Well, okay, they were actually here first. I've known about this for a while, but was reminded when once again today I typed only "the incidental cyclist" into my browser bar and got (just below me on the hit list, which is new) a blog based in North Carolina, also called The Incidental Cyclist. And here I thought I was being so clever.
I remember cyclists in North Carolina. The ones I saw traveled in packs (I know, they're called pelotons or something like that), wore a lot of Spandex, and were just desperately courageous as far as I could tell - none of the roads I saw in NC had much space for bikes, I saw no bike lanes, and everyone else (and I mean everyone else) was in a car. Public transportation was baffling and scarce in Raleigh, where I was staying, and there were no sidewalks anywhere. It was drive in your airconditioned car, or stay home in your airconditioned house. I also recall all the roads being separated from the subdivisions by stands of trees, so that you never really knew where you were: all you could see was forest on either side, and the occasional brick gate announcing the entrance to "Peachtree Heights" or whatever the subdivision was called: no houses. It was actually pretty disconcerting.
And in the midst of all that, these not-so-huge roads with not much shoulder and certainly no bike lane managed to also support packs of cyclists. The friends I was staying with called them "the Spandex Menace" because they held up traffic, and also, I think, because it unnerved them to have to manoeuver around the bikes. At the time I wasn't a regular cyclist, so I didn't think much of it, but looking back, I think they must have been pretty committed, to be out there in that heat, that humidity, and on those roads.
Which reminds me of a set of other observations I made this summer, about Aberdeen, Edinburgh, cobblestones, and blue paint: but that's another post entirely.