A singing tribute to this year’s East Coast Greenway ride



The WAY warriors prepare to battle the bridge over the Ashley River and then Highway 17

Sing along to “The 12 Days of Christmas” for this one.

Three of us had a bit of fun while on the few quiet roads between the highways this afternoon and then finished it before tonight’s final dinner. So much material ended on the cutting-room floor!

Maybe you had to be there to appreciate the references to the weather, the state of the roads and more … but here it goes:

On the first day of WAY tour, Dennis gave to me

Dexter with The Greenway flag

IMG_1296(And so on, with the second day, etc.)

2 live snakes

3 dead deer

4 feet of glass

5 fab’lous trails

6 cyclists tumbling

7 finished tours

8 squashed armadillos

9 melted Clif bars

10 knee-deep puddles

11 lost riders

12 stinky jerseys


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Day 5 — 76 miles (or a bit more) from Charleston to Beaufort

IMG_1272This is the day that I have finally had it with Highway 17.

I have a high tolerance for traffic, but this is simply not safe for the solo cyclIst. We rode for at least 10 miles with support vehicles in the front and rear of our pack for protection because there was no shoulder and we needed to take the right lane (and I could easily be undercounting). We had at least as many more miles where we could stick to a narrow shoulder, shrunk by almost constant rumble strips on the left side that jar your brain when forced to cross over and dodging chunks of rubber tire and other crud in the space that was left. It was ride in a pack, regroup when there was a break, get water if possible, hope you remembered to slather on more sunscreen, and repeat. You didn’t dare drop back or stop if it meant losing your posse. No lunch break either, just another Clif bar (at least for me) to keep you going. I think breakfast and lunch equaled 3 bars, and then it was just waiting for that group dinner.

Imagine if you were doing this on your own or with a few friends. Forget it.

I thought the East Coast Greenway‘s Trenton-to-Philadelphia stretch was bad, but this is far worse. I know it’s a new interim on-road route, shorter than going further inland, and the Spanish Moss Trail in Beaufort is still under construction, with plans to expand. And we had some quiet stretches away from the highway. And road options are limited by the need to cross so much water in the low country.

Thankfully, Charleston has the nice West Ashley Greenway used by a wide range of people (just pave the middle section) and hopefully will end the insane bike/ped situation over the river. Here we are doing last-minute preparations before taking the lane on the approach to the bridge:

IMG_1270But there is lots of work needed to make the entire stretch merely acceptable. Once again, it highlights the need for the East Coast Greenway Alliance, which strives for a route connecting cities up and down the East Coast that serves everyone from 8 to 80.

Just putting up the tiniest “share the road” signs ever doesn’t cut it, SCDOT. We’re not all John Forester-style vehicular cyclists, let alone crazy vehicular cyclists. And given the pervasiveness of fire ants, a decent shoulder is needed not just for cyclists (as a minimum) but also for motorists dealing with a breakdown. Who wants to try fixing a flat car tire and end up itching from ant bites?

One star (out of five).

And I’m glad I live in a part of the country where the most basic infrastructure isn’t an afterthought.

Want another take? There was another blogger on the ride; read this one.

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Images of Charleston

IMG_1198We are staying in a new hotel a couple of miles from the Battery and a block from King Street and some hip restaurants. It’s an area that hadn’t yet gentrified when I was here about a decade ago.

The national clothing chains have invaded King Street, sometimes in buildings with beautiful old facades. But some local clothing stores are surviving, offering that southern genteel look.

Where else would you find a girl dressed like this, down to the white gloves? I wonder where she and her mother were headed.

IMG_1208And is this a city that takes Christmas sweaters seriously? This store on King Street is where they refuse to die; it’s all it sells.

IMG_1204And yes, bike share has arrived. With a names that has a bit of fun too.

IMG_1209Loved this sign.



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Day 4 — Georgetown to Charleston

IMG_1192OK, I cheated. I took the recommended shuttle to McClellanville from our hotel in Georgetown, lopping off 34 miles. So it was just a 50-mile day, and when I got to Charleston, I felt I could still bike another 34.

But Highway 17 has been the low point of every day on this section of the East Coast Greenway, and the powers-that-be apparently felt this was a particularly tough day. And I certainly didn’t want to risk getting dropped by faster riders and have to fight Highway 17 on my own.

Not that we fully escaped that dreaded road. Sometimes there’s a narrow shoulder; sometimes we are more assertive about controlling the right lane. And we travel in packs. We zipped past roadside stands run by weavers of sweetgrass baskets (in some cases, stands is a nice word), and there was no chance to snap a photo, much less take a look at their wares and chat with them.

And even the Battery2Beach cycle route, which gets bonus points for actually bring signposted, isn’t as family-friendly as you would like. But for us, we were just thrilled to have some paint on the road marked bike lane.

Two highlights of the day: the bike-friendly and aesthetically striking Ravenel Bridge (above, and the larger photo below) and a police escort (3 squad cars and 1 motorcycle) over the decidedly bike-unfriendly Memorial Bridge as part of an event with local advocates Charleston Moves and 20 or so local cyclists. The reward for crossing was riding part of the West Ashley Greenway.


We have to ride over Memorial Bridge on Thursday morning as we head out of town — but without a police escort. We will be traveling in one giant pack and be escorted by our support vehicles. These two shots from the advocacy ride show riders headed to the bridge and then on the greenway afterwards.


Actually, make that three highlights. Two of us were sent to a delicious barbecue place about 3 blocks from our hotel. That mega sandwich (OK, just a regular portion but I swear there was half a pound of brisket in it, the smothered with cheese) pretty much served as lunch and dinner. Haven’t I always said it’s about the food? Though maybe I scarfed this one down too fast.

Here’s my sandwich, and the one ordered by Cheryl, a fellow rider:


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Dear rest of South Carolina, try copying this trail

IMG_1163Finally! Some trail riding in this year’s weeklong East Coast Greenway ride.

And note to the rest of South Carolina: A bicycle trail doesn’t have to be super fancy.

We rode for many miles today along the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway. Sometimes it was parallel to Highway 17, hidden in the woods with some nice curves but certainly not out of hearing range (and sometimes eyesight) of all that traffic. At some points, it turned narrow and bumpy because of tree roots pushing up. While that just slows down cyclists, it does make that portion unsuitable for those in wheelchairs. And, given the area, golf carts too.

It made us think of where we’d ridden on Sunday and Monday where we had biked long stretches of busy roads with unused land just off to the side that could be turned into a simple trail/sidepath. And that would let workers without a car have a basic but safe way to get to work at all the strip malls we passed.

Given the good number of people biking on this trail on a Tuesday morning, I’d say this isn’t just some luxury. We called out “bikers up” more often than we have all week — shorthand for move over to the right so oncoming cyclists have half the trail to go by.

(Just wish there had been some signposting for the Brookgreen Gardens. One group found it and spent hours there.)

IMG_1153Other sections were along newer developments along golf courses — wide enough for getting to the neighboring golf course on your cart, if you desire. (We only saw someone using the trail in a golf cart at the beginning of this section.) While some might object to this use on a multi-use trail because of conflicts with cyclists, walkers and runners, I believe you have to be pragmatic. If those driving golf carts aren’t going to take to the road and their support is what gets politicians to build the trail, accept that reality. Better a trail than no trail.

One more nice thing about the Waccamaw Neck trail: it connected to the library, a shopping center, a middle school and an elementary school. Real destinations! So it was cool to hear a little boy at recess yell out “there’s a bike train” as we rode by. Maybe he rides his bike to school that way?

Just too bad it ends about 9 miles shy of Georgetown and forcing us to use a busy road. Supposedly the plan is to expand it all the way to the bridge leading into Georgetown and creating a 27-mile trail. Can’t happen soon enough! Only 14% of the East Coast Greenway in South Carolina is on trails, so there is plenty of room for improvement.

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Today’s best historical sign

IMG_1169Because I stop for Lafayette sightings. Just because.

This is just outside Georgetown, South Carolina.

And next to it:


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Day 3 — 36 miles from Myrtle Beach to Georgetown

IMG_1166I’m learning a few things about the weather here.

You know how during a northern winter, your glasses fog up when you go inside? Here they fog up when you head outside in the humidity from an air-conditioned room.

And the rain!

The light showers are actually nice because it cools you off given the crazy humidity. And the rain is warm.

But when it comes down hard, it quickly floods. We’re at sea level so there is no place for the water to go. The drainage system can’t cope.

While a big rain today wasn’t as intense as Monday in Myrtle Beach, the amount of flooding from just an hour’s downpour was an eye opener. What happens when it’s a bigger storm? I’m not even thinking hurricane. (And yes, we again waited it out under cover.)

IMG_1167The flooding on this section of the Waccamaw Neck Bikeway covered a deep pothole that caught out a few of our riders. One took a tumble; another has a sore wrist from hitting it hard but thankfully didn’t go down.

And Georgetown? A cute but quiet town. I was curious about the Gullah Geechee culture. A short day before the big push to Charleston.

Of course, don’t just take my word for this day. Here’s my fellow blogger’s version of events.

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