31st May 2016 Florence, SC to White Lake, NC 163.1 kms - 101.3 miles Up = 326m - Down = 338m
31st May 2016 - Florence, South Carolina to White Lake, North Carolina.
It is getting harder and harder to believe that this trip is nearly over!! While it seems ages ago that we left Newport Beach, California – here we are now with only 2 more riding days after today to reach Newport, North Carolina!! It all seems to have whizzed by and these days particularly so!!
Today was a big ride – 163.92 kilometres in total – although some of that was in the campground trying to find our site for the night!! It wasn’t the easiest ride to navigate – other States let cyclists on some of the Interstates if there is no frontage roads – here there is no frontage roads but we aren’t allowed on them. So taking the I95 out of the equation meant the planned 136 kms blew out a fair bit.
Taking less straight forward routes also adds considerable time to the day. Stopping to check that we are on the right route and trying to spot signs can be very difficult at times – but we only missed one today that added about 4 kms to the journey!
We headed off on a reasonably busy 4 lane highway, but turned before too long to take a short-cut across to Marion. Interesting to see was large buildings and the “Roche” sign on the gate. I don’t know whether a “Head Office” or not, but it seemed large! I guess various States or perhaps cities perhaps offer different company's incentives to set up in their area and provide employment. I have noticed similar occurrences along the way.
This short-cut worked well, but then we were back on a very busy road, with a rumble strip on the shoulder that forced us to ride in a lane. This sort of road I don’t feel at all safe on!!! The wide shoulders on an Interstate, to the right of a rumble strip to me, feel a whole lot safer!
After crossing a long bridge across a “wetlands” type area – Don yelled out puncture!! Sadly it was in his rear wheel, with the special tube and gunk. Two bits of wire were pulled from the tyre – so while the tubes are more puncture resistant, this darn wire goes through anything!
We were able to take signs to Lake View, and be on quiet back roads. We stopped for an early lunch at a little local eatery named Four Corners. It looked like the only place in town doing any business – so we went in. They did more “normal” type food – so Don and I had a good old fashioned “stew” for lunch, Pat had pork steak and Annie got a macaroni cheese and salad. The only downside was that smoking was allowed in the café!!! Glad we no longer have that here!! Pat enjoyed her pork steak - even though it had been deep-fried in batter!!
A few kms down the road and we crossed from South Carolina into our final state – North Carolina. I know it was a lesser type of road we were on – but there was no “Welcome to North Carolina” sign!! All we could do was take photo’s looking back at the sign saying South Carolina state border line!!
The ups and downs today were very few!!! It was a pretty flat ride – but unfortunately the wind was more a head one all day than anything else, and at times this made it hard work. But we must be thankful that although we set off in rain jackets, we were able to discard them early in the ride when Don punctured – and we made it to White Lake without getting wet!! This defied all weather reports we had read!!
As we came into Elizabethtown (14 kms from the end point), we had a couple of “incidents” About a mile south there appears to be a new bridge going in, so our side of the road was narrowed with road-works. Annie was in front, followed by Don and then me. From my position I heard a bang, and then saw Annie and bike flick sideways - into the traffic lane. Thank goodness no traffic was coming!! She had apparently hit a very heavy metal object that flicked into the rim of her back wheel taking a couple of chunks from it. The jagged gashes caused her back brakes to make a hell of noise, but filing them off has remedied this. All in all – Annie was lucky to stay on – it could have been a nasty fall!!
About 50 metres on from this – still riding in the same order – Don just clipped the end of a long stick of wood – it spun up and ended up through the middle of my bike, breaking in half and jamming amongst all those important bits that change the gears on the front 2 cogs. I stopped suddenly as I couldn't pedal – but didn’t fall off, managing a reasonably graceful dismount – although the following motorist stopped and asked if I was OK. Once I got rid of the branch and put my chain back on – I was off again – but my gears were not quite working as well as they should!!
Going through E-town (as it is known by locals) on our way to White Lake we were riding past a brightly coloured van that was angle parked. It was a driver who is aware of cyclists – but when a cyclist approaches a car with reversing lights on – special care is taken. I saw the van edge back a bit and then stop as I passed, Annie did as well – but a further little nudge out by the van caused Don to get a fright and swerve – but not fall off. Driver of said van has reported that she was aware we were all there and was waiting til we were all past – but it did alarm Don!!
The sky went very black and we heard a lot of thunder, so we stopped off for a milk-shake at E-town Macca’s to sit it out. Again we were lucky – it went right around us. We met some lovely people there – Charles and Anne – who were very interested in our travels and asked us a whole lot of interesting questions. It is super talking to the locals!!
I had rung through to advise the campground we wouldn’t be there until after 5:00 pm. They said we could go on any vacant site except number 54!! That sounded easy!! We reached Camp Clearwater about 5:30 - and what a HUGE place it was. There were literally acres of "permanents" in small cottages mainly, I didn't notice too many caravans. The map on the door showed a network of small roads and we were able to spot the facilities blocks and RV/tent sites. But getting to them was not as easy as it looked on the map! We all rode around looking but the rows of permanents seemed endless. I am sure we added a couple of kms to the total here - but eventually we found nice RV sites and tent areas under large trees with all the facilities nice and handy.
Big day on the bike distance-wise and time-wise - but well done team!!