raleigh to spring hope

I finally did a bike tour. Will post more pics and a bit of narration later. Here's the route for day 1. (Available for your closer perusal here).

First section of the route was through the Umpstead trails, which is gravel, shaded, off road, and beautiful. The first stop was a Publix shortly thereafter, where I got a footlong tuna sub sandwich. That thing sat like a rock in my gut for the next couple miles. Next stop was Falls Lake for a swim. I saw a few huge snakes frolicking in the grass next to the road in the camping spot, which gave me the creeps and kind of set me on high alert for the rest of the time around those parts. The swim was nice, but could have gone better. I was trying to find a deserted (private) stretch of coast but settled for a boat ramp area with two dudes taking forever to pull their kayaks out of the water and a few fishermen out on a boat. So I settled for wearing some trunks but definitely got refreshed. I think at this point I was about 20 miles in, which, when I knew my aim was for like 60-80 was a little discouraging. My legs and ass were already pretty exhausted.

Between the lake and Wake Forest/Youngsville, comprising about a quarter of this day's ride, the ride was in the dismal suburban outskirts of Raleigh, a town that seemingly goes on forever and is expanding. There were lots of sub-developments under construction - huge houses on huge lots miles from anywhere, each with a stone sign out front advertising the neighborhood. An out and out ecological disaster. At a certain point I was beginning to panic (thirst, navigational confusion, not grasping the endurance which would be necessary - probably classic first day things), but then a Sheetz appeared on the horizon and it turns out I was on the right track after all. May have shed a tear or two at the sight of the Sheetz. I got in there and filled up my water with tons of ice and got a couple of gatorades and one of the clerks like an angel sidled over with a gratis iced coffee with caramel and whipped cream. Ate my first banana in ages and grabbed a few granola bars. It was like I was coming out of the wilderness after a week. Classic first day things.

Passed through downtown Youngsville, which was a cute small town main street thing. On the edge of Youngsville there was a dollar general store, which had a pink bandana with emojis on it, which would be my AC unit (wet and around the neck) for the rest of the trip. After this point it was onto country roads, which were what I was after really for the trip. Take it slow and see the sights. Not much happened for a while. Then two dogs came ripping out of a trash yard unleashed toward me. They were somewhat big and scraggly. I knew from my days of having a paper route that you can't out run/bike a dog. You just got to stop and face them and then I guess take it from there. If they charge from that point maybe punch them in the face. But if you're biking away they'll just keep chasing and bike your heels. So a huge truck stopped in the road and I was able to kind of walk away.

Eventually I got to somewhere called Hope Spring, or Spring Hope. I can never remember which it is. Small town and hopefully they had a dining option. The trip - I was winging it to the utmost. Well they had a restaurant/bar, a pretty close facsimile of a good PNW version of same. My favorite thing about small town photography in rural Oregon/SW Washington was ALWAYS the small town bars. They would ALWAYS have excellent french fries at the least and sick decor. Well this place in Spring Hope had Mic Ultras on special for $3 so it was .... basically good for NC. The burger was fine and the locals were .... not helpful in navigation. However they did have a power outlet so I charged up my quickly dying and close to dead phone.

After dinner it was back on the road, around dusk. I knew I had to find somewhere to camp, and kind of did. This was a stretch of road maybe 20 miles long with three small towns, so not in the middle of nowhere as much as would have been good. But when it's getting dark and you're going like 10 MPH and you have a matter of minutes to find something you do what you can. I found a patch of woods somewhat between farm fields with a little grass road leading into it. The picture below is the site. It was great in a vacuum but yeah too close to houses for a restful nights sleep. I was super sweaty from the day and a tent just doesn't allow for a good breeze. At least I didn't need the rain fly. So I slept fitfully sort of hallucinating that some redneck would be waking me up armed and with big dogs telling me to beat feet but obviously that was completely just not a reasonable line of thought. I still woke up at like 5:30 or something and I packed up and headed for Nashville to hopefully find a breakfast.


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