After a hectic final few days of work and a steamy move from the house lasting a day longer than scheduled, I was able to skip town for an overnight shakedown.
Leaving behind the quiet, wooded neighborhood I’ve called home since December, I found my way to the American Tobacco Trail and headed south to Holly Springs for the night. A sticky night of stealth camping and I was ready for a full day in the saddle. Even riding with a slimmed down “bikepacking” version of my full setup, the 80 miles to my four-wheeled rendezvous was enough to give my legs a sense of loaded riding. I also had plenty of time to play with a few new toys.
The highlight of the first afternoon was the American Tobacco Trail. With nearly 10 paved miles, the northern section connects the urban reaches of southern Durham County with downtown Durham. Split by shopping malls and interstate highways, the southern section sees much less traffic but is every bit as charming.
The majority of the 15 miles south of I-40 follow old rail line through beautiful, shaded forest. A mix of dirt, crushed gravel and the occasional paved stretch cut through rural Durham, Chatham and Wake counties, ending just outside of Holly Springs.
In addition to tempering the 97-degree heat radiating off the blacktop, the Tobacco trail's wooded path made for quite the wildlife viewing. Copperheads, black snakes, deer, rabbits, owls, hawks and the most massive box turtle I've seen--easily as big as my 26" wheel!
The Luna Moth goes well with the new "Agent Orange" Surly Troll
The Troll was great, on road and off! With an updated Porcelain Rocket framebag, stuffed with tools and the ever-necessary CamelBak, getting comfortable with the load was a breeze. I'll be adding rear panniers and a set of Salsa Everything cages when I land above the Arctic Circle next week.
Mornings offer a narrow window for cool riding in eastern North Carolina this time of year and I was drenched and craving the next Gatorade by 9am. The open country roads funneled a nice breeze and I was happy to be on the bike for some self-made A/C. A surprise to me, my route took me off road for a few miles through tobacco and turkey farms. The Sandhills lived up to the name, though, and had me off the bike and walking.
Post-ride cramp proofing.
I have a few days at the folks’ house on the coast, relaxing, finalizing trip plans, saying goodbyes. This time next week I’ll be heading south from the northernmost road in North America.