinas.
strava heat map showing cycling activity
Last edited by Lone; 08-14-14 at 12:21 PM.