September 28 – October 6
Packing up that next morning was a mad scramble as it takes a couple of days to perfect a routine, one where each item you’ve brought finds its way into the right bag and the equipment you need for that day’s ride is where it should be. I wasted twenty minutes or more packing and repacking and then looking for something I’d need on the bike that day.
I finally managed to get it together and got on the bike, just about the last person out of camp which didn’t concern me as much as the condition of my back did. All of the schlepping I’d done the night before in the rain, had caused it to seize up with brutal spasms rocking the mid and lower section. Honestly, I should have abandoned but that just wasn’t an option; I was there to ride and hoped that the exercise would loosen the kinks, that is if I hadn’t suffered some sort of permanent damage.
And so, I rode out and made good time, feeling strong but wincing each time I hit a bump and it reverberated through my back. At mile 45 I stopped at the rest stop at Murray’s Mill, built in 1913 and felt pretty good, thinking we were only going have to do a bit over 60-miles that day. This fantasy was dashed 13 miles later when I hit the last rest stop at Lake Norman State Park and discovered I’d misread the itinerary for the day and had another hour or so to do on the bike.
I sucked it up and finally arrived on the outskirts of Mooresville at Triplett United Methodist Church, the indoor camping facility for the night, about a mile from ride headquarters at the GoPro Motorplex. The activity center there was smaller than the night before and arriving later in the day, I had to scramble to secure a good spot. I also realized that one downside of indoor camping is that the facility can be isolated, as this one was, with no access to drinks or food, necessary tools for recovery after having ridden 70-plus miles.
Being quite warm, I laid the still wet foam topper from the Thermarest outside, took a shower, and then hopped a shuttle to GoPro to meet up with Bonnie and get some food in me. King Canary Brewing was serving 5-dollar drafts and I set about re-hydrating as quickly as I could. Dinner that night was another pedestrian affair and I was beginning to realize that it was as good as it was going to get. Pretty tired, I shuttled back to the church, read some until bed time and sacked out, ready for the next day’s ride.
This one would be shorter at 63 miles and would take us to Creekside Park in Archdale. I rode well and felt like my back was loosening up a bit, so I was glad to pull into the park, get the bags from the truck and stake out a campsite for myself and Bonnie. While I waited for Joanna to arrive later in the day, I availed myself of the tour’s massage services and an hour later felt much, much better.
Joanna arrived and we pitched the new tent, an REI Half Dome 4 Plus. Set up was easy with a recent development, the spider like connected pole system (tension-truss architecture) allowing for more room inside the tent. After that we strolled up to the food truck zone and adjacent beer garden for dinner (we decided to skip the camp meal) and our allotment of beers from a local brewery (the city had granted a one-time dispensation to serve, but only if patrons were limited to three drinks apiece).
We’d decided early on that Joanna would ride her bike that day and I would drive the car to the next stop on the tour. As she and Bonnie were getting ready to depart, ambulances showed up and emergency personnel congregated around a tent in the middle of camp. It turns out a gentleman in his early 60’s had died from an heart attack overnight; If you’re going to go this isn’t a bad way, in your sleep while you were doing something you like to do.
After stopping for a big breakfast at a nearby restaurant, I drove to Memorial Park in Southern Pines to set up camp. It was a scorching day with high heat and humidity. Mileage for the girls that day would be 75.5 and I was glad to not be riding. They pulled in later in the day, pretty tired and glad to have camp set up.
After showering, we hit the beer garden (no limit this time and it was free, just give a donation) and then walked across the street for dinner at Habaneros Taqueria, a Mexican joint I’d spotted earlier. The food was great with large portions; I gave the Carne Asada Nachos a good effort but, in the end, couldn’t finish. Joanna had a couple of soft tacos and along with two beers, our total came to $32 including a tip. If we lived any closer to the place, we’d be regulars.
Joanna took off for home the next morning and I prepared for three steady days of riding, at 60, 64, and 74 miles, respectively. The town of Dunn was our destination that Thursday and I rode well, my back feeling much better, the only real challenge was how warm it was. I pulled into Clarence Lee Tart Memorial Park and set up my tent, then walked over to some covered tables and ordered multiple cans of soda to rehydrate and a really good chili dog for just a couple of bucks from a Vietnam Veterans support group.
Later, I’d return and eat another chili dog, forgoing the supplied dinner yet again and then Bonnie and I too a shuttle into town so she could grab a bite to eat, returning to camp early and relaxing until the next day. My body was finally beginning to feel better, the back nearly pain-free and for the first time, I could fully embrace being on the tour. With two more days to go, almost all of it flat, I was looking forward to some serious cycling.
Murray’s Mill: https://www.catawbahistory.org/murrays-mill
GoPro Motorplex: http://www.gopromotorplex.com/
King Canary Brewing: https://www.facebook.com/kingcanarybrewing/
REI Half Dome 4 Plus: https://www.rei.com/product/128694/rei-co-op-half-dome-4-plus-tent
Habaneros Taqueria: https://www.yelp.com/biz/haba%C3%B1eros-taqueria-southern-pines-2