Pea Island to Virginia Beach to NYC
Tuesday was a long day. Dallas and I were hoping to catch the sun rise on the beach that morning, so Dallas had set his alarm for some crazy hour before 6am. I think we missed the sunrise, although I dreamt that we were watching it from our tent. It poured for a few minutes before we emerged from the tent, and then rained again on us while we were packing everything up.
It remained drizzly as we approached Oregon Inlet, and the bridge was long and terrifying, with a small shoulder and large, fast-moving vehicles that passed too close for comfort. We stopped just on the other side of the bridge at a Coast Guard station, where we rinsed sand off of our bikes and refilled on water. The day was going to be a race to stay ahead of the tropical storm that was headed in our direction.
Just a few miles beyond the Coast Guard station was a public beach with showers, so we stopped there to clean ourselves off. The sky continued to alternate between sun and rain, sometimes both at the same time. Just 3 miles before reaching our first food stop of the day, Dallas got a flat tire. We stopped so he could repair it, and it started to rain on us again. It was almost noon when we finally arrived at the Waverider Coffee and Deli in Nags Head, just 13 miles from where we started early that morning. Dallas’s tire wasn’t staying seated properly on the wheel, so he had to fix that a few times before we could move on.
Since diverting our route to leave the island via the Wright Memorial Bridge, we were hoping to catch a ferry in Currituck to Knott’s Island. The last ferry left at 5:45pm and was 48 miles from where we ate lunch. We thought we could make it if we maintained 15 mph, which was definitely possible with the help of the tailwind. The rain ruined that possibility for us when we ducked into another ice-cream shop just before the bridge in order to stay dry. We also took a detour to check out the Wright Brothers National Memorial, on the hill where Orville and Wilbur did most of their test glides and were credited with the first flight in December of 1903. It started raining on us again as soon as we climbed to the top of the hill, but there was an excellent view of the ocean.
The bridge taking us to the mainland was also long and terrifying and littered with debris, but at least there was a wide shoulder. It seemed to take forever to cross this bridge, as we were met with strong headwinds. The traffic did not die down when we made it to the other side, but the road was smooth and the shoulder we were riding on remained wide. It was here when Dallas and I decided to start looking for a ride the rest of the way to Virginia Beach. We still had over 65 miles to go and it was supposed to rain all day on Wednesday. If we didn’t make it to Virginia Beach that night, we would be stuck riding in the storm. There was an overnight bus leaving Virginia Beach every night at 12:30 taking people to New York City. We probably could have made it by midnight if we keep cycling, but it wouldn’t be wise to be on the road for so long after dark, and we would have gone well over 100 miles if we had ridden all the way to Virginia Beach.
When we stopped at a gas station between Jarvisburg and Grandy, we were fortunate enough to receive a ride offer from a man who was on his way to Chesapeake. Barry helped us to fit our bikes and panniers in the back of his truck and even dropped us off at the bus “station” where we planned to leave for NYC.
The guy at the bus station said we wouldn’t be able to bring our bikes on the bus, contrary to what the woman told Dallas over the phone when he phoned them to inquire about this. A woman who overheard the conversation informed us of three other bus companies we could choose from, all of which have daily service between VA Beach and NYC. We decided to eat first since we were both starving, and then biked over to the cheapest bus company. This bus was sold out for both their 11pm and 11:59pm departures, so we went to another bus line, which was more expensive but boasted free wifi and electric outlets on board. However, when we got on the bus, they broke the bad news that their bus with the electric outlets and wifi was in the shop and we were going to ride the 7 hours on a regular bus. At least we didn’t have to find a place to sleep that night. Dallas and I arrived in New York City just after 6am on May 30th, where we will likely stay until we find a ride to Rhode Island. The bike tour is over for now while we work and save money over the summer.