Why I’m doing a 500-mile cycling trip in the South (Wilmington, NC – Jacksonville, FL).

Today I’m writing about the longest, most difficult physical challenge I’ve ever attempted: a 500 mile cycling trip. I’m not sure I’m even going to make it, but I sure as hell will try.

These are my three reasons for getting out there!

1. It’s long. I want to challenge my mind and body way beyond my current level. So far, the most I’ve biked in my life was 45 miles, and the next day, I went to a spa. I want to max out my biking limit (or what I think my limit is) and see if it holds up.

2. I want to disconnect. I’m tired of noise! I’m looking forward to the miles of empty road and meditation to center my thoughts.

3. I’m a chicken. I really want to do a longer hike, but at the moment, that’s just not possible. I love hiking, but I’m terrified at the thought of being alone in the woods for longer than a day. Cycling is just not that scary – you are always on the road, seen by people, and… if shit hits the fan, you can just call the cops. I know, this is a disappointing truth. But if this is what it takes to get me slightly more comfortable with the uncomfortable, then it is what it is. (P.S. if you have good tips to share for tackling a solo hike please leave me comments! I’d love to hear your thoughts!)

Let me walk you through it…

This is generally the extent of my regular urban bike trips.

THE ROUTE

I’m cycling from Wilmington, NC to Jacksonville, FL via the East Coast Greenway. The original plan was to bike part of the Southern Tier Bicycle Route, but for various reasons, I decided against it. The best thing about biking down the coastline is the scenery. I’ll be riding next to the ocean for most of my trip and hitting many urban areas along the way, which means – showers, warm food and familiar faces along the way.

So far this is my itinerary:

Day 1: Wilmington, NC to Holden Beach, NC

Day 2: Holden Beach to Myrtle Beach, SC

Day 3: Myrtle Beach, SC to McClellanville, South Carolina 29458

Day 4: McClellanville, SC to Charleston, SC

Day 5: Charleston, SC to Yemassee, SC

Day 6: Yemassee, SC to Savannah, GA

Day 7: Savannah, GA to Townsend, Georgia, US

Day 8: Townsend, GA to Woodbine, GA

Day 9: Woodbine, GA to Jacksonville, FL

That works out to about 500 miles, or 45-65 miles/day for about 9 days. Even at a bloody slow pace (=my pace) it sounds doable.

The day before the big trip. Manhattan view in the background.

TRAVEL TO WILMINGTON AND FROM JACKSONVILLE

I plan to rent out a large SUV in Newark, NJ, stuffed my bike inside and drove straight down to Wilmington. Bike shipping is easy with BikeFlights.com but if you don’t know where to ship because your itinerary is in flux you have a problem. Renting an SUV cost me $110 + tolls + gas – all in all about $200, which is just about the same I’d pay for the flights.

When I get to Jacksonville I’ll actually FedEx my bike home. It’s only about $50 and it will get my bike home within 3 days. I’ll use some spare miles I have with AA to fly myself home for free.

CAMPING

I decided to camp out about half of my nights. The other half, I’ll spend in airbnb rooms. Airbnbs are cheaper and more accessible in urban areas, which means less unnecessary miles traveled and more hot showers for me. Plus, after biking 50+ miles per day, I deserve a freaking bed.

COST

You’d think this would be cheap, right? So did I, but we are both wrong. I’m still going to be away from home, which means accommodation and food costs. Plus, I had to buy a whole bunch of gear, because minus this little 500-mile stint, I’m not actually a cyclist and my bike isn’t properly equipped.

If all goes as expected, I calculated that the 10-day trip will run me slightly over $1,000 (side question I’ve been pondering: how do hippies do it?!):

  • $300 accommodation
  • $200 car to Wilmington
  • $250 bike supplies (tent, mattress, bike pants, tools)
  • $150 food & drink (bringing a ton of dry food, so expecting to only pay for lunch!)
  • $80 bike tune-up
  • $80 bike shipping (cost & box)

TOTAL: ~$1,000

Preparation

To be honest I am not much of a prepper. I just jump on a plane and figure things out as I go. It’s more exciting that way! One time, Camilo and I went to the Dominican Republic, rented a car, hopped on the highway…. and then we saw a toll. Not only did we not have the local currency – we also had no idea how much to take out of the ATM because we didn’t look up the exchange rate! Hey, it’s all about the adventure 😉

But this time, it’s a little different. Camilo isn’t around. I’m alone. I have no idea how to fix a broken bike. For all those reasons and more, I need good gear to keep me alive in case shit goes down. I need to carry water, food, batteries, tools and shelter at all times.

Here’s the complete list of what I am carrying on my bike (links out to the new items I just got):

Cycling Related

Clothes:

  • Cycling shorts (x1)
  • Cycling pants (x1)
  • Socks (x3)
  • Short sleeve shirts (x2)
  • Long sleeve shirts (x2)
  • Waterproof, breathable rain jacket
  • Warm jacket
  • Fleece neck warmer
  • Helmet liner
  • Padded underwear
  • 5 pairs of underwear (yes, one pair /2 days)
All of the clothing I’m bringing for the trip.
All of my clothing packed!

Camping Related

  • Lightweight tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Flashlight / headlamp
  • *I did not bring any cooking gear, knowing that I could always stop by and get a Subway

Camping supplies!

Other:

  • Water bottles
  • Water filter & water treatment
  • Dry bags (x2)
  • Heavy trash bags, zip locks
  • First Aid Kit (ended up bringing just ibuprofen & bandaids out of there)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm
  • Lederman knife
  • Anti chafe balm

Emergency supplies!

Any supplies I’ve missed? Words of advice? Have you ever done a trip that made you slightly uncomfortable? How did it go?

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2 Replies to “Why I’m doing a 500-mile cycling trip in the South (Wilmington, NC – Jacksonville, FL).”

  1. Do you have puncture-free tires?! I have armadillo tires and they save me so much time, as I don’t have to fix flats! I wish I was going with you! Good luck, lady!

    1. No, you were the first person who’s told me about those! But I’m excited to change mine for the puncture-free ones. Thanks for a great tip! 🙂

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