Friday, August 26, 2011
MST - Day 65 - 6/11/11 – Tailrace/Falls Lake to Strickland Road - 40 Miles
The Mountains-to-Sea Trail is always present in the back of my mind. Since leaving the mountains it has gotten farther away from my house and more difficult to schedule. The arrival of the summer heat makes it less appealing too. Jim asks, “Why do you even want to finish it?” The answer lies somewhere between completion syndrome (I have to finish what I start even if it stops making sense) and the awareness that any day on the bike or the trail is an adventure waiting to happen.
So here I am again. This time I’ve squeezed in a bike day on the MST after a trip to Virginia to visit family and attend the Glee Live concert (I am a woman of diverse interests.) The ever-patient Jim met me in Wake Forest, NC on a Friday night to set up our shuttle. (Jim and I are still not the planning duo that Danny and I were and we struggle with leaving the right things in the right cars. This time around Jim did not leave any shoes in the end car and had to drive barefoot the next day.)
Early Saturday morning we started from the Tailrace area of Falls Lake, where I ended my birthday hike in April. I remembered well how busy Falls of the Neuse Road was and I was anxious to get on out into the countryside. Turned out the traffic was very light, but there is an immediate and moderately steep hill and I had to walk my bike. Not a good mental start to the day.
We were still relying on Scot Ward’s guidebook but roads change quickly in suburbia. We found a bit of a reroute – a new road cut off an old one and we had to carry our bikes up over a dead end dirt pile to get back on track. We passed Keith’s BBQ (in Scot’s book) and were very excited to go back to it after the ride (but they had closed for the day – ran out of BBQ, I guess?)
We cruised through the little town of Youngsville, posed with the beautiful mural on a downtown building. I’ve really enjoyed biking through the small towns in the Piedmont and further east. Each one has a bit of a Mayberry feeling. (FYI, if you’ve never visited Mount Airy, NC, on which the fictional Mayberry is based, put it on your to-do list.) Some have more empty storefronts than others, like my hometown, and I wonder how they make it.
Share the road - main intersection in Youngsville
Still early in the morning we passed Hill Ridge Farms, excited for a snack break, but they were not open yet. This seems to be the theme for us: too early or too late. Hill Ridge Farms looked like a great place for family fun.
The temperature climbed to 90 degrees and as the day progressed I felt myself slowing down. Drafting behind Jim was a big help, getting me up to 15-16 mph rather than a measly 12 mph. Flat is flat – you never stop pedaling.
One thing can speed me up very quickly. A huge dog, sensing that I was the weakest antelope in the herd, came out of nowhere to chase me. I stood up on the bike and pumped furiously, calling weakly for Jim, who circled back to put himself between me and the beast. In less than half a minute it was all over but it left me a little rattled.
Turtle friend on the side of the road
What is the story behind these little roadside cemeteries? They are often very close to the road, no sign of a church and usually no homesite. Scot’s book notes most of them. We don’t stop at every one but I try to check out at least one in the course of the day.
This is a typical scene on a country road – an isolated farmhouse with old outbuildings and big shade trees and fields of crops.
About 30 miles into the ride the now-familiar ache crept into my thighs and I looked forward to the end. As I often say about hiking, the only thing better than the beginning of a bike ride is the end of a bike ride. We picked up our second car and began the long drive back to Charlotte, detouring a bit for BBQ in Lexington, NC.
And since I was driving alone, I sang along to my Glee CD’s all the way home.
Don’t stop believin’, hold onto that feeling. ~Journey