Day 32 Durham, NC to Raleigh 45 miles 1,875 feet
In all honesty, I rode this segment yesterday as a continuation of my Clarksville to Durham ride, both to spend more time with my girlfriend who flew in last night and to avoid riding during todays forecast deluge. For once the weatherman was dead right and my fellow riders set off this morning for a very wet ride while my girlfriend and I went site seeing, with a local friend, in a warm, dry car.
Durham, also known as the Bull City, was initially settled as a railway depot for steam locomotives to re-provision with firewood and water. After the Civil War, returning veterans sought a local supply of tobacco resulting in the development of a thriving tobacco industry. It became the founding location and headquarters of the American Tobacco Company, the Bull Durham Tobacco Company, W. Duke & Sons Tobacco Company, and many others. With their tobacco profits, the Dukes diversified into electric power generation, and textiles, the cornerstones of Durham’s industries. Duke University, located in Durham, was one of the benefactors of the Dukes success. While not on the ECG route, I visited Duke University by car, and even in the rain, it was worth a visit to see its splendid neo-Gothic Architecture.
The route out of Durham started off on the Ellerbee Creek Trail but rapidly spits you out on city streets passing by former textile mills gentrified into office and loft space. The Durham Bulls Athletic Park is right on the route as well. The most significant presence on the skyline however, are the vestiges of the tobacco industry, most notably to me was Lucky Strike, the brand my mom and dad smoked for over 20 years.
The American Tobacco Trail (ATT), a rails to trails project, begins directly across the street from the Durham Bulls Athletic Park and runs 22.6 miles to Wake County. We would ride roughy 18 miles on the ATT, the last 3 of which are unpaved. I had about an hour on the ATT with not much else to think about so my mind wandered to the Darius Rucker tune, Wagon Wheel:
“Rock me mama like the wind and the rain
Rock me mama like a southbound train
Hey... mama rock me
I hear my baby callin' my name and I know that she's the only one
And if I died in Raleigh, at least I will die free”
The ATT runs through a dense forest but unlike the Tobacco Heritage Trail (THT), there are frequent street crossings. An early section of the ATT contains areas of invasive ivy growth, including what looked to me like a giant bunny rabbit.
At one street crossing on the trail I noticed this puzzling sign.
The America Tobacco Trail was literally paved with tar that kills millions of Americans but they don’t want you to smoke on the trail, perhaps it is too close to home. The inherent irony reminded me of the scene in Dr. Strangelove where President Merkin Muffley admonishes General Buck Turgidson and the Russian Ambassador and I quote, “gentlemen this is outrageous, there is no fighting allowed in the War Room.” After about 3 miles of gravel we exited the trail onto a series of greenways that included a few miles of pristine boardwalk.
Once off the greenway we would ride for about 12 miles along high speed roads with no shoulder through Cary, a very upscale suburb of Raleigh. While stopped at a light I chuckled at a cycling Halloween display.
We entered the Reedy Creek Trail and rode through the North Carolina Museum of Art’s outdoor sculptures.
The sculpture I found most interesting was Collapse I, by Ledelle Moe. It brought back visions of broken sculptures in Monte Phython’s Life of Brian.
We drove to Cary to meet my cousin and his wife for dinner at Ko.an Pubic Table, 2800 Renaissance Park Place, Cary, for “Inspired Southeast Asian Cuisine.”
The menu ran the gamut from sushi to Korean standards, all with locally sourced ingredients and a genuine southern flair. The food tasted every bit as good as it looked.
Eleven states down, 4 more to go.
Feet Climbed 71,121
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina
For more details on my route, see my Strava Link