Local biking club builds endurance, friendship

Published 3:04 pm Friday, August 8, 2014

Every Sunday local residents congregate at Inner Banks Outfitters for a casual, leisurely and, when the weather holds up, majestic bike ride along the Washington waterfront and winding back roads of Beaufort County.

“Every kind of person comes out for this from every walk of life, that’s what’s kind of cool about it,” said Liane Harsh, owner of Inner Banks Outfitters and group organizer. “It’s a total mix of people who probably wouldn’t hang out around each other normally.”

Currently, the group ranges from a half dozen to two dozen bikers, depending on the day, and is completely free of charge. The group is nonexclusive and features riders of all ages and skillsets. Everyone is encouraged to go at his or her own pace.

Harsh says those who ride in the group regularly receive a 5 percent discount at the shop, which sells team jerseys sponsored by local businesses.

On Thursdays, riders participate in a time trial. While remaining noncompetitive in nature, each rider works towards clocking a better time each week.

“It starts out as staying in shape and evolves into camaraderie,” Harsh said. “They come here, we work on their bikes, they support my business, but I would say that we’re all friends too. We’ve really kind of cultivated a nice little riding community here.”

Harsh says a couple members of the club will be riding in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society Bike Race in New Bern on Sept. 6, as well as a Ultra Marathon Cycling Association sanctioned 24-hour race on Aug. 23 in Washington.

The race, organized by group member Alvin Maxwell, will begin at Washington High School at 8 a.m. Twelve-hour and 100-mile versions of the race are also available.

By notching a top time, riders have a chance at qualifying for Ride Across American, or RAM.

This spring, Cycle North Carolina is also be holding a three-day long bike ride in Washington.

“It brings 1500 bicyclists to our town and camp out on the water,” Harsh said. “For three days, they ride routes where we ride all the time. It boosts business locally because people are staying here, spending money here, loving our town, wanting to come back. We go and support that ride when it goes to the other places too.”