2019 CNC Coastal Ride

2019 CNC Coastal Ride

The last weekend in April was the Cycle North Carolina Coastal ride in Edenton, NC for 2019. Edenton, NC is a town of about 5,500 people on the Albermarle sound on the Inner Banks of North Carolina. The Coastal Ride was about 1,700 cyclists so it is always interesting.

Rides

CNC had rides set up for all skill levels for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The rides ranged from about 5 miles for families with young children to centuries on Friday and Saturday and metric centuries all three days. If you wanted to hammer, you could get about 300 miles in over the course of the three days. All of the routes are bone deep flat so you can do more miles than normal but there are usually headwinds. The rides are well thought out and with the exception of the bridges, had very low traffic. The bridges had a lot of police protection basically reserving the outer lane exclusively for cyclists. On the rides we did, I did not notice any crap roads or any washboard (tractor tire indentations) like I had encountered the previous year.

Friday Ride

Friday, we took a shorter route because the weather was uncertain in the afternoon and we have only gone longer than 30 one day prior to the ride. We beat the rain…

Saturday Ride

The big ride — for us — 44 miles with a lot of headwinds. We crossed a 2-mile long bride at 8mph one way and about 17mph the other. Very scenic and two nice rest stops.

Sunday Ride

Sunday was another shorter ride that entailed a 4-mile bridge with again a 8mph outbound crossing and 16mph on the return trip.

Camping

Camping can be a great experience or a complete pain in the ass. With 1700 cyclists, it is usually a bit of each. Two of our neighbors were great. They were quiet, friendly and avid cyclists. Neighbor three was a total pain in the ass. He and his wife brought two barky dogs (kickme size), a charcoal grill, a propane grill, and a propane lantern. Each of these are explicitly banned in the ‘rules’ of the event. But to my dismay, these rules are loosely enforced.

The shower trucks and portapotties were well maintained and ‘nice’ within the context of what they are.

Camping Equipment Review

The Big Agnes 6-person tent with the attached vestibule was great. Even though I only assemble it once/twice a year, the tent is easy to assemble. On Friday, we had torrential rains and heavy winds. The tent held up admirably. You can stand in it to get dressed and it can hold an admirable amount of shit for car camping.

REI chairs with carry straps were plenty comfortable for this type of car camping.

Town

As noted in the opening paragraph, this was a small town. I am pretty sure it was smaller than Washington, NC where the trip was based last spring. It is a beautiful old southern town with a surviving downtown. Main Street had 4 restaurants, a decent, regular coffee shop and a functioning Sears that was probably less than 3,000 square feet. The houses in the old part of town are very Ante Bellum and made it a great town to walk around.

A special shout-out to the Captains Quarters Bed and Breakfast — they were amazing. Best food of the weekend and it was not even close. They have an amazing front porch and a very nice wine list by the bottle/glass. If you are going to Edenton, I could not more highly recommend this B&B.

Restaurants

309 Bistro was good. This was the best restaurant food of the weekend though with a rough start. The hostess was not used to that kind of crowd and quickly lost track of who was where on the 4 lists she had. Crab cake was tasty though. Good beer and wine selection.

Waterman’s Grill was good in the small town restaurant good sense. I had a crab cake that was the size of a big pancake that was 50% filler. I would have preferred a smaller crabbier crab cake but it did not suck.

Edenton Coffee Shop had good coffee and sandwiches. I did not try the espresso since there was a retiree manning the espresso machine and they had about 75 additions to the espresso drink menu so I don’t think a regular cappuchinno was going to be her specialty. Their bagels had literally nothing in common with a good NYC bagel. They were like a roll with a hole in the middle but then again, where would you get bagels in Eastern NC…

Deserving a special place in hell is the Edenton Oyster Bar. This now ranks in the top 2 worst restaurants I have ever attended. This was after the event and still they just flat out sucked. 40 minutes to get a drink. 60 minutes to be told one order could not be filled. 2 hours and still no food. And then to be told that I should just wait because that was the Carolina way. I explained I was from the North where we expected food in a restaurant in a timely manner. I expected to be done in two hours in a tony restaurant and 1 in a regular restaurant.

Special Note

If you have food allergies, issues, etc, you should probably bring your own food and get an AirBnB or something similar. There is little food if you are a vegetarian or gluten free.

Equipment

Swift Sugarloaf

This was probably not needed for this trip because the weather was very nice compared to last year when the temperatures were a lot colder! This held my tools, pump, rain jacket, snacks, and emergency first aid set up. It had plenty of space for all of this plus plenty more space if necessary. It is extremely well-built and great as a way to carry your post-shower clothes and shower materials to the shower trucks when off the bikes. The handles are incredibly handy and the zipper makes access a lot easier than a roll-top bag but probably not as rain proof.

Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag

This handlebar bag was my ‘stash’ — no not that kind of stash — but my phone, sunscreen, snacks, and keys. It worked as designed. It held everything with plenty of extra space. It did not effect handling or cramp the cockpit. Note, I did little standing on this trip since there was not hills…

PTAP Designs Stem Bag

This stem bag holds a water bottle in a incredibly handy location. As with the Mountain Feedbag, it does not effect handling or cramp the cockpit. It is extremely well-made.

Salsa Cowchipper handlebars

These were a new addition to the Bilenky gravel bike. They are shallow drop bars with a bend outward on the drops so that the drops are 2-inches wider than the tops. For the first time in years, I was using the drops and the bends much, much more frequently because they were much more comfortable. At 57, I am not looking to race…

Stamp pedals

The Stamp pedals were a ‘recommendation’ from Bikepacking.com. They are very comfortable, grippy, and pretty much infinitely adjustable for riding. You can move your foot anywhere on the pedal that you can figure out. They are extremely grippy. In three years, my feet have literally never slipped off.

Five Ten Freerider Shoes

These are great, comfortable sneakers purpose built for bike riding. While intended for off-road riding, I ride them on the road. They have a smooth portion on the bottom where the pedal pins grip. As noted above, I have never slipped off a pedal in three years. They are great off the bike too. You could easily just bring these on a trip and use them both on and off the bike though they are pretty heavy and not sure how they are in day-long wet rides.

Time Out/Recharging/Philly Bike Expo

As noted here, Nancy and I rode the Seagull Century the first weekend in October. Since that day, I have ridden a grand total of twice. Both were short rides of under 20 miles. This has been a combination of work being crazy busy making bike commuting problematic, the change in seasons and times, and me just needing a break. I have ridden 2,051 miles this year so far and still have a faint hope of reaching 2,500 this year. October was beautiful but I chose to do yard work or interior work rather than ride. I just needed a break.

This weekend, Nancy and I went to Philadelphia to the Philly Bike Expo hosted by Bilenky. The expo is great. Small enough that it is pretty intimate but big enough that you get to check out some builders without being swarmed by hundreds of other bike geeks. It was in the convention center this year and it was a markedly better building but I missed some of the vendors from last year. Both Swift Industries and North Street bags were absent this year (Hurricaine Sandy might have had an adverse reaction to east coast events). In fact, there were hardly any bag manufacturers. There was a small booth of ReLoad bags but nothing much.

We talked with the great folks at Bilenky and saw the very cool Tour d’Africa bike. We chatted for a good ten minutes with Bryan from Royal H Cyles. He is a great guy and they were added to the list of possible builders for the possible next bike. I had heard of him via Lovely Bicycle. He had a beautiful frame there and two old biycles that he has rehabbed and they were both amazing. I got a reversible wool hat from Fifo and an Abus lock from Firth and Wilson Tranportation Bike shop. I am very excited to try out the hat this coming weekend (or maybe this week if work co-operates). Nancy scored a lovely plaid cape from Cleverhood.

I also got a great vest from a Blue Claw pop-up and we went to Elixr coffee twice. Restaurant experiences ranged from great beer, wings, and conversation with friends of Nancy’s from Philly at the Devils Alley to pretty ordinary Chinese food. We did hit the sublime Hop Sing Laundramat. This could very well be the greatest bar on the east coast. I had two spectacular bourbon drinks: the Captain Kirk with a maple licquer and the classic Old Fashioned.

Pictures from the Shorefire Century

Lots of this kind of scenery

Lots of this kind of scenery

First and Third Rest Stop

First and Third Rest Stop, Clayton DE

John and I rode the 65 mile metric  route with the Shorefire Century today. The weather was ideal, or close to it. The high reached 81 and the only challenge were occasional vigorous headwinds.  Of course the strongest came at the final 10 miles of the ride. It was a great day to be out riding. Riding along the sound of the wind was surprisingly  loud. Accompanying it was the cicadas’ late summer song.

This was my longest ride on new Soma. This bike has made me faster. I noticed that the first time I rode it; it’s changing my idea of my capacities as a cyclist.

Riding the ANT, much heavier and, I now realize, perhaps needing to be better fitted to me,   I am hard pressed to reach 10 mph and fall below that on hilly terrain. Today even with wind, fatigue and a bit of muscle soreness that closed in on me for the final 8-10 miles, I averaged a little better than 13 mph. Not super fast by any means but a decent pace. This makes the century we’ll be doing in October seem much more possible.

Bike to Work Day in Catonsville

While I don’t have to Bike to Work any more, I do have to bike in order to work. It keeps me fit and focused. Some days are too busy, even for someone with a home office, but I am biking as much as I can during the workweek.

Catonsville’s first-ever Bike to Work Day provided the perfect reason to get out and ride today. John and I rode over to the pit stop- Santa’s House by the town’s fire station. I know, cute. There was free coffee and donuts, and swag for registered riders. The Hub/ C’ville Bikes was there, with extroverted owner Scott meeting and greeting . John headed off on his actual commute to work. I took part in a 3-woman virtual bike to work, riding to and around the CCBC campus, then to UMBC and yes back out via Hilltop Road (read: punishing hills). Thank you Maureen for leading our ride.

The weather was perfect and the ride was a great way to start the day.