Day 56: Orland, ME to Bar Harbor, ME

Hooray! We made it to our final destination on the bike trip!

6AM on the last morning of the trip

We started the day quite early, as we wanted to be sure to get into Bar Harbor in time to meet family that traveled up to meet us here. We had yet another day of perfect weather, so we were in good spirits as we left the campground. We went though multiple coastal towns, all with the buzz of tourist season. one of them had a great little farmers’ market where we purchased some of the best wild blueberries yet!  The hills weren’t very steep, though they were consistent throughout the ride.

Entering Mount Desert Island

 We especially enjoyed the descent into Mount Desert Island, where Bar Harbor is located. We had a few climbs within the island, and eventually we were riding down the final road to the pier. There’s a boat launch area where it’s easy to bring the bikes down for the ceremonial wheel dip in the Atlantic, so we headed straight there and celebrated our finish. 

Atlantic wheel dip!

This trip hasn’t always been easy. Many days it felt more like a job than a vacation. However, we’re thrilled to have completed it, and more of our memories from the trip are of the fun times than the hard parts. Many of the hard parts are easy to laugh at now in hind sight, too. Most importantly, it’s done!

Stats:

Today’s ride: 45 miles

Total distance: 4,206 miles

Day 55: Woolwich, ME, to Orland, ME

Maine farmland

Today was another day of perfect weather, with many steep hills, just like yesterday. We had an early start, and we were trying to accomplish as many miles as possible so that we could reach Bar Harbor in time.

espresso in Wiscasset

Shortly after we left Woolrich, we arrived in Wiscasset, which had a little cafe with great espresso and baked goods. 

bays from the Atlantic

We crossed rivers that feed into the Atlantic, slowly climbed the hill from hell in Waldoboro, enjoyed blueberry ice cream, rode many miles on highway 1, and finally reached the Altantic Ocean at Rockport, Maine.  

more whoopie pies

 

first view of the Atlantic!

 

lake near Lincolnville Center

We continued up along the coast, stopping in Belfast, a cute town Rachel loved when she went to camp near there, and enjoyed a break at their fabulous coop. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to hang out in Belfast. Eventually, we reached a campground in Orland, ME, where we excitedly set up the tent for the last time of the trip. 

vegan cardamom whoopie pies at the Belfast coop


 

Stats:
today’s distance: 86.1 miles
time in the saddle: 8 hrs, 26 min
total distance: 4,161 miles 

 

Day 54: Fryeburg, ME to Woolwich, ME

planning our route while we waited for blueberry pancakes


We were nervous about people being at the canoe launch early in the morning, so we set the alarm early and got out quickly. We had perfect weather, which kept us in a great mood. After just 10 miles, we saw Rosie’s cafe. Desperate for coffee, we stopped. They had pancakes with wild Maine blueberries, so of course, we needed to get those. This took a bit longer that we would have liked, but the pancakes were excellent, and we picked up a whoopie pie (yay Maine!) for later. 

Maine whoopie pies!


 

The ride was incredibly hilly. The hills and mountains in Maine are nowhere near as high as the White Mountains we climbed in New Hampshire, but they are so steep. This was the kind of grade that makes a cyclist lose all momentum, and walking the bikes probably would have been faster. We are proud to say that we didn’t get off the bikes to do that once, though, not even on the hill into Danville, the hardest hill of the entire trip.

foreground: cultivated blueberries; background: wild Maine blueberries


In addition to the hills, today’s route took us through farmland, lakes, and forests. We stopped at a country store in the middle of nowhere, where they actually had a vegetarian reuben on the menu! We were very happy to have reubens two days in a row. A few hours later, we passed a farm stand with wild blueberries in addition to their own cultivated ones. It’s been years since Rachel has had wild Maine blueberries, so this was very exciting. We passed through Brunswick, the home of Bowdin college, which was a bit confusing to bike through, but a nice change of pace to ride in a bigger town again.

Whitney’s cabins


In Brunswick, we called a place listed on the Adventure Cycling route as a hostel near Woolwich, Whitney’s Cabins. We asked if they had any availability — though they didn’t, they said we were welcome to pitch a tent on their property. Hoping this would include a shower, we agreed that this would be a good option. When we arrived, we met the owner and the caretaker, who said they had gotten a cabin ready for us! For just $25, we had our own cabin with two beds, a small kitchen area, and fresh eggs for our breakfast. The cabins are pretty bare-bones, without running water, but we were thrilled with the accommodations.

Stats: 
today’s ride: 93.1 miles
time in the saddle: 9 hrs, 14 min
total distance: 4,075 miles 

Day 53: Woodsville, NH to Fryeburg, ME

We were happy to miss the heavy rains by spending the night in the motel, though when we started the day, it was drizzling. The rain continued on and off throughout the day, but we had enough blue sky that it wasn’t too bad. We were excited to hit some larger climbs and pretty views in New Hampshire. We were not disappointed by the White Mountains – they have a large scale and openness that feels more like the mountains out west. However, New Hampshire is a big change from Vermont — the land use is so differerent. The gorgeous mountain areas are surrounded by strip mall development, resorts, and car traffic. Many of the roads were empty and perfect for riding, but others were quite congested.

We were starting a bit further north than the Adventure Cycling route, so it made more sense to skip the dreaded Kancamagus “Notch” in favor of Crawford Notch, which is also a bit easier according to the locals. Our route took us past a cute little cafe where the woman who took our orders had done the cross-country ride with her mother about a decade ago.

veggie reubens!

We were very happy that they had homemade veggie burgers on the menu, plus supplies to turn the veggie burgers into veggie reubens. This definitely powered our ride. Everyone we spoke with gave us different directions on how to get to Center Conway, where we would join back up with the Adventure Cycling route.

Crawford Notch

Eventually we just settled on one route, and it turned out very nicely. Crawford Notch was challenging, but not too bad. The grade was an incredibly steep grade, requiring constant braking on the way down. We rode past a covered bridge, an alpine slide that Nick sadly had no time to ride, and stopped at an ice cream shop with many delicious flavors (our second ice cream cone of the day!). 

riding down from Crawford Notch

We were feeling some pressure to get to Bar Harbor by Saturday morning, so we pushed as far as we could go — though we had plenty of energy, however, the daylight was fading by 7:30. We saw a campground on the Adventure Cycling route, and we were just about to make it before sunset, when we realized that we had failed to check the map addendum. This campground was closed for the season! There wouldn’t be another campground for 15 miles. Although we have lights for riding in the dark, they aren’t really adequate for night riding on country roads. So we decided to knock on a farmer’s door and aks if we could put up our tent in the field. We haven’t had to do this yet on the trip, but it’s often done by cyclists. As we knocked, we heard the deep, loud barking of large dogs. A man came to the door, muttering something as he cracked open the door. We explained that we were stranded in the dark since the campground nearby, and asked if we could put our tent in the field. His reply, “It’s never gonna happen!” came with the slam of the door in our faces. We turned around and headed down the road, and decided to stealth camp at a canoe launch. There were picnic tables, and enough trees that we weren’t visible from the road. It was a bit anxiety-producing, given the “no camping” sign, but we managed to get some sleep.

 

Stats:
today’s distance: 89.9 miles
time in the saddle: 8 hours, 5 min
total distance: 3,982 miles

Day 50: Newcomb, NY to Leicester, VT

 

Hudson River


We headed out of Newcomb, NY into a gorgeous day: blue skies, upper 60’s to low 70’s temperatures, and a good tail-wind. The roads were relatively empty as we road through the Adirondack mountains, crossing the Hudson River, and cruising down the elevation decline to Lake Champlain.

crossing Lake Champlain


The ferry across Lake Champlain would take us into Vermont, which we have been looking forward to ever since we left Glacier National Park for the following reasons:

1. Beautiful mountain scenery
2. Maple cremees
3. Co-op grocery stores in nearly every tiny town
4. Maple cremees
5. Bernie Sanders
6. Maple cremees

Entering Vermont also means that we are on our last section of the Northern Tier maps! Just 401.5 miles left! 

Once we crossed Lake Champlain, the scenery looked exactly what we expected out of Vermont: rolling farmlands with mountains in the background, dotted by small towns with churches. 

We also passed some adorable ponies, which Rachel had to stop and pet. We stopped at the first place we saw selling maple cremees, which was a gas station/creamerie. Delicious! 

   

There, we tried to figure out where we would spend the night. We had decided that staying in one more hotel would be a good idea, as Rachel had a video-chat meeting scheduled for the next morning. We called around, and although the bed and breakfast we called in Middlebury did not have any vacancy, the owner directed us to call Lesley, who runs an unadvertised BnB at an organic farm in Leicester, VT. This ended up being the perfect place to stay. When we arrived, Lesley and Jim showed us to our room: the solarium, with a big, fluffy bed and a view of their llamas through the windows!

purple string beans for our salad

We hadn’t eaten dinner yet, so Leslie walked us down to their garden, where she helped us pick out about 15 different greens for our salad. We were very happy to have fresh chard, kale, purselane, lambs quarter, basil, and many other vegetables in our delicious salad. Lesley and Jim also gave us some fantastic lentils and bread, and set us up for a candle-lit dinner in the solarium. It was perfect. After a good night’s sleep, we’re looking forward to getting some work done, eating a delicious breakfast, and meeting the llamas and sheep. 

freshly picked salad for dinner!

 

Stats:
today’s distance: 69.9 mi
time in saddle: 6 hrs, 45 min
total distance: 3,801 mi 

Post script:

Rachel messed up in the scheduling of that meeting, so we ended up having to use the wifi in the late afternoon. We tried to figure out a way to bike and then use wifi elsewhere, but being Sunday afternoon, this was challenging. So we decided to spend an extra night at the farm. Lesley and Jim offered a trade for the second night to help our budget: Rachel would help them with their website in exchange for the second night’s lodging. We had a lovely day off: Rachel got some work done, we borrowed Lesley and Jim’s old Volvo to go into Middlebury, and we met their awesome animals. They have a sheep that is friendlier than many dogs – when Lesley entered the pen, this sheep ran over to cuddle! The sheep also nuzzled with us. The llamas just watched cautiously.