Have you ever had one of those days where everything just went your way? I have been fortunate to have several, just not today. It started out on a great note with me teaching the Sleep Inn a lesson on how to crush a free breakfast. Then I literally rode out of the lobby at 7:05am with the sun just peaking over the horizon. One of my earliest starts. After a quick ten miles I crossed into NC, one of the few picture-worthy moments today. I even found my large chainring and wondered why I didn’t use it more on this trip. So far so good, right. Yep. I retired 60 miles of my planned 114 by 11:30 which felt great. After a brief stop in a McCafe just east of Greensboro, I was off again. 30-20-20 plan to break up my afternoon. Two breaks after 30 and 20. Simple, right?
Nope. I didn’t take the bird in the hand in Ashboro. This means, I kept thinking an even better option was coming up ahead. This idea rarely works out as you find yourself riding through town and then feeling like going back would be wasteful. I had tempo so I said let’s get 10 more and then break. I felt good. Until I realized I was 5 miles past a key turn. There are always multiple routes so GoogleMaps to the rescue. 28 more miles vs what would have been 22. Not a huge deal. I would still get to Badin Lake Campground earlyish.
Then I passed the sign: ‘You are entering Uwharrie’ and everything changed. I’ve been here before. I knew it would be hilly. What I didn’t expect was the miles and miles of dirt roads I’d be riding on. Some well traveled with smooth tire tracks to ride in on my road bike and others not well traveled at all. My speed went from 10-15 mph to 6-8 mph.
Still just keep pedaling. Early arrival ahead. After a few hours of work I was 3.5 miles from my target Campground. It was 5:50pm. All good. Until I hit the Badin Lake Campground Road a few turns later. Large, newly spread gravel rocks on a one lane road. I rode 300-400 yards on them and nearly fell multiple times. I would either have to walk my bike 3.5 miles in to camp (which meant walk it out the next morning), hitch a ride (not happening – I hadn’t seen a car in an hour) or form another plan.
So I decided to push on. 111 miles into my day. Morrow Mountain State Park was 26 miles away. That’s where I’d go. Reluctantly. At this point I’m disappointed, tired, thirsty and hungry. Not a way to end the trip but not a lot of options.
I rode 4.5 miles and came across a general store. There I buy food and drink and they tell me that two (actually it was over four) miles back the way I came was a small Campground call Whip-O-Will. I get excited pack up and head back. Big mistake. This place was rough and the front office guy rougher. Whip-o-Will was stuffed full of RV Campers that haven’t moved in 5-10 years. Guard dogs chasing me on the way in and local kids heckling me. This before the front office guy said “we don’t do tenters (boy).” It’s now closer to 7pm and I’m still 22 miles from Morrow Mountain. Off I go. This time I look like Dorothy riding her bike in the Wizard of Oz.
Enough, you get the picture. I arrive at Morrow Mountain State Park at 8:50pm. I’m set up, showered and fed by 10:30pm. A lesson in humility firmly grasped. A reminder that being a one hour car ride from home doesn’t just mean the trip is simple or you can coast in – you still have to work for it. Tomorrow I’ll get up and treat the last 70 miles of this journey with the respect I know it deserves.
What I loved today: Riding in the early AM on a Saturday (much less traffic).
Oddity: Morrow Mountain Family Campground. Weird vibe compared to the other State Parks I’ve stayed at.
Zen Moment: Crossing into NC!
Not-So-Zen Moment: Backtracking almost 5 miles to the Whip-O-Whill Campground only to get turned away.
Who did I meet today? Mittie and Chuck at the Badin General Store
Food I Ate: two hard boiled eggs, a plate of scrambled eggs, a bowl of two cereals, a biscuit with honey, a muffin and coffee, a bar on the bike, biscuit, egg and cheese with a hash brown and a Dr Pepper (sodas taste really good to me out here), two more bars on the bike. Pistachios and my Nutella, Banana and almond butter wrap and a tub of jalapeño pimiento cheese on crackers with a Snickers to top it off.
Pictures: 1) NC State Line, 2) Uwharrie’s dirt roads.