ELIZABETHTOWN — On Friday, folks in Bladen County will be abuzz with the whir of bicycle wheels as about 1,100 Cycle NC cyclists from across the state pedal through the area from Lumberton to Whiteville.
Chip Hofler with NC Amateur Sports in Durham, which helps to organize the Cycle NC ride, said the ride is not a race.
“It is a recreational ride through the towns, not a race,” said Hofler.
He said cyclists will stay overnight on Thursday, Oct. 1, in Lumberton and will begin leaving Lumberton on Friday morning around 8 a.m. There are two planned rest stops in Bladen County — one at Lu Mil Vineyard in Dublin and a second at White’s Creek Baptist Church in Clarkton. The final stop before reaching Whiteville will be Western Prong Baptist Church.
Hofler said that riders are encouraged, however, to stop in each of the towns along the Cycle NC route to learn a little more about the towns and take time to shop and eat in local restaurants.
“These people love any local support,” said Hofler.
The entire route got started in Waynesville on Saturday, Sept. 26, and will end on Saturday, Oct. 3, in Oak Island. According to a release on the event, the youngest cyclist is 9 years old and the oldest signed up for the event is 87 years old. The average ride is about 60 miles per day, according to the Cycle NC website.
Elizabethtown-White Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Dawn Maynard said motorists can expect a large number of cyclists to pass through the county on Friday.
“We have served as a host community in the past. This time they are just passing through,” said Maynard.
She said motorists need to be aware and give the cyclists plenty of room.
“Be patient as they pass through,” said Maynard.
Carla Ward, marketing director for Lu Mil Vineyard, said “We are a rest stop this year.”
She said in the past, the vineyard had served as a lunch stop.
“It’s up to us to show them Bladen County and the Cape Fear Region,” said Ward.
She said volunteers will be at vineyard to pass snacks and water to the cyclists as they arrive. Ward said there will be about 1,000 cyclists that will pass through the area from 11 a.m. until about 1 p.m.
“The volunteers will be sharing their experiences and their love of the area (with the cyclists),” said Ward.
She added the staff at Lu Mil Vineyard are excited about the cyclists.
Erin Smith can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.