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Cycle NC Spring Weekend 2011
975 Cyclists Come To Town And Pedal Beyond
April 12, 2011

O
riental’s population doubled over the weekend, as more than 975 bicyclists from around NC and the country stopped in to visit. The cyclists used the town as a base camp for various biking trips throughout Pamlico (and a little of Beaufort) County.

A throng of cyclists on Pamlico Road Saturday.

It was the second time in three years that the organization, Cycle NC, made Oriental its site for the Spring Ride. There appeared to be a desire to return for a weekend in the future. And some cyclists said they’d come back on their own.

A cyclist passes Pamlico Community College Friday around midday.

For this weekend, the cyclists rode a range of bikes: racing bikes, tandem bikes, recumbent bikes — even tandem recumbent bikes. (Recumbents — two and three wheeled — seemed to be very much in evidence.) Whatever their style of spoked transport, the cyclists pedaled from Oriental to Minnesott and Aurora and Hobucken and Florence and Whortonsville. Some routes were 28 miles, others 50 or 70 or 100.

A tandem recumbent bike. Lily and VJ Johnson of Washington, DC get back on the road after a stop in Arapahoe. They said this was the first of four such biking weekends they have planned for this year.

Since Oriental — and all of Pamlico County for that matter —didn’t have enough hotel rooms to accommodate the cyclists, alternatives were arranged. Many residents of town opened their doors to let cyclists stay in a spare room. And a large number of cyclists camped out. Front lawns from High Street to past Freemason were dotted with tents, as was Lou Mac Park.

Lou Mac Park, on the Neuse was just one of several areas on South Avenue that turned in to a campground. The park sign doubled as a clothesline frame.
Tent city on the site of the one-time Methodist parsonage just across the street from Lou-Mac Park.
Oriental’s Rotary fed more than 730 cyclists in a Saturday night shrimp dinner at Lou Mac Park.

Oriental’s Rotary rustled up a shrimp dinner at Lou-Mac Park Saturday night. For the rest of the time, the cyclists were on their own. Restaurants found many more customers than usual. So many of the visitors thronged to The Bean on Friday morning that regulars reported a line stretching out the door and to the stairs. (By Saturday, The Bean had worked out a system of offering coffee for sale outside on the street as well as inside.) The Bean’s owner, Eric Kindle said it was almost as busy as Croakerfest, traditionally Oriental’s busiest weekend of the year.)

More helmets, florescent jackets and Spandex togs were seen than usual at the Bean over the weekend..

For those cyclists coming from mountainous areas, the flat lands of Pamlico County offered a different style of riding. On the one hand, no punishing uphills — other than the Oriental bridge — but the flat lands did require a lot of consistent pedalling as there were few downhill runs. Some said it was their first venture out from the cold winter.

Sharing the road near Arapahoe. (No horses were sighted at midday Friday.)

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Mother Nature cooperated. Friday was sunny for the 200 early bird cyclists who got in a full day of cycling on Pamlico County’s roads. Saturday and Sunday were overcast for much of the day, but what rains there were, came at night. It may’ve made for wet and windy conditions in the South Avenue campground, but at least the roads were dry for the cycling during the days. Along the routes, the wisteria was in high, towering bloom.

On Orchard Creek Road and its towering wisteria.

A number of cyclists made a point of offering thanks to the town for having them for the weekend. That sentiment could be directed back at the visitors. Though they doubled the town’s population for a few days, things went smoothly. It was the kind of sustainable tourism, low-impact tourism that didn’t force the town to change much, save for longer lines at restaurants.

Some of the cyclists said they wanted to come back and see Oriental when there weren’t as many other visitors around. The town, and roads around it, will be here….

If you were driving in the county Friday thru Sunday, you may’ve come across a similar scene.

More photos of the 2011 Cycle NC weekend in Oriental are below and on the following pages..

First few feet of the route, here by a recumbent bicyclist on South Avenue.
Rich and Cissy Byrd of Spartanburg, SC consult the routes before leaving their campsite on South Avenue Saturday morning. They took off a short time later on their tandem bike.
Jenny Terry of Durham and her mother Janet Musselwhite of Wilmington paused at the corner of Straight and Orchard Creek Roads. In the trailer is Jenny’s son, Eli.
Eli Terry, a while earlier, waiting to head out from South Avenue.
While a folding bike in Oriental is not unusual, the distance about to be covered was. This cyclist said he planned to do a 28-mile route.

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Abayomi Hakim and his son, Shea, get back on to the route after pausing to take in the view — and some photos — near Dawson’s Creek Friday. They were visiting from Raleigh. Abayomi said he’d not heard of Oriental before coming to town for the weekend of cycling.


These five cyclists said that the flat lands of Pamlico County compared favorably with the mountains back home in Sparta, NC. From left to right: Stewart Royall, Leigh Kostoryz, Brian Shaw, Teresa and Dennis Durham.

Ed and Sue Brignole of Allentown, PA pedaled 50 miles on Friday. As Sue signalled later on the Lou Mac pier, all of the route was flat. The Brignoles said they wanted to return to Oriental later. (The white tent behind them on South Avenue was set up for the Saturday night shrimp dinner.)
Inside the big tent on Saturday night, as more than 700 cyclists tuck in to a shrimp dinner.
The Rotary shrimp dinner drew interest not only from the cyclists but from the seagulls just off shore.
No kickstands needed as bikes (and cyclists) take a rest. This was at the Bethany Christian Church stop in Arapahoe.
Leslie Wilson-Surma, of Oriental, at right, and some visiting cyclists.

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A stop to look at the route maps, at the corner of Pamlico and Straight Roads.
Steve Levine of Cycles Spoken Here, the on-the-spot repair service which had tents and toolkits deployed in several spots. Here, Levine is outside Bethany Chrisitan Church in Arapahoe where by midday Friday he said he’d already worked on a few dozen bikes.
A cyclist on a recumbent bike passing one of many stands of wisteria in bloom on the road to the town of Pamlico.
Another recumbent cyclist, this one balancing on two wheels.
Recumbent without wheels, some cyclists rest at their South Avenue campsite after a day on Pamlico County roads.
One way to unwind from the cycling: a riverfront tent site and a Graham Greene book…
More wisteria ahead.

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A cyclist passing a blur of a field on Pamlico Road.
There was some occasional stopping. At this corner, a cyclist was heard asking for a Tylenol.
Two cyclists continue down Straight Road.
Some cyclists took an alternate route, through River Dunes, which provided a look at the Pamlico Sound off to starboard.
Back in Oriental, the sinks for washing up, just outside the tractor-trailer that housed the showers for the cyclists. It was set up on Freemason Street, which is somewhat reflected in the mirror.
A game of bocce broke out near the tents on South Avenue. A branch fallen from a tree was used as a measure. From left, Andy Baumeister, Adam Newson, Perry Newson, DougHowey.
Where the shorter end of the stick is a good thing. Adam, at right, wanted the record to show that he got the point.

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South Avenue gets a few more occupants.
Taking the curve at Straight Road on Saturday.
More cyclists on one of the curves at Straight Road. The long route gave plenty of time to puzzle out how a road called “Straight” could have such twists and turns.
On Orchard Creek Road.
At least one cyclist took a moment to shop, pedaling away from Nautical Wheelers with one of its door mats made of flip-flop material.
A stretch tandem bike as seen in the reflection of the Bethany Christian Church window in Arapahoe.
After a day of pedaling, some cyclists took a sunset cruise on the catamaran, Sea Dragon, and gave their land legs a rest.
Sunday morning, the crowd started to thin out, and with them went many of the tents that had covered Lou Mac Park. A number of cyclists though, did stick around for a few more hours on Sunday to get in one more day or riding.

Posted Tuesday April 12, 2011 by Melinda Penkava


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