Destination: Wright Brothers National Memorial. Kill Devil Hills, NC
About thirty miles south of Corolla was our next destination, the Wright Brothers Memorial. The bicycle Gods took pity on us and aimed their winds at our backsides. Still cold and wet, but at least the wind gave us a fast downhill run back to Kill Devil Hills. It’s still unclear what provoked these two accomplished bicycle mechanics to abandon a lucrative career wrenching bikes and pursue the silliness of flight, but what they did on this sandy field in 1903 changed humankind forever. There is no telling what wonderful innovations in bicyclery were lost due to the misguided path these two chose. As it happened aviation took off like a, well rocket and bicycles remain almost frozen in time. How many of you are still riding steel A-framed bikes? You know we should all be on hover-bikes by now, right? Oh well. Before bailing out on biking, these two invented the self-oiling hub and a crank arm that the pedal screws on backwards (if you’ve ever gotten pissed off trying to take a pedal off a crank, blame Orville).
I find the whole thing a bit unbelievable. We went hundreds of thousands of years walking or riding on the backs of animals; then about sixty years after the first flight we land on the moon. Does anyone else suspect the tinkering of aliens or is it just me?
There’s plenty to see here and it’s one of my favorite places to visit on the coast. Walk the actual field where their first four flights were made, see replicas of the Wright Flyer and glider, climb Kill Devil Hill and look over the many exhibits. My favorite is the life-size bronze recreation of the first flight.
Arriving on a loaded touring bike, especially one with a retro look will garner appreciative glances from the Park Rangers. Getting there is a breeze if you follow well marked bike paths. Before heading out to tour the northern Outer Banks stop at the visitor’s center and ask for the Dare County bicycle map. This will keep you off the deadly 158 (a mistake we made) and on well-maintained bike routes.
End Note: Flexibility and “Roll with the Punches”ness is important when bike touring hurricane ravaged coastlines. Our route south of Kill Devil Hills was washed away so we lingered in Kitty Hawk and enjoyed the hospitality of our Warm Showers hosts. We finished our tour back on Roanoke Island in miserable weather. Still a wonderful short tour and we can’t wait to come back to the coast.
Thanks for reading, Jack