Number Thirty Three: North Carolina

The drive from Morgantown to Raleigh was a very long driving day but North Carolina became more about seeing people, coordinating with their schedules than about biking. The 450 miles should, according to Google, take seven hours but Google doesn’t anticipate stopping at every rest stop. Nor did it anticipate the crash that stopped traffic on I-40 near Durham for an hour.

We made it and had BBQ with Martin Phillips (aka ‘Martin on Board’, aka Doc Martin, aka Dr. Phil). Among other things, we learned what defines North Carolina BBQ: they like vinegar. Martin is in the process of relocating to D.C., where he will be working for the EPA (another piece of the Nixon Legacy) four blocks from the White House. His group will be involved in writing the new rules covering chemical companies like DuPont and Dow. It is the only group at the EPA that is expanding.

Martin on Board the EPA

Of course, they will be taken to court for (a) hurting the people by over-regulating and driving up costs and (b) hurting the people by under-regulating and degrading the environment.

The Neuse River Trail

This is definitely not a rail to trail conversion or a canal towpath. It is very squiggly with some interesting, but short, climbs. We started in Raleigh, more of less in the middle of the trail, heading north with the intent of reaching the Old Falls of Neuse Recreational Area. After exactly 2.75 miles, we came to a missing bridge, not hurricane related. It had definitely been missing for a while and would be missing for a while longer. The bridge is over the connection between the river and Bridges Lake, which looks more like a wetland than a lake to me. (Or should I say, “The bridge is NOT over . . .”)

So we went the other way and had no trouble riding 30 miles round trip. Along the 15 mile segment we crossed thirty bridges and boardwalks. Because the Garmin has been somewhat unreliable, we also took a non-GPS computer, one that just counts the revolutions of the wheel. The two types give pretty much the same statistics (speed, average speed, maximum speed, distance, time) but the GPS will also record the track ridden, elevations, and changes in elevation. The non-GPS is generally more accurate; they disagreed by about 10% on distance and consequently speed.

Fractal dimension greater than the number of restrooms

This isn’t enough information to actually compute a fractal dimension for the trail but it does indicate the dimension is a little more than one. The first discussion of fractal dimension, and the origin of the terms ‘fractal’ and ‘fractal dimension’ was Benoit Mandelbrot in 1967 with the question, “How long is the coastline of Britain?” The answer is, “It depends on the length of your measuring stick.”

If you use sticks of length 1, in units of your choice, there will be some number N1 that is the number of sticks it takes to go around the coast. If you cut your sticks in half and do it again, you will need N2 sticks to go around. If N2 = 2 x N1, the fractal dimension is 1 because the relative number of sticks and the scaling factor are both 2. In general, N2 will be larger than this, so the dimension will be larger than 1; I think about 1.2.

With the bike computer that counts revolutions, the length of the stick is 26π inches and the number of sticks is 33 miles converted to inches divided by 26π but I don’t know either of those numbers for the GPS. (That’s the way a cyclist would attack fractal dimension; it isn’t the way a mathematician would do it but you don’t want to hear about it.)

Or maybe, the non-GPS computer is set on the wrong tire size.

The trail was smooth, dry, well-marked, and always turning and the Neuse River was within, barely, its somewhat loosely defined banks. Except for a serious deficiency in the number of restrooms, this is an excellent trail. Converted rail lines and towpaths tend to be straight, so I don’t think we can arbitrarily add 10% to the other 1600 miles, measured by GPS, that we have ridden.

To complete the NC 50 miles, we drove further north to the Buffaloe (sic) Road trailhead, on the other side of the missing bridge and biked on to the Old Falls. This 12 mile segment had another 23 bridges, which means the trails averages about one every half mile. Again, the surface and scenery were good. The only issue was they put the trailhead on top of a hill, so we began with a steep downgrade and finished with a steep up.

Lunch with Caseys

On Saturday, which was a little rainy, we drove three hours to Southport, NC, to have lunch. This is in the southeastern corner of the state, which neither of us had seen before, on the Intercoastal Waterway, or Cape Fear, or the Cape Fear River, lots of water, near Wilmington. In our travels of the past four months, we have had lots of delays for road construction and this drive was no exception, but I-40 in North Carolina has had more delays for car crashes than everywhere else combined.

We were probably 40 miles from Wilmington before we saw any evidence, e.g., downed trees, of the recent storms. The closer we got to the coast, the more there was. Lots of downed and partially cut-up trees, brush, water-logged carpet, sheetrock, shingles, appliances still line many streets. And lots of work in progress.

The point of this outing was for four “Caseys”, i.e., graduates of Red Bank Catholic High School Class of 1966, to have lunch at the Provisions Company. Three of the four live and play golf in Southport or the Greater Southport area; the fourth is touring  the country looking for refrigerator magnets. She found one in the Bull Frog Corner.

It has been said the reunions are where you discover your classmates have gotten so old and wrinkled that they don’t recognize you but this group is holding up pretty well. And we weren’t the most travelled people there.

4 thoughts on “Number Thirty Three: North Carolina

  1. Too funny about the magnets … great time at lunch and a comment to just prove I am reading your quite entertaining blog !


  2. This day was a special mini reunion of we four Casey’s in Southport on Cape Fear River in N.C. Hope this is the first of more to come. Totally 👍🏻 Thanks. All roads lead to RBC in Red Bank, N.J.


    1. Maybe all roads led from RBC, just as all roads led from the Milliarium aureum in Rome, Notre Dame is origin of all roads in France, Temple Square of all streets in Utah, Tiananmen Square of all streets in China, and the Court House in New Castle DE was the center of the circle of land granted to William Penn. In general, all we keep track of in the US now is how far you have to go to get out of a state, heading west.


  3. I’m glad you had a good bike ride!!!! I’ll put in a word to my friend in Raleigh Parks & Rec about the number of restrooms on the trail 🙂


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