Outer Banks Cycling – Ride Safely, Arrive Intact
True Confession: My idea of a perfect way to start the day is a 15 to 20 mile ride through the more hidden places on the Outer Banks. Because I’m on my bike a fair amount, I get to see lots of other riders, especially in the summer, and there are some concerning safety items worth a discussion.
First of all, please wear a helmet. I’ve had a couple of bad bike accidents over the years. In both cases I picked myself up, stiff and missing some skin. After getting my bearings and making sure all ten fingers and ten toes still worked, I looked at my helmet. Two out of two times there was a gouge in it, which could have been my head. Too hot? Sorry, not an excuse in my mind. Can’t hear the traffic? Simply not true. Uncomfortable? That’s why they are adjustable! Just please, wear a helmet.
Second of all, don’t talk on your cell phone while riding. I recently saw two young children on bikes followed by their mother who was talking on her cell phone and without a helmet. Riding one-handed is not necessarily dangerous, however bike riders who tend to do this usually have their resting hand poised to quickly grab the handlebar if necessary. A phone will definitely impede quick reflexes.
More importantly, talking on the phone is a distraction. This is especially an issue when there are children in the group. The adult should be focused on the road, terrain and their children. Younger kids tend to ride a bit wobbly and often wander off the shoulder into the road, and bike routes on vacation are unfamiliar which can add to instability.
Is there any conversation that cannot wait half an hour? Pack the phone with you in case of an emergency or to call if you are lost, but riding and talking just doesn’t make sense.
Third, take water with you. If you’re out for a four block cruise with the kids, that’s one thing, but any ride over half an hour warrants water. The Outer Banks in the summer tends to be hot and humid, and water is the best defense against energy loss.
On a positive note, it’s hard for me to imagine a better place to ride a bike than the Outer Banks. There are many interconnecting multi-use paths, several of them shaded, and the few hills are easily navigated.
Dare County, from Duck south, has the best network of trails. Corolla specifically designed the area around Corolla Light for bike traffic, however south of the Timbuk 2 shopping center the shoulder of NC12 serves as the bike path. None of the bike paths here are as wide or as well marked as those in Dare County.
Two easy rides to consider would be any place in the town of Duck. Simply get on the multi-use path and ride until it’s time to turn around. The path runs the entire length of Duck. Keep in mind, the north end of the path has very little shade.
Another great ride is The Woods Road in Kitty Hawk. Head to Sandy Run to park your car, then cross the street to the multi-use path. You can ride right to the end of the Woods Road, and there is ample shade, a few small hills and absolutely beautiful scenery. This is a wonderful ride for a family. Once the ride is complete, Sandy Run Park is also worth a visit.
One last piece of advice: Whenever possible, start your bike riding into the wind. You’ll thank us later when you are riding home with the wind at your back.