Denton to Fayetteville - 98 miles
By Karl Murphy
Murph is BACK!
Apparently “No" really doesn’t mean no to Ed Billings.
So scheduling two-deep adult leaders has been a challenge for this trip from the beginning. Ed approached me several times, lastly in Wyoming about another two week stint...I told Ed I just had too many family and work commitments to take another section with Bikeloud. So Eddy goes off and gets Steve and Dave to pick up 13 of the 15 days he is short and calls me…”Murph, I just need you Monday and Tuesday, can you make that happen. Please….as a favor to me.”
Fast forward two weeks later…here I am, Denton North Carolina unloading Steve Rothwell’s panniers and jamming a much leaner personal set of gear into them. Steve was kind enough to set up the shared leader tent so all that was left was a trip to the convenience store to satisfy Ed’s never ending desire for ice cream and to discuss the latest “new goal” from the boys - breaking the longest day record with a 150 mile pedal on Monday. Ed was kind enough to give me a heads up on the 150 chatter prior to me clipping in Sunday night.
The boys are spectacular. Each day tabulating the miles, elevation gained, etc. To the best of my knowledge they have broken almost all Troop 845 past bike trip records - longest trip, most elevation in a day, most miles travelled etc…There are rumors circulating about.. that they have completed the "Longest Boy Scout Trip Ever.” As a sales guy, I am quick to adopt the message that sells. The lawyers and scientists in the group can figure out the veracity of that claim.
In the “spirit of the bike trip” - which I have has some conflict with over the weeks - the boys make almost all the decisions. They really only get overridden when it becomes a safety issue. Our fearless leader Ed, laid out a very clear and logical thought process on why pushing for 150 on this Monday was a bad idea today… “Our mission was 7 scouts/3900 miles/raise $ for beloudsophie/safely…we have about 200 miles left, its gonna be super hot tomorrow, accidents happen when you stack risk factors, my mission is to get you across country safely and I am not going to fail 200 miles from home. There will be no 150 push today.”
A credit to their maturity, the crew took it very well…there was zero push back.
Afterword, during the morning pedal conversation…there is A LOT of chatter on the road…I was commenting to Ed how much the crew has evolved and matured since Montana.
In June, they were a group of boys on a bike ride…some would say a magic carpet ride... today they are a team of young men on a mission..and darn close to crushing it!
This evolution of maturity and leadership in the scouts is evident in the little things that define great teams. For example, we decided to get an early start Monday morning in anticipation of a hot day and a possible 150 mile push.
Ed, per usual for the past 65 days was awake first, firing up his stove for a cup of coffee….at 4:30...in the morning! He and I watched the crew wake on their own at 4:45. Pack their tents and gear in the complete dark with zero talk. They paired up in buddy teams and headed over to the adjacent c-store for breakfast and our planned 5:30departure. The leader of the day reported in around 5:20 that they were all present, fed and ready to go. No flats, no lost gear, no lost scouts….just an incredibly efficient and professional group of men on a mission and incredibly EARLY. That’s how great teams start their day.
As we pedaled out of Denton in the early morning twilight, I knew we were gonna have a great few days on the road.
About midday, as is norm on the bike trip, Ed starts to look for a place to stay.
At lunch he conferred with our adopted crew member and master mechanic Benjamin from Germany. Ben says there are some good options on “warm showers” a self organized group of people across the country who offer warm showers and a place to sleep for adventure cyclists….I am beyond skeptical..”dude how’bout we get a hotel.”
I lived in Fayetteville - lotta soldiers and a lotta locals who hate soldiers…for good reason…I can’t imagine someone opening their house to 6 scouts, two dudes and a German couple….sounds like the beginning of a Jud Apatow movie - help me with the titles
“The 40 year old Boy Scout”
“This is adventure cycling”
“Warm Shower and Boy Scouts”
“Crew Leader, The legend of Fast Eddy Billings…”
“Forgetting Carolina and the perfect pedal”
and my favorite “Get him to the beach"
As a back up plan (good assistant leaders always have a back up plan) I find a perfectly located Hampton Inn….and against my better judgement…Ed puts the decision to the boys….again…spirit of the bike trip. Predictably they choose the “warm showers” random options. My vision of 600 thread count sheets, perfectly fluffed pillows and a whirl pool hot tub dashed by the crews never ending goal to “keep it real.”
I was wrong!
I must give props to the boys decision making and “warm showers.” Our experience was both perfect and spectacular. After passing through a depressed, post-apocalyptic free fire neighborhood of Fayetteville around mile 90...where the boys met some locals who thought Oregon was another country (literally) and Ed for the first time wondered if I was carrying a hand gun…"because we may need it Murph"...we arrived in the very suburban and classy Haymont neighborhood of Fayetteville.
Haymont: Imagine Chapel Hill’s Westwood neighborhood meets Charleston set in Fayetteville. Beautifully redone Mid-century modern homes interspersed with Antebellum mansions, perfectly manicured yards backing up to a golf course.