It's Wednesday February 22, 2017
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The bright yellow jersey or jacket is what you see first. Then, as the bicycle nears, you get The Wave, a snappy movement from the wrist. It’s Julia Tingle’s signature.Julia Tingle.
Julia bicycles every day. Rain. Shine. She is out there. She is such a presence on the roads in and near Oriental that it’s odd to recall a time when her yellow shirted arm wasn’t giving that wave – imagine the Queen of England as pageant contestant – as she rode by. Julia got her start a dozen years ago when more than a thousand cyclists descended on her hometown. It was autumn 2004 and Cycle NC’s annual mountains to the sea ride, a weeklong event, was ending at the Neuse River, at Oriental’s Lou Mac Park.
What was a finish line for the visiting cyclists, served as a starting line for Julia Tingle.
“I saw all those cyclists coming into Oriental. I saw young people and old people. I saw skinny people and fat people,” she says. “They looked like they were having so much fun. I said to myself, ‘Hey, I’m old, I’m fat. I can do that. I want to have fun, too.’”
“Chuck Forrest had done (the mountains to sea ride) that year. I asked him if I could do it and he told me yes, but I would have to get a new bike. I had been riding a single speed coaster bike and he told me that would not make it over the hills.”
Julia grew up in Oriental, the daughter of Raymond and Dorothy Tingle, niece of Hubert Smith (of Smith’s Hardware Store – most recently the Steamer Restaurant). Julia graduated from Oriental Elementary School in 1966 and from Pamlico County High School in 1970. She went to college at East Carolina University in Greenville. After majoring in Home Economics, her first teaching job was an hour and half away in Duplin County. After 3 years there, she worked 26 years in the Wake County school system, teaching Family Life Sciences.
“I was always home in Oriental in the summers and a lot on weekends. When I was working, I came to Oriental whenever school was out.”
It was during one of those weekends home, that she saw the Cycle NC cross-state ride end in Oriental. That stuck with her.Tackling Oriental’s tallest hill.
“In the Spring of 2005, I decided to retire. I thought to myself, ‘So what am I going to do?’ I decided to buy a bike and ride across the state. After you say that enough times, you have to do it. You have to back it up.”
“I retired at the end of May. By the end of June, I had bought a Raleigh bike in Raleigh, and it was not a single speed. It had 24 gears, but it was not one of those $2,000 bikes. It was a low-end, hybrid road bike compared to the more expensive bikes. You don’t want to ride a road bike with the really skinny tires or a mountain bike for my kind of riding. My tires are larger than a road bike’s tires. My bike is also heavier than a road bike.”Julia’s dashboard.
“I rode around a lot in Raleigh during July and August in 2005 right after I retired to get ready to do Cycle NC that year at the end of September from Asheville to Wilmington. Biking helps keep me fit, but that was not what motivated me. The group that came here in 04 looked they were having so much fun; I did it because I wanted to have that fun too.”Julia manages to promote the MS Bike Ride, Ol’ Front Porch Music (button) and a two wheeled life… all at once.
Spokes. TownDock.net explores bicycling in Oriental - from Spandex carbon fiber to rusty village single speeds.