I'm once again riding my bike for a week to raise money -- and awareness -- for the East Coast Greenway, an amazing 3,000-mile route for cyclists and others going through the biggest cities from Maine to Florida.
This year we are riding from Wilmington, N.C., to Savannah -- about 385 miles in six days. It's longer than other ECG rides I've done, but it's supposed to be flat and if we get a nice tailwind... Just no hurricane, please!
This is the fourth year I have been part of the Week-A-Year tour, and it is exciting to see the project coming together. While the route is 100% mapped, just nearly a third is offf-road. Another chunk is on quiet roads, but every year we also experience roads that could be much more cycle-friendly. In that sense, this year's trip could be the most challenging: The South Atlantic section (Virginia and the Carolinas) has the smallest percentage of completed Greenway at less than 25%. And I am guessing we rode a good chunk of that in the Raleigh-Durham area.
On the positive side, Myrtle Beach, S.C., which we will reach at the end of our second day of biking, is the first city (vs a town or community) to complete its section of the Greenway. We were to celebrate this last year ... but Hurricane Matthew interrupted our plans. As you can imagine, cities are a challenge for trailbuilders -- they are bigger, more developed and have less obvious places for trails than towns and other smaller communities. Yet they are where they are most needed.
Equally, I am excited to read about projects in South Carolina, Georgia and beyond that will put the East Coast Greenway on off-road trails. Construction is never fast -- putting in a trail is far more complicated than many imagine and takes years, even at a fast pace. So I'm thrilled that we will be riding on several trails that were designated as part of the East Coast Greenway last year.
As with previous tours, I am covering all of my hotel, food and transportation costs -- so your entire donation goes toward getting more trail built. Anyone who donates at least $25 gets a one-year membership to the East Coast Greenway. And of course I'll be blogging again, on exploringbybike.wordpress.com -- please follow along!
Oh -- how much of the East Coast Greenway have I already ridden? More than 40%. That would be most of the Maine section, a good chunk of Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, plus about 850 miles from Philadelphia to shortly before Wilmington, N.C., where the ride was halted last year. (I'll be doing a pre-ride ride from that spot to Wilmington.) The goal is to hit Key West in 2019!