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Carolina Road cycling??

Old 01-08-13, 01:44 PM
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Carolina Road cycling??

Hello everyone. Im looking to move back to my stomping grounds after being out west for years. I want to end up in the Carolinas somewhere but have no idea what cycling culture is like. I Would prefer coastal areas overall. Wilmington, NC seems like a cool town. does anyone know about the road cycling there?? Any suggestions on coastal southeast road cycling will be much appreciated. Thank you!!!
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Old 01-12-13, 05:46 PM
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The Charleston metro area along the coast is nice.

Pros: The city is a bronze level bike friendly city and the beach areas like Folly Beach, Isle of Palms, and Sullivan's Island are all also VERY bike friendly areas. The area is very flat terrain and the weather is very mild year round except in July and August. Expect late afternoon T-storms in the Summer.

Cons: The biggest problem is getting between those areas: narrow roads, high speed limits, and a lot of traffic. A lot of cyclists do it on a regular basis, but they rely on a lot of sidewalk cycling when available. Like anywhere, there are drivers hostile to cyclists, but here the police do little to nothing about it except inside the city of Charleston proper. Finally, there is a lot of sand in this area, so a regular cleaning of the drive train is essential.

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Old 01-29-13, 11:15 PM
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I am a former Wilmington, NC resident myself.

Cool downtown filled with cultural events a cyclist could fit into right away. UNC Wilmington (my alma mater) is a medium sized university (about 12K students now, I believe) anchoring the other end of town. Wrightsville Beach to Kure Beach just down the road.

The problem with Wilmington is there are so many people crowding onto what is essentially an island of culture (the ocean on one side, the Cape Fear River and swamps on the second side and rural-not-so-bike-friendly country on the third). Traffic gets crazy during the summer. There are few bike lanes and there is a lot of on street parallel parking at the beaches and downtown (dooring hazard). The police don't take much interest in bicycling issues. It's flat as a pancake so the only challenge for a hammerhead is a headwind which you'll get often enough.

On the flipside, there is an excellent bike shop near the college with an owner who still shows up to bicycle races even after all these years. I used to have my own box on a shelf in that shop - had my name on the box. I always had some part in there I was making payments to get, back in my poor college student days. Being a beach town, bike culture extends more toward triathlons than tradition steeped road biking. Mountain biking is popular but the town has been on such a building boom this past decade that I could not begin to tell you where there are any trails any more.

But - there is another town 50 miles north of Wilmington - Jacksonville, NC. Lots of sandy/semi-hard pack single track up there. And there is a bicycle shop there with a custom frame builder who's been at it since 1974. Coastal NC has it's cycling spots and cycling tradition. You just have to look a bit to find it. And be a little clever about getting around the less desirable areas.
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Old 01-30-13, 08:05 PM
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The Carolinas are more noted for their cycling venues in the mountain areas. That would be Western NC and NW SC. The larger towns in the mid lying areas (Charlotte & Raleigh NC, Greenville SC, etc) have good activity in the way of clubs and organized riding. Good cycling roads once you get outside the immediate towns. But its the mountains that offer the best cycling. Scenic, often low traffic, and plenty challenging with a wide variety of terrain - including flatter terrain. Good mountain biking there too, and hiking, camping, climbing, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and about everything else. Virginia hills are equally nice.

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Old 01-31-13, 09:43 AM
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Gosh, Neal, haven't seen you (in the real world) for several years.

to everyone else: Neal has a heavy bias for the mountains.

There is excellent riding in the middle of the state, and an active rando scene, too, if you are interested in that. There is a very active cycling club in Wilmington, but I can't recall the club's name and I'm not inclined to look it up; I understand they hold morning rides 2 or 3 times a week; I presume they have weekend rides.

There are at least a couple randonneurs in Wilmington -- one of whom is quite well known in rando-circles (but not as well known as "Spokesong" -- I assume his initials are VM).

As Spokesong indicted, one problem with Wilmington is that it is essentially an island -- real as well as cultural. The two aforementioned randonneurs have been trying to figure out a decent RUSA Permanent route that starts (near) downtown (since that's near where they live), but bridges that are safe in the early morning are over-crowded with traffic later in the day.

I have ridden in Wilmington 3 times -- since Wilmington is the 300k turn-around point for the NCBC 600k brevets.

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Old 02-04-13, 07:47 AM
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Hello skiffrun,

I'm not VM. I'm JS but pleased to meet you anyway. Do you man there is another "Spokesong" running around here? And here I thought I was soooo very poetic and original with that one! Ever look down on a quiet street and see the pavement blurring by, and you're spinning along merrily and there's nothing but the sound of the tires on the pavement and the sunlight glinting off the spokes? That's the spoke song I hear! Well, I hear it on a good day before belching exhaust from a 4 wheeled monstrosity shows up. Should we cross paths out there on some otherwise empty road, grab my wheel and we'll have a spoke song chorus!

It's also a reference to oral storyteller traditions, of course. Ever read, or better yet heard, the Jack Tales?
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