Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bicycling on the Beach

I know I've been talking about bicycling a lot lately, so if you don't care...sorry.

Here's something I either haven't done in a very long time, or have never done: ride my bicycle on the beach. That's part of the reason we brought our bikes (for better or worse) to Jacksonville in the first place last weekend. It's a good family activity, and I've seen lots of other people doing it, so why not?

So, we took the bikes to Hanna Park, and there we were.

(Side comment: I really wish the Wonderwood Connector was around when I lived there. The beach is now 10 minutes closer to home than it was in the 1990s, and it's a much easier drive.)

I actually didn't know what to expect. Would there be too many people in the way? Would we see anyone else on their bikes? Would the sand be too soft to be able to go anywhere?

First off, there weren't too many people in the way. Even though it was Saturday, this was less crowded Atlantic Beach, not more crowded Jacksonville Beach. (We're way too cool for Jacksonville Beach.) There was also a threat of rain, which kept more people away...although, I will say this: when it did start raining, absolutely nobody ran for cover. I'm sure the second it starts raining at a beach resort packed with tourists from places like Missouri and Ohio, everybody runs for cover. Not here - these are the locals, and they realize that it rains pretty much every day this time of year. As long as there's no thunder (which there wasn't), who cares if you get a little wet?

So, anyway...we also didn't see many others riding their bikes on the beach. Maybe a couple of people. As far as dealing with other people goes, the biggest issue we faced was making sure we didn't ride your bikes into any fishing lines.

Alright, so...the sand. To start, there was enough hard sand to serve as a rideable path. But after we turned around, the tide came in and washed our bike path away, leaving us with three choices: attempt to ride in the soft sand (very difficult), ride in the water (also difficult), or walk, then bail onto the pavement as soon as we re-enter Hanna Park. Whoops! I'm thinking we should have checked the tides first. (For those interested, here is the SportyPal log of the ride, starting at the turnaround point. Check out those breakneck speeds!) The moral of the story is, if you're going to ride your bike on the beach, make sure it's low tide.

Some beaches, you probably can't ride your bike on at all. Florida beaches (at least the ones I've been to) are nice because they have a wide strip of flat sand between the dunes and the water, and at low tide, much of the sand is hard enough to ride your bike on. The North Carolina beaches I've been to, on the other hand, I would not attempt to ride on. The people-per-square-foot-of-sand ratio is too high, it's too soft, and there is too much of a slope. Maybe the Outer Banks (haven't really been to those beaches a lot) are different than the Wilmington-area beaches we go to most of the time, but if I were to take my bike to the Outer Banks, I think I'd rather just ride along Highway 12 instead.

Actually, that's not a bad idea. Hmm... ...oh, right, that whole "bike falling off the car rack" thing. Maybe I'll just ride around Durham this weekend.

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