Written by: Kenneth Deutsch | Photographs courtesy of: Cape Fear Cyclists
I moved to Wilmington several years ago and one of the first things I did was search out a local bicycling club. I soon found the Cape Fear Cyclists (CFC) and was riding with the group locally. CFC is the oldest bike club in the area- 37 years old and one of the largest in NC- about 450 members.
CFC offers varying starting locations which introduced me to areas that I never would have found on my own. There are club rides at least four days a week and guests are welcome. Starting locations and routes can be found by looking at the calendar on the club’s website www.capefearcyclists.org/ or on Facebook.
Did you know there are rural areas within a 30 minute drive of downtown? We meet in these areas and go for 30 – 50 mile bike rides past all kinds of farmland. We see vegetables growing, horse farms as well as farmers raising cattle. And wouldn’t you know it, the next day in the supermarket I would see a sign indicating vegetables locally grown just outside of town. Now I know exactly where some of my vegetables come from.
The group looks out for one another and offers a wonderful sense of camaraderie. For anyone new to the area that has bicycling experience there are rides of varying distances. I would suggest starting out with a shorter distance to get comfortable with riding in a group. You can always step it up as you become more familiar with the group and find who you ride well with. There are 20 people on a typical ride. But keep in mind that you are responsible for your own safety.
Now that I have been cycling in Wilmington for a few years I have come to find out that there are weekend and weeklong cycling tours as well. These rides meet farther away. The ones I like the most go into the mountains where the scenery is magnificent. I’ve ridden on parts of the Blue Ridge in VA and NC several times and have enjoyed it all with the exception of some heavy rains.
CFC has a strong advocacy function and is a voting member on the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization Bike Ped Committee. As far as I know, they are the only bike club in NC to enjoy this status. They contribute generously to State, Regional and National Bicycling advocacy organizations such as Bike Walk NC, East Coast Greenway Alliance and NC Rail Trails among others.
The big annual fundraiser is the Tour de Blueberry which takes place in June. This is a non-competitive bicycling event in Burgaw on country roads with light traffic. There are casual family routes escorted by CFC, and longer routes for the experienced cyclist which are staffed with rest stops. All routes are provided with SAG vehicle support. The proceeds of the event get donated to local Non-Profit organizations.
CFC also offers a free one day traffic skills course that includes classroom and hands on instruction with certified instructors. The event has parking lot activities teaching on-road skills, safe riding and repairs as well as a bike fit and a bike rodeo for children.
By practicing safe cycling you will find a great activity to help you stay in shape, keep those extra pounds from creeping up, and maintain a healthy lifestyle while enjoying what you are doing. There is nothing better.