We want to make sure both cyclists and motorists and know the rules of the road for BikeMaine – and in general. It is your responsibility to know the rules of the road before BikeMaine and to follow them on the ride. Please take a few minutes to review the cycling safety guidelines. Let’s make a great name for ourselves as safe and responsible cyclists, so that Maine communities will continue to welcome BikeMaine riders.
Prior to your arrival in Westbrook, we will contact media outlet in the regions in which you’ll be riding during BikeMaine. We will send them two public service press releases — one to remind residents that BikeMaine cyclists will be on area roads between September 6 and 13, and the other to remind motorists how to share the roads safely with cyclists.
In the “safety” press release, we stress the significant aspects of motorist safety. We also explain what motorists can expect from cyclists. We’re telling you, BikeMaine riders, what we told the motorists, so you can behave as they’re expecting. Read what we told area residents to expect from BikeMaine riders. By making sure motorists in the community and BikeMaine riders are on the same page, we can have a safe and enjoyable ride.
Rules of the Road for BikeMaine 2014
The number one priority of BikeMaine is your safety, which is why we have a few rules we insist you follow:
- A CPSP or Snell approved bicycle helmet must be worn at all times a rider is on a bicycle. even within the BikeMaine Village.
- Only bicycles propelled exclusively by human power are allowed to participate.
- Beware of and yield to vehicular traffic.
- Bicycle trailers and child seats are not permitted.
- Cross railroad tracks at a right angle.
- Two water bottles (or equivalent) are encouraged.
- The use of rearview mirrors is recommended as a safety measure.
- By Maine law, bicyclists are operators of vehicles and must comply with all traffic laws. BikeMaine reserves the right to expel any participant who does not ride in a safe and lawful manner. Riders who violate safety laws in the Maine motor vehicle code are also subject to citation by law enforcement officials.
- The BikeMaine course is open from 7:30 AM – 4:30 PM. Course support vehicles and other support services are available only during course hours. Any cyclist(s) still on the course after 4:30 PM will be offered a ride to that day’s BikeMaine Village; if you choose not to take it, you are on your own to get into camp. No course support services will be available for those who choose to stay out on the course after 4:30 PM.
- Riders electing to extend their daily ride by doing the additional mapped loop must be on the loop by 2:30 p.m.
- The course will be clearly marked. If you leave the official course, you are not part of the monitored route and will not be able to receive services or support, if needed.
- We try to direct as much vehicular traffic as possible off the route. Nevertheless, the tour travels on public roadways. Therefore, ride no more than two abreast (and single file when vehicles are passing). Ride beside a pal only where it is safe to do so, and where you do not block traffic or force other riders to swing far out to pass.
- Never draft behind a vehicle. Pace lines are prohibited in areas of high vehicle or cyclist traffic, and are limited in size to a maximum of seven riders. Be especially careful at railroad tracks and busy intersections. Course monitors and safety vehicles may be stationed in areas of special concern.
- Call “ON YOUR LEFT” to alert a rider you intend to pass. The call “CAR BACK” passes the message forward when a vehicle is approaching from behind. Use arm signals to indicate turns. Point out potholes, broken glass and other hazards to those behind you. Signal your intention to stop, and pull off the roadway.
- Use of iPods and similar musical devices while riding on BikeMaineis prohibited. Safe group riding in an event such as BikeMaine depends on communication between cyclists. iPods interfere with that process and make it difficult for people to hear instructions such as “CAR BACK” and “ON YOUR LEFT.” iPods also make it difficult to hear approaching cars or trucks, negatively impacting the safety of cyclists and motorists.
- BikeMaine intends to establish a reputation for leaving our campsites, lunch spots, rest stops and course spotless. Please dispose of all trash, recyclables and compostables in the appropriate places.
- Cyclists must keep the roadway clear when stopping at an event-designated stop or any other location. Please ensure that bicycles are parked off the road and that cyclists do not congregate on the roadways.
BikeMaine includes at least one roadside rest stop each day while on the course and one on the perimeter of the BikeMaine Village– each offering food and beverages. In addition, an assortment of beverages will be available at all meals, including the on-course lunch. Still, it is your responsibility to carry sufficient water and remain properly hydrated. Make sure you drink extra fluids before, during and after the ride to reduce the risk of dehydration. While in the saddle, you should consume an average of one liter of fluid for each hour of riding. Drink before you become thirsty. By the time you feel thirsty, you are already slightly dehydrated. Muscle cramping can also be a sign of dehydration. If at any time you run low on water, signal a SAG van with a “thumbs down” hand sign and ask for a fill-up. Do not be tempted by roadside rivers and
Pack in the fun on the layover day, then rejoin BikeMaine at the beer and wine garden Thursday evening beginning at 5:00 p.m. at the harbor front tent adjacent to the pedestrian bridge in downtown Boothbay Harbor. The town will be operating a complimentary shuttle from the BikeMaine Village. There will be two seatings for the lobster bake: 5:30 and 6:15 p.m.
The traditional lobster dinner includes lobster and clams (hearty vegetable chowder for vegetarians); corn on the cob; potato, eggs, and onions; autumn beet and vegetable salad with blue cheese; penne pasta and green beans with pesto; blueberry cake with ice cream. If you want to purchase a second lobster ($10) or a guest ticket ($25), you must make arrangements at the check in on September 6th in Westbrook.
There’s a lot to get in order before BikeMaine, but we’ve made a packing list to help you. Now’s the time to start building the packing pile in the corner of your living room! Remember, the combined weight of your transported luggage must not exceed 60 pounds, and no one bag may exceed 45 pounds. Please take the time to weigh your bag(s) and pack accordingly. This weight limit includes your tent (unless you have registered for Tent & Porter) and sleeping bag. We don’t want to break the backs of our generous volunteers!
Parking will be available for the week for a nominal fee of $15, with proceeds going to support the Westbrook Community Center children’s scholarship program to ensure that no child is kept from the Center’s programs due to financial barriers. You can make arrangements for parking when you check in September 6th in Westbrook. You will be asked to sign a Parking Waiver. After you check in and unload your luggage and bike, please move your car to the IDEXX Laboratories parking lot located approximately 1.5 miles from the BikeMaine Village. A shuttle will be operating from 1:00-5:30 p.m. to transport you back to the Village area. BikeMaine will finish on September 13th on IDEXX grounds.
The Rider Handbook contains a few forms that you’ll need to have completed and signed when you check-in: a Medical Form and a Waiver and Release of Liability. Best to get it done now and put the completed forms in a place where you won’t forget them. We will have printed forms available at check in, but if you want to save time in Westbrook, you can print off the forms and fill them out before you arrive, leaving you more time to settle in and begin enjoying BikeMaine!
And don’t forget to pack a postcard from your hometown or state to give to the students at Belgrade Central School!
As you approach Boothbay Harbor, the site of your well-deserved day of rest, you will be riding towards the place that was a particular favorite of Rachel Carson. The conservationist and marine biologist felt a strong connection with coastal Maine and spent countless hours studying the biodiversity of its marine habitats, as well as enjoying leisure time in a summer cottage she built on the coast in 1953. The Rachel Carson Salt Pond Preserve that lies outside of Boothbay Harbor protects the site where Carson conducted much of her research for her book Edge of the Sea, published in 1955. The preserve serves as a memorial of the invaluable contributions that Carson made to the scientific community, and offers visitors the opportunity to explore extensive woodlands, rocky shoreline, and the overgrown hay fields left behind by the Danforth farm that once occupied the property. In addition to her scientific accomplishments, Carson was instrumental to the formation of the Maine chapter of The Nature Conservancy.
Boothbay Harbor is a popular summer visitor destination. Though BikeMaine visits on the quiet side of Labor Day, there is still plenty to do. But before we talk about the myriad activities going on during BikeMaine’s visit, a little bit of history:
In 1666, Englishmen established an early seasonal fishing camp in the Boothbay Harbor area. Henry Curtis purchased the land from the sachem Mowhotiwormet (also known as Chief Robinhood) “for a hogshead of rum and some pumpkins.” The European settlement was attacked and burned during King Philip’s War, resettled shortly afterwards, then destroyed again in 1689 during King William’s War. It was then abandoned for 40 years. The settlement was named Boothbay in 1842 and grew to be a busy fishing center. When storms came, Boothbay Harbor could shelter as many as 500 vessels. By the early 1880s, the town was home to a fishery, a fish oil company, an ice company, a fertilizer manufacturer, a lobster canning factory and two marine railways. Boothbay has always had a robust boatbuilding industry. In the mid-20th century, minesweepers were built for the U.S. Navy in WWII. Also known for its physical beauty, Boothbay was used as a movie set for the 1956 film, “Carousel.”
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is proud to announce that Coalition members Victor Langelo and Nicole Anderson have each won a half-week BikeMaine Scholarship. We’re looking forward to riding with you both!
Victor loves riding in Maine and is a tremendous proponent of bicycling. He lives in Topsham and is trained as a Bicycle Coalition of Maine advocate thorough our Community Spokes program. He organized the Brunswick-Topsham Trail Coalition working with snowmobile riders, hikers and bicyclists, has done significant fundraising for a local trail segment that will eventually help connect to the existing Brunswick-Topsham Trail, and volunteers and rides regularly with the Merrymeeting Wheelers (he won their “golden sprocket” award last year). He’s a stalwart on the Merrymeeting Trail committee, and has twice led rides from Gardiner to Bath to familiarize people with this possible future trail, and to promote the trail to local businesses along the way.
Nikki is 29 years old and a resident of Portland. She is a year round bike commuter, member of the Portland bicycle pedestrian advocacy group and Meetup bike ride leader in Portland. She usually does a bike tour each year with her husband, but could not afford to do so this year as they are preparing to buy their first home.
Our thanks to Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Maine for allowing us to recognize these two very active members of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine for their passionate commitment and great work, with a scholarship to ride a half-week of BikeMane 2014.
Maine’s first specialty coffee and espresso truck will be joining us for BikeMaine 2014. The truck, Flo, is the mobile offshot of Gorham Grind, an independent community coffeehouse in Gorham, Maine.
“The original idea [for the name Flo] was that coffee needs to flow at outdoor events,” said owner Carson Lynch. “There is never good coffee at a wedding or festival. It’s always an after thought, and it shouldn’t be.”
Thanks to Lynch, coffee will be flowing at the ride in September. Lynch said he plans to open the truck beginning at 5:30 a.m. for those riders who just can’t wait for coffee until breakfast begins at 6:30 in the BikeMaine Villages. He will join us in Westbrook, Winthrop, Gardiner and Bath, while being careful not to interfere with the businesses in each town. Lynch will sell a variety of espresso drinks and drip coffees (hot and iced, regular and decaf) as well as breakfast sandwiches, pastries, baked goods and bottled drinks.
Lynch also said BikeMaine riders can expect free samples of Rocket Fuel to kick-start their days! Rocket Fuel, a specialty item on the menu, is a concoction of coffee, Maine milk and cream, and sugar. It was originally created by Gorham Grind as a ready-to-sell espresso drink for a music festival in Cornish, Maine in 2008.
Lynch has been the owner of Gorham Grind since the end of 2005 and began the construction of Flo in May, 2013. He put the mobile truck idea on the back burner while he developed the business, but the coffee truck idea has been a dream of his for over a decade.
Since May, 2013, Flo has made appearances at two music festivals in Maine, a local products trade show in Gorham and a food truck festival in Portland called “Street Eats and Beats.” The truck’s interior is currently under construction, which is funded in part by a 45-day crowd funding campaign through the website Small Knot.
“I’ve always felt the most important element to the design of an espresso bar is that the space is laid out so you can maximize efficiency and have a good flow,” Lynch said. Flo’s interior will be designed to promote that.
Flo was initially used for deliveries from the Gorham store to other locations. Lynch’s goal is to develop her into a fully independent and licensed food truck. He is the process of getting the license (which includes a state inspection) to gain restaurant status.
Though Flo is a new addition to BikeMaine, Gorham Grind coffee is no stranger to cyclists. “Especially on weekends, we have people start and finish rides at our shop in Gorham,” Lynch said. “So it’s a crowd that we love catering to already.”
People at the “Street Eats and Beats” in Portland, eat near The Gorham Grind’s mobile coffee truck, Flo.
Over the ocean and through the States, to BikeMaine we go! This year, we are happy to have many riders from our great state of Maine, as well as people from a bit farther away. Whether you get to us by bike, car, train or plane – we’re glad you’re coming. Check out this map to see where your fellow riders are from!
Last year, Lewiston Public Schools superintendent Bill Webster rode in the inaugural BikeMaine and brought 40 fourth graders along with him. Well, not literally. Rather, Webster brought BikeMaine to the fourth graders.
At 3 p.m. on each weekday of BikeMaine 2013, Webster talked via FaceTime with the two fourth grade classes at Longley Elementary School. The students asked Webster questions about the history and landmarks of towns he rode through, and he gave them visual tours of the BikeMaine villages. During his last call to the class, he showed them around the swimming area at Camp Jordan where fellow cyclist Bill White was enjoying the water. At the students’ request, White swam out to a yellow float and did a cannonball off it. Webster also shared videos and photos of Maine sights, including Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge, via a DropBox folder. The teachers used laminated wall maps of Maine to help students follow along with Webster’s trip.
The project is a great fit for the fourth grade curriculum, which includes Maine geography and history. Teachers also applied Webster’s trip to the English Language Arts and Math curricula through writing assignments and measurements of distance and area. The fourth graders also learned about Walk and Bike Safety. Additionally, many Lewiston students have also done little, if any, travel outside of the city, and this project helped them see more of their state.
BikeMaine is thrilled that Webster is joining us again to “Pedal the Waterways”, and that his project has grown even more! This year Webster has offered the project to other fourth grade classroom in Lewiston, and the district is looking for future grant funding to expand the curriculum and interactive features further.
Webster said he hopes to feature other BikeMaine cyclists in his FaceTime calls with students. So you may have a chance to chat with some of the fourth graders while on route this September.
One of the many exciting activities during BikeMaine is The Nature Conservancy’s speaker series. At 4:00 p.m. on three nights, you can unwind from a day of riding by sitting back and learning about the Maine environment from an expert. We’d love to see you at any, or all three, of these excellent talks from The Nature Conservancy!
On Monday, September 8, at the YMCA Camp in Winthrop, Joshua Royte will lead a talk titled, “Connecting Maine’s rivers and streams: the wonder of migration and what Maine is doing to restore migratory fish.”Josh is a Conservation Scientist at The Nature Conservancy in Maine. He leads much of The Nature Conservancy in Maine’s watershed level planning to determine the best ways to restore migratory fish species (those that move between the ocean and fresh water). This spring, Josh helped organize the World Fish Migration Day, which was celebrated with over 255 events in 47 countries around the world. Josh will speak to all the tremendous efforts going on around the state’s communities to restore migratory fish to their former abundance in Maine.
On Thursday, September 11, in Boothbay, Michael Tetreault will speak about, “The Gulf of Maine: working with Maine’s fishermen to sustain our ground fishing industry for economy and environment.” Mike is the Executive Director of The Nature Conservancy in Maine and also works around the globe to support efforts to protect lands and restore fisheries. Mike has a deep passion for working with natural resource users to solve some of the globe’s biggest challenges. Mike will talk about the Conservancy’s efforts to restore groundfish to the Gulf of Maine – one of the most productive marine systems in the world.
On Friday, September 12, at the YMCA in Bath, Carrie Kinne and Kate Dempsey will lead a talk about, “Merrymeeting Bay: the confluence of two rivers, an ecological and cultural history.” Carrie Kinne joined the Kennebec Estuary Land Trust (KELT) in October 2008 as Executive Director. Ms. Kinne has closed on nine land projects and has overseen over $100,000 of stewardship projects improving visitor access to and enjoyment of lands with public access. In 2012, Ms. Kinne received a Maine Visionary Award from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute for her “…unmatched passion and commitment to the Kennebec Estuary in Maine.”
Kate Dempsey is The Nature Conservancy in Maine’s Director of External Affairs, Kate oversees partnerships and policy development and its implementation in Maine. Much of her day time work involves working closely with Maine’s Congressional Delegation to encourage their support of Nature Conservancy priorities such as passing federal budgets that support conservation and making our communities more resilient to the impacts from climate change. (Kate will speak in back with Carrie Kinne (see above) and introduce the other speakers.)
Carrie Kinne and Kate Dempsey will speak about the ecological history of the Kennebec Estuary and Merrymeeting Bay, the fantastic record of conservation and what it means for the communities that lie within these beautiful natural areas.
Winthrop is a town in Kennebec County located about 10 miles west of Maine’s capital, Augusta. The town’s population of about 7,000 approximately doubles during the summer when part-year residents return to seasonal camps. The town’s tag line, “We play outside!” is fitting given the abundance of outdoor activities in the water and on land in Winthrop. For 25 years, the Kennebec Land Trust has worked hard to protect the shoreline and develop on-land trails. This year, the Trust is publishing a durable, compact hiking guide featuring 20 of its permanently conserved lands, which will be available in locations across central Maine.
Winthrop was part of the Kennebec Purchase granted by the Plymouth Council for New England. The town was settled in 1765 by Timothy Foster and initially was called Pondtown for its lakes and ponds. Today, the commercial downtown sits between Maranacook and Annabessacook Lake. Additionally, Cobbosseecontee Lake is nationally recognized as one of the top bass-fishing lakes in America due to its sizeable largemouth population. The Cobbossee Lighthouse, also known as Ladies Delight Lighthouse, is the only active inland waters lighthouse in Maine.
The town has gradually developed various industries since John Chandler built a sawmill and gristmill in the late 1700s. By 1886, the town had a sawmill that manufactured about 200,000 feet of lumber every year, two oilcloth factories, a sash and blind factory, and a foundry and machine shop. The town was once a stop on the Maine Central Railroad, which carried freight and tourists who helped develop Winthrop into the summer destination it remains today. Winthrop is home to many people who work with and in the Maine government since Augusta, the capital of Maine, is just down the road.
Winthrop also is home to a fantastic summer camp, the YMCA Camp of Maine, where we’ll be spending the night! If you’re a native, you may have had the opportunity to come here for summer camp as a youngster. But, if not, your time has come! The YMCA Camp of Maine, now a beloved summer camp for children from all over the world, is founded on the YMCA values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. As such, many of the campers assume leadership roles not only at camp, but ultimately in their schools and communities as well.
As in the other BikeMaine communities, the BikeMaine Village will be set up at the Y Camp of Maine, but riders also will have the option of sleeping in bunkhouses. A donation of $15/person for this privilege will benefit the ongoing development of programs and facilities at the camp.
During your camp stay, BikeMaine riders will have the opportunity to enjoy various waterfront activities, such as swimming, kayaking and canoeing. For the landlubbers in the group, the camp has open spaces for frisbee and softball games, and wooded areas for hiking and exploring. Pick your pleasure!
For those who prefer to “kick back and relax,” that’s okay, too. Snacks and a beer/wine garden will be available all afternoon. And, for those interested in a massage for those weary muscles, licensed massage therapists will be offering 30-minute sessions for $20.
After dinner, the beer/wine garden will re-open and the Gawler Family Band will sponsor a contra dance for our evening entertainment. Riders can gather around the campfire, tell tales of the day’s ride, and roast s’mores over the open fire. No doubt, you’ll all sleep well… and wake up with lots of energy for Day 3 of the 2014 BikeMaine Ride, which will take you to Gardiner, Maine.
Day 3: Winthrop to Gardiner
Don’t look at the map, since you’ll see that we start and end Day 3 day about 20 miles apart, as the crow flies. But if we took the crow’s route, we’d miss much of the beauty found in this region.
After leaving Winthrop, we ride through Readfield up to the Belgrade Lakes region. Today’s route is relatively flat, with no big climbs or variations in terrain, so we can cruise as we head north past Maranacook (mah-RAN-ah cook) Lake. All or most of the names of these bodies of water were given by the Native American inhabitants of Maine, in particular, the Abenaki (ab-NACK-ee). Lake Cobbosseecontee is believed to mean “lake of many sturgeon,” which is a native fish to the area. “Kennebec” means “long, quiet river” and “Sebago” means “big lake.”
The Belgrade Lakes do not take their name from the Abenaki. The land surrounding the lakes was originally owned by the Plymouth Company and was called Washington Plantation. It was first settled in 1774 by Philip Snow from New Hampshire. On February 3, 1796, it was incorporated as Belgrade, named after Belgrade, Serbia. According to the National Geographic Atlas of the World, Revised Sixth Edition, dated 1992, there are only five Belgrades in the entire world. The others are located in Minnesota, Montana and Nebraska. Oddly, all of the American Belgrades are in northern states.
The Belgrade Lakes are a connected chain of lakes of which the largest is Great Pond. Outlets of the ponds provided water power for mills. In Belgrade in 1859, there was a shovel factory and a spool factory, as well as several sawmills and gristmills. By 1886, there were also factories that made rakes, shingles, scythes and boxes. With the arrival of the railroad, Belgrade developed into a tourist resort of fishing, boating and lakeside cottages. The Belgrade Hotel, designed by notable Portland architect, John Calvin Stevens, was built at Belgrade Lakes. The hotel was an example of the grand hotels built at the time, served by passenger trains that brought visitors to the region from the metropolitan areas of the East Coast. Like many of these grand hotels, Belgrade Hotel was destroyed by fire, in this case in October, 1956, two weeks after closing for the season. The town was also an annual summertime destination for the writers E.B. White and Ernest Thompson. The latter’s visits to Great Pond inspired his 1979 play,“On Golden Pond,” which was made into the Academy Award-winning 1981 movie of the same title.
Our route takes us through the town of Belgrade, where we have a rest stop at the Belgrade Central Elementary School (don’t forget to bring a postcard from your hometown to adhere to a map for the students). We then head north along the western shore of nine-mile long Messalonskee Lake. We ride around the top of the lake and come down the eastern shore to the New England Music Camp where we have lunch. The New England Music Camp (NEMC) is a summer camp for music students ages 11 to 18, located on 200 acres in Sidney. It was founded in 1937. The camp has facilities for about 200 campers as well as faculty and staff. The NPR radio program, “From the Top,” which features the music of extraordinarily talented young people, was taped here earlier in the summer, and that program is scheduled for broadcast on September 8 at 8 p.m.
After lunch, we head due east for a bit before reaching the Kennebec River in Vasssalboro. Although the Abenaki may have thought of the Kennebec as being long and quiet, for close to two centuries the river has been and remains a focal point of Maine’s economy. From its headwaters in far northern Maine to the Kennebec’s outlet to the sea in Bath (coming up later in BikeMaine), the river dominates commercial and agricultural activity in central Maine. In 1832, the city of Augusta became Maine’s state capital and by 1840, thriving river traffic saw a fleet of schooners traveling weekly between Augusta and Boston.
Lumber became a popular industry after the Revolutionary War. One of the methods of moving cut lumber was to float logs down the Kennebec, resulting in the development of the extremely labor-intensive river driving industry. From 1834 to the last river drive in 1976, lumber was floated down the Kennebec to mills in Southern Maine such as those in Madison, Skowhegan and Augusta. The drives began in the spring at “ice-out” (when a person can traverse an entire body of water even if there is still ice in some areas), however laborers began preparing for the upcoming drive much before that, working in snow and ice.
The Kennebec was first dammed in the 1830s. By the middle of the decade, there were four dams between Skowhegan and Waterville. River towns situated near major falls, like Skowhegan, Waterville, Augusta and Gardiner, harnessed waterpower to run factories, sawmills and textile mills.
Between river towns, the banks of the Kennebec are dotted with farms. Along this section of the Kennebec, agriculture has a long history. Archaeological excavation at Dresden reveals early Native American settlements. The Kennebec Indians were the first to farm the land along the river, growing corn and beans. Farming remains an important part of life in the valley today.
Our last fourteen miles of the day, from Vassalboro to Gardiner, are close to the banks of the Kennebec River. South of Vassalboro lies Augusta, Maine’s capital. The State House, designed by Charles Bullfinch, was opened in 1832. The Governor’s residence, the Blaine House, is a block or two away from the capital. Although Augusta usually is busy with the activity of state government, the Legislature is not in session during our ride and there is an election for the governor’s office this fall, so the city may be a little quieter than usual.
In Augusta, our route moves onto the recently completed “Kennebec River Rail Trail.” The beautiful 8-mile, mostly off-road and paved path meanders through the Capital Region of Maine, moving back onto the roads briefly, as we pass through Hallowell, a town popular with tourists for its culture and architecture. “A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard based on her diary, 1785–1812, ” published in the early 1990s by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, won a Pulitzer Prize and many other awards for recounting the diary of a late 18th century midwife in Hallowell. Today, Hallowell is the home of a world-class GIS software company (Blue Marble Geographics) whose customers in the mining, land survey, oil, gas and other industries span the world.
If you want to take a break from riding, there are many antique and other fun shops for you to visit in this town of about 2,400 – without even veering off route. There’s some historical architecture for you to notice right along Water Street. The Row House, Inc. was incorporated in July 1969 by a small group of citizens who were determined to preserve Hallowell’s rich history as told through its buildings. The first building they purchased was the Gage Block, which had been built in 1846 by Isaac Gage to house Cotton Mill personnel. They applied for federal restoration funds under the National Preservation Act of 1966 and received the first grant awarded in the country under that appropriation.
Row House went on in 1971 to purchase and preserve the Cross Roads building, on the corner of Water and Academy Streets. You can check out the Cross Roads building as you ride down Water Street. You can also notice the Gagne house (which the organization purchased, repaired and sold) at the south end of Water Street. The Row House has also published books, including its latest project, “Dwellings: the unique homes of Hallowell” which celebrates the architectural diversity of dwellings in the small town.
After riding down Water St. in Hallowell, we’ll get back on The Kennebec River Rail Trail until it ends at Gardiner Landing, a gem on the Kennebec River where you will camp for the evening.
Welcome to Gardiner!
History and architecture buffs will relish the near-perfectly intact downtown block. Stepping onto historic Water Street is like stepping back into a black and white 1800’s photograph. Gardiner is a historic mill town that has benefited from its proximity to the state capital and access to southern markets via the Interstate system. In another day and time, Gardiner was well known for its ice production. Ice was harvested on the Kennebec beginning in the early 1800s and continuing through the 1920s. Kennebec ice was distributed widely along the eastern seaboard and even shipped to the West Indies. The ice had a high quality since it was clean and harvested a long way from the salty ocean water. During the ice-harvesting heyday (1870-1890), the industry employed 25,000 men, many of whom were involved in agricultural pursuits during ice off-season in the summer.
Gardiner is named after Dr. Silvester Gardiner, a prominent Boston physician who founded the town as Gardinerstown Plantation in 1754. Dr. Gardiner had made a fortune as a drug merchant with one apothecary shop in Massachusetts and two in Connecticut. Dr. Gardiner helped develop several industries in Gardiner, but loyal to the Crown, he fled Boston in 1776 when the British army evacuated. However, his settlement lived on without him was incorporated in 1803 as the town of Gardiner.
Those of you doing the loop ride will pass, and can ride onto the grounds of, the Gardiner family’s remarkable mansion. The Oakland’s Mansion was built in 1836 on the banks of the Kennebec River. The Gardiner family still owns the property to this day.
Gardiner is in the midst of its 21st century re-birth; visitors will get a great glimpse of a city in the middle of its transformation. The Gardiner community has planned a series of activities that will allow you to be an active participant in this re-birth.
In the afternoon, take a tour of Wicked Whoopies, a 1.5-mile jaunt from the BikeMaine Village. The Whoopie Pie is a classic Maine treat and will be served as part of our evening meal. For those wanting to walk, a local historian will lead groups along the Edwin Arlington Robinson Tilbury Town walking tour, which highlights the history of Gardiner through the lens of the Pulitzer Prize winning poet from Gardiner. Robinson’s famous works reflect the people and places of Gardiner in the late 19th and early 20th century. His poem “Ballad of a Ship” was published in literary journal The Harvard Advocate when he was a student there. The poem begins:
“Down by the flash of the restless water
The dim White Ship like a white bird lay;
Laughing at life and the world they sought her,
And out she swung to the silvering bay.”
For those wanting to get out on the water, Clark Marine will be offering boat trips on the serene and peaceful tidal Kennebec River. The Kennebec was once fouled by effluent from the industrial past, but has now been restored to a thriving ecosystem for many species, including Gardiner’s mascot, the Atlantic sturgeon. Others may enjoy shopping boutique retailers or stocking up on necessary supplies – there is a supermarket and a Renys department store within walking distance of the Village. (Renys’ slogan is “A Maine Adventure” since the business was founded in Damariscotta in 1949 by Robert H. Reny and is still family owned and operated with 16 locations in Maine.) A community service organization in Gardiner will be offering a wash/dry/fold service, with pick-up and delivery right from the BikeMaine Village. Tours will be available in Johnson Hall, Maine’s oldest operating Opera House, slated for historic rehabilitation and a return to its full 400-seat capacity in the next five years.
The evening meal will feature a “Taste of Gardiner.” Local restaurants will serve items from their menus that contain locally sourced products, which have been carefully selected by the Gardiner Food Co-op, a community-owned local foods grocery slated to open later this year. Riders will be encouraged to quench their post-ride thirsts by visiting one or more of the local pubs.
After a busy or lazy afternoon and delicious meal, gather for evening announcements and the side-splitting comedy show “The Early Evening Show,” a spoof of a late-night talk show with special guests, music, skits, and zaniness by Johnson Hall’s own Mike Miclon. We hope you enjoy your stay in historic Gardiner, and look forward to your speedy return!
Day 4: Gardiner to Boothbay Harbor
Today offers a great inland ride before we head south to the Atlantic Coast. We start on the west bank of the Kennebec River in Gardiner, cross to the east bank and head inland. As we ride inland today, we’ll see some of the agricultural land of Maine. The state does not have particularly fertile ground, but that has not deterred people from trying. It’s hard country with a short growing season, but generations of families have made their livelihood through agriculture for centuries in this part of the state.
One of the first towns we’ll ride through is Pittston. Located in Kennebec County, Pittston was incorporated in 1779. This is home to one of the original settlements in Maine: the Reuben Colburn House. Built in 1765 by Reuben Colburn, this house in Pittston still stands as testimony to the people who first settled the Kennebec River region of Maine and helped others do the same. Reuben Colburn provided transport, provisions, and critical intelligence to Benedict Arnold’s expeditionary army when it marched through Maine during the American invasion of British-held Canada in 1775-1776. A force of 1,100 soldiers led by Colonel Benedict Arnold began what is now called “Arnold’s March” or the “Arnold Expedition” here on Colburn’s property. George Washington contracted with Colburn to have 200 boats delivered to Arnold, who lodged in Colburn’s house. Colburn assembled a team of craftsmen to build these boats in just two weeks despite a lack of nails and seasoned lumber. Despite his efforts at helping the colonies win independence from Great Britain and financing the Arnold Expedition, Colburn was never repaid. His descendants remained in the house for more than a century. The home was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 28, 2004. The Reuben Colburn House will be open for you to visit on the morning of Sept. 10.
In Dresden, we ride north on Blinn Hill Road. Dresden was settled in 1752 and incorporated in 1794 and is most westerly town in Lincoln County. The town is comprised of two villages: Dresden Mills and West Dresden. At 440 feet above sea level, Blinn’s Hill offers a beautiful view of the White Mountains, more than 100 miles away. Also located in Dresden is the Dresden Bog Reservoir, which is not far from the natural foot of Blinn’s Hill. We’ll come close to the Reservoir as we ride along Blinn Hill Rd.
Next we head north to Whitefield and Jefferson. Whitefield, like many other Maine towns, suffered greatly in the Civil War. In 1860, town records show that there were fewer than 1,000 residents in Whitefield. Of those residents, 117 men enlisted in the Union forces of the Civil War (33 nine-month men, 19 one-year men, 65 three-year men). During the War, the town voted that each man enlisted in the service of the Union should receive $100.00 (nearly $3,000 in 2014 dollars) from the town. Route 126, which Bike Maine crosses today, is also known as the Grand Army Road.
From Grand Army Road, we will turn onto Town House Rd., where there will be a rest stop at the Sheepscot General Store. The store’s slogan is “more than store” and that truly does seem to be the case. The store is situated on a working farm in Whitefield. In addition to groceries, sandwiches, soups and baked goods, the owners offer community events including yoga classes and pizza nights. Sheepscot General also has a Community Supported Agriculture system that connects shareholders and farmers and allows people to invest toward a share of a year’s harvest and in turn receive farm produce credit that can be spent at the store.
The route takes us across the Damariscotta (dam-riss-SKOT-ta) River before we head east in Lincoln County toward Salt Bay, one of the state’s most productive shellfish, alewife, striped bass and smelt fisheries. Though it is traditionally referred to as a river, the Damariscotta is considered by ecologists to be an estuary. The watershed includes at least 25 upland community types, including maritime spruce-fir forests and salt marsh habitats. Additionally, twenty percent of “species of significance” listed in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem are known to inhabit the Damariscotta River estuary. Unusual species like the horseshoe crab and red-bearded sponge were isolated in this area after the last ice age and are important remnants of past ecosystems.
After crossing the river, we’ll continue on Head Tide Road through a small town named Alna. The name was chosen from the Latin word “alnus” for alder since there were many beautiful alder trees growing on the banks of the Sheepscot River, which forms the town’s northwest and southeast borders. The town is just east of the Kennebec River and has a population of about 700. Despite its small size, Alna has significant historical landmarks. The Head Tide Historic District, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, is a small village on both sides of the Sheepscot that has been described as a “small, picturesque river community with many excellent examples of well-preserved 19th century buildings.” These include the birthplace of poet Edwin Arlington Robinson and the Old Alna Meetinghouse (built in 1789).
We next pass through Damariscotta Mills, a village located in the towns of Nobleboro and Newcastle, and settled in 1729. Here you can check out the location of Maine’s oldest fish ladder. A fish ladder has a series of pools built like steps that allow fish to bypass a dam or waterfall. The towns of Nobleboro and Newcastle built the ladder in 1807 at the state’s request after mills had blocked the alewives’ passage to the Damariscotta Lake for almost a century. After two centuries of use, the fish ladder was rebuilt in 2007, which has been beneficial to the Damariscotta River alewife industry. Alewives are an important part of the food chain and contribute to the health of the marine environments where they spawn. Local lobstermen also use alewives as fresh bait in the spring. Newcastle and Nobleboro have harvested alewives since 1700s. They continue to do so, carefully balancing conservation and economic goals. You can learn more about the fish ladder and its importance to the region in this video:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAJMKWEDbgE
After leaving Damariscotta, we cross U.S. Route 1 in Newcastle. One notable landmark in Newcastle is Frances Perkins’ family’s 57-acre homestead on the Damariscotta River, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve in a U.S. Cabinet, an important advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and a lifelong advocate for social justice and economic security. She helped develop groundbreaking New Deal programs, including the 40-hour work week, Social Security and the minimum wage. The Frances Perkins Center (which was incorporated in 2009) is headquartered in Damariscotta,and seeks to acquire and preserve the family homestead in Newcastle. We’ll stop for a lunch break on the water at the Second Congregational Church in Newcastle. After resting and refueling, we’ll head down a peninsula on the west bank of the Damariscotta River to Boothbay Harbor. Along the way, we’ll pass the Dodge Point Public Reserve: 500 acres and 8,000 feet of frontage on the tidal waters of the Damariscotta River. This site attracts families year-round for its natural beauty and human history (including an old mill site and brickyard, cellar holes and rock walls).
Now you can breathe and even taste the ocean air. You’ve made it to our destination tonight: Boothbay Harbor, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.
Welcome to BikeMaine! If you are a returning rider, you know the fun and variety that awaits. If you are a first-time BikeMainer, get ready to see our wonderful state as few do – by bike.
Welcome to Westbrook
The City of Westbrook, home to about 18,000 people, is proud to have been selected as the start and finish location for BikeMaine 2014. Westbrook is a quintessential New England mill town, with a paper mill located at its very center on the Presumpscot River. Originally the S.D. Warren Mill, the facility was built in 1854 and was the first coated papermaking facility in the United States. Now known as Sappi Fine Paper North America, the Westbrook mill’s 350 employees produce 40% of the world’s supply of release paper, a type of paper used in manufacturing products that require a certain texture. Sappi’s customers use the release paper made at the Westbrook mill to provide texture on products like soccer balls, shoes and high-end clothing. The release paper begins as a cellulose-based paper, but in the mill a special coating is applied and then the paper is cured with electron beams. This type of release paper is 10 times more valuable than the coated specialty paper for cat alogues and magazines the mill used to produce.
Just up river from Sappi is Westbrook’s 100 year old Riverbank Park where the BikeMaine Village will be situated on September 6th. The River Walk connects the park to Saccarappa Falls and downtown Westbrook, with its many restaurants, an art gallery, vintage antique shop and pottery gallery. Along the River Walk, you can rent kayaks and enjoy a peaceful paddle on the Presumpscot River.
For those who arrive early to town and like to golf, Westbrook has four 9-hole golf courses and a driving range:
In celebration of this year’s BikeMaine, the City of Westbrook will host a kickoff parade down Main Street late Saturday afternoon, followed by dinner and entertainment. Then tuck yourself in for a good night’s rest in preparation for a week of glorious riding. Over the next few days, as you cycle past lakes, rivers, estuaries and ocean bays, you’ll understand why we tagged this year’s ride “Pedaling the Waterways.”
Day 1: Westbrook to Norway
Our first day of riding begins with a celebratory mass start at 8:00 a.m. on Main Street, right outside Riverbank Park. Community members and sponsors have been invited to accompany us as we head out of town and embark on our adventure.
Once past Westbrook and Gorham, we enter South Windham, where we pick up the Mountain Division Trail. The trail is named for the inactive train track bed that it parallels and, once completed, will span a 52-mile stretch between Portland and Fryeburg, on the New Hampshire border. Today, we ride the Mountain Division Trail for only 1.5 miles, before heading towards the west side of Sebago Lake, referred to by locals as the “back”side because it is the less densely populated side of the lake.
Before we get our first glimpse of Sebago Lake, however, we pass through Standish. Standish was originally hunting and fishing territory for the Abenaki Indians. In 1785, the town of Standish was incorporated and was named for the Pilgrim, Miles Standish.
Standish also is home to the Steep Falls Wildlife Management Area, which we pass on our left. This property was the first land to be protected after Rachel Carson and a handful of Maine citizens formed a local chapter of The Nature Conservancy in 1956. Today this wildlife management area covers 3,971 acres and is composed mostly of upland forests with some wetlands throughout the area.
Our route then traces the western shoreline of Sebago Lake. Riding along Route 114, you’ll see many modest roads going off to the right that lead to cottages (or “camps”as Mainers refer to them) along the lake’s shore. Our morning rest stop is at the Sebago Lake Campground, where you will get your first unobstructed view of Sebago Lake.
Sebago Lake is Maine’s deepest and second largest lake. It covers over 45 square miles, has a total shoreline of 105 miles, and is 300 feet at its deepest point. Carved by ancient rivers and scoured by Ice Age glaciers, Sebago Lake fills a basin made of granite that has been weathered for millions of years. Only Moosehead Lake to the north is larger. Sebago Lake is a fabulous year round recreation area, but because the lake also serves as the main water source for the Greater Portland area, the water quality of the lake is of particular importance to the surrounding communities. As you ride along its shores, keep an eye open for the common loon. These birds migrate to Sebago Lake to breed and raise their young.
In East Sebago, at the westernmost part of Sebago Lake, we’ll ride by the Spaulding Memorial Library, built in the 1920s by a long-time summer resident. The library is constructed of fieldstone and has a lovely fieldstone fireplace inside.
It is in East Sebago where Route 114 joins with Route 11, and we head north to the headwaters of Sebago Lake. We turn off the main road onto a quiet lane that takes us to Songo Lock, connecting Sebago Lake to Brandy Pond and Long Lake. This lock is the only one remaining from the 30-plus locks built in the 1830s to link Long Lake and Sebago Lake, via the Cumberland and Oxford Canal, to the Atlantic Ocean near Portland. The Songo Lock and swing bridge are operated manually and, if there is boat traffic passing through the area while you are there, you will be able to see all that goes into moving traffic through the lock.
We then roll into Sebago Lake State Park at the northern edge of Sebago Lake. A popular recreation area, the park opened in 1938 and is one of Maine’s original five state parks. The park is mostly forested, covering 1,400 acres, and contains a variety of habitats, ranging from sandy beaches along the water’s edge, to woodlands, ponds and bogs.
After the park, we pass Brandy Pond on our left and come to Route 302, also known as the Roosevelt Trail, the main east-west road in this region. It was given its name because this stretch of road originally was the beginning of The Theodore Roosevelt International Highway, designed to run from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon.
The Bike Maine route continues across Route 302 onto Sand Road and Route 11, where we cross the Crooked River. A quick look at a map explains the river’s name. Crooked River doubles back on itself countless times in a 10-mile stretch before emptying into Sebago Lake. The northern end of Crooked River flows through Jugtown Plains, a region that is defined by the contiguous block of forest that covers over 3,280 acres. The core of this forest is composed of Maine’s most important example of pitch pine-heath, a natural community that once grew unbroken along the eastern coastline but now struggles to grow under the continuous threat of development. These pitch pine-heath barrens are home to the Acadian swordgrass moth, a rare species that can only be found in a few sites through the state.
We leave Route 11 for local roads, and ride to the town of Casco, where we’ll pass the famous signpost showing Maine towns named after presidents and their distances from the town, and stop for lunch at the Casco Recreation Center.
Following lunch, the route passes between Parker Pond (on the right) and Pleasant Lake (on the left). There are a whole lot of Pleasant Lakes or Ponds in Maine (more than 20). This is the one that stretches from Casco to Otisfield. Along the way, we leave Cumberland County and enter Oxford County, one of Maine’s western counties, and the town of Otisfield.
In 1859, a historian described Otisfield as having three post offices, twenty-four schools, “three sawmills, four shingle machines [and] a capital invested in trade of $6,000.” Look around and see how times have changed. Otisfield, now home to 1,770 people, is the home of Seeds of Peace, a camp operated by the peace-building youth organization founded in 1993 and based in New York City. The camp brings youth from areas of conflict around the world to Otisfield for a three-week program designed to confront their prejudices and deep-seated fears and tackle the issues that fuel violence, hatred and oppression at home.
Onward to Oxford County, one of Maine’s western counties. We travel on Route 121 for a short distance before turning onto Rayville Road. On our left, is more water: Saturday Pond, then Moose Pond. We take Route 117 past the Pennesseewassee Lake into Norway, the end of the day’s ride.
The Town of Norway is cozily nestled into the scenic foothills of Western Maine. Known first as Rustfield Plantation after wealthy landowner Henry Rust, the town of Norway was incorporated in 1797. The Pennesseewassee Stream, leading from the lake of the same name to the Little Androscoggin River, once powered grain mills, a cloth and carding mill, and factories making boxes, furniture and shovel handles. A shoe factory was built in 1872, and by 1878 there were 32 stores in town and a population that was growing faster than any other town of similar size in the state.
On May 9, 1894, a fire started in the C.B. Cummings & Sons mill. A strong wind spread the fire down Main Street, burning the opera house, Congregational Church, a tannery and 80 homes and other buildings. Much of the town was quickly rebuilt, this time using the latest brick and wood styles of the day. Norway’s buildings today include some of the best examples of period architecture in the state. Unlike many small towns with similar histories, the buildings of Norway have remained relatively intact. Downtown Norway was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1998, and the community offers a historical walking tour of its Main Street.
Our BikeMaine Village in Norway is located on town fields located adjacent to a New Balance factory, one of three factories in Maine making sports footwear for New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. The Norway factory was built in 1997.
Once you have unpacked and settled into the “Bike Maine Village,” make your way down Norway’s Main Street.
Enjoy perusing its unique shops and art galleries. Stop by a local cafe for a coffee, or one of its restaurants or markets for a great locally made snack. The historical society would love to give you a tour and tell you the tales and great stories that make up Norway’s history.
Day 2: Norway to Winthrop
Norway and South Paris, the next town we pass through, are like many of Maine’s paired towns: separated by a body of water, in this case the Androscoggin River, but closely allied in all day-to-day activities. The Norway-South Paris area attracts many visitors year round for water activities in the spring and summer, foliage and hunting in the fall, and skiing at nearby Sunday River and Mt. Abram in the winter.
A quick turn of the wheel takes us to South Paris, on the other side of the Androscoggin. On the left as we pass out of town, is the McLaughlin Garden, an amazing horticultural treasure in the heart of South Paris. The Garden was started by Bernard McLaughlin back in the 1930s. Self-taught, he grew and maintained the two-acre site until his death in 1995 at the age of 98. The Garden and Homestead are maintained and improved by a group of local citizens. During Bernard’s time, locals and visitors knew that if the front gate to the garden was open, they were welcome to view his unique collection of trees and flowers. Every May, the Garden hosts a lilac festival when the trees explode with color.
South Paris also is home to the Celebration Barn Theater, a theater school of mime, improvisation, storytelling and other performing skills founded in 1972 by the late mime artist, Tony Montanaro. Celebration Barn alumni have gone on to careers in television, film and theater, including puppeteers with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, writers for Between the Lions, and performers in Cirque du Soleil.
As we leave South Paris, we cross Route 26 and begin our first climb of the day to Paris Hill, topping out at 1,044 feet and well worth the effort. Near the top of the hill is a community of stately homes and public areas, as well as a golf course. Looking at these beautiful homes takes us back to the beginning of the last century when this was a self-contained community and the county seat. The village of Paris Hill was established at an elevation of 820 feet above sea level, with views of Mount Chocorua and Mount Washington in the White Mountains. The Paris Hill Historic District, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, has fine examples of Federal and Greek Revival architecture. The old Oxford County Jail, built of granite in 1822, was given in 1902 to the Paris Hill Library Association, and is now the Hamlin Memorial Library and Museum. The library was named after Dr. Augustus C. Hamlin, the nephew of Hannibal H. Hamlin, Vice President of the United States during Lincoln’s first term, who was born in Paris. The library will be opening extra early in order to accompany our visit, so please stop in to learn more about this historic community. The largest home on Paris Hill, with its spectacular view of the mountains, was once the home of Vice President Hamlin. It now is owned by Bob Bahre, former owner of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway and avid collector of more than 70 antique cars, which he displays each year in July.
We continue climbing Paris Hill on Mt. Mica Road. The Mt. Mica Mine, the oldest gem mine in the United States and one of the few still in operation in Maine, is located in this area. The mine is well known for its tourmaline and other semi precious stones and minerals. We climb almost to the top of Hedgehog Hill, where we reach our highest point of elevation on BikeMaine 2014 at 1,043 feet. The route turns right onto Paris Hill Road, where we have lengthy cruise ahead of us along a mountain ridge for nearly ten miles before rolling into Buckfield. Along the way we will pass Cooper Spring, with water that is wonderfully cold and sweet.
Buckfield was first settled in 1776 by a fur trapper from Massachusetts. The following year, two families moved to the area and eventually purchased the land from the Commonwealth at a cost of 2 shillings per acre. The town was incorporated in 1793 as Buckfield, named for Abijah Buck, one of the early settlers. The east and west branches of the Nezinscot River join at Buckfield Village, and once supplied water for several mills producing a variety of wood products, such as lumber, shingles and barrel staves. Despite the town’s modest size, it is the birthplace of several well-known artists: the actor Patrick Dempsey (Dr. McDreamy on Grey’s Anatomy); country-folk musician Ray LaMontagne; and Steve Voltz, co-founder of Eepybird, an entertainment company best known for creating the viral video “The Extreme Diet Coke & Mentos Experiments.”
Buckfield is our last stop in Oxford County, but there’s plenty more riding left today. We are entering Androscoggin (and-dro-SKOG-in) County and the town of Turner. In Turner Center, we have our morning stop, and then head north to Howes Corner, where we cross the Androscoggin River. The Androscoggin River begins in Errol, New Hampshire and is 178 miles long. It joins the Kennebec River in Merrymeeting Bay (which you will see on Day 6), before emptying its waters into the Gulf of Maine. The name “Androscoggin” comes from the Eastern Abenaki term meaning “river of cliff rock shelters.”
We pedal east, then south through Leeds, where Oliver Howard was born. He was a decorated Union officer who was put in charge of the Freedman’s Bureau in 1865, with the object of assisting former slaves in the South after the Civil War. He was also a force in the founding of Howard University, in Washington, D.C. We pass the Leeds Grange Hall, a distinctive building that was used as a performance stage, meeting hall and graduation location.
South of Leeds, we ride through tiny Curtis Corner, where former Maine Governor Kenneth M. Curtis was born in 1931. We then cross into Kennebec County and ride along the delightfully flat Bog Road, across Route 302 and into Monmouth, where we have lunch. Monmouth is on the shores of Cochnewagon Pond, a nearly 400 acre body of water. Monmouth, once known for its agriculture and water-powered mills, now is home to Tex-Tech Industries, a manufacturer of high-performance textiles. Tex Tech is the world’s largest producer of tennis felt (think bright yellow balls). In addition, Tex Tech has produced in excess of three million yards of aircraft seat fire-blocking material.
Monmouth is also the home of the Theatre at Monmouth, a stage company that produces theatrical productions, including Shakespeare’s works, in repertory throughout the summer months. The company performs in Cumston Hall, a historic library in downtown Monmouth. It was completed in 1900 and is named in honor of Dr. Charles M. Cumston, a former headmaster at the English High School in Boston. Cumston gave the Romanesque Revival and Queen Anne Style building to Monmouth equipped with a library and auditorium. Harry Hayman Cochrane, a muralist, designed and decorated the hall. Cochrane’s work is most noted for the infamous cherubic portraits that adorn the ceiling and the intricate hand-molded plaster work that frames the walls, boxes, and proscenium arch of the stage.
We then hang a left on Cobosseecontee (cob-us-eee-CON-tee) Road and another left on Sanborn Road and again are surrounded by lakes. Cobosseecontee Lake is to the right and Annabessacook (anna-BESS-a-cook) Lake is on the left. We are heading north again, through Kennebec County toward our stop in Winthrop tonight. We slice one last intersection of lakes, Lower Narrows Pond and Upper Narrows Pond, and head into Winthrop to the State YMCA Camp of Maine.
Note: This is the first in a series of blog posts by our guest blogger and Portland Press Herald BikeMaine 2014 contest winner, Mike McDermott. Mike will be blogging throughout the summer, sharing his experiences as he prepares and trains for BikeMaine 2014.
Greetings… My Name is Mike McDermott, and I am very excited to have won the Portland Press Herald’s BikeMaine 2014 contest and to have this chance at what sounds like an incredible cycling experience. The people at BikeMaine have invited me to share a little of my story and experience with the ride, so here goes…
A little about me: I’ve lived in Maine now for about 25 years, but I grew up in Hawaii, with a bout of grad school in Boston in between. People always ask “How does a guy from Hawaii end up in Maine?” The short answer is “I married a girl from Bath” so it probably isn’t surprising that I currently live in Bath, but lived in Portland for quite a few years before that. I’m a librarian – I work in the library at Bowdoin College where I focus mostly on electronic resources, digital projects, e-books, online database – all that fun stuff. Before Bowdoin I was a Reference Librarian at USM.
I’ve always been more a utility cyclist than a touring cyclist. The vast majority of my lifetime cycling miles have been between my home(s) and a school or job. My commute in Boston was great – I had a big heavy single speed cruiser at the time, and my morning ride was just about all downhill. I’d arrive windblown and exhilarated, but not panting or sweaty. (The ride home was a different story). When I moved to Portland I upgraded to a 5 speed cruiser that I used to ride between Portland and Gorham. I rode that bike for over 20 years including many years commuting between Bath and Brunswick (in the summertime) for work.
My current bike is a “Miyata Quick Cross” which, through the power of the internet, I’ve identified as a 1990 model, making it only a couple of years newer than the one it replaced (which I’d been riding for two decades). But, it was either meticulously maintained, or barely ridden in that time (I believe the latter). It seems to be a good compromise between a lighter faster road bike and a solid steady work bike. It is what I’m planning to ride on the BikeMaine ride, though my son has offered to lend me his more traditional (and modern) road bike. So part of my Summer training will be evaluating the two and deciding which way to go.
Thanks again to the Portland Press Herald for sponsoring the contest that has put me on this road, and to the Bicycle Coalition of Maine for organizing the event. I look forward to sharing more of my Summer of cycling as it unfolds.
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.
Wednesday February 19, 2014 | 02:51 PM
Posted by Mike Tetreault
Not that I’m sick of winter, but I’m looking forward to hopping on a bicycle and riding. I love heading out from my house and riding through the Conservancy’s Basin Preserve roads, pastPopham Beach and Fort Popham.
My thoughts of riding Maine’s scenic roads came to mind recently when organizers of BikeMaine announced a remarkable route for its second annual multi-day ride. The Nature Conservancy is proud to be a partner in this adventure.
By SUE MELLO, Staff Reporter
Posted: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 – 6:30pm
Long-distance bicycling trips are gaining in popularity as a fun and healthy way to travel. Simply search online for bike trips and you will find cycling options through Africa, Europe, Australia, Napa Valley and a host of other scenic locations.
Last year, the Bicycling Coalition of Maine offered its first 7-day Maine bike tour. This year, BikeMaine’s theme is pedaling scenic waterways; and, not surprisingly to locals, BikeMaine has featured Boothbay Harbor in its travel plans.
On its website, the BikeMaine trip is defined as a “a mass bicycle ride that explores the people, places, culture and food of Maine.” Last year’s inaugural ride was pedaled by 251 cyclists.
From September 6 through September 13, up to 350 BikeMaine’s bicyclists will join in a seven day ride with stops in Westbrook, Norway, Winthrop, Gardiner, Boothbay Harbor and Bath.
BikeMaine — The Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s epic, week-long ride — is already gearing up for its second edition. They recently announced the 2014 route, a 350-mile journey that explores the people, places, culture and landscape of Maine.
This year’s ride, scheduled for Sept. 6-13, is entitled “BikeMaine 2014: Pedaling the Waterways.” Building on the success of last year’s inaugural ride, and 7-day ride will feature host communities in western, central and coastal Maine, according to a recent press release.
The loop route will begin and end in Westbrook, and will include the following host communities: Norway, Winthrop Center (State YMCA Camp of Maine), Gardiner, Boothbay Harbor (two nights) and Bath. During the journey, bicyclists will ride along rushing rivers, tranquil lakes and the Maine coast. Three of the six overnight campsites are located next to a body of water.
The year’s ride will be limited to 350 riders, with half coming from out-of-state. Registration at ride.bikemaine.org is currently open and the ride is expected to sell out.
Weeklong bicycle ride to make stops in Gardiner, Winthrop. The second annual BikeMaine event in September will travel through the Western Maine foothills and Belgrade Lakes region before passing through Augusta on the way to Gardiner.
A 350-mile bike ride route weaving through the Western Maine foothills and Belgrade Lakes region will cut through the heart of Kennebec County and include overnight stops in Winthrop and Gardiner.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine announced the route Tuesday for its second annual BikeMaine event scheduled for September 6-13.
The seven-day event aims to promote bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly areas as well as bicycle tourism. Kim Anderson True, ride director for BikeMaine, said the nonprofit selected communities that support cyclist and walking infrastructure, and are part of the Maine Downtown Network or have shown to be able to work collaboratively to show what the community has to offer.
STATEWIDE (WGME) — Hundreds of cyclists are getting ready to cover a lot of ground, 350 miles in one week.
The bicycle coalition of Maine unveiled the route for this year’s Bike Maine in September.
It’s the second year of the event, which will have more than 300 cyclists participate over seven days. It’s a big ride and potentially a big boost to the economy along the route
Registration is open to 350 people on the coalition’s website. The cost is $875, which covers meals, lodging and support along the way.
PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Cycling enthusiasts and community organizers joined members of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine as the route for the 2nd annual BikeMaine Ride was unveiled.
The week-long, community based cycling tour of the Pine Tree State is designed to help expose riders from Maine and afar discover sections of Vacationland that are off the beaten path and provide a boost to the state’s economy during the lull that occurs after summer vacations and the influx of leaf peepers in the fall.
The 350 mile ride will begin in Westbrook on September 6th. From there, riders will travel into the western mountains to Norway, before crossing over to Winthrop and Gardiner in central Maine. Riders will then head towards the coast, staying in Boothbay Harbor for two nights, before working their way south to Bath and ending the week where they started back in Westbrook.