Conclusion - Atlantic Coast 2017 - CycleBlaze

May 14, 2017


It was a successful trip. I ended the tour feeling strong.

27 days
April 16 to May 12, 2017
Pedaled 1265 miles (2024 km)
5 car ferries and 2 round trip passenger ferries
8 states
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The Hard Part

To some extent I dreaded the traffic, humidity, mosquitoes, and frequent rain. But the tour turned out to have unusually little rain and unusually few insects. Traffic and humidity were about as bad as expected.

Population density is higher than most places I've toured. Most of the route is on high traffic roads but the route avoids the largest cities such as Washington D.C. The biggest cities on the route are Savannah (pop. 146,000), Charleston (pop. 137,000), and Virginia Beach (pop. 452,000).

The Easy Part

The route is so flat that the highest road elevation is the crest of two bridges. The highest elevation on foot is the top of two lighthouses. I was able to loaf along at a very gentle rate of exertion. One time I traveled 9 consecutive days.

I had a tailwind most of the time and the sun was behind me most of the time.

The Worst Thing

The worst aspect of the tour was starting just as I got sick with a cold. I didn't have my usual energy for the first 4 days of the tour. Being sick made it nearly impossible for my body to adapt to the hotter and more humid environment.

Best surprise

The best surprise was pedaling through the beautiful historic city of Wilmington, North Carolina.

Memorable New Experience

For the first time ever I got an oceanfront room in Ocean City, Maryland. I will never forget watching the waves while laying in bed.


I regret not stopping to tour any of the 3 U.S. Lifesaving Service museums that I passed during the tour. First in Rodanthe, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Then later on the Ocean City, MD boardwalk and in Delaware Beach State Park.


I expected frequent rain but had less rain than normal. There were two rainy nights and I spent one day sitting out rain. On the next-to-last day I pedaled a long distance in rain for the first time.

The only bike problems were 3 flat tires, all in Charleston, from wires.

Weather was unpleasantly hot and humid for the first 18 days. The tailwind made it seem even hotter on the road. The final week was much cooler and less humid, with frequent headwinds. The start and finish points are in different climate zones.

The roads turned out to be mostly good except for 3 unsafe days on rumble-stripped narrow highways in South Carolina.

There was surprisingly little urban cycling. Savannah was the most tedious city to bike across. Charleston and Virginia Beach were easy to bike across.

Coastal views began in North Carolina and steadily improved as the tour progressed. I enjoyed ending the tour with two days of continuous beach towns, from Ocean City, MD to Atlantic City, NJ.

3000 miles from home!

Transportation was complex but flawless. The 3 flights to Jacksonville and the 2 return flights to Eugene were all on time. The bike arrived without damage in Jacksonville. At the end of the tour I had a great experience packing the bike for FedEx ground shipment at AAAA Bikes in Ventnor City, New Jersey.

The bike suffered damage on the return trip. The front quick release axle was bent beyond repair. The rear dropout and derailleur hangar were bent. I had to straighten the derailleur hangar and grind the pinched opening of the dropout.


This tour was even more expensive than my Alaska bike tour. It cost more than planned because I spent so many nights in major tourist destinations. Before the tour I didn't know that resort area lodging prices often double or triple during the weekend. By the end of the tour I didn't even blink when told that Saturday night at EconoLodge costs $170 plus tax. I probably spent $150 per day during this tour.

Flights to Jacksonville were relatively cheap because I bought the tickets long in advance. Getting home from Atlantic City cost twice as much because I booked the flights only 6 days in advance and had the added expense of a van shuttle to Philadelphia airport. No regrets-I hate starting with a fixed end date.

Mid-Atlantic Coast Tour Route

I highly recommend the second half of my route, from Swansboro, NC to Atlantic City, NJ. It stays consistently near the Atlantic Ocean and has 3 unique segments: First is the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Second is the isolated rural roads of the southern DelMarVa peninsula. Third is the beach towns in Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey. Four car ferries give the route a nautical flavor and you have the option to add ferry excursions to Cape Lookout and Tangier Island.

I think this is the only portion of the U.S. Atlantic coast that is well suited for bicycle touring. It has mostly low traffic, low population density compared to other coastal areas, and frequent ocean views. The main downside is that the route is mostly in expensive resort areas. The ACA Atlantic Coast bike route is less expensive but it stays inland and has more urban cycling.

May thru September is the season for this route. Late May and early June is a good time because it's before hurricane season and you have opportunities to see hatching sea turtles.

Bikes are not allowed on the 18 mile (29 km) long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It's not well publicized, but cyclists can pedal to the tollbooth and request a ride across the bridge. The bridge authority will transport a cyclist across the bridge after the cyclist pays the $13 toll ($15 during summer).

Historic South Tour Route

History buffs would like my route from Jacksonville to Charleston. The ideal southern history tour would start a bit farther south in St. Augustine and have long stops at St. Augustine, Jekyll Island/Brunswick, Savannah, Beaufort, and Charleston. This route is best in Spring or Fall. Nearly all the route is on high traffic roads with a paved shoulder. The route is only 350 miles (560 km) but tourist stops can easily make it a 10 day tour. The route begins with 60 miles of beach towns in Florida. Afterwards the only ocean view is at Jekyll Island.

Avoid The Part In Between!

My route from Charleston, South Carolina to the North Carolina state line is not safe for cycling and has no ocean views. Most of it is narrow rumble stripped roads that force you to share the lane with big trucks. It's the ACA Atlantic Coast bike route, but it's terrible.

Update: In 2021 the ACA announced a re-route that stays closer to the coast and goes through the sprawling resort town of Myrtle Beach. Half of that route is on bike paths and bike lanes. It's probably better for cycling and it has far more ocean views.

The route from the SC/NC state line to Swansboro, NC is safer. It passes through some beach towns but also has two long inland segments. The inland route through historic Wilmington, NC is quite nice. The 60 mile inland loop through dreary Jacksonville, NC is necessary to get around the sprawling Camp LeJeune Marine Corps base.

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