Biking on the beach.

Monday, September 3, 2018

Biking and the Beach

by Bill Resnicow

As the summer winds down, many of you will have, or will be vacationing at your favorite beach location.   And I'll bet many of you bring a bike with you to enjoy the ocean riding.   Many of you already know about places like Hilton Head and the Outer Banks.  These resorts provide miles of flat ocean roads to ride on.  But my favorite place is one you may not know about for biking, its Myrtle Beach S.C.

My family and I have been going to Myrtle Beach for about 10 years.  It has everything you could want in a summer beach vacation, great beaches, water parks, boating, dining, world class shows and more.  But the thing I enjoy the most is the biking.   Myrtle Beach isn’t known so much for biking,  as is Hilton Head.  The biking infrastructure includes a few nice bike paths and on-road bike lanes.  But the nice thing about Myrtle Beach is just the vast quantity of ridable roads.   With the exception of the main highways (route 17 and Kings Hwy) you can almost ride on any road.  And each year, they develop more and more adding more miles to the routes.   My road map which I purchased abotut 4 years ago is already obsolete.

This summer, I road about 150 miles over the course of the week, and I dare say I did maybe 100 feet of climbing.  If you're a hill-o-phobe like me, its heaven.   Late in the 2nd day of riding, after about 30 miles, I noticed something missing...pain.   Riding two consecutive days in Maryland at 30-40 miles, I need a day of recovery thanks to all the hill climbing (hey, I'm a senior citizen).  But somehow in Myrtle Beach, I ride 5 or 6 days in a row and hardly feel it.  Instead of the burning pain in my knees, all I hear is 'AAhhhh', as my legs pump effortlessly along the pavement.   There are a few inclines, maybe 1 or 2 percent, just enough to make you work a little, and then enjoy the descent that goes with it, but mostly its just plain flat.  

Myrtle Beach provides  a nice variety of bike routes.   These include Ocean drive, about 10 miles along the ocean,  which has a nice 1.5 mile boardwalk (wood and concrete path) along the beach.  Plenty of pavilions to stop at and take in the ocean breeze, easy places for rests stops.   Also, inland roads through various nieghborhoods, shopping districts and parks.   Grissom parkway is the return route making a nice loop.  You can cross over at almost any cross street. Along the way,  I pass casual bikers on beach cruisers, some folks riding in jeans on thier way to work and a few groups of cyclists like us.   Usually just in pairs, maybe 3 or 4, no pelotons like we have up here. 

Then, just south of Myrtle Beach, Surfside beach provides another 10 miles or so of beach biking with its own Ocean drive and residential roads to ride on.   Its a little hard to get to, you have to ride along Route 17, the main commercial blvd but its well worth it.  Ride through Surfside Beach all the way down to Murell's inlet, a nice beach and boating community.

But there are some drawbacks to beach biking.   First, there is wind.  Tip #1; get the weather report, and ride downwind when riding along the beach.    Second, the heat and humidity can limit riding to the morning hours.  Tip #2; ride from about 7:30am to 10:30am.  On a hot sunny day, its too hot and humid to ride later.  But if your're lucky (as I was this year thanks to some cloudiness) it wont be so hot and you can ride later.  But the humidity will get you.  Soon as I stop at a light, the sweat starts dripping down my face.  My usual riding sunglasses are useless.   It actually affects my bikes's shifters.  I press my up shift button and nothing happens, about 10 seconds later it pops into gear.  Tip #3; wear low profile sunglasses and bring a face towel (sweat band might help).  Tip #4; Do I have to say it? Put on lots of sunblock!   Last, you have to be careful riding downtown in the hotel/resort district.  Pedestrians crossing, cars coming in and out, Tip #5; stand up out of your saddle to make yourself more visible to cross-cars.    Also, get a flourescent colored helmet, those really make you visible.

If anyone is interested in riding in Myrtle Beach, feel free to contact me I can provide details on the routes.  There are several routes of 30-40 miles or more you can do with enough variety to keep you happy for a week or more.   So get up early, ride to your hearts content, then jump in the pool or the ocean.  Oh, and if it's July, watch the Tour de France at night, I find it inspires me to ride even more!

Happy Riding!

Bill Resnicow

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