TBE staff member Greg is currently cycling his way from Fort Kent, ME back here to Frederick! Check back here for his entries of his adventure! Thoughts, views and comments here do not necessarily reflect the thoughts and views of TBE, God only knows what Greg will say- buckle up!
Here we go again: Route 1 ends in Key West, well it turns out it starts on the far northern border of Maine/Canada, approximately 975 miles (by car) from Cascade.
Good friends John and Cindy drove me up to Ft. Kent Maine and have dropped me off to ride my bicycle, Eleanor, back home, solo, unsupported just like last year.
We have had a wonderful trip so far, eating lobsters, looking for moose and partying like only high school friends can do.
It gets real today. They left me earlier to drive down the coast to be home by Wednesday. I rode my bicycle into Canada to attend Church (mass in French), now I begin heading South.
I have done virtually no planning for this trip since last year my plans went out the window by day 3. I estimate it will be somewhere between 900 and1,300 miles to get home, but remember navigation is not my strong suit. I need to be home by September 23rd, so let’s head out and see how far I can get!
52 miles, Fort Kent Maine to just South of Van Buren
Weather: 72 degrees, sunny, no humidity. Could be the most pleasant riding day ever.
Fort Kent is a small town right on the Canadian border whose claim to fame is the fact that Rt. 1 starts there and ends in Key West.
There is a bridge across the St. John’s river with a Customs checkpoint on each side. On Saturday Cindy, John and I walked across and did some sightseeing in Canada. They had passports, I had my drivers license, silver tongue, and “The Badge”. Guards on both sides of the border were totally cool and let us pass with minimum hassle.
Sunday morning was a bit different. Got into Canada with no hassle riding my bicycle and attended Church. Coming back into the USA without a passport got a bit ugly.
On-duty border dude was a little surly and decided to flex his authority by telling me that I needed to prove I was an American citizen. I am thinking, “I was only in Canada for 1 hour and he probably saw me ride my bicycle over the damn bridge earlier”. He was unimpressed when I explained that the day before everyone was totally cool with me not having a passport. It should noted that I no longer had “The Badge” with me because it is too heavy to carry all the way back to MD.
He went on to inform me that I could be detained for as long as it took to verify my citizenship. As someone who was in a position of authority for a long time, it felt strange to be so helpless if he decided to push this further.
Luckily I was able wear him down with Verbal Judo, and the fact I was carrying my American Legion card and retired FPD I.D. Even though I am traveling right along the border for about 200 miles, that is going to my last foray into Canada. Too bad really, they are super friendly over there, even though I can’t understand a word they say.
The rest of this day was pleasant riding along the river with a decent shoulder and stunning scenery. Didn’t talk to many humans because there are not many humans up here.
Stealth camping is not a problem at all and I settled in behind an abandoned farmhouse, in a gorgeous field at the edge of a pine forest.
40 miles, south of Van Buren to south of Presque Isle ME. Weather wonderful, 42 degrees in the morning. A bit cooler than last year.
Woke up this day after stealth camping behind an old abandoned farmhouse. It is real cold in the morning, but then instantly warms up when the sun comes out. Hard to describe how beautiful this landscape is with rolling hills, potato farms and pine forests. Turns out there is also a large Amish community in this area.
Only made 40 miles today, mostly due to dragging my 100lb bike up lots of hills and not being in top touring shape yet. I have already ridden more hills so far than my entire trip last year.
There is no phone service between towns and internet only comes from free wifi I have been bumming from grocery stores. At least I won’t get hit by someone texting and driving!
Stopped in Caribou ME and visited the local cops to find out where to eat and to use the facilities. I was definitely a #2 male in Caribou. Most of the cops were older guys and I strongly encouraged retirement for them.
They said heroin is getting big up here. If it’s big up here it is definitely everywhere, cause I am in the middle of nowhere.
Near the end of the day I arrived in Presque Isle ME and stopped at a bike shop to inquire about obtaining a cold beverage. Mike and Andrew run the shop and advised they had a fridge stocked with local brews.
We spent an hour or so talking about bikes, family and the local area. Turns out bike culture is highly intertwined with beer culture, at least it is in Frederick and Presque Isle.
Mike is an engineer who was seriously injured in a skiing accident 10 years ago. He has an amazing perspective about life and keeps moving forward, definite inspiration! Andrew is a bodybuilder who I think looks like Conor McGregor without the beard. Along with Mike’s dad they run the bike shop, which converts to a ski shop in the winter. It looks like a great life up here in the great North woods.
Before I left they gave me the name of a guy in NYC who may hook me up with some bagels.
When I left town the plan was to sleep in the woods, but instead I came upon an old roadside campground with hot shower, wifi and a toilet for 15 bucks. I am going low budget this trip, but that was impossible to pass up.
I need to increase my mileage each day and hope to get to the Maine coast by Friday. From there it’s lobster for breakfast lunch and dinner all the way to Portland!
50 miles, south of Presque Isle ME, to south of Houlton. Weather perfect.
Money spent: $17.60 ($10 was on a midday SamAdams break)
The magic has begun!
Traveling alone on a bicycle leaves me very open to meeting new people and having unique experiences. I am very nonthreatening with my giant bike, yellow helmet and bright yellow shirt. The magic started day 2 at the bike shop with free beer, but definitely went up a notch this day.
As I was climbing a big hill out of Mars Hill a van stopped up at the top and Frank got out and flagged me down. He asked if I needed anything and invited me to “supper” with his family. I had just eaten but took him up on the offer of homemade sweet tea. It was 3 miles to the house, but he gave me good directions.
Frank and Suzie are Mennonites and have 4 boys, age 7-15. The 7 year-old was out on a welding job with the 15 year-old, but the other 2 sat with us for about 2 hours of one of the most profound conversations I have ever had.
They are a deeply spiritual family and Frank has an amazing ability to explain his faith, without judgement of others and their lifestyles. I have lived among Mennonites for 23 years, but this is the first time I have ever felt comfortable enough to ask questions and open my mind.
I asked Frank why he stopped to talk to me and he said he didn’t know, that this is the first time he has ever done such a thing. I could tell Suzie and the boys don’t have a lot of old, bald Catholics over for supper often.
Frank’s explanation of things such as why they don’t play musical instruments was a great metaphor of how the world might be a lot better off without so much pride and focus on self.
We spoke on many other subjects during my visit and he showed me around his homestead and welding business. As I rode away I felt in my heart I had new friends who would do anything for me, and I would definitely return the kindness.
I seem to have many religious experiences during my travels, and have gained so much respect for the devout people of many different beliefs I meet. My take-away is that no matter what, if we just try to live the common beliefs of pretty much all religions, life would be much simpler.
It should be noted that Frank and Suzie had a window air conditioner humming away in the modest living room. We don’t allow the devil’s cold air in our house, but I did ask Rhona to have all the cars painted black before I get back.
Got chased by 2 dogs today for about 1/4 mile. I get chased by a lot of dogs, but there was no doubt these 2 were not gonna play, no barking, just foaming at the mouth. I had a head start and was able to wear them out (and me too)!
My ingenious solution is to tape a dog biscuit on my bike for easy access. Pepper spray is in case that don’t work.
Final note, I bought a can of soup at a little grocery store and the owner heated it up and threw in a buttered roll… magic!
60 miles!! South of Houlton ME to Indian township.
Weather cloudy and nice and cool.
Money spent: $27.60, included a huge breakfast/lunch at the only restaurant I passed all day, can of soup and dog biscuit at end of the day.
Lady at another rest stop gave me 2 chocolate milks for free!
Stealth camped in an old gravel pit and woke to temps in the mid 40’s. Started pedaling at 0730, figuring I would put some miles on before breakfast. Turns out it was 25 miles to the first place where I could eat. I sat for 1 1/2 hours eating.
Today was the hardest day I have ever had while touring. Up and down huge hills all day. My body is starting to step up though. The landscape is absolutely amazing, so going 3mph for hours at a time is enjoyable once you get your head in the game.
I talked to maybe 4 humans all day, it is super desolate up here in the Great North Woods. Highlight of the day was stopping at a little country store with free wifi and chocolate milk.
Going a little stir crazy with no music to listen to on my phone. I keep singing the same 4 verses from 2 Bob Dylan songs… out loud.
If all goes well I get to the ocean and back to civilization on day 5.
53 miles, Indian Township to Reversing Falls ME. Weather perfect, a bit windy in the afternoon.
Money spent: $21.19, tortellini salad, donuts, slice of pizza and bottle of wine from a gas station for my evening hosts.
Slept like a rock in one of the most perfect stealth campsites ever, in a pine forest where the ground was so so soft with moss your feet would sink several inches if you stood still too long. No matress can ever be this soft. Plus it’s toasty cold at night. Huge change from last year’s misery.
Got started early and pedaled all day along rolling hills, but definitely starting to flatten out as I am reaching the coast.
My goal was a place known as reversing falls, located near the small town of Penbroke.
In the bicycling world there is a group called Warmshowers, where members sign up if they are willing to host bicycle travelers, providing a warm shower, extra bed, laundry, etc. In turn, members can contact other hosts and stay the night. The App is very well organized and potential hosts will show up on a map along my route. I have known about it for a while but never used it because I hadn’t reached that level of hippie yet….. until last night!
When I arrived in this little town Darell picked me up and drove me to his homestead several miles back in the woods where I enjoyed an amazing evening with his wife June and several other visitors. They live completely off the grid with solar power, large batteries and a diesel generator.
Most incredible, the house sits on an ocean bay that experiences a 20 foot tide several times a day. The huge bay basically empties out, exposing islands, rocks, clams and mussels, then fills back up when the tide comes back in. A narrow inlet where the water rushes through gives the name “reversing falls”. I have never seen anything like it.
June cooked a huge dinner of chicken and vegetables, virtually all home grown. They had 3 other visitors, all young people who come for several weeks to help with work on the farmstead. We drank wine, ate pie and listened to Josh play Bob Dylan on a guitar. Very interesting how 6 people from such diverse backgrounds can end up on a bay in Maine, sharing food and all the blessings that make us human.
There is no doubt, I am now full hippie! They know something the rest of us don’t.
Darrel is a retired professor from Florida and June is a retired school psychologist. They have an amazing life working hard getting food and wood ready for winter, then hunkering down with a huge collection of books.
If other Warmshower hosts are even half this gracious the rest of my trip is going to be memorable.
It was 250 miles to get from way up North to the coast. Day 6 brings the beginning of lobsterfest!!
34 miles, reversing falls ME to south of Machias. Weather windy and cold, light rain.
Money spent: $27.51, slice of pizza, chocolate milk, fish sandwich and beer. Woke up on the beautiful bay at high tide. Spent the morning chatting with Darrel and June about their unique lifestyle on the farmstead. Enjoyed a huge breakfast of blueberry pancakes and fresh eggs from their chickens.
Two of the young people staying at the house, George and Sarah, live in a 1978 Chevy van converted to a cool camper. It is all original, complete with old school shag carpeting on the trim.
After breakfast spent a couple hours at the farmstead, learning how the food is grown organically and all the cool systems they have for being self sufficient.
Didn’t start riding until almost noon and struggled to get 35 miles in a cold wind swirling around as I rode up and down hills.
Ended up stealth camping in an old sand pit outside of the town of Machias. It was like sleeping on the beach and I slept like a rock for 12 hours. Not much else to report.
25 miles, South of Machias to Millbridge ME. Weather splendid!
Money spent: $41.16 for breakfast sandwich and cookie, lobster dinner and beer. 2nd lobster dinner $0!
Magic day, supposed to get to Bar Harbor til the bicycle Gods put Fritz in my path.
Woke up in my beautiful stealth camping sand pit after 12 hours of much needed sleep. Starting riding by 8:30am and stopped at a random golf course in the middle of nowhere for a cup of coffee. Nancy the waitress was so nice I also had a fresh egg sandwich and one of her amazing oatmeal cookies.
As I sat, a rather boisterous guy came in to golf and we started chatting. His name is Fritz and he said he has a business partner in Big Pine Key FL who lives on a mountain outside of Thurmont, MD. “Funny I said, I live on a mountain outside of Thurmont, MD myself.”
Do any of my hillbilly buddies know a concrete guy named Tom Valek?
Anyway, we chatted a bit about the coincidence and I moved on. I wanted to get 65 miles this day to stay with a friend of a friend in Trenton, outside of Bar Harbor. Riding was beautiful all morning and hippie Josh from the farmstead spotted me on the road and stopped for a chat. He was enroute home to NY. We found wild apples on the side of the road and picked some to eat.
I ended up in Millbridge later and stopped at a restaurant to eat a giant lobster dinner. Here I met my new friend Roger who was sitting at the bar marveling at how much and how loudly I can eat (happens pretty much everywhere I stop to eat).
Roger is no replacement for my BFF Roger Rinker, but he has been married for 56 years and has a great life story. He gave me some advice and tips I’m gonna try out on Rhona when I get home.
So i leave the restaurant and get on my bike when a van pulls up right next to me and stops abruptly. I am thinking, oh geez, I’m being kidnapped!
Turns out it was Fritz, returning from his round of golf with a bottle of triple sec on the front seat to make margaritas for a party he was having. He laughed at me and said there was no way I could make it the 40 miles to Trenton and that it would be smarter to come back to his house to help him eat the lobsters he caught that morning, meet his wife and hang with his friends that were coming for dinner.
I don’t like to get in confrontations with the locals, so we loaded the bike in the van and drove back into the woods to an amazing surprise.
Fritz is a custom home builder for rich people in Maine half the year, and then goes to Big Pine Key and builds custom homes for rich people in the winter. Charlene designed their house and does custom tile work for rich people also. Needless to say, the house and gardens were unbelievable. Plus they live on a tidal channel that leads one mile out to the ocean, where my 2nd lobster dinner came from.
Happy hour began right after my much needed shower, then Steven and Pam showed up for dinner. They are here from their farm in Vermont with 7 well trained border collies to compete in a sheep herding competition at a local fair.
Steven recently had a major health crisis and is very thankful to be alive. We spent the night stuffing ourselves with fresh lobster and food from Charlene’s incredible gardens. Oh yeah… the Key West style margaritas never ran out. Fritz is incredibly gracious and really went out of his way to share his blessings.
By 9pm everyone passed out from gluttony!
A night like this is why traveling on a bicycle is so incredible. My situation changes from lonely struggle one minute to sitting in the lap of luxury with new friends the next.
Day 8 will get me the 40 miles to Bar Harbor for the next adventure!
43 miles, Millbridge to Trenton ME. Weather brisk and windy, serious rain in the afternoon.
Money spent: $81.30, included dinner out in BarHarbor with my host/new friend
The party at Fritz and Charlene’s house started at 0700 with spiked coffee, bacon and homemade blueberry pancakes. We had a great morning chatting about life. Steven was very sick recently and has an appreciation for things the rest of us could learn from.
They all left to go to the fair with the sheep herding dogs, and I rode 43 miles to the town of Trenton, just outside BarHarbor. My dear friend from Dulaney hooked me up with her friend, Lass, who agreed to take in a strange biker guy.
Luckily I had a place to stay, cause in the afternoon it got very cold and rained cats and dogs. Lass took me into BarHarbor in a car and we had a wonderful meal. She is a kind soul and has some great stories from a wild past!
I have been worried BarHarbor would be too much of a tourist trap for my liking, but it is as beautiful as everyone says.
24 miles, Trenton ME to Acadia. Weather perfect.
Money spent: $60 for lunch and bloodies at an amazing dockside restaurant, $30 for National park camping, 2 amazing cookie for free.
Left Lass after a protein packed breakfast smoothie and headed South for the short riding day through Acadia national park. Since I visited Bar Harbor the night before, I traveled down the other side of the island to Southport. The landscape the entire ride was stunning. Pictures cannot do it justice.
During my ride I met a guy named Tim, also riding a loaded touring bike. He was just arriving from Iowa after several months on the road. 62 years old, and he looked 40. Pretty amazing shape. Bar Harbor is a very popular starting and ending point for many long distance cyclists. At least those not cool enough to tough out the extra 350 miles to the top of the state.
Hungry upon arrival I parked my butt on a deck overlooking the harbor and ate and drank bloody marys for a couple hours. The other patrons were very nice and we had a hoot.
From here I ended up at “The Seawall” campground, right next to the ocean, but in the woods. Took a long walk along the ocean and relaxed, taking in the beauty. After a delicious dinner of Oddles of Noodles and tuna I hung out with my camping neighbors then slept like a rock listening to the sea.
43 miles, Bar Harbor to Belfast ME. Weather dreary and humid.
Money spent: $64.00, included expensive breakfast, cheeseburger, take-out Chinese and camping
I have to discuss the role that Wendy Wolf Cairns has played in this part of my journey. We went to Dulaney high school together, where she was always the life of any party. Apparently, after high school she worked up in the Bar Harbor and left such an impression people still remember and talk about her 30 years later.
Wendy is the one who hooked me up with Lass to spend the night at her house. This day after breakfast I met Glenn, who owns a liquor store and regaled me with more tales of 80’s Wendy. Most appropriately, he gave me a free parting gift that I am certain Wendy would approve of. Keep the love coming Wendy, you are a good egg!
After leaving Bar Harbor i was back on lonely Rt. 1 South, pushing along trying to beat some bad weather. I have been on this same road for 425 miles so far and will continue for a few more days until i finally leave Maine.
Interestingly, today I met more long distance bicycle tourers than any other trip I have been on. Bar Harbor is a favorite place for bicycle weirdos to start and finish long trips. First I met 2 German dudes who started in Boston and are en-route to Washington State. Language barrier prevented too much interaction.
Later in the day I met 30 year old Allison. She just led a group of 12 people, unsupported, on a cross country trip that started June 2nd in Oregon. The rest of her group was done riding for the day which is why I didn’t see them. She is the group leader employed by Adventure Cycling Association and rides behind everyone else to deal with contingencies. Total badass! This was not her first cross country trip.
Best part of my day, however, was meeting Doug, the owner of Bergfeld’s Bike Shop in Searsport. His bike shop is a museum of approximately 50 years in the business. He has many old bikes and lots of custom creations he has built. I spent over an hour talking to Doug and heard some great stories before his wife called and told him to get home for supper.
With bad weather coming in I was going to get a motel, but opted for the cheaper alternative of a campground with hot showers. Turns out it just rained a little bit, so my cheapness paid off!
32 miles, Belfast ME to Rockland. Weather miserable
Money spent: $85, included a bicycle repair and camping gear, but mostly beer and food waiting out the rain.
Left a gorgeous campground on the ocean, hoping to beat the rain threatening for the last 24 hours. Made 25 foggy miles to a town called Camden before getting drenched. Camden is a super wealthy classic Maine port town, loaded with tourists. I tucked into a brew pub for some expensive beer and tried to figure out options. Truth be told, i get a bit scared riding in the rain with a lot of traffic. At my age and advanced wisdom I decided to get a cheap motel and wait out the storm. That wasn’t going to happen in Camden, so I left to ride 8 miles to the next town.
Terrible decision! Within minutes the sky opened back up and I could barely see in front of me. Then God put an amazing outdoor store, Maine Sports, in my path. I pulled in the parking lot and was immediately greeted by their super cool staff. The first employee I met, manager Jeff, actually invited me to stay at his house with his family. No cheap motel for Greg tonight! I hung around the store for about an hour waiting for the rain to stop. Meanwhile the boys in the bicycle department gave Eleanor some love and fixed a little gear trouble for me. She is humming smooth again.
After the rain stopped (sort of), i made it 7 more miles to Rockland where Jeff and Melissa live. I had an hour or so to wait for Melissa to get home from work so I wandered into the Rockland brewpub for food and refreshment.
The pub was super fun and I hung out with some local rednecks who build cabins for rich people on the numerous small islands just off shore. They made me homesick for my Cascade redneck buddies!
Jeff and Melissa are very gracious hosts for taking in a total stranger. Turns out he is from Mechanicsburg PA, and our families share many similarities. We ate pizza and commiserated about the struggles of raising teenagers and living in old houses. It was a great night.
If the question is why does everyone keep treating me so nice, the answer may be that people are just nice. Let’s take care of each other out here on the road of life, don’t be scared, the old guy on the bike won’t hurt you! Weather is not promising the next day or so, but I gotta make some miles. Too much fun is sidetracking me.
Just about to cross 500 miles into this journey. 45 miles so far today, 20+ in the fog and rain. Had to let Jesus take the handlebars a couple times when old geezers driving motorhomes dang near got me. Even though it has dried out, i have been fighting 20-30mph headwinds from the storm all day. Had to pedal DOWNHILL several times. I would just as soon forget the uphills.
Sitting in Bath ME at a traditional Irish pub. A crock of soup, salad and Fat Tire ale (of course)…. I earned this! Stealthing it somewhere south of Bath tonight. Gotta pack in some calories.
48 miles, Rockland ME to Brunswick. Weather terrible in the morning, then perfect.
Money spent: $34.15, donuts, soup, salad and you know what! Oh yeah, plus a $10.00 Kielbasa with donation.
Today was the kind of day cycle touring is all about. Jeff and I had eggs and coffee for breakfast and I started my day in the rain, but at least it was foggy and real windy. I rode 20 miles in that, pretty shaken up the whole way about getting hit. Some of my bicycle joy is lost forever due to a recurring sense of dread that I am going to be hit again. The adversity kept me pushing hard and I planned a 70 mile day.
My neighbor Shauna Lawrence was married in NewCastle ME so i stopped in town to take a picture of the Church she sent me to. The town was beautiful so I rode around and explored. I couldn’t decide between a hot dog from a street vendor, or a bloody mary at a dockside pub….
So I did both. It was fate because the bartender at the pub said the hot dogs were pretty good. Jim the hot dog man was one of my favorite characters so far. He is retired from the insurance business and just loves meeting the folks who buy hot dogs from him in a little Maine fishing villiage. The Kielbasa I had comes special from Vermont and the toppings were all fresh ingredients. Plus he introduced me to my new favorite drink “MOXIE”. He donates 10% of everything to a local food bank. I think his generosity comes back to him many times over. We spoke for about 45 minutes about life, marriage and happiness. Jim knows the secrets, that’s for sure.
Later in the day I reached Bath ME which is a cool small city with a gynormous shipbuilding facility. The onion soup and salad I ate in an old school Irish pub was to die for. My plan was to get 20 more miles and sleep in the woods because the weather was perfect and I felt like $1,000,000 bucks (a couple Fat Tires does that to me).
Leaving Bath my beloved Rt. 1 turned into a highway and it was rush hour. The shoulder wasn’t bad and I no choice, move on Greg. Then Alicia stopped up ahead to tell me how foolish it was to ride on this highway. She blamed the city for not posting better signs. A couple minutes later we were loading my bike and gear, enroute back to her house for an amazing night. They live in a gorgeous home, 2 blocks from the ocean on 7 acres with chickens and a wood fired hot tub. Her and husband Henry are Warmshowers hosts and they had another guy already coming in for night. Kevin from Australia arrived at the house around 6. He rode here from Oregon in 67 days on his 100lb. Bicycle. This is his 2nd cross country bicycle trip and he is super personable, very great storyteller.
Alicia works at an organic farm and Henry works for a conservation/adventure organization. They have also cycled across the country. Son Henry Jr. and a 10th grader German exchange student made up the dinner crowd. Homemade enchilladas with all fresh ingredients and salsa were served along with local beer. The conversation was super fun and enlightening. Everyone had great tales of the kindness we witness on the road. Never going to get home by September 23rd at this pace, but cannot pass up the opportunities that keep popping up, literally right in front of me everyday.
Got it made tonight again. Sleeping at a bike shop in Kennebunkport ME. It should noted that my entire lodging budget so far is $72. Not bad for 13 days on the road. Bike shop Hippies are some of the best hippies around!
58 miles, Bath ME to Kennebunkport. Weather perfect.
Money spent: $39.00 included lobster BLT, fresh beets and pickles, wine for the tent.
Biking Kevin and I ate a delicious breakfast of quiche and homemade pastries that Alicia made for us. We rode together for a couple miles until going opposite directions. Took a coffee break at LL Bean headquarters/tourist trap. Everyone is super nice, I could live in a town like Freeport. Actually, I could live in many of the places I have been in Maine.
This was a great day! The hills are flattening out, i had phone service for music most of the day and I just grooved out. Stopped in Portland and ate a truly memorable lobster BLT at a roadside place in the city. Goal for day was Kennebunkport where I wanted to see the Bush compound. I arrived in town around 5 and stopped at the Kennebunkport Bicycle Company for advice about places to camp. Owner Brandon Gillard asked “what kind of camping”? I said, “I don’t care, I’ve been sleeping in the woods for 2 weeks”. He immediately offered to let me camp out back of the shop. I even had bathroom privileges til the shop closed. He probably regrets that. I was going to ride into town for a chance meeting with Barb and 41, but it started raining so I stayed in my tent with some wine. Dinner was dried fruit and an apple, but I was dry and happy. Slept like I was dead for 10 hours. It turns out that retired cop/bike shop worker is the perfect blend of backgrounds to be very safe and hooked up out on the road. Especially for bathrooms!!!
Goodbye to my beloved Maine. If there is a better state to ride the entire length of I sure would like to go there. My only complaint is that 585 miles since starting in Ft. Kent, there is no sign welcoming me to New Hampshire. They need to step up, but at least I met a nice person to welcome me!
42 miles, Kennebunkport to Rye NH. Weather amazing
Money spent: $38.60, included a $14 sandwich, $5 hot dog. Free bloody marys in Portsmouth kept the budget on track.
The only reason I didn’t ride further is because I had so much fun this day! Day started at the bike shop where I slept. There was a charity bike ride with over 1,200 cyclists and the shop was one of the rest stops. Every other bike was lighter than mine. I had an amazing Reuben sandwich in Kennebunkport, where I met a group of friends in town for a wedding, hence the morning mimosas. Kennebunkport is unreal pretty, super wealthy also. Got to see the Bush compound, but no sightings of Barb or 41. Brandon at the bike shop said they drove past the shop the night before and one family member takes spin classes there. I wish he would have woke me up for the sighting.
After riding about 25 miles I stopped at an incredible roadside lobster pound/ beer garden. This is where I got distracted. The manager Nole immediately took me under his wing when he heard about my journey and felt how heavy my bike is. I spent a couple hours there rehydrating, charging my phone and watching people play bocce. Talked to some fun folks who were there for a family reunion.
Next stop was Portsmouth New Hampshire, although I had to ask since there was no sign. Sat at an outdoor cafe and met 2 cool guys who picked up my tab for a bloody mary to celebrate my entry to NH. Moving on, it was getting late and I had no plans of a place to stay. I started down a beach road and came upon a small street festival with a band and some seriously strange hippies. My plan became to just sleep on the beach as soon as the sun set. Then I came upon a little park with folks watching the sunset and ocean. Had a nip of delicious sangria with some new friends, then slept on a picnic table under a pavilion. Several people were enjoying the sunset and after everyone left I put my sleeping bag on a table and went to sleep. Around midnight Tpr. Jeff woke me up to inform me that you are not allowed to sleep on the picnic tables, I sort of knew that. He was cool on many levels, first being that even though he woke me up, he didn’t shine his big cop flashlight in my eyes. We came to an agreement whereby I would guard the park for the rest of the night and he would let me go back to sleep. Even though he only has 4 years on the job Jeff knows “the code” and repects his elders, good egg!
Days 15 and 16
57 miles Sunday, 68 miles Monday. Great weather.
Money spent: $46.85 Sunday, included wine for my hostess. $50.00 Monday, included 40 bucks for a campsite. I didn’t eat much Monday. Combining these 2 days because I pretty much rode hard both days and didn’t stop much.
Highlights of Sunday were riding along the ocean in Hampton NH most of the morning and stopping for the 9/11 ceremony in Newburyport. I also came upon a lady painting sunflowers in a huge field. She was super nice to chat with, but I only got one picture before my phone died.
Near the end of the day I found myself in Salem MA at the witch museum. From here I got in contact with old high school friend Charlene Stallings- DeRoche. I didn’t have 11 more miles in me to get to her house so she sent her husband Bill to pick me up. We had a great meal with her family and 2 other guests. Even though we were never close in school, the fact we have known each other, and so many mutual friends, for the past 40 years really warmed my heart. She is the first person i have seen in 2 weeks that I know. When she pulled out our old yearbooks from high school the memories flowed with talk of people we had crushes on, bullies, burnouts, jocks, nerds, etc. Charlene wisely noted how little any of that matters now and I pondered how much we had in common now raising kids and building our futures.
She sent me off Monday morning with a big ass bacon and egg breakfast. From there I rode straight through downtown Boston in morning traffic. It was surprisingly easy with very bike friendly traffic patterns. There were many hundreds of people commuting on bicycles and I spoke to a dude who works shuttling bikes around for a bike sharing company. Fascinating business. The rest of the day i just pushed hard so i can get to Martha’s Vineyard today. Stayed at a KOA campground for $40. The hot shower was worth $38!
Personal Protection: Stopping for a break this morning because exactly one year ago today, at 10:11am, in Wallace NC, i was hit by a car riding my bicycle to Key West.
Bicycling is one of the great joys of my life, but everything is now separated into before and after I was hit. As much as I am enjoying this journey, I have a constant fear and feel in my heart there is no way it could happen again where I wouldn’t be killed. In June I had surgery to repair a nerve in my arm and relieve a constant numbness in my hand since that day. So far, no improvement and I am not too optimistic it will change. On the other hand, it is what it is, so many others have so many bigger problems. I am thankful for all my blessings, especially the ability and support from my family to be out here again, wandering down the East Coast. Lessons learned, I have taken significant measures to increase my personal safety and comfort.
First: I always wear a helmet. Not just any helmet, but the biggest, brightest yellow helmet they sell, with the biggest, brightest blinky light attached to the helmet. I also have a second light on the back, and one on the front. I also wear the same beloved Carhart hi-vis shirt from last year.
Second: DaBrim! This is a full sombrero style visor that goes around the helmet to protect my bald head and face. It looks ridiculous and I can hear people laughing at me, but so far it is saving my skin, literally.
Third: To protect from dog and/or human attacks i have installed pepper spray and a dog biscuit in tactical electrical tape holders for easy acess in time of need.
There is also a super important piece of the personal protection puzzle shown in the photos, but that a gentleman doesn’t speak of in mixed company. So far so good downtown, as good as it can be sitting on a hard piece of leather, all day everyday. Still no gun though! Imagine how my encounter with Tpr. Jeff may have ended if I came out of my slumber with a pistol?
48 miles, Middleboro MA to Martha’s Vineyard.
Money spent:$12.00 for breakfast burrito and coffee. Extremely kind hook-up the rest of the day.
Woke up at the KOA campground and got ready for an early start, then discovered my front tire was flat. Just had a rear flat 3 miles earlier. I carry 2 extra tubes, plus an extra tire, so this was not an emergency, just a pain in the butt.
Got everything fixed up then spent some time talking to new friends Jim and Gay. They are 60 year-old Canadians who have sold everything and are spending at least the next 2 years living on bicycles, touring North America.
They are blessed with stable grown children and are definitely living the dream. They have been out on the road since June and have crossed Canada so far, heading for Florida now. Super nice folks, plus they look amazing! We talked for about 45 minutes about all the kindness we witness on the road, and how much we eat.
I had to get moving bcause my goal was 40+ miles to catch a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. See previous post about minor leg problem, but my goal is to take a rest day and go visit the bridge where Teddy killed Mary-Jo back in ’69.
I thought the last ferry departed at 3pm, so I rode pretty much non-stop to get there.
I was wrong about the times, this is a pretty big place with lots of ferrys. Anyway, as I arrived i was contacted by my new BFF, Barbara Strong, who happens to be up here with a big group of ladies on a woman’s bicycle trip. Rhona was her nanny 30 years ago, and although we had not met she did an unbelievable kindness for me.
By the time my ferry reached the vineyard she had already booked me 2 nights in a swanky place, AND left me a significant bar tab with Dennis at Fishbones! I rushed the 4 miles over to her ferry dock and was able to thank her in person before her ferry left.
I sat for a couple hours nursing my tendons and talking to new friends, AFTER gourging myself on raw clams, oysters, shrimp and chowder. Rehydrated and stuffed, I slept in a bed for the first time in at least a week.
Rest day at Martha’s Vineyard. Still rode 26 miles sightseeing.
When I arrived in MV, Barbara Strong had made all the arrangements for my joy and comfort for the next 2 nights. I stayed at a quaint Inn right in downtown, and she arranged a tab at a great dockside bar/restaurant.
My day on MV was pretty relaxing. Did not take too many pictures because the scenery is so amazing I just stayed in the moment as much as possible.
The big goal was to go see Chappaquidick, the bridge where Teddy Kennedy’s dreams of being POTUS died along with his female “campaign worker”. The original bridge has been replaced, but it is in a pretty remote part of the island and i got a good feel for what may have transpired. To give young Ted the benefit of the doubt i jumped off the bridge into the water. It is mostly shallow, but there is deeper portion, over my head, with a strong current. I’ll bet he always secretly wished it was strong enough to wash away an Oldsmobile!
It was on the bridge at Chappaquidick I was made an offer I couldn’t refuse by my new friends, Doug, Diane, Steve and Florence. My next goal is to get some sort of ferry to Long Island so I can ride through NYC.
Turns out these folks have traveled from Long Island on 2 large yachts and they have agreed to take Eleanor and I with them back home. The only problem is we have to go to Rhode Island for 2 days to attend a humongous boat show. Perfect break for me and my knee!
Only other cool thing that happened is I came very close to losing my left leg and probably a lot more. I saw a lady in a Range Rover coming down the driveway of an estate toward the bike path i was on, and assumed she saw me. Turns out, she had no intention on stopping, even to enter traffic. I could see the bugs on her bumper and she came within about 4 inches of taking my leg off.
My only thought was how much my crushed tibia was going to be worth getting hit by a Range Rover on Martha’s Vineyard!
Had some bike issues with a broken spoke, but it happened 1 block from a bike and Phil only charged me 24 bucks for a new spoke and lube job. He wouldn’t take a penny more.
Slowed my eating down today and weighed myself at a fishmarket while helping a dude unload sea conches. Only down 5lbs this trip, which is pretty incredible considering my gluttony.
Days 19, 20, 21
Switched mode of transportation, Where have I been?
Money Spent: Not much considerimg how much fun I have had.
So on Wednesday, while sightseeing in Martha’s Vineyard, I met 2 couples on rented bicycles as we rode to the bridge in Chappaquidick. Doug, Diane, Steve and Florence turned out to be the most amazing part of my journey so far.
They are from Long island so I asked about how to get to Montauk via ferry. As I suspected, there really is not a good way to do that, so they invited me to travel with them on the 2 yachts they are vacationing on. Turns out they live on Long Island and rode the 150 miles to Martha’s Vineyard on a week long boating vacation. The only catch to this amazing opportunity is that we had to stop in Newport Rhode Island on Friday to attend a huge boat show. Prior to this, I have never even heard of Newport Rhode Island.
Thursday morning we left MV and went to Newport. HOLY COW, what a place! Fantastically gorgeous! My plan was to camp somewhere in Newport, but after we all warmed up to each other I was invited to be a guest of Doug and Diane’s on their yacht. Ended up staying 2 nights with my own bedroom and private bath.
Friday we attended the boat show and I spent time exploring the mansions in Newport. These folks have done well for themselves but are super grounded in the blessings of family and friends. Doug and I spent a lot of time talking about core values and the importance of staying humble and being a role model for your children. Plus, they take boating safety very seriously and I learned a ton about navigation, radar and all the cool systems that make a large boat operate. Totally solidified my desire to sell everything and live on a boat for at least a year before I die! Get ready Rhona.
Saturday we made the 6 1/2 hour ocean crossing back to Long island. They treated me to one last dinner and i got to meet Diane’s sister Debbie. All of these folks are straight out of Central Casting, Long Islanders from huge families. I love the expressive way they talk.
It takes a lot of guts to leave your comfort zone and offer so many of your blessings and wisdom to a strange bald guy on a bicycle. I feel we all have some new lifelong friends and I will never forget the things I learned on a 48 foot Tiara in September 2017!
After hitting the mainland I hooked up with new friend Nancy Basch Schnee and family for a delightful shower and soft bed. She is a friend of Cindy Bowers and fellow cyclist who made the offer when she heard about my journey. Thank you so much!
My trip will end next Saturday and after spending time with folks who value family so much, I have decided to make stops to visit both of my sisters in New Jersey and Deleware, enroute back to Western MD.
47 miles, Long Island to Jersey City NJ, via Coney Island, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Manhattan.
Money spent: $42.00 included a famous hot dog, $11 beer and a couple more expensive beers absolutely needed to calm my nerves.
Riding a bicycle all the way from Long Island through the city is no joke! Some parts were not so bad with designated bike lanes, but I rode many miles in a kill or be killed environment that required aggressive action and constant vigilance.
I was almost killed by every type of vehicle immaginable, including OTHER BIKES! By the time I reached the ferry to Jersey my blood pressure was 1,000,000 and my nerves were shot. I did see some cool stuff though.
I settled into a cool beer garden on the water in Jersey and calmed my nerves with some Dale’s Pale Ales. My sister met me there and we proceeded to gourge.
I have the ultimate respect for anyone who rides a bicycle in NYC. You will never read about me doing it ever again!!! Sorry for the negative waves, but that was the hardest day of this trip, and just not my cup of tea. Give me Northern Maine any day.
74 miles, Basking Ridge NJ to downtown Philly. Off and on rain, but mostly pleasant.
Money spent: $31.00 (net expenses due to some money i found)! Expenses were mostly for the amount of calories it took to ride 74 miles, but also some personal items I had to resupply. I am a clean freak and even though I don’t smell too good somedays, i refuse to be nasty!
74 miles is the furthest I have ever ridden a bicycle in one day my entire life. My dear old friend Susan Cole, Vance’s sister, lives in downtown Philly and agreed to take me in if I could get here. I pushed hard all day with minimal human contact to make it. I have to say, I F’IN LOVE PHILLY!!!! … and here is why: On the north end of the city around 5pm i was out of gas and stopped at Dagwood’s, a classic neighborhood corner bar, to get a cold beer and some clam chowder. The group in there were super fun working stiffs who really made me feel welcome.
After I left Dagwood’s I travelled straight through the belly of many old school Philly neighborhoods, taking in the sights and sounds. The neighborhoods totally reminded of Baltimore and I felt perfectly comfortable and safe. Even though very few people looked like me, I could tell 99% of them were just doing their thing, living their lives and getting by in a gritty city. Many, many people greeted me and I was overwhelmed by the warmth. Since becoming a hillbilly 24 years ago I have never looked back to City life, but Philly definitely brought back fond memories. Bike lanes were plentiful and generally respected by motorists.
I did have an interesting experience. At dusk I stopped on a streetcorner to put away my sunglasses. Right at my feet was a tiny baggie with money rolled up and tucked inside. I quickly shoved it in my pocket and moved on fast. When I examined it with Susan it turned out to be a 10 dollar bill with a suspicious white powder rolled inside. I can just picture the person chucking it while being chased by the PoPo. I threw away the powder, washed the 10 spot, and will use it to buy a beer today. Greg is never gonna pas up free money!
Before Philly I also rode through downtown Trenton NJ. Not much good to say about that. On a bikepath I saw a female performing with a male, right on the path! Pretty sure it was a business transaction. Also saw what i am pretty sure was a dead body laying on a railroad track. I alerted some nearby juveniles and moved on before I became a victim.
In Philly I also met Chris. He rides a bike and pulls a huge trailer delivering laundry for a company. His tats scream that he is a former gang member, but here we are, both riding heavy-ass bikes through the city, just trying to survive. Magical!
I reached my destination after dark. My hostess Susan lives in a super cute neighborhood with great people and small businesses in the next block. We ate in an Irish pub on the corner with a real Irish bartender. Great spending time with old friends, catching up and sharing dreams.
Day 24 & 25
Day 24, 47 miles Downtown Philly to Hokessin Delaware. Day 25, rest with family. Weather pleasant with afternoon rain.
Money spent: $35.85 included Philly cheesesteak, milkshake, tacos and refreshing beverages on the waterfront in Wilmington.
Left Susan Cole’s in the morning after a walk around the neighborhood. As previously stated, Philly has been my favorite large city to ride through so far. Friendly, easy to maneuver, and interesting sights….. UNTIL: Just before I left the city limits I saw a Jeep Cherokee approaching a stop sign on my right. She was stopping so I was not worried. When she reached the intersection, when I was directly in front of her, she accelerated right at me. I honestly thought she was trying to hit me. I screamed like a baby, tensed up and waited to hear the impact.
After we miraculously didn’t collide, she screeched to a stop out in the intersection and began motioning how sorry she was. I could tell she didn’t mean it, but geez louise, how didn’t she see me? I was physically shaking from the adrenaline dump and caught up to her at the next light.
Guess what I did? I let it go. No reason to yell at her, she knows what she did, and this is the price I pay for being out here, doing this. But seriously, please pay attention humans, what if that was a kid!
Except for an amazing mint chocolate chip milkshake the rest of the day was uneventful except for the funny dude I gave my sandwich to. BTW, Chester PA and sketchy Wilmington,…. very similar to Trenton NJ.
On day 25 I rested at my Niece’s house, had lunch with Wendy Wolf Cairns and enjoyed a huge family meal.
I have 130 miles to go but going to stretch it out for 3 days due to concern for my leg. Is it possible for my hamstring to snap and detach at the knee like Brian Payne’s bicep did years ago? Cause it feels like it might.
48 miles, Hokessin DE to Conowingo Dam area. Weather hot in the afternoon
Money spent: $46.74 included a 1/2 gallon of iced tea, some beets, beans, cheap wine and a campsite in Susquehanna state park (my sister packed me sandwiches for the day)
Physical Vs. Mental pain: Today was an average day riding, but served as a good example of the biggest challenge of long distance cycling. YOUR ATTITUDE!
I have cycled 1,048 miles so far on this journey and it is almost over. Except for a pulled hamstring (I hope), my body is crushing this! Everything else that usually hurts has tightened up and I can feel that all my muscles are just in tip top form to meet each day’s challenges. My heart and lungs barely blip when we ride up hills. I just breath hard and suck in as much oxygen as it takes.
I realize now that last year i was literally sick from dehydration and malnutrition caused by eating the wrong foods. This year I am eating much smarter; focusing on getting enough sugar through fruits and vegetables instead of processed foods. I think my weight is only down about 5 pounds, which I think is good.
So the hardest part of all this is the mental ability to keep going day after day. According to my Facebook posts this is one non-stop party with adventures around every corner. Part of that is true and I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t kinda fun, but the other side of the equation is that I ride a very heavy bicycle, all day, everyday.
It gets lonely, hot, hard, painful, dangerous and boring! You have to really focus your mind to think positive thoughts or it can easily get in your head and make this endeavor really suck. Especially as I get near the end.
Yesterday I became convinced that Google maps was not taking me on the shortest route westbound toward Baltimore. Halfway through the day I felt like we were wandering too much instead of taking a direct route, which costs me time and energy. Plus it was dang hot and i needed sugar, so i got really pissed off ….. AT MY PHONE!
Then, 5 miles from the state park i took a wrong turn which caused me go down into a deep valley which was a 2 mile very steep climb back out of. Luckily Joyce at the campground was super nice and i had some wine (grape sugar), to lift my spirits.
The same thing happened to me in New York City. Part way through the afternoon I DECIDED that I was miserable, then it came true for me. So the life lesson here is that no matter what you have to do, keep focused on Positives Waves and not the Negative Waves Moriarty!
This is what we train for!
09/23/17, 1633hrs, 1141 miles later; Canada to Cascade is finally finished!
Sitting at the Unique Bar and Grill, let the party begin!