We woke up slowly to a distant sound of the waves crashing on the shore. We had a short 20 mile ride rom Salvo to Nagshead, NC. We had gotten in a great routine of letting our bags explode at night when we arrive in our room, and slowly organizing and repacking before bed. This helps with dirty clothes and misplaced pacifiers. After a few bites of cold pizza and packed bikes, we were off. The 4th day of our Outer Banks by Bike trip has begun!
We had an AMAZING tailwind which made our 20 mile ride take just about an hour! But we still took our time on the ride. We stopped at the visitor center and explored the beach! The little princess loved it! She assigned us each a shovel from her new tools. And the colors stuck with each of us the rest of the trip!
Building a sand castle
We crossed paths with a lot of road construction, one long bridge and a cyclist who is traveling from Key West, FL to Oregon SOLO! He is taking 4 months to ride two sides of the country … and to top it off this IS NOT his first time doing this!
Like the previous days we had not had the chance to eat breakfast. So once we strolled into Nagshead we found a cute little coffee shop called Waverider’s Coffee and Deli. We spread out, got breakfast bagels, and coffee’s. We got a recommendation from a local for a place to stay and Donald took the Big Dummy andheaded over to make reservations.
We scored another quaint little ocean front cottage! 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a kitchen and a nice living room / dining room area. After unloading the bikes we all changed into flip-flops and grabbed the sand castle building supplies.
digging with daddy
searching for shells
It was one of the first times our toddler had a chance to explore the beach on unlimited time! She LOVED IT! She was excited to see the water and hung onto daddy while they ran into the waves. She laughed and laughed!
After a good hour of beach time we went back for naps! Well needed naps and relaxation were in store for all of us!
The weather was still playing games with us all afternoon. After naps we headed out for dinner. We thought walking was the best answer since the restaurant was only .5 miles away. We chose Owens’ Outer Banks Restaurant. The place was quiet and charming. It reminded us of an antique store with all the oceanic old fixtures. The food was amazing the service was pefect.
Halfway through dinner the storm clouds opened up and the rain began. We waited as long as we thought was possible before we headed out for our 1/2 mile run to the cabin. It poured and poured on us! We ran through deep puddles and were thankful for the few cars that passed who slowed down so they wouldn’t soak us more. Our toddler is waterproof! She actually loved it!
When we returned we let the toddler choose the route the next day!
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With a great night of sleep under our belts we were ready to hit the road by 9am for day 3 of our Outer Banks by Bike tour! We asked around for the best local breakfast spot on Ocracoke and we headed that way. As we readied our bikes in the bike parking corral, a waiter came out to tell us that the power was out and they were legally not allowed to serve us food. Actually the power was out on the whole south island. Yet again we were faced with minimal breakfast at the start of our day.
The ride down Hwy 12 was quiet. A two lane road with the ocean on the right and the sound on the left. Sand dunes shielded us form the high winds. We followed a bike bath for the first few miles out of town. It ended just about where the North Carolina Wild Horses were. According to the website, the wild horses are “descended from Spanish mustangs brought by the earliest European explorers to the Carolina coast, they have tenaciously survived this harsh and unforgiving environment.”
After we visited the wild horses we walked across the street to see the ocean. We followed a long boardwalk to the sand. Our daughter found a shell and we sat on the step enjoying the sound of the waves.
The ferry ride to Hatteras Island departs every hour on the half hour. We arrived at 1125! Just in time to watch the cars start to drive on, followed by a handful of cyclist. The ferry ride from Ocracoke to Hatteras is free to cyclists. The ride was less then an hour which made it easy to keep the toddler under control.
Once we arrived on Hatteras Island it was time for lunch and Sonny’s Restaurant was our stop! We each ordered the lunch special with 3 types of fried fish, hushpuppies, and french fries along with a sweet tea! We took a nice break for about 45 minutes and were eager to get back on the bikes. We had about 15 miles left until we reached Buxton, NC our originally planned stop for the night. The weather report said there were storms coming in around 4pm and there was a tornado watch in effect. So when we reached Buxton we stopped for a coffee to evaluate our hotel options. It was only about 3pm and the weather was great. We had been sprinkled on a little right before we arrived in Buxton, but we weighed our options: A) Stay in Buxton, which meant a 40 mile ride the next day under questionable weather conditions or B) Ride half way to Salvo and cut the miles in half for the next day. We chose option B. We added 20 more miles onto our ride and road to Salvo.
We stopped in Avon at the grocery store for water and some baby food. I purchased 2 waters and the little lady decided she HAD TO HAVE ONE. We poured most of the water into our water bottles and gave her what reamained. She carried it for approximately 1 mile then hucked it into traffic. Needless to say I stopped on the busy part of hwy 12 to fetch it. Some nice samaritan got to it before me and saved me from playing frogger to get it.
We pedaled into Salvo around 5pm and stumbled upon the Salvo Inn Motel. A cute little motel with great hosts. The room had two full size beds, and a kitchenette! It was perfect!
I sent Donald out to the local convenience store (.5 miles away) for a small container of milk for the little one. He returned with a large jug of milk, ice cream and sandcastle building toys!
Waking up on day 3 of our trip, day 2 of our Outer Banks by bike tour … and our legs were trashed from everything I had done in the past 2 days … 203 squats and 53 miles of biking…OUCH! It hurt to walk to the bikes!
A quick round up of our gear and we were off by 9 in the morning. We capitalized on the continental breakfast and woofed down some coffee and sticky buns!
The mileage for the day was a causal 48 miles from Plymouth to Ocracoke, NC. The only way to get to Ocracoke is by Ferry, with only 2 departure times a day we were on the road early enough to give ourselves a lot slack time. The clouds came in the night before and they threatened rain most of the ride.
After leaving Plymouth, we again discovered we were in farm country. This time we encountered a lot of cross and head winds. Making what should have been a 4 hour bike ride, almost 7 hours (understand that we move slow, take lots of breaks for a 2 year old and just generally enjoy our travel).
About an hour into our ride, our little girl decided she would start singing! We love listening to her belt out words of nothingness combined with a few words from the movie Frozen. When she does this she also uses
hand gestures, clearly she is going to be a star! The problem is she would drop her pacifier without realizing it. Once she did she would say, “Oh No Daddy, dropped nana” at which time we would stop and turn around to go get it. This happened about 3 times. On the 4th time we had some cars pass us before we could turn around to retrieve it. I rode back 1/4 of a mile to look for it and it was gone. I searched for another in ALL the bags we had
and couldn’t find the 3rd one (remember we lost #1 the day before). I brought 3 with us, PLUS a leash to tether it to her so this wouldn’t happen, however she is a ninja and managed to circumvent the leash.
The lost pacifier turned the happy toddler into a not so happy little baby. She cried and cried. When we stopped for a quick break to get a snack she said, “Mama, dropped nana!!” and pointed in the direction of the lost pacifier…nearly 8 miles behind us, she hand’t forgotten!
At this point Donald distracted her with other activities and food while I tore through every bag we had looking for another one. Only to come up empty handed.
After everything was put back in order we headed out again only to be stopped a mile or 2 up the road because it started to rain. When we pulled over my clipped in pedal on my right side stuck and I couldn’t unlock my foot fast enough… First bike crash of the trip! Following over on a bike is never good, but following over on a loaded touring bike is MUCH worse.
Around 25 miles into the day was saw a convenience store out in the middle of nowhere. They served lunch, soda and popsicles. We loaded up on everything! It was time for a mood changer! They did not however have
pacifiers. Our little princess spent the time playing with her dinosaur in the rocks and she found statue of a bear that she hugged and hugged! The Adventure Cycling Group caught up to us at this stop and enjoyed a little lunch to. We had a chance to talk with them more and met the guides.
We were 17 miles from the ferry and a promising town of Swan Quarter, NC population 348. We arrived 2 hours before the ferry and asked a few locals where the nearest grocery story was (still on the hunt for a pacifier). He pointed us in the direction and said, “Its 1/8th of a mile down this road, then turn right and you will see it!” Sounded easy enough. But we have learned early in our cycling lives NOT to trust a person who drives in a car for accurate directions or distances. This proved to be true again. The grocery store was 2 miles down the road. But it was all worth it when we found a single dusty pacifier hidden on a back shelf! With a package of cookies and a new nana in hand we headed back to the ferry!
During our grocery store trek, the ACA group passed us and arrived at the Ferry. We got our tickets and sprayed down with bug spray and our little one ran in the flowers! At one point her and I were coming out of the little rest area and she was running down the handicap ramp and lost her footing. She tumbled head first into the pavement. She knocked her head pretty good and broke the skin only slightly. No missing teeth or broken bones. Not even black eye…but a lot of tears!
The Ferry ride was 2.5 hours! Too long for an antsy toddler. We did laps on the deck, and she splashed in the water, but she was bored with that after a while.
We met up with another cycling tour group called North Carolina Tailwinds. They are a fully supported group with a sag wagon.
We arrived in Ocracoke at 7pm and hungry. We got our room at then Anchorage Inn which was right off the ferry. We unloaded, parked our bikes and headed out for food. The town was quaint and cute and CLOSED! It was still the off season and the manager at the hotel had told us of a great seafood place down the road which he swore was open. Not so much. We settled for an outdoor patio at Dajios . We were the ONLY people on the patio so our excited toddler played in the rocks, found bugs and talked to a local duck. We had a few beers and discussed the day.
We made it back to the hotel where the ACA group was also staying. We had a few beers and chatted with a few of the guides. What a great trip it had been so far! These trips help us realize how to relax and not stress about the little things.
Our Outer Banks by bike tour around the North Carolina’s Outer Banks was phenomenal! We followed Adventure Cycling Associations maps for the Atlantic Coast and biked the 255 mile loop starting and ending in Elizabeth City, NC.
The ACA offers a great guided tour of the exact route we took, and they just so happened to start the SAME day we did! Since we had a toddler with us, we chose early on in our trip planning not to use a guided service incase we had an unruly toddler with us (which can happen at any given time) and we didn’t want to hold any one up OR ruin anyones experience by dealing with a child’s sudden outburst. (Just to make it clean, Abigail was a DREAM on this trip…but you know Murphy’s law and I am SURE if we had booked the trip with the ACA she would have acted up. Its what toddlers do.)
Lets back up a day or two… We started our vacation with a workout at our Crossfit Box called The Manion. It is a Hero WOD (Workout of the Day) honoring First Lieutenant Travis Manion. The workout consisted of 7 rounds of a 400 meter run, and 29 back squats. The workout took nearly 40 minutes to complete and 203 squats and a 1.75 mile run. Needless to say our legs were toast for our 255 mile bike trip.
We drove 4 hours to the rest area in Dismal Swamp State Park. We crashed out in the Adventure Van for the night. At this point we were 20 miles from Elizabeth City.
The next morning started pretty early and full of excitement. We packed up the van and headed south to town. We were expecting to find a local diner of sorts for a big hardy breakfast, but we only found a ghost town with a small coffee shop. After asking a few locals where to get some good food, we were told that nothing, except fast food, was open in town on a Sunday before noon. So we settled for a few coffees and some coffee cake from Muddy Waters Coffeehouse . Not quite the hardy breakfast one needs before a 53 mile ride. Little did we know this would become a common issue for us all week.
While sipping hot coffee we unloaded the bikes and clipped on our panniers. The maps we bought from ACA didn’t have the exact route from Elizabeth City to Plymouth. So I got out my iPhone and told siri to get me to Plymouth via the walking route. Sure enough it was as easy as pie!
Check out our video of Day 1. Make sure to sot back and read ALL the chapters in our incredible trip!