4/30/23 – Wilmington to Jacksonville, NC

Miles: 68.88 Today / 1258.1Total
Elevation Gain: 971 ft. Today / 13,082 ft. Total

Sadly, another Sunday passed by with little opportunity to attend or stream church. I was able to hear parts of two talks, and I listened to the Gentry Station and part of Lamb of God to get my mind in the right place, but it was raining and there was loud traffic racing by me and assaulting me with puddle splash.

It rained a lot, last night, then this morning, the weather forecast didn’t show rain until 2 or 3 PM. Here’s how reliable the weather forecast is: Before we even left the church, it started raining. I wore rain gear till the initial rain cleared, then took it off and stowed it, but when the rain stops, you don’t really stop getting wet. The road is still wet, so the bike tires spray water on you, and there are puddles, and cars love to race through puddles and spash bicyclists, or so it seems. Overall, the drivers were pretty nice, but large trucks aren’t even aware of what’s going on around them. I avoided puddles and veered as far away from trucks as I could.

Today, we cycled through Hampstead and the beach towns of Surf City and North Topsail Beach.

At our first rest stop, dark clouds rolled in and it started sprinkling, so a couple of the guys and I decided to wait it out—a very bad move. We should have first checked the weather radar, because it would have shown us that there was about to be a 2.5 hour torrential downpour. No point in waiting anything out. I put on all my rain gear and pushed off in the downpour. Within a minute, I was soaked, and my shoes felt like they were having a flood.

When it’s raining, taking photos is pretty much out of the question, because it messes with my phone. I cheated, though, and sneaked in a few photos of the rain, just to prove I rode in the rain—something I would NEVER do in Arizona.

I rode right through Surf City, but the rain was too heavy to even think about stopping for photos. It was lightening up when I got to Topsail, so I took my chances at keeping my phone dry. The beaches were completely empty. See?

When the downpour ended, a few miles past North Topsail Beach, the tailwind picked up, but I was hungry, so before jumping on that tailwind, I stopped for lunch at a Dairy Queen. While I ate lunch, I dried out and warmed up in the sun and changed into dry socks and gloves. After stowing my wet clothes and gear, I shoved off. With a healthy tailwind, I made great time for the rest of the day, cruising at over 18 mph.

When I rode up in the Welcome to Jacksonville sign, I learned that this is the home of Camp Lejeune. Do you think I should avoid drinking the water?

We’re staying at the E.J. Hines Baptist Center—not a church, a center. I’m sleeping in a room where they do group counselling, and I think the guys are staying in a couple of classrooms.

While I was settling in for the night and cleaning my bike, the dark clouds rolled in yet again, and another torrential downpour dumped rain for an hour or so. Glad I wasn’t out in it!

Tomorrow, we will start riding The Outer Banks, which is pretty exciting!

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