Haven't ridden your bicycle in a while? Now’s the time to pump up the tires, lube the chain and get cranking.
To get you going, here are five “rides with lunch” on paved trails in the Carolinas.
1. Charlotte Rail Trail
The South End section of the Rail Trail runs beside the Lynx light rail tracks for 2.4 miles through a wall of condos and an array of restaurants and pubs.
Park at the Scaleybark light-rail station. Pick up the rail trail (more like a wide sidewalk) a block north of Clanton Road. It parallels the tracks through South End to Morehead Street.
Cyclists can pivot off to explore the Wilmore and Dilworth neighborhoods. Notable landmark: 311 East Boulevard, where Carson McCullers wrote part of her 1940 book, “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.”
For lunch, head to Pike's Old Fashioned Soda Shop at 1930 Camden Road.
2. Piedmont Medical Center Trail
At the Rock Hill Outdoor Center and Riverwalk development, visit three bike-racing tracks and ride the Piedmont Medical Center Trail along the Catawba River.
Enter Riverwalk from U.S. 21 south of the Catawba and park at 575 Herrons Ferry Road across from The Pump House restaurant. Pedal the 3-mile-long Piedmont Medical Center Trail beside the river to River Park and back.
Lunch at The Pump House overlooking the river.
Ride through Riverwalk to visit the Giordano Velodrome, BMX Supercross Track and, adjacent to the track, the 1.2-mile paved Criterion Course. Loop back to the parking lot via Riverwalk Parkway for about 10 miles overall.
3. Swamp Rabbit Trail
A 20-mile-long rails-to-trail with a quirky name, the Swamp Rabbit Trail links Travelers Rest, S.C., with Greenville, S.C.
Park at Gateway Park in Travelers Rest; other public parking areas are located along the trail at Furman University and nearer to Greenville.
At 7.2 miles from Travelers Rest, the Swamp Rabbit Cafe and Grocery offers sandwiches and pizza. Then it's two miles to downtown Greenville.
Downtown, the trail's “wow” factor comes into view at Falls Park on the Reedy. Here, the Reedy River rushes past condos, restaurants, over waterfalls and under the 345-foot-long pedestrian Liberty Bridge.
4. Three Rivers Greenway
Named for the Broad, Saluda and Congaree rivers in Columbia, S.C., the greenway consists of three segments.
Start at Riverfront Park in Columbia, which runs along the historic Columbia Canal and ends at the diversion dam on the Broad. Park in the lot at 312 Laurel Street, then bike the 2.5 miles to the dam.
Next, drive to Gervais Street and cross the Congaree into West Columbia. The city's Riverwalk Park, with public parking, is on the left on Alexander Road.
Lunch at nearby Cafe Strudel at 300 State Street.
The Riverwalk and adjoining Cayce Riverwalk border the Congaree. Because of ongoing repair work, cyclists can ride only a mile to the railroad bridge. To pick up six more miles of trail, drive to Brookcliff Drive at Kelly Jones Park.
5. American Tobacco Trail
North Carolina's longest rails-to-trail, the American Tobacco Trail extends 22 miles from southern Wake County, near Raleigh, to downtown Durham.
Start at the public parking area off Fayetteville Road, just north of Interstate 40, in southern Durham. Ride south a mile to the bicycle-pedestrian bridge that spans I-40. It's worth a selfie. Then head north for a seven-mile ride to downtown Durham.
The trail passes through residential neighborhoods before ending at the American Tobacco Campus. Wheel into the former cigarette manufacturing complex, with offices and restaurants, capped by the Lucky Strike Water Tower.
Lunch at Tyler's Restaurant & Taproom.