Monday, May 21, 2018

Day 3 - Tuesday May 22nd 2018 - Nags Head to Buxton (Hatteras Island) 48.3 miles

Wilbur and Orville would be proud of us - after all, they owned a Bicycle Shop before they ever flew. Little known fact - We might not have airplanes today if Wilbur hadn't gotten his front teeth knocked out by a serial killer with a hockey stick. Don't believe it? Click here or Google it.
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 Day 3 is the longest of this trip - 48.3 miles. Back in the 80's we could do 48 miles before lunch. We'll be lucky to get there before dark this time. The ride from Nags Head to Hatteras Island is long, flat, hot, treeless and shade-less. The same ever-present on-shore winds that the Wright Brothers counted on to lift their glider will most likely be our nemesis for the day. At the 10 mile mark of today's ride, we will cross the Oregon Inlet via the 2.7 mile Herbert C. Bonner Bridge. Here is a street view of what we can expect.  Although North Carolina has recently enacted "Share the Road" laws, historically it is one of the least safe states for cycling. Oregon Inlet joins the Pamlico Sound with the Atlantic Ocean and separates Bodie Island from Pea Island. This is also where the Cape Hatteras National Seashore begins. That means no commercial stops (convenience stores, etc) until we reach Hatteras Island. In 1963, the Herbert C Bonner Bridge was opened to replace the Ferry that was used to get across Oregon Inlet. In October of 1990, during a passing storm, a dredge collided with the structure, causing severe damage to several of the spanning bridge portions, and closing the bridge for approximately 6 weeks. During this time, emergency ferry runs were set up by the NCDOT to transport essential food and supply deliveries to islanders. When the bridge finally did reopen weeks later, local legend has it that the first vehicle to cross over the newly repaired Bonner Bridge was a Budweiser beer truck, and is was greeted on the southern side of Oregon Inlet with cheers. Not without controversy, a replacement bridge is currently being built. See this video by the NCDOT. It will not be finished when we cross. The new replacement bridge is going to be REALLY HIGH! When we rode this stretch in the 80s, we were bedeviled by biting bugs - known locally as "sand gnats", "sand flys", "no see-ums”,“fuzzy bills” or “blind mosquitoes”. They'll land anywhere they can find a patch of skin and bite the crap out of you. We fought the bugs and on shore winds the entire day and had to stagger ourselves in a half-chevron fashion across the entire roadway in order find the "sweet spot" to draft off each other. If we make it to Hatteras Island, we plan to stay in Buxton (Hatteras Island) at the Cape Pines Motel.
This is the Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton. It served as a Lookout Tower in WWII because of German U-Boats offshore. 15 years after this picture was taken, because of the rising sea encroaching, it had to be moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,900 feet (880 m) inland, and 1,500 feet (460 m) from the shoreline. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is one of the tallest masonry structures ever moved (200 feet tall and weighing 5,000 tons).
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