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

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Day 52: North Thetford, VT to Woodsville, NH

Today didn’t work out exactly as planned. We knew that some bad weather was forecasted, but we decided to try to cross Kancamagus Pass anyway. We headed out of Paula and Tom’s place early in the morning, stopped at the Whistle Stop Cafe for a delicious muffin while we waited for the post office to open, and then mailed out our postcards. In these first few miles, the sky opened up with a heavy downpour.  We continued onward, crossing the Connecticut River, which divides Vermont and New Hampshire. Just 20 miles later, we were hesitant to continue. The radar picture looked threatening, and the entire day was predicted to have a 70-90% chance of thunderstorms. This would not be a good day for climbing over an exposed mountain pass. The temperatures were quite cold, and despite our rain gear, we were damp and shivering. We ducked into a convenience store in North Haverhill, where we decided to spend the night. The campground in the area only took RV’s — not tents — and the employee at the convenience store advised us to stay at a relatively inexpensive motel up the road in Woodsville. We were not thrilled to spend the money on a motel again this week, but we felt unsafe continuing to the next area with a campground.

grumpy about the rain, not about New Hampshire

Of course, shortly after we had showered and warmed up in the motel, the weather cleared up, and the chance of thunderstorms greatly diminished. At this point, however, it was too late to start up again, and we had already paid for the room. This short day of cycling means that we have some long days ahead of us this week to reach Maine in time . . .

Stats:
today’s ride: 25 miles
time in saddle: 2 hrs, 32 min
total distance: 3,892 miles