Published Somedays

Ft. Fisher to Bald Head Ride

(updated: Aug 2, 2009)

Sunday we did a ride from Ft. Fisher starting at the park's visitor center, and riding all the way to Bald Head and around Bald Head and back. I had it timed just right so that on the way back we would hit low tide, which was at 11:40am. We also had the great advantage of having a southwesterly wind so that going it was a headwind but coming back it was a powerful tailwind which made it super fast when combined with the flat packed sand at low tide.

I was surprised at how quickly the wind picked up over the course of the morning. Riding later in the day would have been really difficult. I didn't know what the conditions would be like but it just seems to have worked out perfect. Even the temp wasn't as bad, around 86 degrees, and no rain or storms. In case it were otherwise, the contingency plan would be to take the Bald Head Ferry to Southport and then take the Ft. Fisher ferry back.

Once we got to Bald Head, we re-inflated our tires and cruised around the island, checking out the marina, lighthouse, and stopping at the grocery store where we ran into Bill Cowher, former coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I said a few words but he didn't want his photo taken and I didn't have anything handy to autograph. In hindsight I should have run back to get the Pugsley and had him sign that. But he was leaving in his golf cart.

That brings up a really nice feature of the island, because there are no cars allowed, everyone is out riding bikes, running, walking or getting around in electric carts. The grocery store was bustling with people. It was nice to be able to hang out in front of the store and not have to look out over a massive sea of parking and cars, sucking up exhaust and being worried about getting hit (I think my Pusgley could take on a golf cart). It was a lot less noisy too. And people seemed to be able to do just fine without a 6000lb behemoth to carry a few bags of groceries. While mostly people are there for vacation and generally the income level is higher, there is no reason this system could not be duplicated on a larger (city-wide) scale. If indeed this is what the future holds as oil becomes scarcer, the future could be bright.

Heading back up the beach to Ft. Fisher, we stopped at East Beach to jump in the water and cool off. It didn't last long because John got tagged a few times by a jellyfish, and Ed said he did too. It's August, and that seems to be when they become numerous. Cockroaches of the sea.

The ride back was fast and smooth. Michael commented it was like we were riding a lunar landscape. The sand was a uniform color and the wind whipped the sand along the ground until it seemed hazy and looked like we were simply floating along in air.

The total ride length was 27.3 miles. It was an awesome ride. We're going to do it again for sure. Some of us may ride straight from our homes from Ogden and Porter's Neck area. For me that will tack on an extra 30 miles. I may need a ride back though.

The Pugsleys ready to roll.

There was a steep drop-off along the beach. The ocean has been pulling the sand out. You can see it in the color of the water. If we had done the ride later when the tide was in, we'd be stuck in this sand instead of the nice packed sand.

Riders (l to r): Ed, Kevin, Michael, John

There were some nice drops from the erosion.

Hanging out in front of the grocery store on Bald Head Island. We get more noticed than Bill Cowher with these bikes. Everyone looks, comments, or asks questions. A shopkeeper from the shop next door told us that there were bike racks just around the corner. You know we didn't even think to look because we're from Wilmington - what's a bike rack?

The way it could be. Smaller parking lots serving the same number of customers as ones four times the size with cars.

Old Baldy.

Group shot.

Doing some drafting behind a golf cart.

This is the scenic East Beach Rd. There are a few trails off this road.

Sea turtle nest. You find these periodically along the way. They put in a little runway to help guide the little guys to the ocean when they hatch.

Rider: Ed

On this sand a regular 26" mtb wheel will work fine. Just lower the tire pressure. The bigger the volume and the less tread the better. Ed is riding a 29er with Schwalbe Big Apple tires.

The wind whipping the sand down the beach. Fast riding. No cars. No worries.

Filed Under: Ride Reports > North Carolina > Wilmington


1. Sir Glide Bikes said...

That was one of the best rides Iv done in Wilmington. No trafic and great sites. Can't wait to do it again.

Aug 2, 2009 @ 8:54 PM

2. Van-Go said...

Really enjoyed the photos and synopsis. Thought about joining in but wanted to hear your experience first. I may be interested in going along with next time. Visiting the island without paying the ferry fee a plus too....

Aug 3, 2009 @ 7:56 AM

3. Brinker said...

Great time! I am looking forward to the next one. The jelly-fish sting looked pretty knarly on the way home but is feeling good today.

Aug 3, 2009 @ 6:59 PM

4. Muddy Dungeon said...

Great stuff,

By the Way,
The Douthout Post was great.

How do you get the sand out of your pants and Bike?
@ Massanutten

Aug 3, 2009 @ 8:26 PM

5. Michael said...

SBA, Check with your buddies at NOAA (or look into that crystal ball you seem to have) and pick another day like Sunday to do this ride again. Anyone else in?

Aug 3, 2009 @ 9:28 PM

6. Kevin said...

I'm in.

Aug 4, 2009 @ 11:41 AM

7. aycock said...

Be sure to let us know the next date. Sounds like a great time!

Aug 5, 2009 @ 6:47 AM

8. brado1 said...

good stuff

Aug 5, 2009 @ 9:11 PM

9. GOOCHAMI said...

FYI It is much easier to ride in loose sand if you have barends

Aug 8, 2009 @ 11:22 PM


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