Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 1 - Randolph to East St. Johnsbury

David Palmer accompanied me to the base of Hebard hill. He tried out my bike with gear and agreed it was heavy enough. Five miles from home I noticed my bottom bracket was loose. I had to call Susan and have her bring a large adjustable wrench so I could tighten it up with the special tool I carry. I didn't reach the 10 mile mark until just after 10 - two hours after my start. It was a disappointing beginning for the trip. In Brookfield I dropped down onto Rt. 14 and the riding there was enjoyable. I always enjoy riding there and stopping by the spring that is beside the road.

Coming into the outskirts to Barre I saw a sign to a bike path. I crossed the Bridge street bridge and took an immediate right onto what must have been an old rail line. It was flat, shaded, and had pretty views down to a brook that ran below. I came out just above the Opera House so it was a pleasant way to enter Barre.

Lunch in Barre and then I started west towards E. Montpelier. A couple miles from Barre, a road, the Plainfield Brook Road forks to the right. I took the road, not remembering how hilly it was, so I could have the opportunity to stop by a fellow cycling tourist who lived on the Plainfield side of the hill. Unfortunately, he had moved or perhaps passed away. I perhaps had saved a few miles by my shortcut, but I had done my second major climb of the day. The riding from Plainfield to Marshfield wasn't difficult, but my legs were beginning to feel tired. I stopped at the Marshfield store for a snack and almost fell asleep in the chair outside the store.

A little rested, I began the long climb up to the turn to Groton State Park. It was one of several long climbs until I reached Joe's Pond. My bike and gear weighed 106 pounds when I weighed it this morning, so each uphill is a quick drop into my lowest gear and grinding my way to the top of the hill. I walked one hill as I found I was bicycling at 3.5 mph and could walk up at 3.3 mph. The loss of speed was small and I was able to use other muscles that were a bit more rested.

I stopped at Joe's pond to visit my son David's girlfriend's father and grandmother. Several glasses of water and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I was off for the last 17 miles to East St. Johnsbury to stay with David's girlfriend's mother and step-father Amy and Tom Allen.

I arrived at the Allen's at around 6 pm having cycled 69.9 miles for the day. Was fed well and had a comfortable bed for the night. My evening pulse was 107 bpm. I had certainly overtrained for the day.

Day 2

Morning pulse was 87, so I decided I would cut down my mileage for the next several days to recover and it would allow me to arrive at Marjorie Drysdale's brother's house at the end of a day. Left the Allen's, and a short time later, Amy's mother caught up with me in her car. I had left my filled water bottles on the sink! I need to make a "preflight" checklist so I don't forget anything!

The weather was perfect. I had a tail wind all day. Having left at 10 AM, I only made it to Lunenburg, VT for lunch. After a large sandwich, I took a nap on the green across the street. Fantastic downhill after Lunenburg, and pleasant flat cycling all the way to Lancaster, NH. I started getting a few hills as I approached the presidentials, but the grades weren't too steep. Had a fantastic clear view of Mt. Washington. I was surprised when I reached Jefferson Notch and saw the sign 8% grade - next two miles. The climb to that point hadn't been too difficult and now I was heading down hill.

It was easy riding to Gorham, NH, where I reached around 5:30 PM. I had covered 50 miles thus far, my intended mileage for the day. As the day was so spectacular, and as I had a tailwind, I continued on into Maine and found a nice rest area in the town of Gilead where I could cook dinner and set up my tent for the night. Mileage for the day - 62.5.

Day 3

I was on the road shortly after 8 AM. The Tailwing continued. It was pleasant riding along the Androscoggin (sp?) river. I arrived in Rumsford at lunchtime. After eating, I crossed the river into Mexico and took a nap in a park. The black flies I discovered later, had lunch while I slept.
There was a large climb after Rumsford, but gentle cycling afterwards.

Reaching the town of Wilton, I saw a side road that looked like it was the old road along Wilson Lake, rather than the bypassing Rt. 2. I ended up following the old road through town and after several small hills, reached the town of West Wilton. I stopped there for a drink and ate the remainder of last nights cous-cous and Indian curry. After eating I saw a rail trail that looked like it was going the same direction I wanted to go. It was gravel, so it takes more work to cycle on it, but the shade, break from traffic, and even grades make it worth the extra effort.

The rail trail ended at Farmington. I had biked 64 miles already for the day, so I could have stopped there. I had a place I could stay that evening if I wanted to travel the extra miles, so I called Marjorie Drysdale's brother and they were ready to receive me. Dinner would be waiting when I arrived. I had 18 miles to go to get to their house. Smelling the oats, I pushed hard and reached their house around 7:30 - including cycling the last mile uphill to their house.

Mileage for the day was 82 miles.

Day 4

I spent a wonderful day with Helen and Warren Balgooyen. Helen is a retired nurse who still works part time at Colby College and Warren is a retired naturalist. Helen and Warren live a life akin to what one would expect of Helen and Scott Nearing. They grow much of their food and are doing their best to leave a small footprint on the planet. Warren, though leaving a small carbon footprint, is leaving a large ecological footprint on the large land holding they own. He has built 20 ponds and created habitats for many plants and animals of the wood. Some of the ponds contained water lilies more beautiful than I have ever seen. I accompanied Warren to hear his talk on the American Chestnut at the local historical society, and I'm afraid I may have upstaged his talk when I was introduced to the group and they heard of what cycling I have done and am doing.

Day 5

Pulse rate down to 64. Yeah! Got off around 9:30. Had good roads and tailwind to Skowheagan (sp?) When biking through town, I passed the bakery "The Bankery" which advertised that it was an old fashioned bakery where everything is made from scratch. I went in, hoping that they had old fashioned cinnamon rolls with raisins, but unfortunately they didn't. I did get an outstanding blueberry/rhubarb muffin made with native berries. The owners of the bakery had converted the original vault into a freezer! Chatting with the woman at the counter, I learned that the main business in town was the New Balance factory. I had forgotten that I had purchases some items at the factory store years ago.

Outside the bakery I met a woman who had driven across the Trans-Labrador highway with her husband. Interestingly, she didn't feel that it was such a big deal other than the fact the road was dirt.

Had a quick lunch in Newport and kept riding. Bought fresh peas at a roadside stand to munch along the way. I could see a storm forming behind me, so I pushed the rolling hills towards Bangor. As I arrived in Bangor, the storm broke, but I was able to get shelter under the roof of a gas station. The storm let up, so I went across the street to a hotel to see if I could look up a friend's number on the internet. I found the number and called, but he wasn't home. Meanwhile a second squall had arrive and it was pouring outside.

The storm didn't last long, so I cycled into downtown Portland. There I treated myself to a stout and fish and chips at the Sea Dog brewery.

I got back on the road and headed down Rt. 1-A towards Ellsworth. The traffic was heavy, but there were good shoulders and the evening was pleasant. I biked as far as Lucerne in Maine and started looking for a place to put up my tent. I asked one homeowner whose lawn continued a way beyond his house if I could camp. Unfortunately, he said it was "iffy" and wasn't trusting enough to have a stranger camped nearby. He is probably #11 in refusals with over three years of bicycling throughout the world.

I ended up finding a lot just a bit further up the road where someone had been clearing trails. They were wide enough to put up a tent, so after a quick sponge bath, I put in for the night. Mileage for the day 79.

Day 6

Pulse rate was up to 74 this AM, so it is obvious I'm not yet really in good shape. I'm currently at the library in Ellsworth, having only come 10 miles thus far today and it's almost 11 AM! I'm not expected in St. John until the 28th for my Warmshowers accommodation, so I have time to take it easy if I want. For those of you who don't know Warmshowers is an organization of cyclists who share their homes to fellow cyclists. Homes are available all around the world. In the near future, I expect to visit with cyclists in Saint John, New Brunswick and Halifax, Nova Scotia. The Warmshowers internet site allows one to search either by town name or on an interactive map.

So ends my first blog entry! Sorry no pictures. I'm not allowed to use any memory cards on this computer and don't really have that many photos yet to share. I'll try to learn how to use Picasso as soon as possible.

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