The owner of Bikefix Cycling Center in Boyne City, John left Asheville, North Carolina on March 11 and wrapped up his ride on March 29, meeting his wife, Meg, in Conway, South Carolina.
I rode around 600 or 700 miles, he estimates. North Carolina is nice because theyve established about seven bike routes around the state. The one I took was Bicycle Route 2, called the Mountain to the Sea. Then I followed the intercoastal road to South Carolina.
McClorey rode a Surly Long Haul Trucker bike designed for touring, with front and rear panniers along with a day trunk. His gear weighed in at around 85 lbs. Along the way, he dealt with storms, traffic, spotty showers, route mix-ups and campgrounds that resembled ghost towns, but he also enjoyed the exhilaration
of rolling through the beautiful countryside and meeting friendly people along the route.
This is the first time Ive attempted such an adventure, he says by cell phone from Savanna, Georgia. I did it solo and took camping equipment with me. But I found that Michigan is much better suited for cycle touring. North Carolina has some nice routes, but they dont have the infrastructure for camping.
That meant he had to stay at motels on occasion, since campgrounds were either closed or nonexistent. I arrived at a campground I thought was a year-round enterprise and found it closed for the season, he notes in
an email posted along the route. I had to ride three more miles until I could find a level enough spot off the road in the woods to stretch out my sleeping gear.
Touring is very intense, he adds. Not just the time in the saddle but because I dedicated all my time to the effort with cooking food, washing clothes, navigating, and, when I camped outside, not spending any more than minutes indoors for days at a time.
His route took him along the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway which rolls up and down past sweeping vistas. Was it tough riding those mountains?
McClorey laughs. Yeah, but you know whats tougher? Riding into a headwind -- thats tougher than riding uphill, because with the mountains you know youre going to go downhill at some point, but a headwind feels like youre going uphill all day. Headwinds on the flat, flat coast kept me at an average of just over 10 miles per hour. If I stopped pedaling going down a slope I would slow down.
McClorey averaged 55-60 miles per day on his 13-day trip, with his longest ride being 72 miles. I rode with a heart monitor, and that helped me pace myself, he says. Cycle touring is a great way to get in shape. I took two notches off my belt.
He chose the Carolinas for his first bike tour because his daughter Meriwether, attends the Savanna College of Art and Design. I wanted to ride somewhere close enough so that we could have a visit after the tour, he says.
He hopes to make cycle touring an annual outing, planning to sample other routes. But it will have to be in March because thats the slow season for my business, he says.
Sounds good -- who wouldnt want to leave snowy Michigan behind for some cycling fun in a warmer climate, even if there are a few mountains to climb?