Best Bike Rides in the South
by Elizabeth & Charles Skinner (The Globe Pequot Press)
© Elizabeth & Charles Skinner/The Globe Pequot Press. All Rights Reserved.
This route is very flat and on the day I did it, very windy. The first part is brief but nice. You can park all day at the starting point for $3.50. Leaving Wilmington, you pass miles of industrial sites followed by miles of typical North Carolina sand and pine tree landscapes. You first see the ocean about 4 miles before you get to the ferry and almost halfway into the ride. Like most seaside towns Carolina and Kure beaches were deserted at this time of year and so it was safe to ride. In the summer with cars parked on the sides, it would not be as safe. The ferry is now $2.00 and the half hour ride is pleasant. After you ride through Southport you are on route 133, a fast 2 lane road with no shoulder for about 30 miles. The road surface is smooth and I had the wind at my back so I was able to go very fast but I was scared. Traffic travels well over the 55 speed limit it is very scary. Definitely not for beginners and in my opinion not for anyone. The road that leads in to Orton plantation is unrideable. It is deep fine sand and even on a mountain bike I couldn't stay upright. When you get to the bridge that crosses into Wilmington you have to cross a 2 lane exit of 60 mph traffic to get on it. On the bridge there are grates about every 50 feet with the slots running in the same direction as your bike wheel. You are forced to ride on the approximately 6 inches between the grate and the traffic lane.
At the highest point on the bridge
the roadway becomes a metal grating that makes you wander from side to side while trucks pass within inches of your left shoulder. I have been riding in and around traffic in Philadelphia and New York for 15 years and never been as glad to get off a road as I was to get off the second half of this ride. My advice would be to ride from Wilmington, take the ferry, see Southport, then go back the way you came and use your car to sightsee around Orton Plantation. Better yet, don't do this ride.
1 star because 0 was not available. I live here and quit riding this route 25 years ago. Riding NC 133 and crossing Memorial Bridge is just plain nuts unless you are in a group. The suggested alternative in another review is right on.
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