CNC Mountains to the Coast

By: Will Stiefel

We were fortunate to catch the start of the renowned Cycle North Carolina
“Mountains to the Coast” bike trip, which coincided with our visits to
Brevard and Hendersonville. This year the trip, hosted by North Carolina
Amateur Sports, celebrated it’s fourteenth annual journey from the
western Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to the it’s eastern
shore. Bikers began their trek on September 28th in the sleep college
town of Brevard. Here, we saw a few early arrivals warming up with trips
throughout Brevard’s surrounding mountainous territory. It would be a
later in the when all 1,100 participants came together to begin the
first leg.

The entire trip adds up to 450 miles of biking from Brevard College to
Carolina Beach. Each biker tends to ride from 40-80 miles per day, a
physical demand drawing only the avid bike enthusiast. However, because
much of this trip is downhill, anyone of any age has the potential to
complete it. The average age of participants is 56, but this year it
ranges from a 5-year old to an 84-year old. Many participants that we
spoke to in the older age range attributed a large portion their bike
enthusiasm to the inability to run anymore due to arthritis or poor knee
health. The next best thing they seemed to think to do was to bike, and
what better a trip to do it on.

The trip coincides with the beginning of fall in western North Carolina,
arguably it’s most beautiful season. As the leaves change, the bikers
coast through both scenic and historical locations such as Hickory Nut
Gorge, Chimney Rock Park, Ellenboro Historic Train Depot, Hamlet Train
Station and Museum, Historic John Blue House, UNC Pembroke, Lu Mil
Vineyard, Jones Lake State Park, Moore’s Creek Battleground, River Road
Park, Intercoastal Waterway and the Carolina Beach Boardwalk. These
beautiful and historically fascinating locations that crop up throughout
North Carolina’s back roads showcase the cultural and geographic
diversity of the state. This is one of the many draws of the trip that
brings over a 1,000 bikers each year.

Bikers who participated this year hailed from 38 states including a portion of
enthusiasts from international locations. Citizens of Canada, British
Columbia, Russia, Great Britain, and Switzerland were all drawn to North
Carolina for this revered event. This year was especially significant
because it marks the first time the bike route will run through downtown
Charlotte. Bikers road on bike-safe roads through the city taking in
its sites and history. The trip is not as much about completing the long
journey as it is about enjoying what town visited has to offer. The
trip finish takes riders to the sandy shores of Carolina Beach. Here,
the town will allow bikers to camp on the beach for the first time this

Throughout the trip, the majority of bikers spend their night stops camping near
the route. Others stay in hotels or bed and breakfasts along the way,
though most are booked months in advance. The overnight stops include
Lake Lure, Shelby, Matthews, Rockingham, Lumberton, and White Lake.
These stops are strategically chosen to break up the trip into even
stretches, both in terms of distance and difficulty. However,
participants are not required to complete the entire journey if they do
not feel up to it. Alternative options include multiple or single day
trips. These trips still help Cycle North Carolina to achieve the
event’s overall goals and participants for shorter portions are always
encouraged to come out.

Cycle North Carolina ends it’s cycling season with this cumulative event.
Riding from mountains to shore gives those who participate a sense of
the entire state, providing the organization with an appropriate season
finale. They hope that the trip will help achieve their goals of
promoting healthy lifestyles and providing economic impact to North
Carolina’s rural communities. Each town that hosts a stop along the way
is significantly benefited by increased business and exposure due to a
thousand-plus visitors. The organization estimates that the event’s
economic benefit ranges from two-hundred to five-hundred thousand
dollars every year. This is an extremely impressive, helpful amount that
both CNC and the participants are very proud of. The last bikers we ran
into on our trip, stopping in Hendersonville for coffee, could not hold
back their smiles and excitement for what lay ahead. We’re sure it was
nothing short of spectacular as they took in all of the sights and
history North Carolina’s roadways have to offer.