Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New Hampshire and Vermont: Tough Climbs and Beautiful Country

I've been riding for six days now, with today being a day more for sitting on chairs and benches than for sitting on my bicycle.

Right now, I'm at the library in Middlebury, Vermont, a beautiful college town and I just pedaled up and over the Middlebury Gap, 2,144 feet, and in places the grade as much as 15% (or it might have said 18%).  If you aren't a serious biker, trust me:  that's a killer pass.  Of course, I knew what I was getting into when I started this trip.  So I can't complain.  Besides, this morning, I met an older gentleman riding the other way, finishing his third trip across the United States.  (This one was interrupted last summer by illness in his family, his father being sick, so he picked up where he left off and was heading for the Maine coast.)  How old was his father??  Earl Carlson told me HE was 70.  I wish my camera was working because he had a picturesque forked beard.

But my camera isn't working...which is too bad, right now.  I saw a cool purple barn.  I also met two young riders, out for a shakedown cruise.  On July 7, Alan Winslow and Morrigan McCarthy are starting their ride in Fairbanks, Alaska.  What sissies!  All they plan to do is ride south to...Brazil!  Then they're going around the world.  When I asked them "why now, what prompted this decision," Alan replied, "Well, we both lost our jobs."

I didn't ask for details on that; but they're both photo journalists, and decided to take lemons and, I hate cliches...not lemons and a trip around the world.  They have a grant to record the lives of 20s age people around the world and won't be back until 2015.

I expect to beat them home.

If you're thinking about a ride across America on a bicycle (and I mean, who isn't!), I can assure you that the roads in Maine are great.  Traffic's not too bad, either.  This has something to do with the fact Maine is only a little smaller than Ohio but has only 1/8th the population.  I decided to pedal through Augusta, the state capital, for example, after looking up the population:  only 18,500.  So that seemed safe.  Then I ducked a hail storm just in time and hid out in a motel for the evening.

The last three nights, I've been camping, twice just making my own spots in the woods.  There are some gorgeous lakes in southwestern Maine, and the ride from Conway to Lincoln, New Hampshire is stunning.  You start up the Kancamangus Pass near Conway and for the first ten miles you're right next to the Swift River and I found one of the prettiest swimming spots ever at the Lower Falls.  Once I get it set up to post pictures (my stupid camera isn't working), I will.

You do have to churn uphill almost 20 miles to reach the crest at 2,860 feet; but then you have a free ride down the other side.  The good news is you can eat a lot to give you energy and still lose weight.

The next day, coming out of North Woodstock, Vermont, I followed some non-descript state highway that must have been laid out orignially by billy goats.  Lord, it was a merciless ride.  No cars, really, for about fifteen miles...since no one probably uses the road if they can avoid it.  So I had the pleasure of sweating in silence, except for the sound of woodpeckers in the surrounding forests.  One had a rapid-fire sound.  Another reminded me of an air-hammer.  I can't say whether or not they heard me cursing as I churned uphill.

I also followed the Baker River for a few miles near Lincoln.  At one point the entire bed of the river is formed by one huge slab of granite.  Since it had no cracks, for hundreds of years, the river has been wearing grooves in the stone and creating wonderful abstract stone shapes.  Again, I'll post when I figure out my camera's ailments.

I'll post this for now and may add to it later.  For now, I can post a few pictures from my phone on my Facebook page.

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1 comment:

  1. I hope your "stupid" camera gets fixed soon so we can see more of the stunning scenery you mentioned.