Cycle NC Coastal Ride comes to Beaufort County April 19 to 22

Published 8:07 pm Friday, March 9, 2018

A forest of tents pops up at Festival Park. Restaurants are packed, the downtown shops are full and nearly every room in the area is booked.

This will be the scene in Washington and Beaufort County during April 19-22, as approximately 1,800 cyclists from more than 20 states will descend on the area for the 2018 Cycle NC Coastal Ride. This spring marks the 15th year of the event and 2018 marks the fourth year Washington has hosted the ride.

From the area’s economy to public safety, the event is expected to make a major impact on the area, and local residents will want to be aware of the ride before it comes.


For the economy of Beaufort County, the Coastal Ride is a serious shot in the arm.

At the heart of the event’s local coordination, the Washington Tourism Development Authority has already begun planning for the event.

“This is a huge economic driver, as well as a huge event in itself,” said Washington Tourism Development Director Lynn Davis. “We have over 1,800 cyclists, and their families, and their friends, who will be joining them. While they’re here, they really immerse themselves in the community. They want to eat locally, they want to shop locally and they want to take in the sights. They really do want to be a part of the community while they’re here.“

In essence, the county’s tourism, hospitality, restaurant and retail industries each receive a positive bump from the event. Restaurants, downtown shops and tourist attractions can expect a marked increase in visitors over the weekend.

While Festival Park will serve as the primary camping venue for the event, the park does not have nearly enough space to accommodate everyone. In addition to filling hotel rooms and lots at nearby campgrounds, some visitors will have the opportunities to rent rooms from area homeowners.

Even local nonprofits are getting in on a slice of the action.

“We’re actually working with Sound Rivers, who are coordinating the rental housing options,” Davis said. “They will also be benefiting from the influx of people. They’re working with property owners who are interested in renting a room or a home and donating their proceeds back to Sound Rivers.”

Davis says there is still a demand for room and home rentals for the weekend. Homeowners interested in participating can contact Sound Rivers at 252-946-7211.

Opportunities also exist for local organizations to set up fundraisers at the event’s rest stations. Once various groups have secured their places at rest stations, all that remains is to fill individual volunteer slots. Davis says that volunteers of all ages are welcome. Those interested in becoming ambassadors of hospitality for Beaufort County can call the TDA at 252-948-9415, ext. 2 or 3.

“Basically, they just need to know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” Davis said.

VOLUNTEERS: Local volunteers prepare and serve snacks for hungry cyclists during the 2015 event. (Washington TDA)


For local cyclist Rod Cantrell, there is no greater joy than taking to the roadways by bike. Cantrell, who began cycling in 2010, has participated in a number of Cycle NC events.

“What got me into it was I blew out my knee during a pickup basketball game,” Cantrell said. “Two surgeries and six months of rehab later, I decided that I needed something different, something low-impact, and cycling was the answer for me.”

While Beaufort County is a gorgeous place to sightsee from a car, Cantrell says that touring the area from a bicycle is a whole different experience.

“It’s very much a sensory experience you don’t get from riding a car down the same road,” Cantrell said. “You hear the sounds of the birds and of the wind, take in the smells of the farms and the plants and feel the temperature. You’re insulated from all that when you’re in a car. The view is essentially the same, but I’ve grown to really become passionate about it. I’ve come to feel more alive when I’m cycling than most other moments during the waking day.”

While Cantrell sees profound economic benefits in the event, he also believes the ride is an opportunity to share Washington and Beaufort County with people who may want to return someday. By getting a taste of the character of this place and its people during this weekend, many may want to return, be it for a vacation or to put down roots.

“Who knows what other seeds are being planted in these people’s minds for the future as well?” Cantrell mused. “Thinking of a future of coming back to this wonderful town we live in and take for granted and the word of mouth that’s spread.”

As someone personally vested in cycling, safety is a key concern for Cantrell. Riding the roadways of Washington and Beaufort County, he says that his closest calls have been at slow-speeds in town in situations where drivers have been completely unaware of their surroundings. Cantrell also reminds motorists to avoid using cell phones and remain focused on the road.

“The biggest risk is not paying attention to the road and the biggest distraction is the cell phone,” Cantrell concluded. “Some motorists have a real problem with it. They don’t think cyclists should be on the road. People may slow down, roll down the window and say nasty stuff to you. That doesn’t happen often; most people are pretty nice.”

MEAL: Event participants gather for a meal in the Washington Civic Center. Cyclists and their families tend to spend a considerable amount of money locally during the event, stimulating the Beaufort County economy. (Washinton TDA)


While official routes for the ride have not been made public yet, Davis says that most portions of the county will be touched during the three-day ride. Friday will see riders along roadways in the Northwestern portions of the county. Saturday, cyclists will ride along the northern shore of the Pamlico in the vicinity of Pinetown, Belhaven, Bath and Goose Creek State Park. On Sunday, the final day of the ride, the group will be riding on the south side of the river, at times, venturing into Pitt County.

With so many cyclists on so many local roadways, Davis says that safety is a chief concern during the ride. Cycle NC maintains a strict set of protocols for rides on public highways, and local first responders are well briefed on the event.

“We’ve already had a major logistics meeting with law enforcement officials, emergency management, the sheriff’s department, the police departments, coordinating the details with all of those entities,” Davis said. “This makes sure that they are aware, that responders are aware of what we’ll be doing and how many people to expect on the roads.”

With most routes on rural roads, Davis says that higher traffic areas along the ride will see greater signage, as well as increased law enforcement presence. As the event draws nearer, the WDN will publicize the routes for the event in an effort to help make the public more aware of the impacts on traffic and driving conditions that weekend.

“Not only do we want people to help us roll out the red carpet and welcome these cyclist to our community, but we also want to show them that our roads are friendly as well,” Davis said. “A little extra patience goes a long way in a situation like this. Just remember to share the roads and not lose your patience.”

For more information on the 2018 Coastal Ride, visit To learn more about the Washington TDA and its impact on Beaufort Community, visit