By Jackson Fuller
More than 225 cyclists participated in the 25th annual River to Sea Bike Ride from downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach and back Saturday, May 3.
The event is a free community bike ride to help expose the River to Sea Bikeway route and also provide the cyclists who participate with safety tips for future bike rides.
“This event really helps in giving people the confidence to know how to ride their bike safely,” said Adrienne Harrington, transportation planner for the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization. “Hopefully they can carry that confidence over to when they’re out riding their bikes by themselves.”
The Cape Fear Cyclists Club skipped its weekly Saturday bike ride to help out the more inexperienced riders. Some safety tips the event wanted cyclists to focus on were the use of hand signals, always staying on the right side of the road and sharing the road with other cyclists.
However, this event is more than just about bike safety. It is a community event that occurs on the heels of Cape Fear Region’s Bike to Work Week, which takes place May 12-18.
“The whole month of May is really bike month,” said Richard Knight, president of the Cape Fear Cyclists Club. “This event kicks off the month and gets people excited to go out and get on their bicycle.”
The River to Sea bikeway is 11 miles and, for the purpose of this event, ended at the Wrightsville Beach Park where refreshments and raffle prizes awaited cyclists. The participants met downtown on Front Street. They began the bike ride at 8:30 a.m., arriving at the park just more than one and one-half hours later.
The route takes the riders out of downtown and all the way down Park Avenue. After traveling down Oleander Drive and Wrightsville Avenue, the cyclists take a right onto Eastwood Road. From there, it is a straight shot to the beach.
Some parts of the ride, like traveling across the Heide Trask Drawbridge and crossing South College Road, can be tricky. However, at any difficult stretch the Wilmington Police Department was there to help.
“The police did so much and without them this event wouldn’t be possible. They had designed traffic stops, and an escort taking the participants all the way to the beach. They were a huge help,” Harrington said.
The cyclists agreed there were many enjoyable stretches of the route, listing the latter section of Park Avenue and the Forrest Hills area as the most pleasant parts of the ride.
“It was a beautiful ride, but just talking to and meeting new people was the best part,” said Randy Cottrell, a new Wilmington resident. “It’s a great family event that everyone can participate in.”