Archive for the ‘Maine’ Category

Bikes, bikes everywhere

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

95 km, 5.75 hrs

We finally managed to get ourselves organized enough to get off to a reasonably early start. Not having Internet in the room certainly helped with the process! It also helped that our bikes fit into the room while still loaded, so it took us much less time to organize and pack up our bikes.

We started the day following along highway 1, but Scott soon realized that Highway 1A would bring us back to the waterfront and would not have nearly as much traffic. We diverted to the 1A and stopped for a short coffee break (Becky really wanted a real coffee!). During our coffee break we met a couple of cyclists that were part of a 2000+ people cycle tour. Throughout the day, we were to see more cyclists than we’ve seen on our entire journey so far! We got lots of comments about how heavily we were loaded from folks on their <20lb racing bikes. Someone asked if we were carrying the kitchen sink, and Becky wished she could just pull it out, but unfortunately we left it at home.

Not long after we got back on our bikes and continued along the coast, we were passed by several different recumbent cyclists. It was interesting to see the number of different recumbents on the road. At one point, a couple of them slowed down to talk to us (Becky thought, what a sight, 4 recumbents in a row!). The ‘bent riders mentioned a “recumbent gathering” that was further along down the road, and it turned out to be right along our planned route! It was almost like they planned this just for us, so we had to stop in.

Lynette Chiang of Bike Friday did a great job of reporting on the gathering, so we won’t repeat her comments here, but it was certainly fun for us to meet so many other ‘bent-heads. We also got to try some very fast Bacchettas and Becky tried a Cattrike tadpole trike. “Just like driving a go-cart!” Certainly made us feel every ounce of our loaded HP-Velo Streetmachines! Becky won a T-shirt and Scott won a Route 66 DVD, produced by Lynette. Becky wore her T-shirt with pride, but the DVD will have to wait until we get home – no DVD player on our laptop.

At the gathering, someone mentioned to us that there were plenty of motels in Newburyport, Massachusetts. We passed several in Salisbury, but decided to keep going for another 10km and get to Newburyport. Tomorrow was due to be a long day, so getting more riding in today would certainly make tomorrow more bearable. Unfortunately, the information was not accurate. When we reached Newburyport, it only had a few high end B&Bs. When we inquired within one of them, we found out that everything in town was booked (it was a Saturday night after all!). With the help of a receptionist at one of the B&Bs we booked a room at the Marriott Fairfield in Amesbury. By now it was dark, so we dug out our lights, and followed her somewhat vague directions. This was only the second time on our trip that we have ridden at night. Fortunately we guessed right at the key decision points, and rode the 7 km north without further incident.

As a bonus, there were fresh-baked peanut-butter cookies in the lobby. This made Scott very happy! As a further bonus, our room was handicapped accessible, which meant there was lots of room for bike parking. We were even able to bring them into the room fully loaded! (Perhaps this doesn’t seem like a big deal to most of you, but it’s the difference between moving a bicycle, and moving a bicycle plus 6 bags – it brought a smile to our faces at the end of a long day).

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Culture Shock

Friday, September 19th, 2008

71 km, 4.75 hours

Our morning began with a wonderful breakfast at the Marrion Mansion B&B. Shortly after breakfast, Becky headed into downtown Portland to visit the visitor information centre and pick up some maps. Unfortunately, her visit was not nearly as successful as we had hoped. We had been taking for granted the visitor information services in the Canadian Maritimes, which are significantly more useful that those in Maine. The person was able to provide a free road map, but did not have any information on accommodations or bicycle trails. When Becky asked if they happened to have any tourist information (maps) of New Hampshire the comment received was “We are in Maine!”

Since Portland, Maine was not on the Adventure Cycling route, we needed to choose an alternate route. On the CAT Ferry we were told about the East Coast Greenway (http://greenway.org), intended to become an urban equivalent to the Appalachian Trail. Scott downloaded the GPS tracks for the Eastern Coast Greenway and the Adventure Cycling route. Between the two of them and the very rudimentary maps provided on the GPS, we hoped that it would be good enough to get us to our destination (Boston).

We found the Greenway without too much trouble. The first part of the path was The Eastern Trail, a paved bike path, which was nice and provided us with views of the Portland River, through a landfill-turned green space, and into the fields of a really nice recreation center. The trail then turned to crushed stone, and led through some nice wooded areas.

Since we wanted to see the Maine coast, we decided to get off the trail and head towards the coastal road at Pine Point. Once we reached the coast, we experienced culture shock. The main street ran for about 7 km, and contained only motels on both sides of the street. The motels were not spectacular, rather budget vacation hotels. We were dumbfounded by the sheer number of them. With so many motels, we could finally understand why the tourist office did not have an accommodation listing – it would be too long!

The ride through this “vacation” area was especially odd because there were very few people around. Many of the restaurants were closed. It was a beautiful (if not chilly 14 degree) sunny afternoon. We speculated that it was deserted because it was a Friday and the kids were all still in school. Come the weekend the place would likely be a zoo.

Every 5 or 6 hotels there would be a short street that provided beach access. From what we could see from our bikes, it looked like there was a nice long sand beach behind the motels. However, we did not get off our bikes to take a closer look, so we aren’t certain what the beach there is like, and whether it is all accessible, or split up into individual “beaches” for each resort and condo complex.

We pressed on until 5 pm, and started to look for accommodation. Fortunately, we were back on the Adventure Cycling route, so had some idea of the towns and facilities coming up. This reduced some of our stress, although we were beginning to get concerned as it got closer to sunset about how much further we could press on. Finally, we stopped at Wells, Maine for the night. We found an nice inexpensive motel that conveniently had a kitchenette in the room. It also had a hot tub two doors down and a laundry across the parking lot. Becky cooked a delicious dinner in the kitchenette, and we enjoyed a nice soak in the hot tub before crashing for the night. A bit pricy ($70 US), but the hot tub made it all worthwhile!

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