MST – Day 66 – 7-20-11 – Hills Grove Holiness Church to Pleasant Hill AME Zion Church – 22.2 Miles
Wanted: New biking partner for road sections of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail east of Goldsboro, NC.
John Jaskolka, FMST board member, trail builder and maintainer, hiking and biking fool, responded to my email in spite of the fact that it was mid-July and hotter than…well, you know. John is busier in retirement than he ever was in his career, I’ll bet. He lives in Eastern NC and his flexibility allowed me to get some more road miles in during the week rather than encroaching on Jim’s limited weekend time. So John and I made plans.
We met on this Wednesday afternoon at Pleasant Hill AME Zion Church about 8 miles west of New Bern, where Jim and I had started our New Bern weekend back in March. I was surprised to see John’s car loaded with a hybrid bike. He normally rides a recumbent bike, but he thought he’d try out the hybrid today.
We drove the bikes over to Hills Grove Holiness Church off of Burkett Road and cautiously started out. Did I mention it was hot? At least our route wasn’t complicated - Old U.S. 70 most of the way, the flattest, straightest road yet, paralleling RR tracks on the way to New Bern.
We soon found out that we had to share the road with trucks coming and going from the Tuscarora landfill, where an expansion is underway (so LOTS of trucks). They were much larger than dump trucks but the drivers were very conscientious of us itty bitty cyclists.
We also passed the Tuscarora Game Lands lookout tower, which Scot Ward’s book notes to “climb for good views.” We didn’t stop, but John said he didn’t think climbing the tower was allowed.
Local farms were generally flourishing with corn, tobacco, soybeans and cotton.
The heat was so intense, John and I had to stop every 3-5 miles to drink water and cool off. At a convenience store in Cove City we stopped for Gatorade. I stood in front of the air conditioner for so long I thought I’d have to start paying rent.
I could tell John’s hybrid was uncomfortable for him because he kept shaking out his hands, not used to having them in the position of leaning on them. My recurring thought was, “How are we going to do this for 40 miles tomorrow?” But we paced ourselves, stopped often, and cheered when Pleasant Hill AME Zion Church came into view. We made our plan to meet at the crack of dawn tomorrow and hopefully beat the heat.
After John and I parted ways, I drove back to the Cove City convenience store for more Gatorade (preparing for tomorrow) and chatted with the owner (also named John, and not to be confused with his son, John Paul, who was running the cash register on our first stop). We had a nice visit and he commented on how he thinks it’s always important to say hello at a country store, because you want people to remember you if you ever are in need of help. Good advice all the way around, I think.
I also stopped at the lookout tower and, sure enough, they don’t want you going up there.
I checked into my little hotel and blasted the AC, got cleaned up and went out for something to eat. At the end of my meal I asked for the check and the sweet young waitress asked me if I get “the” discount. Now, would that be the discount for being over a certain age or for being an amazing active outdoor woman? You decide.
Cycling is like church. Many attend, but few understand. ~Jim Burlant