Dozens of tents waved in the gentle autumn breeze as the 19th Mountains to Coast bicycle tour set up camp for the night. Hundreds of cyclists from multiple states, two Canadian Provinces and as far away as Germany have gathered together to explore North Carolina.
Cyclists will bike through North Carolina until Oct. 8. They stopped in Chapel Hill on Tuesday night and left the following morning.
“We are encouraging them to see the state as we go from the mountains to the coast, stop at local restaurants in the towns they go through, shop at local shops, take their time enjoying the scenery, all while pedaling across the state,” said Chip Hofler, a director at North Carolina Amateur Sports.
NCAS planned a path that begins in Jefferson and ends in Swansboro, and partnered with Visit N.C. to coordinate the over 300 mile-long ride.
“We’re really trying to promote tourism and cyclist tourism as we go across the state and have big impacts for small towns that we travel through — and even for the bigger towns like Chapel Hill that we come to,” Hofler said.
Multiple cyclists said they had a good time participating in the Cycle North Carolina event.
“It’s been great, we’ve had beautiful weather, the courses have been great, it’s been wonderful,” cyclist Nasrin Azari said.
Azari said she has been cycling for 20 years and this is the first time she is riding with CNC.
Other cyclists, such as Michael Smithey and Phillip Greene, are more experienced with CNC and have logged many trips on their dirt-spattered bikes.
“We've (gone) from Mount Airy to the coast, from Boone to the coast a couple times,” Smithey said.
He added that he’s been cycling for a very long time and has cycled with CNC for many trips.
Greene, a cyclist since the age of 5, has ridden all 470 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway by bike.
“They pick routes that are fairly safe, as safe as can be, and they look after us,” Greene said.
Hofler said that despite the logistical challenges, stopping by in the town is worth it.
“Chapel Hill is the bike-friendliest town in the state, so it’s always been a goal to get here and do an overnight stop,” he said.
Other cyclists agreed with Hofler’s assessment.
“I would have to say that from the towns that we’ve been in, this has probably been the worst, but I think it’s because there’s more traffic,” Azari said.
Cycling, for some of the participants, is not only a way to keep themselves fit, but also a passion.
“I enjoy (cycling), I really truly do,” Smithey said as he set up his tent for the evening.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.