Information about the world of cycling, including bicycle touring

Cycle North Carolina cyclists passed cotton and soybean fields
Cycle North Carolina cyclists passed cotton
and soybean fieldson the road between
Lillington and Buies Creek.

Roger Kramer, donning an orange ponytail, and Doug Kaufman make their way along the "moderate rolling hills" between Statesville and the first rest stop. (Photograph by Jim Harris)
Roger Kramer, donning an orange ponytail, and
Doug Kaufman make their way along the
"moderate rolling hills" between Statesville and
the first rest stop. (Photograph by Jim Harris)

The waitresses at Smiley's barbecue restaurant in Lexington celebrated Bubba Barron's "birthday" during Day 1 of CNC. Bubba's new business, Bubba's Pampered Pedalers, was a big hit with cyclists. (Photograph by Doug Kaufman)
T he waitresses at Smiley's barbecue restaurant
in Lexington celebrated Bubba Barron's
" birthday" during Day 1 of CNC. Bubba's new
business, Bubba's Pampered Pedalers, was a big
hit with cyclists. (Photograph by Doug Kaufman)

CNC cyclists donned in rain gear enter Ramseur on the third day of the ride. For the most part, motorists were very courteous to CNC riders.CNC cyclists donned in rain gear enter Ramseur on the third day of the ride. For the most part, motorists were very courteous to CNC riders.
CNC cyclists donned in rain gear enter Ramseur
on the third day of the ride. For the most part,
motorists were very courteous to CNC riders.

The rain still was falling on CNC during the rest stop at Parks Crossroads Christian Church near Ramseur.
T he rain still was falling on CNC during the rest
stop at Parks Crossroads Christian Church
near Ramseur.

Walt Krus takes a break at the House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site. The house was the site of a Revolutionary War skirmish, and bullet holes remain in the exterior of the home.
Walt Krus takes a break at the House in the
Horseshoe State Historic Site. The house was the
site of a Revolutionary War skirmish, and bullet
holes remain in the exterior of the home.

Pete Petersen Denise Petersen
Pete Petersen, top left, and his wife, Denise, were well-known for their eccentric cycling outfits during CNC. Note Pete's resemblance to former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz. "Is that a good thing?" Pete asked. It depends on your opinion of Mike Martz.
St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz

SUMMARY: Cycle North Carolina is a challenging ride that covers lots of truly beautiful scenery. CNC changes its route from year to year, but the ride generally starts near the Blue Ridge Mountains and goes to the coast. CNC did a great job of choosing and marking the routes, for the most part. Food at the rest stops lacked variety and often was in short supply during the 2002 ride.

RIDE WEB SITE:http://www.cyclenorthcarolina.org/

Cycle North
Carolina 2002

Shortly after Doug Kaufman and I arrived Oct. 5 in Statesville, N.C., for the start of Cycle North Carolina 2002, it was time to go to dinner. But first things first, Doug and I had to turn in the rental car we used to get from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Statesville for the start of the ride.

While Doug and I got in the rental car, a group of people who decided to take advantage of Bubba's Pampered Pedalers camping service jammed into Bubba's giant pickup truck for the trip to dinner. The passenger area and the bed of the truck were filled to the brim. As a courtesy to Doug and I, they agreed to follow us to the car rental place, but there was one problem, I turned west on U.S. 70. the rental place was east. After a detour of a couple of miles, we turned around and found the rental office and a gas station.

"That car sure is green," one of the Pampered Pedalers said, referring to the loud, green Ford Escort we had rented. It stood out, and I was glad to be rid of it.

They managed to find room for Doug and I in the truck, and off we went to the Sagebrush restaurant in Statesville. Longtime cycling friend Bubba Barron, who started Bubba's Pampered Pedalers for those of us cyclists who don't like to set up tents every night after a long day of cycling, had visited the place the night before, and the waitresses were quite familiar with Bubba. That got the creative juices flowing in my little mind.

"Hey! Let's tell the waitress that it's Bubba's birthday," I suggested.

"That's a good idea," Doug responded.

"You dog," was the response from Jeff Ross of Reno, Nev., a Pampered Pedaler.

So I took our waitress, Abby, aside and told her it was his birthday (It wasn't, but who really checks those kind of things?) She came out with a giant brownie sundae and a balloon, which she tied around Bubba's ear. She then sat on his lap as we sang "Happy Birthday."

The tone had been set for Cycle North Carolina.

On Sunday morning, it was finally time for the cycling tone of the ride to be set. It was, as we tackled the "moderate rolling hills" between Statesville and Lexington. Even though I had lived in North Carolina for a couple of years, I had forgotten that a North Carolinian's definition of "moderate rolling hills" was what we Midwesterners call "hilly." Nevertheless, Doug and I decided to do the 71-mile long version of the ride rather than the 62-mile short version.

Unfortunately, the tone of CNC's rest stops had been set early on as well. As Doug and I arrived, they were running so low on apples that the volunteers were slicing them to make them last. There was little else to munch on, and we would see more signs of that as the week progressed.

Sunday's ride took us to the N.C. Museum of Transportation, which had a wide collection of trains and cars. It even had a motorized bicycle, which would have been nice for some of the hills we were going to tackle early in the ride.

It was truly nice to know that when we arrived in Lexington, our tents were already set up and the air mattresses were inflated. During the course of the week, many cyclists looked upon The Pampered Zone, the area where Bubba set up our tents, with envy. I suspect Bubba's going to have plenty of business in 2003!

Because Lexington bills itself as the barbecue capital of North Carolina, we thought it appropriate we eat barbecue for dinner. There was one catch: Most barbecue joints are closed on Sundays. North Carolina's part of the Bible Belt, and lots of places are closed on Sunday so people can go to church. But we managed to find one barbecue joint that was open, Smiley's, and feasted on some truly good barbecue. From my two years of living in North Carolina, I knew that you had to go for the pulled pork, the red cole slaw, baked beans and hush puppies. For $7, I got all that plus a fourth of a chicken and sweet tea to wash it down. Those were some good eats! And it was Bubba's birthday — again. This time, he got some strawberry shortcake.

Monday's route was only 50 miles, but it would be the hilliest of the ride (except for those who did the 57-mile optional ride on our layover day Tuesday). This is where Doug really smoked me. Although Doug had never done a weeklong ride before, I knew he would have no problem with the hills. He's one of those types who stays in the upper chain ring, stands up on the pedals and charges his way up the hills. On the other hand, I have never been good on steep hills and even less so now with the extra pounds I'm carrying. I was so glad to see Asheboro that day.

Once again, CNC organizers didn't plan very well for one of the food stops. At Monday's lunch stop near Denton, we were supposed to get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but all they had for us was white bread and jelly. We had very little variety in the rest stop food, and I got a little tired of a week of apples, bananas and fruit bars.

We stayed in Asheboro for two nights. Once again, we overloaded Bubba's pickup truck and headed to Ryan's Steakhouse for dinner. Ryan's megabar kept us full, and I decided it was payback time. Before the start of the ride, Denise Petersen of Texarkana, Texas, and Marian Konop of New York City decided that I needed a bright orange ponytail on my bicycle helmet, so I went along with it for a couple of days. But then I decided it was time to get even with Denise by celebrating her birthday. So four or five waitresses teamed up for one of those special birthday jingles, and revenge was mine.

Tuesday was a layover day, and Doug and I decided to only do a 14-mile trip to the N.C. Zoological Park. Hurricane Kyle had parked off the North Carolina coast and greeted us with gloomy skies that morning. After breakfast at IHOP, we took the "moderate rolling hills" to the zoo. We were told that CNC participants were supposed to get a discount on the $10 admission price, but the message didn't make it to the gals at the ticket booths. While we generally thought CNC organizers did a good job with the ride, they did miss some of the little details that would have lifted CNC from a good ride to a great ride.

Once inside the zoo, we were impressed with the natural settings where the animals were kept, but not so impressed with the humans who made so many inane comments. We wanted to see the whole zoo, but the rain that would be a regular companion for the rest of the week decided to pour down on us. The not-so-subtle hint that it was time to leave: A gorilla was taking shelter under a roof.

"The gorilla's smart enough to get out of the rain, but we're walking around the zoo," Doug said.

Here comes the rain again.... Rain greeted us Wednesday morning as CNC said goodbye to Asheboro and the last of the really steep hills. As we got closer to Sanford, the hills got less and less severe, which was fine by me. And, the sun even came out! It was exceptionally nice to sit in our chairs basking in the sun at the Lions Club Fairground in Sanford. Later in the evening, the men driving the shower trucks were watching the National League Championship Series opener between our beloved St. Louis Cardinals and the San Francisco Giants. Unfortunately, the Cards were losing 9-3 when it was time to head to bed.

The skies clouded up again as we left Sanford, and we knew it would only be a matter of time before it would rain again. And it did. It waited until we got to the Averasboro Battleground historic site to pour again. Fortunately, that gave us some time to explore the museum and learn more about one of the final battles of the Civil War.

Our new friends Rusty and Tommie Styons invited some of the Pampered Pedalers to dinner. Rusty bought the Hardee's fried chicken, and Tommie made up some fine Southern side dishes like lima beans and okra, pork and cabbage, and pork and beans. Yum! Doug and I also gave some writing tips to their 12-year-old daughter, Katie, who already has a better command of the language than many of the reporters I've dealt with in my newspaper career.

The 75-mile trek Friday from Dunn to Kinston would be the longest of the week, and the clouds came out once again. The route really flattened out, with cotton fields being the primary feature of the landscape. We were rolling along between Dunn and the Bensonville Battlefield when I noticed the sickening feeling of a slow leak. A couple of farming brothers offered to help me, but I had things pretty much under control. They described how they and other brothers owned most of the land. One of the brothers had been counting CNC cyclists who had passed his front porch.

"I counted about 600 of them, but I lost count when I came out to see you," one of the brothers said.

We toured the Bensonville Battleground State Historic Site, the site of the last significant resistance to Sherman's Union Army before the end of the Civil War, but we had to cut that stop short. One of the workers at that site said the area was under a tornado watch. "We're going to get hammered," she said.

We didn't get hammered with a tornado, but the remnants of Hurricane Kyle did dump a load of rain on us from the 25-mile stretch between Cliffs of the Neuse State Park to Kinston. Just as we started munching on apples and fruit bars, the downpour began. Doug decided to take a power nap under the shelter during the worst of the rain. The rain died down, so it was time to leave the park, but the downpour resumed as we turned onto N.C. 55 near Seven Springs. The rain made it impossible for me to see through my glasses, but my eyesight's good enough that I could see where I was going without looking through the lenses. Moments later, Bubba passed us up to offer a ride to the campground. We refused. CNC organizers put us on a circuitous route that still dumped us on a busy Business U.S. 70 in Kinston. Several cyclists were injured when they fell on a rough railroad crossing that they had to cross at a bad angle because of the heavy traffic. CNC organizers finally had to tell people to get off their bikes to cross the tracks.

Once in Kinston, I had a couple of drinks with Patrick Holmes, my former boss at the Times-News in Burlington, N.C. Patrick now is associate publisher of the paper in Kinston, and he didn't have much time because Friday is the most hectic day in the newspaper business. I thought he only had to time to talk for a few minutes, so I didn't change out of my cycling gear, but he then decided we had time to go to a nearby restaurant. I'm sure I was quite a sight in my soggy cycling clothes and smelly rain jacket!

The final 50 miles of the ride from Kinston to New Bern were relatively uneventful. We got a late start because I had a broken spoke, and we were among the last people to arrive in New Bern. Part of that was because we lingered for a while at the Jones County High School rest stop near Trenton to enjoy their reasonably priced hamburgers and hot dogs and talk with some of my new cycling friends like Jeff, Pete and Denise. Doug, Jeff and I teamed up for the final miles of the trip and a brief stop at Island Walk Nature Center. We were there to have fun, and it was ALL good!

Bubba's Pampered Pedalers