The road and the touring bike were beckoning, a free weekend presented itself, and the appeal of a relaxing night with some good food on Ocracoke Island was just too much to resist. A couple of motel reservations were made in Manteo and Ocracoke, the gear was packed, and it’s off to the Outer Banks for 130 miles of coastal cycling. The weather forecast was for mild temperatures, clear skies, and wind out of the south. Oh well, it wouldn’t be the Outer Banks without a headwind. Little did I know.I made this yearly pilgrimage last November due to Hurricane Irene and the “new” New Inlet she decided to open just north of Rodanthe. I also traveled somewhat lighter using only a “trunk” on the rear rack. This time I decided to use my GT18′s and test out the new front rack in preparation for next year’s segments of my Great Lakes Project.
I arrived in Manteo in time to check in the motel and go for a run over to Festival Park, along the waterfront, and then through the Marina. A nice 5 miler that must have been at least a mile on wooden boardwalk. Back to the motel, a quick shower, and it’s off to Nags Head for dinner.Last year’s ride was a loop around the Pamlico sound–taking the ferry from Ocracoke over to Swan Quarter and coming up to Manteo along Route 264. Not the most scenic section of North Carolina and I wasn’t in the mood for the distance or the tedium so I decided to just do an out-and-back this time. Leaving the vehicle at Oregon Inlet Fishing Center would be just over 60 miles each way. As predicted, the weather was near perfect. Clear skies, mild temperatures, and slight wind out of the south. That is, until I got on Ocracoke Island, The wind kicked up and it took about an hour and a half to cover the final 13 miles. I still arrived in time to get checked in, clean up, and ride down to SMacNally’s for a couple of beers. Then it’s off to my favorite Ocracoke watering hole–Howard’s Pub–for dinner.
True to Outer Banks tradition, the wind did a 180 degree switch and came howling out of the north at 20 to 30 mph all day Sunday. I can honestly say it made for the most miserable 64 miles I’ve ever ridden. It was simply relentless. As much as I don’t particular enjoy crossing the Bonner bridge on a bicycle, it was a welcome sight on Sunday afternoon. Over 6 hours on the bike and 9 hours overall.
As with any tough ride, however, within minutes of getting off the bike all the misery is forgotten and all the remains is the need for refreshment and nourishment. The bike is loaded, a quick change of clothes, and it’s off to a Nags Head tradition and the locals favorite, Sam and Omie’s, for a beer and a crabcake sandwich. A nice finish to a wonderful weekend and a challenging ride.