The days get better as I get farther east. After today's 110 miles I'm tired but not exhausted. Maybe the reduced amount of climbing helps, as does the fact that I got an earlier start and therefore could take more time out along the way. Both today and yesterday were days with eight hours of riding and an average speed near 14 mph, but I took ten hours total time today versus about nine hours yesterday.
NC 4 was great today. I spent most of my time riding through very rural areas where I'd meet a car every 15 minutes or less. Almost all of the folks I saw along the way were black. I rode through lots of black neighborhoods as well as farms. Folks were very friendly and the dogs were much less of a problem. I still got chased but only half a dozen times instead of several dozen. Still not a ride for folks scared of dogs! Or, for that matter, folks who are uncomfortable with being a long way from nowhere and not being quite sure where the road will end up. You gotta trust those NC 4 signs, cause the road names (and sometimes directions) don't match what Delorme says! The NC 4 signage is excellent.
Coming out east of Eden this morning, I did find one place where an NC 4 sign seemed to be missing. I just got on Moir Mill Rd after NC Bike 4 crossed highway 14 even though there was no sign to make that turn. I knew that NC 4 followed Moir Mill Rd later so I figured it was safe to get on it where it started. It was. My first stop for the day, after breakfast in Eden where every thing is fast food 8^(, was at Casville where NC 4 briefly joins NC 158. I stopped for a coke and a honey bun (real health food !) at an Exon Minimart. It was a very friendly place and set the style for this entire day.
158 wasn't bad, and I was tempted to just ride on it instead of following NC 4. However I wanted to properly sample NC 4 and I'm glad I did. The back roads riding it offered is so peaceful that riding even a lightly traveled highway seems unpleasant in comparison.
I stopped for lunch in Yanceyville. I had a good meal at a Chinese Restaurant (the Chinese Restaurant I'm sure) in the shopping center on 158/18. This was a bit off route, because I couldn't find a place I wanted to eat at on route. A common problem with back roads routing, since nobody is going to put a business that caters to travelers on a route that see one car every half an hour.
I stopped again for a salad and coffee at the Pizza Hut in Roxboro. This is only a few block north of NC 4 on the main drag. When I went to pay for my food (about $4), the manager said that, since I was a touring cyclist, it was on him. Then he asked me where I was headed and was quite astonished when I told him Nova Scotia. Thing like that really make my day.
My final food stop was completely off route. There is a good Italian restaurant next to the Orpheus Theater in Oxford. Oxford is really a beautiful town and I highly recommend that you leave NC 4 and follow NC 158 through Oxford and Henderson.
Ten miles or so east of Roxboro, NC 4 heads northeast and stays away from 'civilization', but not hills, until it drops back down to pass north of Henderson. I chose to leave NC 4 when it headed northeast and to continue on Old Roxboro Road till that road reached 158 and then to ride 158 for the rest of the day. That was a good decision since 158 was lightly traveled (a car passed me every minute or two) and has a rideable shoulder almost all the way to Henderson. If I had stuck with NC 4 I would have missed both Oxford, which is really lovely, my supper, which was very good, and I would have still had to come off route to Henderson in order to find a place to stay. I would have added at least 20 miles and a thousand feet of climbing to my ride.
I'm staying at a Budget Inn ($40 for a very nice room) on Highway 1 and Business 158 on the east side of Henderson. Tomorrow I'll ride north and east to join US Bike 1 and NC Bike 4. Shortly thereafter I'll follow US Bike 1 north into Virginia.