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Cycle NC Coastal Ride returns to Washington after COVID cancellations

Published: Nov. 5, 2021 at 5:14 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) - After over a year of postponements and cancelations because of the COVID pandemic, hundreds of cyclists showed up for this year’s Cycle NC Coastal Ride.

Traveling from near and far, riders mounted their bikes for a weekend of rides along routes ranging in length from a 13-mile tour of Washington Park to a 77-mile journey to Belhaven.

“I’m just dying to get out and ride!” said Ron Schray, who traveled over 600 miles to ride his bike here in Eastern Carolina.

“Because it’s so darn cold, I’m thinking about just doing the 37, but if it gets nice I might do more.”

Ron Schray, Cycle NC Coastal Ride cyclist

The event rotates its starting point each year. This year, athletes gathered in Washington. In the coming rides, they will tour the routes of Edenton, Chowan County and Oriental, Pamlico County.

The event typically happens in April, when it is warmer, but cyclists made different preparations to ride this weekend in November.

“Whatever speed you’ve moving through the air, if you’re riding your bicycle at 15 miles an hour, that’s like being out in a 15 mile an hour wind,” Fred Jackson, veteran Cycle NC Coastal Ride cyclist explained.

“So, when it’s cold, just moving through the air makes things colder.”

Fred Jackson, Cycle NC Coastal Ride cyclist

There is an extra bonus to the Cycle NC Coastal Ride, in addition to the joy it gives cyclists.

Businesses and restaurants along the Washington waterfront have struggled during the pandemic, as visitor spending for 2020 decreased and the colder months yielded fewer trips to the area.

The gathering of over 1200 cyclists this month will help local spots stay afloat heading into the holiday season.

“We love having groups here and especially the cyclists,” Jayne Meisell, Cups and Cones on Water Street owner said.

Cups and Cones’ skill of adapting and reacting quickly was put to the test when someone crossed their front steps Friday morning.

“One of the cyclists came in and said, ‘Nobody has bananas,’” recalls Meisell. “It helps with the leg cramps.”

Thinking quickly to meet the demand, she hurried to the grocery store and filled her shop’s breakfast table with the potassium-filled fruit.

Cups and Cones plans to keep bananas in stock and coffee brewing as long as cyclists are in town.

Jackson was one of the hundreds of riders who camped out along the waterfront in a nylon tent Thursday night.

“Now, if you don’t have hair, like me,” Jackson said as he took off his hat, “you have to keep your head covered!”

Waking up to bone-chilling temperatures, the athletes were in need of a quick source of warmth and nourishment.

Thankfully, Cups and Cones was just a short walk from the base camp.

Drivers of the Beaufort, Martin, and Pitt County roadways are urged to keep an eye out for the influx of riders sharing the road.

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