The Trip to Maine
Sitting at the ‘puter on a nice summer day seems weird, but after Saturday’s club ride trying to hang onto the wheels of Gary and Wayne, I’m still aching and exhausted, but VERY satisfied with the stats: 55 miles in 3 hours and ten minutes. Average moving speed of 17.8 … definitely waaaay better than my average!
So now’s a good time to take a day off the bike and report on the latest big adventure: The New England Parkinson’s Ride.
Earlier this year, I had learned that friends in the bike club had traveled to Old Orchard Beach Maine last year to join the New England Parkinson’s Ride and were going again this year. My diagnosis of RBD (yeah, like Mike Birbiglia, only not as funny) quickly motivated me (and Karen) to sign up, raise bucks, and head east too!
Part One: The Trip Out
Retirement is great. No rush to go anywhere, no rush to get back. We took two days to drive out to the coast; we avoided too much freeway driving by heading up through Vermont and New Hampshire. We stopped for the night near Hillsborough NH at Oxbow Campground.
Camping in established campgrounds AFTER-SEASON improves dramatically in some places, with far fewer screaming kids, fighting drunk adults, and noisy RV generators. Oxbow was exceptionally peaceful … once the neighbors’ dog got pulled into his tent to stop his barking. We had a good night’s sleep.
In the morning, I had a serious craving for a Real Breakfast and told Karen I’d like to find a basic breakfast diner. Sure enough, within minutes of leaving OxbowCG, we came across a Real Diner, that served Real Breakfast!
I was happy! And that breakfast held me till we got to the coast!
We checked out town, had a snack at the end of the pier, and Karen got in some water time … her first ever swim in the Atlantic!
That evening, there was a rider’s dinner at the start point and we got lobster rolls, of course.
When in Maine …
Part Two: The Ride
I got up early to get to the Century ride start (7:30am) but first joined plenty of fellow riders out by the beachfront for good reason.
At the century ride start, it appeared that 90% of the bikes at the start were carbon. So, it’s not surprising that my artistically lugged and brazed steel framed Rivendell drew plenty of compliments … and comments.
I can imagine a few guys in the crowd thinking “He can’t really mean to do a century, on THAT!” Well, yes, but not a FAST century by this group’s standards. Certainly not Gary’s and Larry’s speed. I confess, I left the carbon bike at home specifically so I wouldn’t be tempted to hang onto Gary’s wheel again, and pay the price later. And Sammy can handle the next component of our vacation plans much better anyway. My decision was validated when I arrived at a rest stop where I overheard staff talking about “those guys from Rochester NY who hammered out a five hour century last year, and maybe stopped … once?”
Yeah. Larry and Gary.
No. I ain’t gonna even consider that. I gotta walk later, ya know.
At the start line up, I moved back into the second half of the crowd (117, did I hear?) and I’m sure Larry and Gary were up front. Off we go on a gorgeous day. Roads were great …
… and rest stops were well stocked, including pickle juice! But the hospitality was over the top! Staff were asking people what they like, so as to better serve riders next year, and I confessed my addiction to peanut M&M’s. Finding none, the young lady apologized profusely, but while I was scouring the selections, she went hunting, ran up to me and granted my wish!
I think I know where I can stock up on protein next year! On toward the finish, the route swings through Kennebunkport and visits the coast line for a couple stretches. I stop briefly at a food vendor’s cart to grab a cold coke and check out the surf.
As I pull into the last rest stop, I see Karen who’s getting ready to take off. Karen did the Metric Century, and the two routes rejoin so that the rest stop serves both groups. We rode to the finish together …
… and enjoyed more hospitality in the form of free food trucks, free beer and wine.
And a free concert by a group that plays “my age” (not new-age) music! I was feeling particularly happy between the terrific music and knowing I finished the century in under 7.5 hours! Perhaps a personal record. Don’t know what got into me, but I had to go dance.
We followed up this great time by joining the rest of our “Pedalers for Parkinson’s” team at a condo for more food and drink and good time.
Part Three: Acadia National Park
Again, no rushing in the morning, but we have our sights set on a short stop in Freeport Maine on our way north to Acadia National Park. We’ve been there before, and it seems like it’s expanded, but still, it’s an adventure all it’s own to visit the L.L.Bean HQ.
We found a local place to grab some breakfast before heading out and made our way to the island. Without a “plan” for lodging, we were wingin’ it again when we ran across a KOA right on the island. I’m no fan of grossly overpriced KOA’s but Karen’s mention of “showers” sealed it quickly. I’ll give KOA’s the credit for having clean and functional facilities.
Our assigned site was in a non-RV section … close to a marsh. Yeah, mosquitos. Crying baby on the opposite side of the loop. No privacy with sites crammed together. At least people respected quiet hours.
Except the baby.
In the morning, warm and sunny, Job #1 is to ride Cadillac Mountain. Drivers inside the park were generally behaving, but they did get frequent reminders.
Turns out, the road to the top isn’t particularly steep so we got there much quicker than I expected.
Being a clear day, we had excellent views.
The ride back down off the mountain was as unimpressive as the climb. Not super fast, but a nice winding road with few obstacles. We went back down to the visitor center and got maps of the Carriage Roads that everyone talks about. Sure enough, these roads are a pure joy to ride.
There are roughly 45 miles of carriage roads open to bikes in the park. We did the northern half after riding up Cadillac, and saved the southern half for the next day. The second day started out cool and foggy and got progressively more damp in the afternoon. We decided to do a loop around the island and visited an old, still operating lighthouse.
Dinner was at a bar-b-que place we discovered on the way back to camp. Our dinners for the two previous nights were in Bar Harbor, a short drive from camp. Crazy place. Cruise ships dump their guests here to wander the streets full of craft and souvenir shops, and restaurants and breweries. $$$$$
Part Four: Return Home
Once again, no hurry to get home, so we headed out across New Hampshire. We were wingin’ it, yet again, and considered visiting Mount Washington, since it’s practically on the way. We were concerned about the wind as we drove that direction. And knowing that weather is much different on top than down in Gorham, we stopped at the town park to have a picnic and visit the info-booth. We thought about the cog-railway to the summit. We could simply drive up too. But when I looked up the weather station on top, it was reporting 83+ winds. Add the wind chill to current 40 degree temps and we agree we aren’t prepared for the arctic.
So we head on. And since we’re “almost there” anyway, let’s go do the Kanc! Yeah … The Kancamagus Highway. OK, it ain’t Deal’s Gap, but I HAVE done it on the motorcycle and enjoyed it immensely. Some day, I’ll do it on a bicycle. Kinda like a rite of passage, even though I’ve had plenty of those.
Entering Vermont, we wrap up the day in a frantic search for a room, since we’re not in the mood to deal with a wet tent. We scored a room at the Inn of Montpelier in the capital of Vermont and found dinner at a place just down the street. All good.
In the morning, we return to New York across the Lake Champlain Bridge at Crown Point …
… and stop briefly to check out the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse.
The final stretch to home ran us through the familiar Adirondacks and Tug Hill Plateau.
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