Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bicycling Johnston County

Lately, I've been doing one "long" bike ride per month. Usually, these rides involve 45+ miles of bicycling, plus a drive of 30-60 minutes each way to the starting/ending point in order to take me to more new and exciting places. (I started getting bored riding the same old roads within a 10-mile radius of my house a while ago.) All that bicycling and driving means that these end up being 6 or 7 hour round trips, so once a month is plenty.

Last month, I did a 55-mile ride northwest of the Triangle, starting in Yanceyville and going through Danville, VA, among other places. That's hillier terrain than we have in Durham - the idea was to challenge myself, after all - and so the ride was very difficult. I was more exhausted at the end of that ride than I can remember ever being after a bike ride. Maybe I should have kept my "hilliest ride ever" on the shorter side, instead of going for both length and difficult terrain simultaneously?

Well, after that experience, I didn't feel like challenging myself with hills this month. So I went in the opposite direction: Johnston County. 50 (actually 49.5) relatively easy miles, starting and ending in Smithfield.


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In comparison to Caswell County, this ride was easy. Maybe even too easy. The hills actually do help keep things more interesting, it turns out. (Note - what classifies as "flat" in North Carolina is still hillier than what you'd find in most of Florida, excluding the panhandle.) So while I didn't feel particularly "challenged" out here on the Coastal Plain, if I do ever decide to try a 100-mile bike ride, I think I'll be doing it east of I-95 first.

So, Johnston County cycling is relatively easy, compared to more northerly or westerly locales. But is it as popular here as it is closer to Raleigh? Whenever I ride my bike close to home - pretty much anywhere in the Triangle - I'll always see other bicyclists out and about, no matter how cold or warm it is. (Although Il see more fellow cyclists when it's warmer.) But the farther away from the Triangle you get - in any direction - the fewer and fewer cyclists you see. On my Johnston County ride, I saw exactly ZERO other cyclists, total, all day. I guess cycling is more of a city thing. Normally I'm concerned that drivers away from the city don't respect cyclists on the road as well, since they're not as commonplace, but I didn't have any issues with that on Sunday. (Only real "issue" I had was with unsecured dogs running after me, which is also more of a thing the farther away from the city you get.)

By the way, I've done at least some cycling in 13 out North Carolina's 100 counties. I'm not saying I'm planning on bicycling in all 100 some day, but...

As of today, I'm now only 138 miles away from having to decide whether to call it "Myanmar" or "Burma" in my fictionalBicycling Trip in Asia. (Leaning "Myanmar".)

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