Over the last few months, some very unexpected and crazy things have happened. We spent March biking 500 miles down the east coast on our mountain bikes, and then spent a next few weeks relaxing with family and friends and adventuring in Arkansas, Maryland, and DC. We even spent a few days enjoying the beach and cycling around breweries in Tampa, Florida on yet another DIY-bicycle brewery tour.
So what’s the blog-changing update that’s kept me so quiet for the past few weeks?
Of all the adventures we’ve had in our last year, riding across the Carolinas on our bikes was one that seems crazy, but was actually surprisingly easy to pull off. We weren’t expert bikers or long-distance athletes, we just discovered the East Coast Greenway route and started pedaling. In retrospect, one of the more challenging parts of the trip was figuring out what to bring when we switched from backpacking to bicycle touring or bike-packing. For anyone wanting to set off on their own crazy adventure like this, here’s the complete list of gear we needed to roll around self-sufficiently.
Keeping with our minimalist travel style, here’s the full details on all our gear:
Despite all the flat ground we were covering, our biking tour was a real roller coaster for me. During our first week of adventuring, I knew we were on Adam’s dream vacation but I was struggling to keep up, both physically and in level of excitement. The chilly weather didn’t help. Fortunately for both of us, the second week was a lot more enjoyable for me. I was a little more used to biking, eating tons more carbs to keep my energy up, and the weather got warmer, too. We had also had some great trails and other fun spots, too, like riding the Fort Fisher Ferry in North Carolina.
Here’s our stats for the 12 days we rode. We almost covered 500 miles as we traveled from Durham, North Carolina to Charleston, South Carolina.
We averaged about 40 miles per day, and typically about 10 miles per hour when we were moving, even with the really low mileage weekend. We spent about 4 or 5 hours a day pedaling on the bikes, with breaks for snacks and lunch. The record keeping on speed is tough because we often paused for traffic or to check directions without stopping the clock. Continue reading Bicycle Touring – Week 2 – Getting into the Swing of Things
After one amazing first week and another great second week, Adam and I have given up on our epic bicycle touring experiment. We hoped that the East Coast Greenway would take us mostly safely from North Carolina to Florida, but, unfortunately, in between some of the nice back roads and trails, we hit a really terrible stretch for bikes on the road between Myrtle Beach and Charleston, South Carolina.
The particular road that ended my trip was the stretch of US Highway 17 between Pawley’s Island and Georgetown. We rode on about 18 inches of shoulder next to a two lane, 60 mph highway. Sometimes the shoulder was overgrown with grass and trees. The worst part was a small two lane bridge leading into the city. Here, there was 12 inches of debris-covered shoulder and another generous 18 inches of slightly raised sidewalk. The railing over the river was more of a guard rail, about knee height and well below our center of mass. Continue reading Even Good Bike Trips Come to An End
Exciting things are happening all the time out here on the trail. Yesterday, just after a nice relaxing lunch break for sandwiches on the beach, I had the good luck to plow this giant piece of hardware into my back tire.
As soon as I rolled over the screw, my tire flattened with a giant whoosh. I was especially excited to see that I’d managed to get a giant hole in the outer tire and the tube.
Fortunately, Adam and I had prepared for this eventuality by watching a few YouTube videos on changing a flat tire. We had the necessary new tube and tire wrenches and were able to get me up and running again on a new tube within a half hour or so.
We still need to patch the old tube for next time. For now, I’m still riding on my busted tire, too. This is not the best move, but I think our next bike shop won’t be until Charleston, which is still about 80 miles away. Hopefully we can make it there, then find a place where I can get some expert advice and maybe some new tires.
Adam and I decided about two weeks ago that it would be a fun and exciting challenge to ride our bikes as far as we could during the month of March. We’re taking a bike route called the East Coast Greenway south from Durham, North Carolina and hoping to make it to Tampa, Florida by April 1. We’re about a week in and here are some more updates on our journey so far!
In our full year of travel, even considering everywhere we’ve visited in the US and abroad, this biking trip is the closest we’ve come to being on Adam’s dream vacation. It might sound crazy. Here’s why:
Biking is Adam’s preferred method of self-propulsion and his favorite way to travel. (All self-propulsion is great for Adam, especially kayaking, but biking is the most practical.)
It’s physically challenging, but not too tough to ride a good number of miles most days, plus it’s the right speed to experience the countryside.
We get to eat as many snacks as we can to make up for all the calories burned.
Keeping with our minimalist tendencies, we carry all our stuff with us in small bags on the bikes. There’s no room for luxuries or crap we don’t need. Adam didn’t even pack a sleeping bag, opting instead for a smaller blanket for camping.
And finally, this whole trip is a little wacky, but biking and bicycle touring is nearby and not too hard for most people. Adam wants to prove it’s feasible and fun even for rookie bikers like us.
Good morning from Fayetteville, North Carolina and the fourth day of our epic bicycle adventure. We covered about 125 miles in about 15 hours of biking over the last three days. It’s only about 120 more miles to Wilmington and the beach, and I’m really hoping we make it there by this weekend!
I say hope because it’s been a moderately tough 3 days. Adam is still happily on his go-go-gadget legs phase, but I am feeling a little beat up. We were not exactly physically prepared for this bicycle odyssey. Prior to pedaling off, I’m not sure Adam or I had ever rode 40 miles in one day, let alone tried to do it multiple days in a row. Continue reading Early Learnings from Our Bike Touring Adventure
Hot Springs National Park sits intertwined with the town of the same name. It’s a historic landmark that doesn’t really live up to the National Park reputation. It should really be a National Historic Park, like Harpers’ Ferry, so wanderers won’t be disappointed. We visited for one very mild day in February, saw most of the park, camped at Gulpha Gorge, and felt like we saw what there was to see, even without a visit to the spa.
Hot Springs National Park is one weird place. The horse-shoe shaped park is only 8.5 square miles, which makes it the smallest park in the US, but more unusually, the park is wrapped right around the town. The town is even officially named Hot Springs National Park.
As I’ve mentioned before, I still can’t get over the fact that we spent almost $700 on travel insurance, a major part of our budget for SE Asia and still a significant portion of our larger budget for New Zealand. After many hours of research, questions to friends and relatives, and even a poll here on the blog, I’ve come to the disappointing conclusion that we paid WAY too much for our travel insurance. How, you ask? It went something like this: