This weekend: Fat bikers, wildflower stalkers, Y hikers

Catch fat bikes on the beach, wildflowers in the Piedmont, a sunny spring day along the Laurel River in the mountains.


fat-tire1-300x225Here’s a good reason to go to the coast this weekend: the US Open Fat Bike Championships.

First, we’re guessing a lot of you are wondering what an Open Fat Bike is. Actually, it’s just a Fat Bike, which is a mountain bike with bulbous tires, defined as wider than four inches. Typically, they’re used to bomb down mountains, rolling over whatever lies in wait. In this case, however, they will be used to race on the beach, in sand, which any cyclist will tell you is a challenge at best, a nightmare to the drive train at worst.

There’s competition in the Beginner, Sport and Expert categories; the latter will race 25 miles. Again, on sand. Sounds like good spectating.

Logistics: Saturday, March 14, Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Wrightsville Beach. $42. More info here.

Saturday forecast: High of 68, chance of thunderstorms.


Trout lily
Trout lily

If you’re like us, you’re wondering when the first spring wildflower will make its appearance. Typically, the first trout lily or spring beauty pokes through the last week of February. This, however, has not been a typical year, and while Dave Cook of “The Piedmont Almanac” fame says the trout lily should be in its “full glory” by now, we’ve yet to see a single, perky yellow petal.

After this week’s warm weather, however, expect spring’s early recruits to be on the march this weekend. One great place to catch the action is the Pump Station Access area of Eno River State Park, where an open floodplain provides good flowering habitat. Fortuitously, Pump Station is the location of a morning hike by Eno River State Park on Saturday at 8:30 a.m. “Wear good hiking shoes, bring drinking water and a snack,” advises the ranger.

Logistics: Saturday, March 14, 8:30 a.m., Pump Station Access, Eno River State Park, Durham.

Saturday forecast: High of 65, “periods of light rain likely,” says


Bluff Mountain Outfitters
Bluff Mountain Outfitters

The weather gods are smiling on Asheville’s Woodfin YMCA this week. Rather than schedule their hike on on a rainy Saturday, they had the good fortune to plan it for a sunny Sunday.

The hike in question is a 7.5-mile hike on the Laurel River Trail near Hot Springs, reason in itself to do the hike, with the chance for a post-hike visit to Bluff Mountain Outfitters, one of the truly great outfitters around. (Good coffee, too, as we recall.)

Logistics: Sunday, March 15, 8:45 a.m. at the Woodfin YMCA in Asheville. For more on the hike, check out this report in the Asheville Citizen-Times.

Sunday forecast: Sunny, high of 57.

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Those are our thoughts on the weekend. Find more options at the sources listed below.
Comprehensive calendar for the Cape Fear/Wilmington/southern N.C. coast searchable by date and event name.

Coastal Guide
Comprehensive calendar including nature programs from a variety of costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs. Covers the entire coast.

Crystal Cost Tourism Authority
Comprehensive calendar focusing on the Crystal Coast. Good source for programs offered by N.C. Coastal Federation, Cape Lookout National Park, N.C. National Estuarine Research Reserve and other costal conservation and research agencies that offer nature programs.
Comprehensive calendar including programs for the Outer Banks and Crystal Coast.

North Carolina Coast Host
Comprehensive calendar for the entire coast that lets you search for events by day, by region, by county, by city or by event (based on key word).

This Week Magazine
Primary focus is the Crystal Coast (North Carolina’s coastal midsection).


Asheville Citizen-Times
From the main page, click on “Outdoors,” then WNC Outdoors calendar.

Blue Ridge Outdoors
Searchable calendar lets you extend your reach to events throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southeast (or you can just limit it to North Carolina). Also lets you search a boatload of categories, ranging from Hiking, Mountain Biking and Climbing to Trail Running, Triathlon and Road Walking.

The Mountain Times
From the main page, click on “Calendars,” then Main Events.

Todd’s Calendar



Charlotte Observer events calendar
Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including Nature, Recreation, Recreation & Wellness, Running

Charlotte Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar includes a Sports & Recreation category.

Piedmont Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.

Comprehensive calendar searchable by category, including: Birding, Boating, Cycling, Nature, Rec & Wellness, Recreation, Running, Swimming, Tennis, Yoga.

Carolina Parent
Comprehensive calendar concentrating on things the family can do together.


Great Outdoor Provision Co.
Calendar includes three weekly events for each of its seven markets: Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville, Raleigh, Wilmington and Winston-Salem. Search by market.

Office of Environmental Education
One calendar for the numerous Environmental Education Centers statewide.

North Carolina State Parks
Lets you search for programs at the state’s parks, recreation areas and natural areas by location, by month, by topic. To reach the calendar from the home page, click on “Education,” then “Fun & Free Programs at Parks.”

National Forests in North Carolina
From the home page, click on Carolina Connections for news updates on the state’s four national forests as well as hints on recreational opportunities and a detailed rundown of recreation areas and the amenities at each.

U.S. National Wildlife Refuges
Rundown, by month, of regular activities at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service refuges in North Carolina.

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