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Cycle NC Spring Weekend 2011
975 Cyclists Come To Town And Pedal Beyond
April 12, 2011
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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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Posted Tuesday April 12, 2011 by Melinda Penkava

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