Atlantic Maritimes & Northern New England

 

Fall 2007

 

Denis Kertz, ©2007

 

Day 26: Thu, Sep 27, 2007 - Campobello Island, NB to Machias, ME [49.3, 4:43:15, 10.4 mph]

I was in no hurry in the morning because the Lupine Lodge restaurant didnít open until 8:00.I got there right at 8:00 and had good pancakes.I was also reminded about the great view out the window from the rustic lodge.It was foggy earlier and there was still a trace of fog.

 

I left close to 9:00 and rode next door to the Roosevelt Lodge, where Franklin Delano Roosevelt spent his childhood summers and some of his early adulthood.It didnít open for a tour for another hour so I just took a photo and left.There was a nice lookout from nearby Friarís Head with a panoramic view of the islands.Then there was a nice side road loop to the FDR Bridge with a good view of Lupec, Maine, at the bridge.

 

Finally, I rode across the bridge and checked through customs.I was the only one and checked through in a couple of minutes.After a brief trip through downtown, I changed my bike computerís clock from Atlantic to Eastern time and the distance unit from kilometers to miles.A little further I stopped at a bank and exchanged my $40 Canadian for $40 US dollars.At least from here on I wouldnít be paying 3% on every ATM/VISA charge for international transactions.I had hoped to find a visitor center where I could get a Maine map but there was only a small unattended information booth along the road with almost no information.So I ended up buying a $5 Delorme Maine map that looked was very good.

 

I left town on 189 which was a very poor road.Not only was it shoulderless but the edge of the road was frequently cracked and some of the cracks were large enough to swallow my front tire.So I was glad to detour after abut 5 miles on 191 that looped out to the coast and back to 1.My goal was Machias, 32 miles from Lupec.My plan was to take tomorrow off as rest day since it was forecast to be rainy and a mess.Machias looked like the only reasonable town down the road for laying over.

 

As soon as I turned on 191 I knew it was a good choice.It was shoulderless but the pavement was good all the way to the edge of the road.It was about 20 miles to Cutter on the coast.Mostly forested and not that scenic but the curvy road with little traffic and modest hills was good riding.At Cutter I found a scenic harbor with lots of fishing boats and fishing activity but strangely there wasnít any food, unless you liked raw fish.Scenery was much better along the coast as the road turned northwest.Then I saw a number of tall antennas strung out on a peninsula.I counted 26 antennas and was naturally drawn to them via a side road.

 

There was a restricted area sign but I rode on until I reached a gate, hoping to see a sign identifying the purpose of the antennas.There was nothing at the gate so I asked a neighbor right next door to the gate.He said it was some Navy communications system.When I turned to leave the guyís driveway I saw a guard with binoculars and a civilian at the gate.I could only surmise they were piqued by my appearance at the gate so I rode back to the gate and told the guard I was interested in the antennas and he kind of smirked and said they were antennas.I said I guess they were part of some Navy communications system and he said he guessed they probably were.It was obvious he was not about to share any information so I left.

 

I rode a ways before I dared to stop and take a photo.I was a bit paranoid by then and after 2 quick photos I saw 2 vehicles in my rear view mirror.They both passed me and I rejoined 191.Then I saw a big red truck following me that looked like it could be a fire truck except it showed no interest in passing me.Finally it did pass and it was a fire truck and my paranoia ended.

 

A little further I finally found a convenience store at North Cutter where a water tower had ĎNaval Stationí stenciled on it.One of the things I liked on past trips was either pizza slices or a burrito for lunch.I never found either on this trip until I crossed the border back into the US.So I snatched the last pizza slice available for lunch.

 

There was a possibility of a thunderstorm in the afternoon and it was clouding up like that could happen.So I upped my pace to make it to Machias quicker.I reached 1 at East Machias and rode the rest of the way to Machias on a good shoulder.I rode through town checking out motels.On my return pass a guy at a service station suggested the motel I had picked as the least expensive and I got a room there for 2 nights for $100 cash, saving about $6 by paying for 2 nights.It was somewhat dumpy but it was a good location near downtown.

 

After cleaning up I found the library and took care of email.Iíve had an ongoing email exchange with United Airlines in my attempt to get them to reimburse me for the extra day stay in Yarmouth due to there 2 day late baggage delivery of my bike panniers.They continued to insist how my travel experience was important to them and continued to stonewall my $53 reimbursement request.They did offer a $75 voucher for a future trip but I continued to insist that I expected reimbursement for the current trip.

 

In the evening I ate at the bar at the Thirsty Moose Cafť.

Day 27: Fri, Sep 28, 2007 - Machias, ME

It was raining some when I got up in the morning.I walked across the street to a restaurant for an oatmeal breakfast.It didnít look like a good day but it got better as the day wore on.By 9:30 there were a few patches of blue in the sky and it didnít rain the rest of the day.

 

I spent the morning mailing some books back home, doing laundry, and paying bills via the Internet.I found a place with Internet service for $5 per half hour and that also allowed me to start planning a route across Maine after my visit to Acadia National Park.In the afternoon I spent some more time planning a route across New Hampshire and Vermont at the library which didnít open until noon.Later I lubed my bikeís chain.

 

The Presidentís Cup was on TV all afternoon and I caught some of that.Later, I ate at a Subway.

Day 28: Sat, Sep 29, 2007 - Machias, ME to Acadia National Park, ME [69.1, 6:31:10, 10.6 mph]

I ate at the restaurant across the street again and had their pancakes which were OK.On my way out of town I decided to replenish my cash at an ATM since I gave up $100 cash to stay at the Seagull Inn.The first ATM wanted to dock me $3 so I declined that.Another ATM across the street wanted $1.50 and I accepted that.

 

I rode out of town on 1 whose good shoulder became a mess a little ways out of town.The shoulder was unrideable and the pavement near the white line was frequently cracked up.It looked like it could be a long day but this lasted for only about 5 miles and then the good shoulder returned the rest of the way except for a few miles before Milbridge.I rode through a rolling wooded area where there were hints of the fall colors to come, probably a week away.After 30 miles I stopped in Milbridge for my 2nd breakfast.

 

My planned route was to take 1 to Ellsworth and then head south to Acadia since there didnít seem to be any other option.Near Jonesboro, 187 looped out to a peninsula and back to 1.Shortly before this junction there was a ĎBar Harbor Ferryí sign which suggested there was a way to cut across from this peninsula to Bar Harbor, which would be a real time saver and probably avoid some messy traffic from Ellsworth to Bar Harbor.This really piqued my interest so I looked for where I could inquire if such a ferry existed and was still open for the season.

 

I had to ride past the return loop of 187 near Columbia Falls to a service station where I asked if there was any alternative to riding to Ellsworth.The attendant mentioned the ferry but didnít know if it was still running.She inquired of another woman who said the ferry was still running and found the schedule in a brochure.The next trip was at 1:00 and it was almost 12:30 and the ferry was about 7 miles away.I figured I had no chance to make that and would have to wait for the 3:00 ferry.Then after wasting a few precious minutes I decided to take off and maybe the ferry gods would still be working for me.

 

It was a fairly easy ride to the ferry landing at Winter Harbor but I missed it about 2 minutes Ė it was just pulling away as I rode up.Perhaps that was the ferry gods punishment for my doubting that they would take care of me if I had taken off immediately from the service station.So I had a couple hours to kill which wasnít all that bad.I stopped for a drink at a grocery store and saw a guy rowing a boat in the bay.When he came ashore, he strapped 3 wheels to the row boat to roll it along.When I saw he had a bicycle too, I thought he was going to hook it up to the boat as a trailer but that wasnít the case.He rolled the boat and the bicycle along side-by-side.

 

At 3:00 I took the ferry which was a passenger only ferry.It cost $20 which was much more than any of my other ferry rides but it was almost an hour long and it saved me considerable time.But it was a struggle to lift my loaded bicycle up a few steps to reach the ferry boat.The ferry had about 50 life vests but there were only 3 of us on board.The other 2 were elderly women who were completing a roundtrip from Bar Harbor, which was apparently a common use for the ferry.It was a scenic ride from Winter Harbor to Bar Harbor.There were lots of small islands along the way and some had mansions on them with private docks.The only downside to the ferry ride was you could only sit in back and were blocked from a straight ahead view.

 

When we approached Bar Harbor there was a huge cruise ship anchored in Frenchman Bay, one similar to the 2 cruise ships I saw in Saint Johnís.The ship was anchored out in the bay because there was no wharf to accommodate such a monstrosity.Folks who wanted to get ashore had to take a shuttle boat.Later, I learned that there were 90 cruise ship visits to Bar Harbor this year and they were a real financial boon to the local economy.

 

When we docked we had difficulty on the first attempt and the skipper took the boat out and brought it back in successfully on the 2nd try.My first impression of Bar Harbor was a zoo.It was a nice Saturday afternoon and the pier was teeming with tourists.I couldnít wait to get away from the tourist mass and made a beeline out of there.This got me to the main highway, 3, and I turned right.Before long it was obvious that was taking me out of town.I really wanted to find some place to eat and then hit the road and find a campground.It was already after 4:00 and would be dark by 6:30.

 

I turned around on a busy road with almost no shoulder.Just past the street where I had initially come out was a parallel road and I took it.A little further I found a Subway where I got a foot long sandwich, ate half, and saved the other half for later.Then it was near 5:00 and I had a little over an hour to find a campground.I knew heading south would get me to a campground; it was just a question of whether it would be daylight when I got there.Fortunately, there was a National Park campground about 6 miles out of town so that worked fine.

 

I paid $20 for a tent site and the park ranger brought me a food locker to protect my food from raccoons.The ranger who checked me in was very helpful.I set up, cleaned up the best I could, and ate the rest of my Subway sandwich.

Day 29: Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Acadia National Park, ME to Trenton, ME [54.4, 6:14:56, 8.7 mph]

In the morning I met one of my tenting neighbors who was a local.He and his young daughter had bicycled to this campsite and were returning home today.He gave me a little advice about riding across Maine.

 

I backtracked a short ways to a small store in Otter Creek for a breakfast of cereal and a banana.I could have picked up the park loop road from the campground but would have missed part of the loop.So I rode 5 miles back towards Bay harbor and started the loop there.It was good that I did because I would have missed some of the best scenery by starting from the campground.

 

There were some great views of the bay and I had the road almost to myself early in the morning, although I did share it with several cyclists.I also shared the road with a deer who was eating on the side of the road.She let me pass on the other side of the road.I stopped a little past and got a nice photo looking back.The scenery included some mansions along the shore and some rugged coastline along the southern tip.

 

After I rounded the southern tip and started north away from the coast, I rode through a tree lined road.The scenery was less interesting but the riding was nice with sunlight flitting through the trees.Then I started the 3.5 mile climb of Cadillac Mountain, at 1530 feet the highest point on the Atlantic coast and the first recipient of morning sunlight in the US.It was a fairly hard climb but I never needed my lowest gear.There was a pretty steady stream of vehicles going up and down including several tour buses.I also got passed by about 4 cyclists.

 

At the top there were spectacular views of the surrounding area.I could see Bay Harbor with the docked cruise ship and Winter Harbor across the bay where my ferry had picked me up yesterday.To the south I could see the various islands off the southern tip.I spent about an hour on top taking in all the views.

 

On my descent there was a steady stream of cyclist making the climb.That was surprising but later I learned there was a bike ride that explained all the cyclists.After completing the descent I completed the loop ride and then rode into Bar Harbor.Like yesterday it was still a zoo and a typical tourist trap so I didnít hang around.I stopped at a grocery store to replenish my food supply and at a service station/store for a snack and then headed out of town.

 

I bypassed 3 by taking 233 back to the park road and rode to the visitor center.There wasnít much of interest there except for a large relief map of the area.From the visitor center I had to get on 3 for a short distance and then turned on to Crooked Road to avoid the main road.This took me to 102 with a decent shoulder and off Mount Desert Island.I stopped at a restaurant/take out lobster place and had a lobster roll, which was very good but much too small.There was a campground across the street but they didnít have tent sites.An Information Center nearby suggested a campground 4 miles up the road so I headed for that until I passed a motel sign advertising rooms for $30 and up.I decided the $30 motel was a better deal than the likely $20 tent site so I stopped and got a decent room for $33 but I had to pay cash and carry my bike up the steps to a 2nd floor room.

Day 30: Mon, Oct 01, 2007 - Trenton, ME to Union, ME [72.8, 7:16:35, 10.0 mph]

I rolled my bike down the steep steps carefully, using my bikeís brakes to make sure I didnít lose control of the bike.The Weather Channel said it was 35F in Ellsworth and it felt like it when I left about 9:00.It was 8 miles to Ellsworth with a lot of rush hour traffic but most of it was heading south.I didnít see anything in town other than fast food places and a Dennyís and those didnít meet my breakfast standards.

 

When I turned left on Highway 1/3 I was on Main Street downtown and I found my breakfast place.It was a classic cafť that served breakfast all day.I had their pancakes and they were the best of the trip.There was even a paper to read to it was close to a perfect breakfast.

 

When I left at 9:00 I crossed a river and had a fairly steep climb out of town.There was a fair amount of traffic but 1/3 had a wide shoulder.Ten miles after leaving Ellsworth, I met Michael, a German touring cyclist riding from the other direction.He was doing a 2-week loop out of Boston and was on his way to Acadia National Park.He had a full suspension mountain bike with a Rohloff hub and hydraulic rim brakes.He claimed his loaded bike weighed 150 pounds, which didnít seem likely since it was packed similar to mine which weighed about 90 pounds.He did say his bike alone weighed 45 pounds but that only accounted for part of the 50-60 pound difference between our bikes.

 

I told Michael about the $30 motel I stayed at last night and he sounded interested in using that as his base for exploring Acadia.Michael was a veteran tourer and we spent some time talking about our various tours, particularly the areas we had in common that included the Pacific Coast, Colorado, southern Utah, and Glacier National Park.

 

It was 20 miles to Bucksport where I stopped for my 2nd breakfast.When I left I crossed the Penobscott River on a conventional bridge to Verona Island and then shortly I crossed it again on the new Penobscot Narrows Bridge, the only cable-stay bridge in Maine.Its signature feature was 2 granite towers, modeled after the Washington Monument Tower, which anchored the cables.

 

From Bucksport to Belfast, 1/3 skirted the Penobscot Bay.It also had a pretty constant stream of gift shops, antique stores, and some used book stores.Traffic continued fairly constant and it was noisy but not a problem with the wide shoulder.In Belfast I stopped for a snack.They didnít have much choice at the service station so I heated up a bacon/cheese sandwich, since my body said I needed something salty.I rode a little further towards Belfast with a nice view of the town nestled in a hill next to boats anchored in the bay.

 

Leaving Belfast 1 & 3 split and most of the traffic stayed with 1 and 3 become much quieter.Still 5 miles later I took the opportunity to get off a major highway and picked up 131 south to Union.It was nice to be on a quiet country road even though the shoulderless edge of the road was cracked and a bit rough in places.131 was a roller coaster through wooded countryside.It was either easy pedaling/coasting or climbing.There was a campground a few miles before Union on a lake but it wasnít obvious if it was open.I thought there might be a motel in Union but there wasnít but not too surprising since there wasnít much of anything in Union.I inquired at a convenience store and they didnít know of any motel within cycling range at 4:30.They knew about a campground up the road on 17 that closed last night but they called and got the owner to let me stay for the night.

 

So I rode east on 17 for 1.7 miles to Mic-Mac Market, a convenience store, where they handled check-in for the campground, a quarter mile down a gravel road.It wasnít a great deal at $25 but better than the normal rate of $30.When I rode down to the campground I was disappointed to find showers cost $1 and needed 4 quarters which I didnít have.So I had to ride back to the store just to get 4 quarters.

 

After setting up I walked back to the store for food.When leaving I saw the campground was next to a lake which presumably justified the premium prices for camping.The store had a pizzeria but I didnít feel like pizza so I heated up a ham sandwich and ate while writing my notes.

Day 31: Tue, Oct 02, 2007 - Union, ME to Lewiston, ME [78.4, 7:06:21, 11.0 mph]

I was packed up and gone shortly after 7:00.Using the restroom reminded how rather dilapidated they were.I couldnít see a lot to recommend this campground except perhaps the lake but it was nice to have a place to stay overnight.

 

I rode down the road a short ways to a cafť where there were a number of cars.This was obviously the breakfast place and local hangout and probably the only such place in town.The menu only listed 1 or 2 pancakes as options so I assumed they must be really big and I ordered 2 banana walnut pancakes for $5.Unfortunately, they were not especially large and didnít merit the price but they were good.

 

A local sat down at the counter and asked about my trip.Then he told me when he was 27 he broke up with a girl.When he woke up the next morning he decided to ride across the country and rode from Boston to Seattle.He also spent 4 months riding around New Zealand.

 

When I left at 8:30 I rode west on 17 about 5 miles and turned south on 220 and then west on 126.126 was similar to 131 yesterday, a roller coaster but not as hilly.It also had no shoulder and cracked pavement that made for some bumpy riding.Then about half way to Randolph it suddenly turned into a great road with a good shoulder and good pavement with little traffic.The scenery was fine with more variety than yesterday with some small farms.I also saw some wild turkeys on two occasions.

 

After 31 miles I stopped in Randolph.I skipped my 2nd breakfast in favor of a slice of pizza and a muffin.Then I grappled with riding down 24 to Brunswick, which I thought might be more scenic but longer, or continue on 126 to Lewiston.I had settled on the scenic route and then decided at the last minute to stick with 126 to Lewiston.

 

I had to cross the Kennebec River to Gardiner and it was a bit messy with a lot of traffic.126 also reverted to its crusty self for a few miles.Then it magically changed back into a good road again the rest of the way, 23 miles to Lewiston.I stopped again in less than an hour for another snack break.The scenery wasnít all that great and the road flattened out and made for easy cycling.About half way to Lewiston traffic picked up and 126 lost any charm it had as it passed through an increasingly urbanized area.

 

I rode 126 into Lewiston, hoping it would take me downtown and I could find the library.When it didnít seem to be leading me anywhere I stopped and asked at a service station.The guy was not good at giving directions to someone totally unfamiliar with the area but I found a map of the area and his directions got me downtown.When I figured I was in the vicinity of the library, I asked a woman walking across the street.She laughed and pointed just over my right shoulder where I had just passed it.

 

I got a half hour of Internet time and made some map copies of Vermont and New Hampshire.Then I asked the librarian where the motels were.She didnít know but a local in the library gave me some directions.According to her, there were few motels which I found hard to believe for Maineís second largest city.The Lewiston area also included itís sister city, Auburn, on the other side of the Androscoggin River with an estimated metro population of 59,000.

 

I followed her directions out to I95 where there were 3 motels including a Motel 6 that had $40 rooms but it wasnít a particularly great location.Had I realized motel locations would be a problem, I would have googled for motels on the Internet and would have saved myself a lot of time.Instead I headed back towards the library where my map said there was a visitor center.I never found the visitor center but I found a cyclist who had toured down to North Carolina and back.He pointed out the motel I had seen and another one across the river in Auburn which I decided to check out.It was an Econo Lodge and I rode on expecting to find more motels but didnít.I returned to the Econo Lodge and they wanted $65 so I decided Motel6 was it and rode back to it.All told I rode at least an extra 10 miles trying to find non-existent motels.But I saw more of the area Ė fast food places and car dealers.

 

After checking in at the Motel 6 I walked almost a mile to a Chinese place with a buffet and then back to the motel.

Day 32: Wed, Oct 03, 2007 - Lewiston, ME to Fryeburg, ME [69.8, 6:13:23, 11.2 mph]

I wasnít in a hurry in the morning since I expected a short day to Fryeburg, about 45-50 miles.I rode back downtown by the library, not quite 3 miles, and a little further I found a deli open for breakfast.I had 3 nice pancakes and a cup of coffee for $5.

 

Leaving town was a bit of a mess.I had to cross the river and ride on a 4-lane road.It wasnít fun, just a matter of holding my line at the edge of a road that had some cracks.Once I was out of Auburn the road was fine.It was an easy ride of 11 miles to Mechanic Falls.I had the option there of either a north or south loop to Bridgton.I chose north because I thought it would be more scenic and less traffic.

 

So I took 26 north which looked like normally it would be a busy road.However, it was being repaved and a section was down to a single lane.This had the effect of bunching traffic in my lane to an occasional burst of traffic.So I made good time to Norway where I stopped after 25 miles. The store I stopped at had a little cafť so I opted for a second breakfast of 3 pancakes, similar to my first breakfast.There I learned from a newspaper that each year Fryeburg hosted a week long fair during the first week of October and this was the first week of October.So that pretty well ruled out accommodations in Fryeburg unless I wanted to camp at the fair, which I doubted was a good idea.

 

I decided to ride to Fryeburg anyway and figure out what to do when I got there.A guy at the cafť recommended riding 118/5 which he said was more scenic with less traffic than 117/302 that I had planned.It didnít look that much longer than my planned route so I took his advice.Nor surprisingly I started some climbing shortly after leaving Norway.I also started catching glimpses of the White Mountains as background to several scenic lakes along the way.Added to that was the scent of pine along the way.

 

Near North Waterford I stopped for a break at a picnic area.A well-dressed young woman arrived in a car, got out, and walked to the port-a-john and immediately walked back and drove away.Curious, I walked to the john and discovered someone had cut an 18Ē square hole in the side.That was bad enough but through the hole you could see a toilet smeared with brown ďstuffĒ Ė unappealing to anyone of either sex.

 

I rode a little further and stopped at East Stoneham.I thought this might be the last store for a while so I had my now traditional slice of pizza and drink.It was warm with sun shining through the clouds so I removed my light weight long sleeve jersey.I rode 5 the rest of the way south to Fryeburg.It wasnít particularly scenic but it was a good road with good shoulder.It was also a moderate roller coaster.As I neared Fryeburg I rode past the fairgrounds where cars were parked all around.It could have been interesting to check out the fair if I had a place to stay and a safe place for my bike.

 

I didnít so I rode into town which was a stream of vehicles coming and going.I stopped for a snack and then rode another mile where there was a Maine visitor center right by the New Hampshire border.I inquired about accommodations and learned there really wasnít anything unless I wanted to ride about another 20 miles to a campground in the White Mountain National Forest.However, Ron, an employee there offered to let me throw up my tent on his property just down the road.I gladly accepted and arranged to meet him when he got off work at 6:00.

 

I rode back into town and had fish & chips at a restaurant.Then I rode to the city park and wrote my notes until it was time to meet Ron at the visitor center.

 

I stopped by the visitor center at 5:30 and Ron discussed some of my planned New Hampshire and Vermont route and confirmed some of what I already knew and that was reassuring.I left for Ronís place up the road just before he had to lock up.I got really confused since he said his place was about a quarter mile away and I didnít find the place.Fortunately Ron came along and honked so I knew it was further and found his place.

 

Ron had a big place and a good place to set up my tent.His lady friend told him to invite me for dinner but I had to decline since I was still full of fish & chips.

Day 33: Thu, Oct 04, 2007 - Fryeburg, ME to Wildwood Campground, NH [51.0]

Yesterday when I got to Fryeburg, my butt was really sore and I almost couldnít ride any further.I donít use any butt salve and rarely have any problem ďbutĒ once or twice a trip I get really sore.When that happens I apply Mentholatum overnight and Iím fine the next morning.This time I was concerned ďbutĒ once again I was fine in the morning.

 

I told Ron he wouldnít see me in the morning because I would be gone between 7:00 and 7:30 and I left shortly after 7:00.It was supposedly 6 miles to Conway and I had to take that on faith since my computer didnít work.It worked all day yesterday and now it suddenly didnít work.I hoped my transmitter battery was just weak and I decided to wait until I got to town to change it.

 

The first cafť in town didnít have pancakes so I went to the other one which did.They were OK but rather overpriced.After breakfast I changed my transmitter battery and that didnít work.I tried another battery as well without success.My transmitter has a little green LED that blinks when working and it wasnít blinking so I feared my transmitter had died for the 2nd year in a row.I resigned myself to riding without a computer.

 

I picked up 112, the Kancamagus Highway, at the edge of town for the 34 mile ride through the White Mountains to Lincoln.The road is named after Kancamagus who was an Indian chief for the Penacook Indian Confederacy in the late 1600s.It was a nice road with moderate traffic as the fall colors were starting to kick in.It was flat with just a slight uphill for 10 miles or so following the Swift River with some nice views of the river and the wooded hills.

 

Then the road started a long climb to the Kancamagus Pass at 2,855 feet.At first it was a moderate climb but became steep enough at the end that I used my lowest gear on the last part.I could only estimate about a 5 miles climb.There were several nice views of the mountains on the climb.Then at the Pass there were really nice views on both sides of the pass.

 

It was a 3.5 mile 9% descent according to a sign.More importantly, it was all downhill to Lincoln where I arrived around 1:30.It was obvious this was a resort area based on the lodges and condos and the town had the usual facilities catering to that clientele.I stopped at a convenience store and heated up a sandwich.I found the town library and paid $2 for a half hour of Internet.I printed some pages and was surprised to only have to pay 5 cents per page.I debated staying in town but figured everything would be expensive.So I ordered a foot long sub at Subway and saved half for later.

 

There was a National Forest campground about 12 miles further on 112 and I made for that.I had another pretty good climb to K?? Notch, not as long as the morning climb but a little steeper at the end.At the top the Appalachian Trail cut across the road so I stopped and walked a few paces on the trail and then I rode my bike a couple feet on the trail.Now I can say I hiked and biked part of the Appalachian Trail.

 

It was another 9% descent for 2 miles and then I reached my campground, the only place to stay for quite a ways.I was in camp around 4:00 so I had a little time on my hands compared to normal.It bugged me that my computerís transmitter just suddenly died overnight so I started playing around with it.I came to the conclusion that the problem was poor electrical contact for the battery.I cleaned the contacts the best I could and seemed to have the transmitter working since its greed LED was blinking.However, I couldnít get the main unit to sync up with it so I wasnít confident I had a working computer.

 

This was supposedly bear country so I hung my food for the first time.Then I wrote my notes and retired, satisfied after a good day of riding through some fine scenery.

Day 34: Fri, Oct 05, 2007 - Wildwood Campground, NH to Sharon, NH [62.0]

It was cool in the morning but I didnít realize how cool until I started riding after my cereal breakfast.The road still was a modest downhill and the sun was just climbing over the mountains.My fingers and toes got very chilled and I slowed down to reduce the wind chill.

 

Since my computer didnít work, I estimated I had a couple of miles to my turn on 116.This was good because there was some initial climbing which helped warm me up and got me up into the sun quicker.It was 9 miles to North Haverhill, the end of 116, and a nice ride through woods along some fields.After the initial climb there wasnít any major climbing but in the last few miles I ran into some fairly dense fog.

 

I turned south on 10 and rode above the Connecticut River that was the border between New Hampshire and Vermont.I rode through a valley above the river with some nice views of the river and farmland on the Vermont side. 10 passed through a number of farm houses and fields with a number of farms offering meat and fresh produce for sale.After about 20 miles on 10 I reached Orford where I thought there might be a cafť but there was only a convenience store.However, it had a deli where I got a breakfast ham and egg sandwich, pastry, and chocolate milk.I was headed to 132 in Vermont and had to cross the river some place.A police officer at the store suggested I would be better crossing at Orford and taking 5 south to 132 so thatís what I did.

 

5 turned out to be a good choice.It didnít have much traffic since it paralleled an Interstate and it was a good, mostly flat road.I tried getting my computer to sync up with my transmitter again.That didnít appear to work but a little later I noticed my computer was recording ride data.However, I wasnít too confident and after 4 miles it stopped working again.

 

After 15 miles on 5, I turned on to 132.After some initial climbing, 132 was a rolling road that seemed to be climbing overall.And then once again my computer started working again after I woke it up.It was a warm day so I was glad to find a convenience store in South Stratford.After a break there, I started climbing on the final 7 miles to Sharon and the end of 132.The climbing started modest but the last half mile of the 2 mile climb was hard in my lowest gear.From there it was all downhill and a fun descent to Sharon.

 

I stopped for another break in Sharon and learned I had few accommodation options.There were no motels along my route.There was a campground just up the road on the opposite side of the river from 14 and then another one maybe 20 miles near Gaysville.So I rode across the bridge to get to the other side of the river and found the campground about 3 miles up the road.It didnít look like much of a campground and it wasnít clear where the office was but I decided I needed to stay even though it wasnít quite 3:30 yet.I picked a spot by the river and set up.The good thing was I was able to just walk out in the shallow river and dunk myself to clean off.I was also able to rinse out all of my cycling clothes since there was enough sun left to get them dry overnight.

 

Then I wrote my notes and waited for someone to collect money.The owner showed up just before 6:00 and collected $15, not a very good deal considering there was no drinking water and just a dinky outhouse.

Day 35: Sat, Oct 06, 2007 - Sharon, NH to Brandon, VT [47.0]

It was foggy in the morning so the clothes I hung up to dry on the clothes line didnít dry completely.I rode a couple miles into South Royalton looking for breakfast.There was a line of stores downtown but nothing looked open.I rode across the bridge to a service station and inquired and was told Chelsea Station should be open.When I rode back I found it was indeed.I sat at the counter and had my pancakes.I also learned it was Saturday rather than Friday like I thought.There was also a store attached to the back of the building that had some used paperbacks.I had just finished my paperback and needed something else so I picked one out.I was told up front that the store owner, who wasnít in yet, usually charged 25 cents so I paid 50 cents for good measure.Outside there was a Boxer left in the back of a pickup who was whining mournfully about being left all alone.

 

I left a little before 9:00 when the fog appeared to be lifting.I crossed the White River on the bridge again and picked up 14 riding into pretty heavy fog, only able to see 100-200 yards ahead.After a few miles I took 107 west, which was good because it had a shoulder.Finally, close to 10:00 the fog lifted enough to see the road well.20 minutes later I could actually see the scenery and it was nice.

 

Once I could see, 107 turned out to be a good road with nice scenery.I passed the other campground near Gaysville which was my other camping option yesterday.Since the road was flat, I could have easily made the campground but I couldnít tell if it was actually open.107 ended at 100 and I took 100 north through a valley with big hills on both sides and farms in the valley.The fall foliage appeared to be close to peak and the valley was very scenic.

 

When I reached my turnoff to 73 I decided to ride another mile into Rochester for some food.I stopped at a convenience store where another cyclist who was just riding away commented on my Rohloff hub.I was surprised he noticed until he mentioned he worked at a bike shop in town.He also told me the climb on 73 was moderate.

 

I had my 2nd breakfast of cereal and then checked out the bakery/deli next door that had used books.I picked up another used paperback for $1.50 and rode on.73 started out nice for a few miles and then abruptly turned left and started to climb modestly.It actually looked like it could rain for a while and then the sky improved.The grade increased, making climbing a little harder and then it got fairly steep at the end and I used my lowest gear.

 

At the top I met another cyclist from Ottawa who was riding from the other direction.He was familiar with the area and said I would have lots of accommodation options in Brandon and really nothing after that.Two other cyclists pulled up from my direction and we talked about rides in the area for a bit.

 

Finally, I took off on a fast descent into Brandon.There werenít any great scenic turnouts so I made Brandon quickly.There was a crafts fair in the center of town with some live music.I rode further to a convenience store and stopped for a drink and got some idea of accommodations.I backtracked and rode a couple miles south of town to a motor lodge that was full.There were some cabins nearby that were also full and I got an uneasy feeling about accommodations on a fall foliage weekend.

 

In town I stopped in front of the Brandon Inn where a woman said they were booked and said she didnít know of any vacancies in town.She suggested I ask next door at an ice cream parlor where Janet was a member of the Chamber of Commerce.Janet didnít know of any vacancies either but gave me a brochure with a listing of accommodations and a cordless phone.I started calling and found everyone was full.

 

Finally, Janet said there was a woman who had an upstairs apartment that might be available for someone stranded this weekend, and I seemed to fit the definition of stranded.Janet called Arvelia who told me to come by.The place was just up the street on 73 where I rode in and I was there in a flash.The place was way overkill for someone used to a one-person tent.It had a porch, living room, small dining room, a kitchen, a bath, and 2 bedrooms.It cost $100 cash which I was happy to pay under the circumstances.

 

However, after I chatted with my hosts, Arvelia and John, and cleaned up, it was 4:30 by the time I got back downtown, just as the crafts fair and music were closing down.Of course, I didnít care about the crafts show but I would have enjoyed listening to some music.Instead I checked out places for breakfast and then ate at a bar.When I left I stopped at the ice cream place and had a milk shake, figuring I owed them at least a touch of business.Then it started to sprinkle while I was walking home.The weather prediction was for an evening shower which was one reason why I was loathe to ride further than Brandon.Later, I walked back downtown to the same bar where there was some live music but it wasnít very interesting so I had a beer and left, understanding why there was no cover charge.Then I watched my alma mater beat up on a hapless Nebraska football team and went to bed happy.

Day 36: Sun, Oct 07, 2007 - Brandon, VT to Troy, NY [95.0]

The Weather Channel was predicting showers for the rest of the week after Sunday, which I took as a sign I should get out of town.I rode downtown and had the best pancakes of the trip for a little less than $5.I left at 8:00 and headed west on 73.My original plan was to take 73 all the way to the New York border but with the weather forecast my plan changed to get as close to the train station in Albany as possible.Except for one short steep hill, 73 was mostly flat.When it junctioned with 30, I headed south which gave me the advantage of some tailwind.

 

I stayed on 30 at Sudbury rather than take 73 west.30 was good riding through some scenic farmland and then along a couple of lakes.I stopped several times for food to keep my energy level up for what I expected to be a long day.At Poultney, 30 veered left and I went straight on 31 which was a quiet back road with little traffic.After about 5 miles on 31 I entered New York State and shortly after I rode into Granville.

 

In Granville I picked up 149 west, which required some climbing before a nice run out to the intersection with 40 that I took the rest of the way to Troy.Just after picking up 40 I stopped for another break and bought a good map of Albany and the surrounding area.40 was good riding with only a few modest hills and a good shoulder.There was a fine view of the Adirondack hills to the west and nice fall foliage in the hills to the east as I rode through mostly farmland in the Hudson River Valley.I made such good time that I even entertained the possibility I could make the 7:05 pm train to Chicago although that was a real stretch.More likely I figured to make Troy which was less than 10 miles from the Albany train station, which was actually in Rensselauer, Albanyís sister city on the east side of the Hudson River.Troy wasnít even in my horizon in the morning but with a mostly flat road and some helping tailwind I made great time.

 

I stopped for my last break about 10 miles outside Troy.When I got to Troy I started riding 4 through town, looking for a motel but I was obviously not in motel land.A query at a convenience store identified a Best Western downtown on 6th Ave so I took 5th Ave which turned into 6th Ave.The road became very confusing just before downtown and I thought I was lost.After another query, I got re-directed to the Best Western, which was good because it was 6:00 and daylight was fading fast.

 

But when I got to the motel there was a line waiting to check in.I could only envision learning the place was full when I got the counter and it would be too dark for safe travel.But there was room and I got a room on the first floor for $72, discounted down from $90 due to my AARP membership.As a bonus, the room included breakfast as well.After settling in I walked a couple blocks to a pizza place that sold by the slice and had 2 slices.Back at the room I watched the Bears lose another game in a miserable season.

 

I called Amtrak and got a reservation to Chicago for $114, taking 3-4 times longer to make the ticket reservation by talking to wonderful Julie, the computerized assistant (ďHi, Iím Julie, Amtrakís automated agentÖĒ).I still didnít know if I was guaranteed a bike box would be available so I called back and talked to an actual human who gave me a local number to call where I verified a bike box was available.That would have let me sleep well, except I came down with a runny nose overnight.

Day 37: Mon, Oct 08, 2007 - Troy, NY to Train, [10.0]

I didnít sleep well.I came down with a runny nose yesterday evening but no sore throat.So I was a bit under the weather in the morning.I took advantage of the breakfast that was part of the room deal.

 

The forecast called for showers and thunderstorms, particularly in the afternoon, so I decided it was best to get to the train station before any rain could hit even though my train didnít leave until 7:05 pm.It was only 8-10 miles to the station in Rensselaer.I picked up 4 out of town which had a short climb at the edge of town.The road was very busy but had a good shoulder.I planned to take 4 to 43 but the junction didnít match my map.I took 43 west anyway and it ended at I90.So I backtracked to 4 and went a little further south.When a sign pointed to Rensselaer I took it even though I didnít know the road.It turned out to be 3rd Ave and a good choice.Eventually there was a sign that led me to the train station, just a few blocks off of 3rd Ave.

 

The station was a relatively new facility.You could see downtown Albany and the capital across the Hudson River.Although it was only 10 am and my train didnít leave until 7:05 pm I decided to check in.I already had a ticket but paid $10 for a bike box and an additional $5 handling fee, much cheaper than the typical $80 bike charge by an airline.I had to take my bike and gear downstairs to a baggage room.I only had to turn the handlebars and remove the pedals to fit the bike in the box.My duffel bag held my sleeping bag, tent, and other things and I lashed my 2 rear panniers together to make another baggage unit.

 

I was done before noon and just had to kill time.I ate some chili and gumbo soup that seemed to help my congestion.I spent most of the afternoon watching people wait for their trains.It was a busy afternoon with sitting spots hard to come by.It was likely busier than normal because it was Columbus Day and people were returning after the long holiday weekend.All trains to New York City from mid-afternoon were sold out.

 

My train showed up on time but left 10 minutes late because of a locomotive change.I managed to get assigned a window seat without a seat partner.I slept about as well as can be expected on a train.We seemed to be doing well schedule-wise until our train stopped at 8:30, someplace outside Elkhart, Indiana, about 120 miles from Chicago.A little over an hour later we started rolling again and pulled into Chicago Union Station at 12:10.That was a major relief since my big concern was getting in too late to leave enough daylight to ride to Naperville.

Day 38: Tue, Oct 09, 2007 - Train to Naperville, IL [40.0]

Within an hour of getting off the train I was ready to ride.My baggage came just after I got to the baggage claim area.Then I had to go downstairs to the real baggage area.Last year it took a while to find somebody who could get me downstairs which was a restricted area.This year the baggage claim attendant got me on an elevator right in the baggage claim area and my bike was waiting for me.It took 20-25 minutes to put everything back together.

 

Like last year, I followed the Grand Illinois Trail section to get from downtown to the Illinois Prairie Path which took me close to Naperville.However, the ride was harder this year because there was a stiff headwind.In any event I made it home by 5:00, with over an hour of daylight to spare.


 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 2007. All rights reserved.