Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Vacation

I spent the last glorious week in Avon, NC (part of the Outer Banks) relaxing, enjoying the weather and unwinding. It was wonderful. I debated whether or not to bring Betty with me (after all, she IS a beach cruiser...) but decided at the last minute to leave her since I was still uncertain what the weather would be like while driving down there. Hurricane Earl was still in the area. I ultimately regretted that decision because the weather was fantastic every single day. Next year she is definitely coming with me.

I did end up renting a beach cruiser from a local bike shop (Island Cycles) that was nearby. It was just under $40 for the entire week. I also opted for a $5 bike lock rental, which turned out to be unnecessary. Bikes are pretty much left lying around all over the island, and no one seems tempted to steal them. They gave me a cable lock, which would have taken a determined thief all of 3 seconds to cut through. The cruiser they gave me wasn't as glamorous as I'm used to, but it did the job.
Beach rental

Biking on the island is an interesting experience. There are very few dedicated "bike trails" or paths. With the abundance of sand dunes, most of which are off-limits (it is a barrier island and the dunes protect it from being eroded away), biking is pretty much limited to streets, which is fine on the small side streets. However if you want to actually *go* somewhere, there is only one highway (2-lane) that connects the towns. I checked the local regs online, and bicycles are allowed on any publicly maintained thoroughfare, which I presumed included the highway. I saw plenty of cyclists riding on the shoulder of the highway, but the more I thought about it, the more I felt apprehensive about riding on it:
  • It is a beach town, and it draws a lot of tourists who want to have fun. And by "have fun", I mean "drink some cold brews on the beach". Which is great. Except that they usually need to drive BACK from the beach at some point. Sometimes they are doing both at the same time. Beer + driving on a highway + cyclists = BAD IDEA.
  • People speed on the highway, and being passed by a speeding car is not fun.
  • I hate riding on the shoulder
So, I mostly just stayed on the little side roads near our beach house and had a few pleasant sunset rides looking at the really nice houses.


Nice little shop that not only rents & sells bicycles, but other sports equipment (scooters, kayaks, surf boards, etc). They also have a bike repair area as well. We rented some beach chairs & an umbrella from them as well. The staff is very friendly, but I could see the $$ in their eyes when we walked in. I bet they do a ton of business off of tourists from rentals, but not so much from sales. I don't recall exactly why The Boy happened to end up in the bike shop, but I do recall him coming back to the beach house and raving about a cruiser they let him test-ride. The Boy rarely ever admits to liking a bike, especially a cruiser. When I brought up the idea of him getting a cruiser previously, he just laughed at me. But he couldn't stop talking about this bike. I had to go see it myself to see what the fuss was about.

PHAT beach cruiser
Wow. I asked him that if we bought the bike, would he actually ride it back in DC? He said yes and so....we decided to purchase it. I figured this was a once in a lifetime chance, so I better grab it! This would be my only negative experience with the bike shop (and by negative, I mean it's more like a pet peeve. I had a great time at the shop). The bikes for sale (at least the ones we pointed out) were WAY overpriced. I understand they are a small shop and that they need to make a profit, but there were some bikes that were priced $100-$200 above MSRP. That's a hefty sum when you are talking about mid-priced bikes. They were open to negotiation (VERY, actually. I don't like haggling much, but if you are good at it you could probably score a pretty good deal here) so we managed to find a price that was more suitable, even though I still wasn't perfectly happy. A friend that was with us expressed interest in a trek bike and the salesperson kept knocking off more and more off the price, to almost halving it! Of course, we had to buy a rack to bring the new cruiser ($$$) so I feel like they made quite enough money off of us, ha!

Like I said, I had a pretty good experience with them. The staff are friendly, they had a really decent selection of cruiser bikes to purchase, lots of equipment to rent. But be prepared to haggle to get a decent price if you plan on buying a bike.

Island Cycles
Lots of stuff!

Standing bike?

Modern Penny Farthing

Pink Scooter!

Now my vacation is over and I'm trying to get used to the fall-ish weather we're (gratefully) experiencing here in DC. Although I was sad to leave, I will admit that I felt like I was "home" when I saw the Washington Monument and Jefferson Memorial approaching in the distance. I know that in a week or so I will be back to hating the day-to-day drudgeries of DC, but for now I'm glad to be back!

There are some exciting developments coming up in the DC cycling world, and I plan to outline them all in the next blog including the launching of Capital Bikeshare on September 20th, some cool rides & events coming up, a new and improved cycle track on 15th St., Car Free Day on September 22nd and 30 Days of Biking in September.

Until then, here's some vacation photos to make you jealous...

Beach house

Relaxing...

Ocean

Gorgeous sunsets every night...

The menfolk catch some dinner.

wildlife

peaceful.




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