Day two of the Hope for the Warriors Bike Tour was, in a word, eventful. After successfully manhandling the broiling sun on the trip from Fayetteville to Goldsboro on day one, the team awoke Friday to a bit cooler and less humid weather to start the day.
The team further capitalized on the break in the weather by starting a bit earlier than planned, and before Noon, the riders had already chewed up half the day’s route and sat enjoying lunch by a shady mill pond in the town of Trenton.
If the day had ended there, we’d be sunshine and smiles over 45 miles. But biking, just like life, doesn’t always hand you the crisp, neat Hollywood ending all the time. But it can make that ending all the more satisfying.
And I’d say the members of Team Little Guy were more than satisfied with ending day two.
As the morning pressed into the afternoon, the bright summer sun turned the comfortable start to the day into a fleeting memory — and the humidity that hangs over the coastal areas of NC started to bear down as the team pressed south toward Havelock and the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point. The support van raced ahead of the riders, taking the four lane comfort of US Highway 17 to the outskirts of New Bern and then picking up US Highway 70 and heading south to intercept the riders on the eastern side of the Croatan National Forest.
The riders, meanwhile, were taking the “road less traveled” from the small town of Maysville to the west side of the Croatan NF, where they would cross over and intercept the van outside Havelock. At mid-afternoon, the van and riders were separated by 17 miles and just one road — Catfish Lake Road.
(Cue dramatic, twist-in-plot music here.)
The support van headed down Catfish Lake Road, which quickly went from pavement to dirt with a smattering of gravel. The resulting dust kicked up by the support RV was one thing. The “helpful” washboard texture of the road made driving over it bumpy.
How bumpy? If anyone down that way finds my dental fillings, please slip them in an envelope and mail them back to me. Thanks!
The entire RV rattled as if it would come apart, even though Slack kept the speed down to about 10-12 mph. When locals breezed by in pickup trucks (what must they have been thinking??), giant plumes of dust would envelop the RV.
As we plodded along, my phone suddenly rang. It was E-man, who asked simply, “Where are you guys?” Replying with easily the greatest understatement of the ride, I said, “Catfish Lake Road. It’s slow going.”
Our riders, who were zipping along on the other side of the same road at about the same speed as the RV, got a kick out of that one.
So there we were – the RV heading west and the riders heading east. 17 miles of gravel, dust and washboard. Nothing to do but close the gap, pick up the riders and head back east.
About an hour and a half later, we were back on the pavement and turned the riders loose again. Just 10 miles to go until the riders reached the Marine Federal Credit Union branch in Havelock. Or put another way, just nine miles to go until Agnoli’s tire went flat. It was that kind of day.
Nevertheless, TLG safely reached the end of day two a little rattled (literally!) and two or so hours later than planned. But the team was thankful for the folks at Marine FCU in Havelock who rolled with the punches and gave us a warm welcome, complete with snacks, when we arrived. The team was also very grateful to Ken Buday of the Havelock News for sticking around, talking to the guys and working up a story on the ride and Hope for the Warriors.
The team handled the days twists beautifully and went to Crabby Patty’s to have fish dinners and to laugh about the afternoon’s escapades.
No one had catfish.