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OBX by bike -- or bust!

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By Joe DeGaetano

Joe DeGaetano’s 875-mile route, as mapped by GPS. Map and directions can be found at ridewithgps.com.
Sites along DeGaetano’s bike trip to the Outer Bank.
Mesmerizing marks in the road.
The Surly Yellow Monkey mountain bike was DeGaetano’s choice for the trip.
More scenes along the way ... reaching saltwater at last.

In June, adventure mountain biker Joe DeGaetano biked from Fayetteville to the Outer Banks. During portions of the trip, he rode with companions; other times, he rode alone. He followed hiking trails, 4-wheeler paths, horse trails and back roads all the way to Ocracoke Island -- a total of 875 miles.

Joe chronicled his trip on social media, using the hashtag #obxunhingedtour. Here are excerpts of posts Joe made during the trip.

June 4 - There’s magic in them hills! 100 more miles today. 12 miles of some mind-warping hike-a-bike and insanely AMAZING downhill-trending big mountain single track. Glad to have had a buddy for the first push. Always good times, Steven! Heading towards Pilot Mountain tomorrow. This is some big country out here! Life behind bars -- wouldn’t want to see it any other way. 

June 5 - Heading down-country. Beautiful horse country riding this morning. 

June 5 - Like a beacon calling out to the haggard traveler, Pilot Mountain, N.C., stands guard as the last vestige of the high country. I’ll spend the night up there tonight and drop off the south side of the mountain tomorrow morning, using trails that I’ve been told to put my game face on for.

June 6 - You’ve got to go up, to go down. Cranking up Pilot Mountain this morning, before the logistics got a bit mangled.

June 6 - Ran smack into the Yadkin (River) and had to ride tracks for a few miles. Rail tracks are the backlands of America. Last view of Pilot this morning. 

June 6 - Out of seemingly nowhere, this ancient Arabic-Hindi script appeared on the road and went on for miles (see photo). My mind, wasted from the day’s effort, must have become delusional; it was as if I were transported onto the Silk Road, and I was making a fantastic trans-Eurasian trek long before the age of shared common knowledge among civilizations. Villages, people, words, names, foods, landscapes inspired my mind to re-sculpt what I understood and knew. I finally snapped out of my hallucination, and, before I knew it, 20 country miles had passed.

June 7 - Uwharrie National Forest (in North Carolina) definitely lived up to its reputation. Insanely good trails and dirt roads kept me busy and slowed me down a good bit. This tour is definitely going into vision quest mode. 

June 7 - Camping in Uwharrie National Forest, riding trails around the fingers of a lake and through slashes in the forest. Picking berries, grinding gravel, hitting dead ends and back on the road again. Currently missing company right now. Starting to rain, feeling the slog, unraveling a bit but staying the course.

June 8 - Rolling down the trail, Sipping on my water bottle, laid back, with my mind on my GPS arrow and my GPS arrow on my mind.

June 8 - Local advice is always the best beta! Stopped into Manna Cafe and Grill just outside of Hofmann State Forest to get some caffeine and food. Ended up spending almost two hours there eating, reading the paper, talking to Bridget, Cory and a few others. Thanks so much for the great hospitality and advice on how to best get into Hofmann.

June 13 - Last photo dump from the #obxunhingedtour. The new Karate Monkey (a mountain bike made by Surly) proved its meddle on this tour; she might be a #yellowscrubmachine, but she’s able to do it all in stride. The only change I would make if doing this tour again would be to run a geared drivetrain for the low country flats. Dead in the water at 13 mph gets old.

June 14 - There’s not a better 4x4 out there! (see yellow bike photo)

June 8 - One must soak up the beauty of their surroundings when going from one small town to the next like a homeless refugee. A long day and cold hobo bivouac last night had my mind going to dark places, but the sand roads and pine forests have rejuvenated my spirits. I can almost smell the saltwater. 

June 8 - Sand-dune bound in Bladen Lake State Forest (North Carolina).

June 9 - Running the coast line now. Currently drinking beer and savoring the last couple days of this tour. Tracy and the kids are meeting me at Ocracoke Island tomorrow afternoon for a few days of family camping. 

June 9 - From the mountains to the sea, and the #obxunhingedtour is a wrap.


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