Staff photo by Emmy Errante
Cyclists arrive in Wrightsville Beach Park during the 24th Annual River to Sea Bike Ride on Saturday, May 4.
A unified group of bicyclists streamed past the tennis courts and into Wrightsville Beach Park Saturday morning by way of the 11-mile cross-town River to the Sea Bikeway. With virtually no outliers in the form of stragglers or speedsters, the group of 189 registrants exhibited a singularity of purpose in sticking together.
The 24th annual River to Sea Bike Ride had two main goals: to introduce people in the area to biking, and to promote safe biking. The ride was not a -fundraiser, but rather an effort orchestrated by the county in close connection with the Cape Fear Cyclists to accomplish these two goals.
Matthew Narron, a student at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, originally from Kenley, North Carolina, said, “I’ve been down here a couple years; I started reading about it in January and became really interested in doing it. I just started getting into biking this past year.”
The installation of several predetermined stop points along the route allowed riders such as Narron to avoid dehydration and fatigue. All riders, young and old, were required to wear helmets. Pamphlets were handed out that detailed safety information including how to position a bike on the road, what types of motorist errors to look out for and rules of the road that apply to bikers. The pamphlets also contained a map of the entire route as well as smaller maps to assist in navigating Ann Street and Castle Street, crossing College Road, taking an alternate route to Wrightsville Avenue and how to enter Wrightsville Beach. Riders were instructed to walk their bikes across the sidewalk on the drawbridge for safety purposes.
“Construction on the drawbridge as well as that rough surface makes it tough to cross,” said Karyn Crichton of the Planning and Inspections Department of New Hanover County. “But we had great police support there and throughout the ride.”
This year’s event at Wrightsville Beach Park, which took place at the end of the bike ride, included was a raffle with T-shirts, blue bags emblazoned with the Wrightsville Beach logo and items donated by the Hampton Inn and Blue Surf Café. Other sponsors were Live Fit Cape Fear, Two Wheeler Dealer, Bike Cycles, and Fit Community.
“Next year is going to really be a big party because the race will be 25,” said Adrienne Harrington of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization. “I’d like to see a big banner and live music.”
After the celebration in the park, some participants made the bike ride back to downtown Wilmington while others elected to forego the return trek and opted to ride the buses provided.
Information about the ever-growing Comprehensive Greenway Plan, which includes bike and walking trails, can be found at www.wilmingtongreenway.com