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At least four local bicyclists are getting in gear for Cycle North Carolina, a cross-state ride that begins Sunday in Black Mountain and concludes the following Saturday on Oak Island.
The participants include Steve and Stephanie Bruce, Harvey Camp and Peter Lewis of Island Hoppers Bicycle Repair on U.S. 17 at N.C. 904.
Cycle North Carolina (online at www.ncsports.org) is touted as a “mountains to the coast” ride of about 425 miles that includes nightly stops at host towns along the way.
According to the Web site, the annual trek is designed to promote physical fitness and rural communities across the state while showcasing scenic attractions and cultural diversity.
The local quartet taking part in the weeklong ride have been preparing by taking part in weekend rides. On Saturday mornings, a group regularly leaves from the bike shop to ride 30 to 50 miles into neighboring Columbus County.
“Another group is into training,” said Camp, 64, a retired rocket scientist and physicist who moved to Brunswick Plantation about a year ago. “We’re more recreational riders.”
Camp is an avid bicyclist who recently finished a 300-mile trek from Washington, D.C., to Ground Zero in New York.
“I used to live in the D.C. area,” said Camp, who’s already clocked about 3,200 miles this year on his bicycle odometer. “There’s a club up there. I’ve actually done a couple of long-distance rides with them.”
Stephanie Bruce said they’re taking part in the ride because “we’re gluttons for punishment.”
Lewis, 66, a retired engineer who lives in the Seascape community in the Supply area, said this will be his first Cycle North Carolina ride.
“I wanted to do it last year, but I couldn’t find anyone to do it with,” he said.
Their latest long-distance trip starts early this Saturday when they join other area bicyclists and depart from Oak Island on a bus. Their two-wheelers will travel in tandem on Ryder trucks.
They’ll check into accommodations in Black Mountain that evening, with the ride to begin Sunday morning. They estimate between 600 to 1,000 riders from “everywhere,” including Hawaii and Switzerland, will be participating in the cross-state ride.
They’ll average 60 to 80 miles per day before stopping at designated towns and spots that include Morganton, Lincolnton, Concord-Lowes Motor Speedway, Wingate, Laurel Hill and White Lake.
Along the way, riders will be feted with meals, music and events such as an evening wine tasting.
Camp said his wife, Janelle, opted to stay at home.
“She said it would be fun if you didn’t have to ride a bicycle,” he laughed.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.