Here is the bicycle ride Tootie and I took late one afternoon in September 2020.
From the southern tip of the Sandbridge Beach neighborhood of Virginia Beach there is no public road for cars on the barrier island all the way to the North Carolina state line and then a few miles beyond that. When I was in high school in Norfolk/Virginia Beach in the early 1970’s my friend Steve Johnson and I used to bicycle to various political meetings, especially city council sessions. We all thought it very interesting. One of the most impressionable of these early 1970’s events was a public hearing held at the Virginia Beach Dome where adults got really, really upset. The hearing covered a proposal to prohibit most cars on the beach south of Sandbridge, that area of the newly established False Cape State Park. At that time there was a large car-centered culture of driving four-wheel drive and similar vehicles on this remote beach, twelve miles south to the North Carolina line and fifty or sixty miles south to Nags Head NC. It was the Wild West down there. I had gone on such Jeep trips once or twice. That remote beach was like a freeway with thousands of vehicles a day. The beach buggy thing came crashing down with laws in about 1972 prohibiting most vehicles on the beach at the new False Cape State Park. The Trumpian grievance and anger I saw that early 1970’s public hearing is still palpable. Speaker after speaker berated the do-gooders taking away all the fun. No one appeared to care about sea turtles. An elderly woman from a bird watching group was shouted down.
I have lived elsewhere the past forty-something years but I had heard from various sources (especially my friend Patrick Masterson) that False Cape is a great bike ride. I have learned that False Cape State Park is the only state park in Virginia that is essentially non-accessible by private automobile.
It was mine and Tootie’s thirty-seventh anniversary. We got delayed and we did not start riding until after five in the afternoon. It would get dark soon. We parked at the lot of the Back Bay Wildlife Refuge, took our two bicycles from out of the Prius and started riding south, first through part of the wildlife refuge, then into the state park.
We hung at a boat dock overlooking Back Bay.
It was beautiful and silent. Most of the trail is a gravel path a few hundred yards inland from the beach, on a barrier island about a quarter of a mile wide. We saw only two or three other people the whole time we were in the state park. We were just single digits in miles from the North Carolina line but darkness was approaching. We turned around and bicycled back to our car. In the car it was a forty minute drive to my late mother’s house in Virginia Beach where we had a delicious dinner.
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