Written by Patrick Fellion, Inaugural BikeMaine Rider #192
Patrick met Monica in Orono, Maine on September 7, 2013 – the first day of the inaugural BikeMaine event, a 400-mile-long supported ride organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.
Discovering The Inaugural BikeMaine
For me, it all started when a friend told me about his plans to participate in a long distance supported ride in Colorado. Although I had never done anything of the sort, I became enamored with the con-cept and began looking for a ride a bit closer to my home base in northeastern Pennsylvania that promised to be filled with adventure. I found a few potential options out there, but when I discov-ered the prospect of exploring the great state of Maine by bike, I knew BikeMaine was the ride for me!
So what brought Monica to Maine? Well, she had signed up to compete in IronMan Cozumel 140.6 in December 2013 and was looking for something fun and unique to incorporate some saddle time into her training agenda. One day she was on the Boston Triathlon Team forum and stumbled upon a post in which someone had mentioned BikeMaine and thought it was interesting. After a bit of research and deliberation, she signed up, took the time off, and ended up in Orono on a beautiful Saturday afternoon the week after Labor Day.
Adventures Along The Way
As fate would have it, we both kind of procrastinated and left our respective locations (me – Portland, her – Boston) a bit later than we had hoped and arrived in Orono about the same time toward the tail end of registration. I didn’t want to miss the welcome ceremony and dinner, so I quickly dropped my bags in the camping area and took my car to the off-site parking lot. As I boarded the shuttle back to the BikeMaine village I had my choice of seats; there were only two other riders in the van. I’m usual-ly pretty shy, but I sat down next to the girl wearing an IronMan Florida shirt and struck up a conver-sation.
As the week progressed, we ended up riding together quite a bit, getting to know each other more and more as we churned out the miles and ate up the scenery (and many, many yummy home-made baked treats!) along the way. Of course, we struck up new friendships with other BikeMainers too, but tended to gravitate toward each other while riding, enjoying meals, and exploring the towns and events in each host community.
When the riders arrived in Bar Harbor after pedaling about 275 miles and climbing over 17,000 feet in four days, everyone was looking forward to having a day to stretch out and relax. BikeMaine couldn’t have picked a better location to stage our ‘Rest Day’. As the gateway to Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor is an interesting little community that offered plenty of opportunity to find a great meal, browse at a myriad of unique shops, or visit any number of historical venues. For some, the rest day was exactly that – a day to sleep in, read a book, do laundry, or casually explore the town.
But we had other plans – rest, who needs rest?! Ha! We wanted to experience all that Mount Desert Island could offer and squeeze it into one day; I think we did a pretty good job! We started out at 5:00 a.m. with a BikeMaine organized ride up Cadillac Mountain to see the sunrise. Following the climb (and subsequent thrilling descent), Monica and I were off on our own and embarked on a ride of the Park Loop Road. Along the way, we got off our bikes and hiked the Precipice Trail, watched waves crash into the Thunder Hole, and had what we now call our official “first date” at the Jordan Pond House. We returned to the BikeMaine village with little time to spare before our guided sea-kayaking tour of Frenchman Bay. The day culminated in a most excellent Maine lobster dinner and a nighttime walk across the exposed gravel bar at low tide to Bar Island where we made our way to an overlook that provided a beautiful and romantic view of the starlit harbor. Needless to say, our ‘Rest Day’ was exhausting – but in the best way possible.
The End Of The Ride Approaches
We were in no hurry during the last two days of BikeMaine. In fact, I think we were just about the last riders to break camp in both Bar Harbor and Camp Jordan. Even though it rained both days, we were fairly oblivious to the sogginess because our spirits were glowing as we knew in our hearts that some-thing special had begun. As we approached the finish line in Orono a week after we met, I said to her “Give me your hand.” She presented it to me and we triumphantly held our hands high above our heads as we coasted under the black bear and crossed the finish line, all the while grinning ear to ear. Although I had some anxiety about how the ride would end, that anxiety was for naught. Looking back, I find it amusing that many of the other people we met and chatted with on the ride assumed we were a couple from day one. I guess we were kind of giving off an aura right from the start.
Where Have We Been And Where Are We Headed?
What have we been up to in those short eight months since the inaugural BikeMaine? Well, for start-ers, we’ve done a couple of century rides, attended a wedding, a memorial service, trained for my first marathon, skied, and taken trips to Cozumel, Mexico; Charleston, South Carolina; Quebec City, Canada; and, Washington D.C. The list goes on.
Where are we headed? Quite honestly, wherever the road takes us. We have a ton of stuff planned for the summer so far – weddings, rides, career changes, and the beginning of a new life together.
Who knew a 400-mile-long bike ride was going to change our lives forever? I sure didn’t. Neither did Monica. All I have to say is the inaugural BikeMaine ride set into motion the most important journey of our lives. Monica, I want the whole world to know that I love you.