On the morning of May 5, 2001, I awoke at an early hour to drive
to Thomasville, NC to pick up my brother and drive south to Gold Hill in
southeastern Rowan County. My
brother had invited me to participate with him on a weekend ride that he had
done the previous year. I agreed
and he signed me up. Those who know
me will probably think that this is a completely fictional story as I am always
late for rides, but this is a true story. I
don’t remember when I woke up, but the ride was scheduled to start at 9:45
a.m. on a Saturday. Believe it or
not, I made it there in time.
We got there with time to spare. Although the organizers were raising funds for the Muscular
Dystrophy Association, this was a free ride.
Gold Hill is a small community in rural North Carolina between Concord
and Albemarle. As far as I could
tell, Gold Hill consists of maybe a dozen buildings lining a small two-lane
road. But my goodness, it was a
beautiful community with a country store. I
didn’t research the location (and I am sure Al Johnson can provide the history
on this part of the state), but this is the general location of where gold was
mined in North Carolina in the 1800’s. Did you know that there was a US Mint in Charlotte in the
1800’s that minted gold and silver coins?
Well, Gold Hill was where some of the gold (or maybe all of it) came
Traffic was extremely light at Gold Hill.
There were probably about a hundred persons at Gold Hill for the ride.
Tourists, Team DeFeet, and others were lining up for the start. We got our maps and registered and lined up with the others.
Well, lo and behold, who was behind us?
Richard Lawrence and his son Joel. Richard
was riding a recumbent tricycle with two pivoting wheels in the front.
Joel was on a red Cannondale tandem with his son.
I had not seen Joel since I was in school at NC State in the late
1970’s. I had read about Richard
and Joel and their Brevet escapades, but had not seen them in a while.
(This is another long story related to “it’s a small world after
all.” Joel and I worked at
Cummingham Brick Yard as summer laborers for Richard way back when.)
We started. Some
people started very quickly and I watched people pass me as I waited back for my
brother. I had every intention of
doing a leisurely ride until Joel and his son came by and said “You’re going
to lose the front group…” I
latched onto Joel’s wheel and we made very good progress.
Joel and his son got me up to a group near the front before the hills
started. Most of the DeFeet guys
disappeared in the distance and I had no intention of chasing them.
My brother was talking with the organizer prior to the
start about the ride. The organizer
said that this year’s ride was going to be a little more hilly than the
previous year. As a matter of fact,
this year’s ride theme was “Bear Creek Crossing.”
I didn’t keep a count of the number of times we crossed Bear Creek or
its branches, but we seemed to be constantly descending and climbing.
The roads were very nice compared to most of Wake and surrounding
counties’ roads and the scenery was gorgeous farms and small communities.
There was essentially no traffic to speak of on the roads and we were
only on a highway (NC 73) for a few hundred yards.
The course was well marked and a number of volunteers were out with
refreshments and manning the tricky sections.
It was a tough course and I was lucky that David Racine was not there to
Upon finishing, there was live music and barbecue in the
shade of the large oaks in downtown Gold Hill.
We ate a little and socialized after the ride. I caught up on a few people back home in Lexington, NC.
One fellow who worked at the Davidson County Community College knew Ross
Frank well (another long story). Although
Mr. Frank closed his bicycle shop, he stated that he still rode with Mr. Frank
frequently on the weekends. (Mr.
Frank owned a bike shop in Lexington, NC and was the owner of the first really
nice bike that I saw as a teenager. Sometimes
I would go down to his shop and “hang-out” on a Saturday afternoon.
It was the beginning of a habit that I have been unable to get rid of.)
I told my brother that I should write an article about this so that the folks back in Raleigh would be aware of this ride. I am not sure that this ride would be standard NR Road Dog fare or not, but the organizers were extremely hospitable. I haven’t seen the information on the 2002 ride, but I figure they will do it again. So come the first weekend in May of this year, give some serious consideration to taking a drive down to Gold Hill in southeastern Rowan County for a change in scenery. You won’t regret it!
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