Wednesday, August 26, 2009

BCM Bike Raffle

The good folks at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine have another fund-raising raffle underway, and they have asked us, as one of their affiliated clubs, to pass on the particulars of the raffle below to all our members (and anyone else perusing here). It's for a good cause, the odds of winning the bike are a heck of lot better than winning the lottery, and it would be pretty cool to own a bike that can stand up by itself on a thin dusting of snow - a lot cooler than mine, anyway.

Win A Custom, Maine-Made Bicycle!

The lucky ticket holder in the 2009 Bicycle Coalition of Maine Super Raffle will have the opportunity to own a truly custom bicycle and to choose the set up for road, touring or cyclocross riding. This Maine-made bicycle valued at more than $3,500 offers the ultimate in “green” transportation.

The frame, built and donated by Frank Bikes in Belfast, is a blend of premium, double-butted steel tubes from Dedacciai, Columbus, and True Temper. The beautiful, handmade frame will be custom-sized to the winner’s specifications, using silver-brazed lugged construction and precise custom machining. Frank Bikes will even allow the winner to view the bike during construction, including framed photos.

The component group, donated by Downeast Bicycles, is led by the ever-reliable Shimano 105 drivetrain. The winner will be able to choose from options for the bottom bracket, cassette, crankset and front derailleur.

Further customization is possible for the handlebar width (FSA*; 40, 42 or 44mm), stem length (FSA*; 90-120mm), bar tape color, and saddle (WTB*; men’s or women’s).

The rest of the build kit includes FSA* headset and seatpost, Mavic* Open Sport Rims with 105 hubs and Maxxis* Xenith tires.

The winner of this exciting, custom-made and custom-built bike will have the chance to order from a number of upgrades and options. Selected upgrades and extras will be billed at the shop’s retail cost, a great way of upgrading your new bicycle and bypassing some of the material and labor costs!

Who among us wouldn’t want to have a bike built just for him or her? Take a chance on that dream, and help support the Coalition’s efforts to make Maine a better place to bicycle at the same time!

How to Enter:
Tickets are $50 each, and no more than 250 tickets will be sold. All ticket sales will end on December 31, 2009 – or sooner if supplies run out.

Go to to purchase a ticket now or call 207.623.4511 to order over the phone. Act today so you don’t miss out on this great opportunity!

Thanks To:
Frank Bikes (, Downeast Bicycle Supply (, and Bar Harbor Bike Shop ( for their sponsorship of this raffle.

* Brand specified or equivalent brand, based on availability at time of build.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Ups & Downs of Industry

Alas, the remnants of Hurricane Bill put a damper on the ride in Alna last Sunday, although we plan to reschedule the ride the first Sunday in October. This week the Friday breakfast ride aims for the Olde Post Office Cafe in Mount Vernon. On Saturday the KVBC ride ventures northward to the pretty town of Industry with its funky architecture and the pristine Clearwater Pond (left) topped off with some spectacular ridgetop views (and perhaps an end of the ride stop at Gifford's Ice Cream). Hope to see you then!

Saturday, August 29th: FARMINGTON
"The Ups and Downs of Industry": a ride through the picturesque hills and hollows of Farmington, New Sharon, and Industry.
START: 9:00 A.M., at the Hannaford Plaza on Rt. 4 in Farmington, about a mile south from the junction of Rt. 4 and Rt. 27, towards Wilton. Park near the entrance to the shopping plaza.
DISTANCE: 25-30 miles.
TERRAIN: rolling to hilly - includes an optional short (1/4 mi.) section of hard-packed dirt road, which can be circumvented by adding a mile to the overall route.
HIGHLIGHTS: quiet back roads along the Sandy River, spectacular panoramic views from the ridgetops of New Sharon & Industry, Clearwater Pond at Allens Mills.
LEADER: Jim Merrick.

Post to Post on Posted Roads

Join us on Friday as we ride from the Post Office in Readfield to the Olde Post Office in Mount Vernon as part of the KVBC Two Wheels Over Easy breakfast ride series. It will be first class all the way...

Friday, August 28th - READFIELD
"Two Wheels Over Easy" - the KVBC Breakfast Ride series.
START: 8:00 AM in Readfield Center at the junction of Rt.17 and Rt.41; park in the lot behind the Post Office.
TERRAIN: moderate to moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS: breakfast at the Olde Post Office Cafe in Mount Vernon; some nice back roads in Readfield and Mount Vernon.
LEADER: Jim Merrick.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Breakfast Ride Report - Litchfield

We took advantage of the great weather last Thursday to schedule a breakfast ride in Litchfield, courtesy of George Luckhurst. Due to the late notice, only two of us showed up at the start, but 'two cyclists' qualifies as an official ride in my book, so off we went. George had in mind a very pretty 18 mile loop through Litchfield and part of Gardiner. Traffic was light and the weather was perfect. We took some great back roads, passing the historic Litchfield fairgrounds among other sights.

The route also took us past Litchfield's two notable bakeries. The first, the Black Crow Bakery, is a very enticing establishment. Attached to a historic site with its own roadside historic marker, the Purington-Shorey Homestead, the Black Crow looks like a country bakery. Despite the sign advertising "Fresh Bread - Cookies - Pasteries" we showed great restraint by continuing past without stopping.

Instead, our destination was Litchfield's other bakery, the Litchfield Country Cafe, near the junction of Rt.126 and Hallowell Road. The Country Cafe is a small, cozy restaurant-bakery with perhaps a half-dozen tables inside and an active waiting area outside. We were fortunate to get a table without waiting, although the waitress, who knew George, suggested otherwise. All of the store's baked goods are prepared in house, ensuring both quality control and a steady stream of customers to the front door. Indeed, the raisin toast that came with my breakfast of eggs, corned beef hash, and homefries could well have made a meal in itself. Just as well that it didn't, as the hash was the best I've had on any ride I can recall. The meal was so substantial the waitress actually talked me down into ordering a half-side of homefries. Since it was her recommendation, I could leave with my reputation intact and still ride afterwards.

As it was, we only had a couple of miles to go back to the start. A very nice Two Wheels Over Easy ride. Now, we just have to go back and try out that other bakery...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Sunday's Ride in Alna Postponed

Due to high winds and rain this morning's KVBC ride in Alna has been postponed. The ride has been tentatively rescheduled for Sunday, October 4th.

Meanwhile, stay dry and stay tuned for next week's ride.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Torrid Traverse

On Saturday, August 15, a group of twelve riders gathered in Mount Vernon for the Kennebec Valley Bicycle Club ride. The ride, "the Mount Vernon Traverse," was longer and hillier than initially advertised. Hotter, too. Temperatures were already in the high 80s by the start, and would climb into the 90s by the end of the ride.

The route headed north to Rome via Watson Pond Road. I had a family reunion later that day, but since I live in Mount Vernon I was able to make it to the start. The route was a 34 mile loop with no cut-offs, so I debated whether to ride the entire route or turn back at some point. We began the first of a series of strenuous climbs by heading up Blueberry Hill. Fortunately a good part of the climb was in the shade which made the effort a lot cooler.

At the top of the hill the riders stopped to regroup before continuing on to Rt.27 North and the second long climb. Returning via Rt. 134 the group would encounter yet another challenging climb up Cape Cod Hill in New Sharon. Both of those long climbs would be open and sun-baked, so the group decided to take advantage of the shade while they had it.

It was at this point that John suddenly remembered that he had left something behind in his car that he needed (he said something about "A-C") so I took the opportunity to ride back with him, climbing all the hills we had just come down. We made it back OK and I went off to continue preparations for my family gathering. John drove his car back over the route as an impromptu sag wagon. He later hosted a cool, post-ride gathering at his cottage, lakeside. After all the heat and the hills it was no doubt a welcome respite at the end of the ride. Many thanks to John and the impressive number of riders who showed up in the heat.

The next KVBC ride is Sunday in Alna with more beautiful roads and another post-ride gathering. We have more great rides coming up - hopefully the weather will stay dry and turn a bit cooler.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Alna Alternative

We had a great ride on Saturday with 12 riders climbing some hills in the heat, followed by a post-ride gathering at the ride leader's cabin on Watson Pond. Many thanks to John Schooley for the ride and the follow-up festivities. This week's ride will be Sunday in Alna in the scenic Sheepscott River valley, with another post-ride gathering. Hope to see you there!

[Photo by John Schooley.]

Sunday, August 23rd - ALNA
"The Alna Alternative": a tour of the Sheepscot Valley through Alna, Pittston, and Whitefield.
START: 9:30 A.M. at the Post Office in Alna at the corner of Rt. 194 and Dock Road. Alna is located at 44:06:22N, 69:36:15W (for you GPS folks); also at DeLorme Map 13, E-2.
DISTANCE: 20-25 miles.
TERRAIN: moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS: a possible swimming option at the dam in Head Tide, weather permitting (bring a bathing suit); the scenic Sheepscot River; and a post-ride gathering at the ride leader's house (across from the Post Office).
LEADER: Sandi Hodge.

Breakfast Beyond Purgatory

Rain and thunder are in the forecast for Friday so join us tomorrow, Thursday morning, for this week's Two Wheels Over Easy breakfast ride. We'll also take in some great touring roads, so we hope you can join us!

Thursday, August 20th - LITCHFIELD
"Two Wheels Over Easy" - the KVBC morning breakfast ride series.
START: 8:00 AM in Purgatory (actually George's house): 1437 Hallowell Rd, Litchfield. From Hallowell, take the Hallowell-Litchfield Rd. After crossing the Cobbossee Stream into Litchfield, the house is one half mile from the bridge, on the right. It's the first brick house you come to. If you are coming from Manchester, take Pond Rd (which turns into Neck Rd) all the way to the end. Take a Left on to Hallowell Rd, go 2 tenths of a mile and it's the first brick house on the left.
TERRAIN: moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS: Some great back roads around Litchfield past some scenic farms and ponds. Breakfast at the Litchfield Country Store.
LEADER: George Luckhurst.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Breakfast Ride Report - Gardiner

The Two Wheels Over Easy breakfast ride last Friday started in Gardiner at the southern entrance to the Kennebec River Rail Trail. We had five cyclists in attendance, on three bikes. There are a number of numerical combinations that could account for this, but let's just say that this was the first KVBC ride in which the tandems outnumbered the singles by two to one. Once again, we had really fine early morning weather. The rail trail was not quite deserted - there were a few other cyclists, joggers, and walkers - but there were moments when it seemed that we had the entire trail to ourselves.

We rode the entire rail trail from Gardiner to Augusta. Except for a short section of hard-packed gravel near Augusta, the trail was smoothly paved. The recent heavy rains had washed out the hillside in some spots, leaving some impressive deposits of sand and gravel which almost entirely covered the trail in few places. But these were fairly easy to pick our way through. The trail makes use of the old railroad bed, alongside some seldom-used but still active rails. Only for a short stretch in downtown Hallowell does the trail follow urban streets.

The breakfast stop was at the Hi-Hat Pancake House, an old "car-hop" on Rt.201 in Farmingdale, right across from the rail trail. The Hi-Hat provides a substantial breakfast menu of substantial breakfasts. In my case, I opted for a spinach & feta cheese omelet, homefries, toast & coffee, and for once, it was almost too much to take in. Almost. Once again on one of these Two Wheels rides I found myself in awe of one of my co-riders, who ordered, without hesitation, "Waffles with Fruit." This concoction, when served, turned out to be a large plate-sized waffle at least an inch and a half thick, covered with strawberries and a small mountain of whipped cream. I'm beginning to wonder if this is going to develop into an ongoing contest as to who can order the most decadent-looking breakfast on one of these rides.

Breakfast concluded, the two tandems set off to return to the start in Gardiner, while I headed back to Hallowell where I had started my ride. A very pleasant morning ride, beating the heat that arrived by mid-day. Many thanks to Frank, who put the ride together, and the two tandem crews who turned out and turned heads up and down the rail trail.

If you have a suggestion for a breakfast ride, let us know and we'll try to include it in the club's schedule.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Mount Vernon Traverse

We had really beautiful weather this past weekend. Six of us rode on the breakfast ride Friday from Readfield to Winthrop, and another four riders took part in the ride from Smithfield on Saturday. Hope you all managed to get out and enjoy the weather. This Friday we will have a breakfast ride along the Rail Trail starting in Gardiner. Saturday's scheduled ride begins in Mount Vernon. Hope to see you then!

Saturday, August 15th - MOUNT VERNON
"The Mount Vernon Traverse" - a tour through the back roads of Mount Vernon, Vienna, and Belgrade.
START: 9 AM at the Mount Vernon Post Office; park down the street at the Town Beach across from the fire station.
DISTANCE: 35 miles.
TERRAIN: moderate with some challenging hills.
HIGHLIGHTS: Some nice backroads with a possible post-ride gathering and swim.
LEADER: John Schooley.

Top of the Mornin' - Tip of the Hi-Hat

Here's your chance to take in the Kennebec River Rail Trail by bike, and dine at a car hop for breakfast. Join us this Friday in Gardiner for this week's Two Wheels Over Easy ride. See you then!

Friday, August 14th - GARDINER
"Two Wheels Over Easy" - the KVBC morning breakfast ride series.
START: 8:00 AM at the Shop-n-Save parking lot near the entrance to the Rail Trail in Gardiner.
DISTANCE: about 13 miles.
TERRAIN: flat to moderate.
HIGHLIGHTS: The Kennebec River & the Rail Trail to Augusta & back. Breakfast at the Hi-Hat restaurant (an old car hop) off the Rail Trail. This is also a great ride for those who have not biked very often this year.
LEADER: Frank Rosen.

Illegitimis nil carborundum?

It was a beautiful Saturday morning in Smithfield for the double figure 8 loop starting at the Smithfield Fire Station on Rt. 8. Or at least the sign on the building said "Smithfield Volunteer Fire Department" but as I pulled into the parking lot, out the rear door of the station came sputtering a 1917 Model T Ford. Surely the Smithfield Fire Department is a bit more up-to-date than that. In fact the fire station had moved to its new digs in the former elementary school about a half-mile further up Rt. 8, where one rider correctly followed my incorrect instructions to the start. The old station had been bought by an antique car enthusiast to store part of his impressive collection. We passed him driving his Ford around town later, sputtering from one yard sale to another.

Four of us set out on Rt. 8 for the first loop around East Pond. This 14 and a half mile loop is remarkably flat, alternating between open farmland and quiet wooded roads. There is one fairly long climb up to join Rt. 137, followed by a nice downhill back to Rt. 8. Rolling back into Smithfield we caught a great view of North Pond from the ridge, as there was hardly a cloud in the sky.

Coming back into Smithfield we passed several handsome farms. One boasted a huge red barn with a large hand-lettered sign proclaiming in Latin: Illegitimis nil carborundum. I did not have my 12-year-old homeschooler, the Latin whiz, along with me so I was left to my own rusty Latin to decypher this phrase as I rode along. "Nothing is legitimate without work?" Nah, that wasn't it. Turns out the phrase doesn't make sense because it's fake Latin, meant to say something like "Don't let the bastards wear you down." I guess my old high school Latin teacher was right - you can have too little classical education.

The second loop featured a splendid run along the shore of North Pond. We followed Rt. 137 past more large farms (sans Latin this time), traversed a short stretch on Rt. 2, and climbed up Beech Hill Road. This was followed with a great downhill back to Smithfield and another fine run skirting along the shore of North Pond. At the ride's end we stopped for ice cream at the local creamery in town, which has a great outdoor seating area out back, and even a dock for canoes and kayaks coming in off the ponds. All in all, a great ride, sine dubio.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Breakfast Ride Report - Winthrop

It was an exceptionally crisp and clear morning last Friday when half-a-dozen riders set off from Readfield Center in search of breakfast and some fine early morning cycling. Traffic was light - to the point of nonexistent. We marveled at riding from the Readfield Depot to the Maranacook Boat Landing in Winthrop with nary a single call of "Car Back." We exchanged morning greetings with a few joggers and early risers out for a walk. It was a very pleasant way to start a weekday.

We stopped in Winthrop at the "Full Court Deli" on Rt. 41 - a popular place, judging by the bustle of activity inside. The parking area was filling up with cars though we found ample space for bike parking near the entrance. For those of us who are not fully functional before 10 AM, the overhead menus at the counter (where one places one's order) were a bit confusing. Lots of interesting options - too many, perhaps - I opted for a straight cheese omelet with homefries, toast & coffee, rather than hold up the line. We found an empty table and a couple of extra chairs, and talked about cycle tours while we waited.

The restaurant decor resembled that of a sports bar, with posters, photographs, and memorabilia of Boston Celtics stars, past & present. This seemed more than just odd in a breakfast setting - having the likes of Larry Bird staring down at you while you're buttering your toast might put some diners off their appetite - but having ridden 8 or 10 miles in the morning air that was not a problem for us. I looked around half-heartedly for Bill Walton, if for no other reason that I could mention that he was an avid cyclist in his playing days, but I saw no representation of him from where we were sitting.

The breakfast was excellent, and the place has a wide selection of coffees. I tried a blend called the "Blueberry Cobbler" which turned out to be pretty good. Since I had hurriedly ordered something mundane, I was pleasantly surprised when the food was anything but. The homefries in particular were intensely flavorful, with lots of onions & garlic & spices. Serious homefries indeed. Have to spend more time looking at the menu next time.

On our return route we headed north on Rt. 41 before veering off on an earlier roadway that once ran between local mill districts. Sturtevant Hill Road still winds its way past some historic old farms and climbs up to a long ridgeway with spectacular views. Best of all, we found the northern half of the road to be freshly paved, providing a smooth, fast descent off the ridge. Arriving back in Readfield, we took a detour along the sites of some of the bustling mills that once packed the streams running into town. It seemed a shame to have such a pleasant ride end before 10 AM, but as it was our timing could not have been better. The clear sky and calm weather did not last, and a thunderstorm rolled through not long after we had disbanded.

Plans are underway for a breakfast ride to the Hi-Hat in Gardiner - stay tuned for more details.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Route 8 Figure 8

Last Friday we had a splendid ride from Fayette to Livermore, courtesy of Frank Rosen, stopping for breakfast and returning by way of the Chesterville Esker. Saturday was a glorious Summer day (I seem to remember that's how one used to describe Summer days) with beautiful weather, a great group of riders, a really pretty route, and a fine post-ride gathering - thanks to Denise Crowell. This week the Friday breakfast ride series will start in Readfield and go to Winthrop. On Saturday we will revisit a great ride in Smithfield. More great riding is coming up, and I'd say we're due for a nice stretch of weather to match.

Saturday, August 8th - SMITHFIELD
"Route 8 Figure 8" - a scenic tour through Smithfield, Belgrade, Rome, and Mercer.
START: 9:00 AM, at the Smithfield Fire Station on Rt. 8 in Smithfield.
DISTANCE: 15 and 28 miles.
TERRAIN: moderate to moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS: many scenic lake views and back roads, and an ice cream stop.
LEADER: Jim Merrick.

A Full Court Breakfast Ride

Join us for the KVBC Friday morning breakfast ride series:
Two Wheels Over Easy.

This week's edition will start in Readfield
and stop in Winthrop.
Hope you can join us!

Friday, August 7th - READFIELD
"Two Wheels Over Easy" - the KVBC Breakfast Ride series.
START: 7:30 AM in Readfield Center at the junction of Rt.17 and Rt.41; park in the lot behind the Post Office.
TERRAIN: moderate to moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS: breakfast at the Full Court Deli in Winthrop on Rt.41; some nice back roads in Readfield and Winthrop.
LEADER: Jim Merrick.

Summertime in Manchester

Finally, summer arrives - and just in time for a splendid ride on the first of August. Warm, sunny, calm breezes, and a great group of ten riders - mix them all together, and the combination makes for a very nice ride from Manchester to Winthrop and Monmouth.

Traffic was a bit busy on Rt.202 at the start, but soon tapered off as we turned up Rt.135 towards Maranacook Lake. We cruised down Memorial Drive along the shore and zig-zagged through Winthrop, heading south to Lake Annabessacook. The weather was so warm that we began to hear some concerns (up to now, this season unspoken) about where to find water. No problem - someone knew someone who owned a farm along the route - we'd stop there.

Before stopping, Denise led us along a very scenic loop in South Monmouth down some excellent back roads. We rolled down sun-washed pavement on Tillson Road to Fish Hatchery Road, returning to Rt.135 by way of Sanborn Road. Turning onto Rt.135, we bagan to encounter a series of stiff hills as we made our way along Lake Cobbosseecontee.

As we neared the end we began looking for shade when we stopped to regroup. Denise took us back by way of her house where she had a large bowl of fruit salad, several coffee cakes, and other goodies prepared for a fine post-ride repast. I had every good intention of photographing the spread, but once again only remembered after the fact - I had been too absorbed in eating - the food was just too enticing. Many thanks to Denise for a fine ride, and to all for good company.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Breakfast Ride Report - Livermore Falls

We had our first morning breakfast ride last Friday, part of the Two Wheels Over Easy series. Frank Rosen set up a ride starting from the Fayette Central School on Rt.17 heading out to Livermore Falls. I had the day off, but I started early to run a few errands and rode to the start. Not wanting to be late, I rushed a bit and found myself at the start about 45 minutes early. The morning was clear and invigorating so I didn't mind the wait, although I started to get hungry. Soon I was joined by Frank, Denise, and Nate, and off we went toward breakfast.

Fortunately breakfast was ten miles away, at the "Lunch Pad" in Livermore Falls, near the junction of Rt.17 & Rt.133. A small, seasonal diner - famed locally for its home-made ice cream. We took a table in the indoor dining area. The decor was cheerful and the waitstaff even more so. I ordered the "big breakfast combo" which in my case included two scrambled eggs, home fries, corned beef hash, toast, and coffee. All first rate, especially the toast, made with care with home-made bread - a nice touch. My first regret was that I didn't order two "big breakfast combos," but that would've blown my modesty cover. As it was, I was outclassed anyway. While most of us opted for traditional breakfast fare, one iconcoclast among us (who might best remain anonymous) ordered a morning meal of french toast (made with same great bread, I believe) topped with raspberry cheesecake ice cream and raspberry sauce topping. The waitress was only too happy to oblige. Watching this concoction disappear led to my second regret - that I hadn't ordered one, too. Oh well, maybe next time.

You cannot visit Livermore Falls without seeing, well, Livermore Falls. So we skirted the center of town and rode downstream to see where all that rain we've been experiencing is going. Over the Dam, apparently, and lots of it. Very impressive. We wondered whether any of it was generating hydroelectric power. We've put up with enough of it - it seemed the least it could do.

On the way back, Frank took us up the newly paved Chesterville Ridge Road which runs along the top of the Chesterville Esker, a pre-historic glacial sandbar. A beautiful flat stretch of wooded road with steep drop-offs on either side, running between many small lakes and ponds. And it goes on for miles. But the bright skies of the early morning had clouded up, and it started to rain again, so it was time to head back. We'll have another breakfast ride on Friday, August 7th, starting from Readfield and heading into Winthrop. Please join us if you can!