Today Adventure started as most normally do...slight disaster before embankment! My emergency brake on my truck got stuck in the locked position just before we were supposed to drive it down south. Luckily, a quick fix literally with a hammer and we were able to shoot our way south along the east coast shore line. Our fat bikes were loaded in the bed of the truck and a few bags were loaded in the cab when we left around 9:30pm after work. Ambush in the night, and we ended up at a Best Western in Dover, Delaware around 2am. We made a good call stopping there, because not much would be open at that time at our final destination of Chincoteague, VA.
Day 2 1/15/2015
We left the hotel in Dover this morning almost around noon to get to the beach. We were checked in at our next hotel, a Rhodeway Inn, around 2pm and quickly saddled up to go on our first exploration ride of the islands right away. We rode around the paths of the southern Assateague island for about 3 hours. On our ride, we saw 5 wild ponies, all at a distance. We found a passage to the bay called the bi valve trail that revealed an incredible bay trail made of sand. There were so many horseshoe crabs all over the bay side of the island. Before the day light was over, we made sure to check out the famous Assateague lighthouse.
We returned back to our hotel around 5pm, just as the sun was setting. Very hungry and tired, we discovered that next door was a nice place called Steamers that served beer and food. We drank some good beer and enjoyed some great food. I would rate Steamers a 9 out of 10 for service and food, and we were in the off season! During the warmer months, Steamers has a seafood buffet that sounded fantastic. I am sure we will visit this spot again during our trip in Virginia.
After dinner, we walked up the street to a gas station to pick up some snacks and a case of beer for the hotel fridge. We planned to stay up late to await my friend who was getting out of work that night and driving down from NYC. We expected to see him around 2-3am that evening. My buddy wound up arriving around 3am, and the front desk gave us such a hassle to rent a fold out cot for him to sleep on until the morning. After about 20 minutes of arguments, the desk agreed to rent him another room at the same rate I had bought our room in advance with. The hotel management really bummed me out about the whole situation, but I suppose it ended well because we were all resting in our own beds.
The next day we planned on checking out this abandoned fishery that seemed to be located on the south end of the Assateague island. We only had google maps images to prove that though.
Day 3 1/16/2015
I woke up this morning fully refreshed and ready for adventure. My buddy Roddy was still sleeping, so I went out for a walk to get some fresh air. After my stroll, I called up Jeff, and we grabbed our bikes to search Chincoteague for some coffee. We found a small southern kitchen/diner, and had a crazy good breakfast for about $20, so Roddy really missed out! We regrouped at the hotel and got ready to bike out on the beach at low tide to the abandoned fishery. We packed everything we would need and grabbed some sandwiches for lunch before we hit the beach. We rode along the coast at near perfect low tide conditions, and I was surprised to see that even cars were allowed to drive on the beach in these parts of the island. After a bit of a ride, we got to the spot that we were looking for, and it was actually a pretty cool spot. We saw some giant turkey vultures and a bald eagle while we were exploring the old abandoned buildings.
We rode back on the beach while the tide was still out, and ate our lunch in a small storm shelter to shield us from the wind. We recollected on our first real beach ride here, and enjoyed our sandwiches. After lunch we stopped at the visitor center and talked to a national parks service ranger about the different types of wildlife found on the island. We rode back to the main section of the island and once again cruised along the bay coast trail. The views were incredible as the sun was setting. We took in the moment, and made sure to take a lot of pictures. We made sure to visit the light house once again on our way off the island. I got a great gopro shot of the sunset as we rode along the bridge connecting Assateague with Chincoteague islands.
We went to Steamers again for dinner that night, and it was just as good if not better!
Day 4 1/17/2015
Our last day of fat biking the islands started off a little late due to partying a little too hard the night before, although it was worth it, because it was a very fun evening. Jeff had to leave early that day and couldn't join us on our last ride. Roddy and I set out to the Assateague island again, this time to head north along the coast at the end of low tide to attempt to make it to the Maryland/Virginia boarder. At the boarder is a wild fence system that allows people to pass by, but is too confusing for the ponies. I really thought that was interesting so we soared up the beach as fast as we could. We made it about 12 miles up the beach before it was clear that we would not make it there and back before sunset. I looked on google maps and saw that if we crossed the dunes on a sand trail, we could connect to a dirt path that would bring us back to the exit of the island. There was a gate, and a fence at the end of that sand trail, but no signs, so we hopped the fence because we knew the dirt path would be just beyond it. Regardless if we were supposed to be there or not, we were either taking that trail back to the exit of the island, or we would be forced to hike our bikes through the miserable soft sands of high tide conditions. We found the dirt path shortly after that, and it was so nice! Hard packed, and rode really fast, but this trail had given us something else that we had not bargained for. Apparently we had jumped the fence into some kind of wild pony preservation area. We rode past many very close ponies and other wild life. We got some great close ups of the ponies, and I honestly felt a bit scared at times because these are not domestic animals. The ponies of Assateague are wild and can charge if they feel threatened. We cruised along the trail making great time when suddenly a guy dressed in camouflage stopped us along the trail. This man was a game warden for the island, and he was asking us questions about how we ended up on this trail. He told us this part of the island is strictly off limits for bikers and hikers as well as that part of the beach. We apologized and explained how we didn't know and that we were on our away out off the island. I thought we were doomed and were going to be ticketed for riding the preservation, but the warden ended with "Nice bikes guy, how do those things do on the beach?"
The game warden then told us to get out of there, and we had nothing but a warning. We gladly took his warning and pedaled quickly off the island back to the motel.
We returned to the room once again around sunset, and it was time to think of where to get dinner. We had decided on a spot called Don's Seafood which was about a half a mile from the hotel. We walked over, which took about 10 minutes and got a table at a very nice restaurant. The seafood platters that we ordered were fantastic, but we thought it was so strange that nearly everyone else eating there was wearing camouflage! We had great service and took the stroll back to the hotel. On the way back we wanted to stop in Steamers for a drink or two, and caught a really good band performing. We got back to the room and rested up for our drive back home to chilly New Jersey.
Virginia's barrier islands are a great place to fat bike in near perfect sand conditions. Although wild beaches, there are almost always great places to stay and eat for very fair rates and just about year round. I would suggest going during winter months to avoid the mosquitoes and beach crowds. There is plenty to do year round, and primitive camping is available if hotels are not your thing. I liked this adventure because it was a chance to be overwhelmed by natural beauty without any climbs or difficult riding. Sand riding is a great reason to get a fat bike and I hope this area grows in beach bicycle riding culture.