RA91: Rolling

Raymond ME to Brunswick ME – 71.2 miles

This morning I was very pleased to see blue skies.  Winds were swift from the ?south or ?west but there appeared no sign of further rain, and the forecast from 2 days ago suggested that the winds would die down quickly today.  Time to get on with our tour.

There was still no power in Franks’s house in Raymond ME.  I arose about 6:30AM and jumped into my daily riding routine, packing up my bedroll, pulling on cycling clothes, and preparing the panniers.  Jack saw me and groaned.  “You don’t even know which way the wind is blowing!”  But very soon he too was pulling on his jersey.

Jesse too decided to pedal off this morning, in to Portland to complete his coast-to-coast, and then to find a motel with power, hot water, and wifi.  The three of us eventually gathered in front of Frank’s house and said our goodbyes to the rest of the team.  Other than handshakes and thanks, there was not much ceremony to it all, but I was stirred up by the moment.  Afterall, the seven of us had just spent 85 days plus or minus together on a grand adventure.

And now it was just three.  Roger had taken off earlier on a route up to Lewiston.  He needed to pay for a bus ticket, and would then rejoin us further along our route.    Jack and I were really hungry and so took off down US302 towards the diner we visited yesterday, and also towards the Sebago Diner.  Unfortunately, neither was open, so we considered a Dunkin Donuts, but instead continued east seeking out something better.  The guys all passed us in Frank’s car and waved.  After another couple of miles, we gave up the search and returned to the Dunkin Donuts.  Alas, they too were closed – no one had power in this area.

We shrugged and started following our route.  Jack ate a cherry pie and I ate Bottle Caps – this would have to do.  We took ME85 north over plenty of small hills, finally reaching ME11 and our AC route.   We rode a full 30 miles on a very zig-zagged route eastward, passing through Shaker Village ME and beautiful Maine countryside.  The post-hurricane weather was fantastic – perfect for riding.  But many of the small roads we took had lots of debris from trees, including partially- or fully-felled trees across the roadway.   At one point we had to duck underneath the top of a tree, and at another we were forced into a 3 mile detour.

A tree leaning across the highway
And this one is all the way down

We crossed I495 and then ME100 and finally found a place called Mario’s, with power and open for breakfast.  They served some very tasty pancakes too while we watched an insipid animated children’s TV show about dirt.  So why did we watch it?  Because it was on, of course.

Finally a breakfast place with power

Another 20 miles along the widely overfilled Androscoggin River, which was almost overflowing its banks.   A stretch along ME136 was tight with traffic, but beyond there the AC maps got us again on backroads that were a joy to ride.   We reached Brunswick ME and stopped at a diner for a light lunch, even though it was already 4PM or so.   I ordered a lobster roll which turned out to be really tasty, full of sweet red claw meat.  Unfortunately, the menu price was “market” which turned out to be $15.  Yikes.  Still, I’m glad I tried one – really good.

Picture perfect riding today

We snaked our way through Brunswick ME, right by Bowdoin College, and eventually rejoined with the Androscoggin River along a bikeway, stopping for some minutes to talk to a female cyclist with a General Dynamics jersey on.   The AC maps are have many rapid turns in this area – it was almost like a scavenger hunt.  We reached the turnoff for our campsite and again tried to follow the directions, this time confounded by several unsigned roads.   But we found it – Thomas Point Beach Campground.   The grounds were closed to the public due to a big upcoming bluegrass festival, but the entrance employee said they make exceptions for camping cyclists since they know we’ll only spend 1 night and take up so little room.  $24 for a patch of grass, with a bike ride’s access to shower and restrooms.

Our little edge of Thomas Point Campground

Jack and I set up, then rode off to Applebee’s for a real dinner.  After a series of missed phone calls, Roger eventually joined us, having ridden down from Lewiston.   It was fun having the three of us together over a beer or two at a hightop.  Back at the campsite, we all rode down to the “beach” here which was just a big mud flat.  Roger and I even tasted the water and found, lo and behold, it is salty.  You can argue it if you want, but we’ve reached the Atlantic Ocean!

Tidal flats at Thomas Point Campground

Early into the tents tonight.  I covered over 70 miles today.  Despite every intention of making these last few days shorter ones, they keep coming out fairly lengthy (the breakfast hunt this morning, the tree detours, etc…)  Oh well.  We now have only three riding days left to Bar Harbor.  Having just Jack, Roger and me on this final leg feels good.   Since Jack and I started this adventure as a twosome, it feels somehow symmetric that we should end it as a twosome, with the hilarious Roger along with us.