Sunday, May 30, 2010

Ospreys and Oatmeal Cookies - Litchfield Part 3

We actually got to see a pair of ospreys at their nest up in the high tension lines.

Thanks again to all who made this a great ride!

Ospreys and Oatmeal Cookies - Litchfield Part 2

Here are some more photos from the "rolling hills" and other features on the Tour de Litchfield on May 22nd.

Many thanks to George and Chris for the great ride, and the great cookies! (To be continued...)

Ospreys and Oatmeal Cookies - Litchfield Part 1

The KVBC's Tour de Litchfield is a very scenic ride with historic buildings, including the old Litchfield Academy at the ride start, and our host's house, where we were treated to oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies. The roads are really nice, passing by well-kept farms, the Litchfield Fairgrounds, and several pretty lakes. What few hills there are, all lead to great vistas and even opportunities to view nesting ospreys. Here are some views from the ride on May 22nd.

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Big Lakes Tour

We had a splendid tour of Litchfield last Saturday - great roads, fine weather, beautiful scenery, and a happy group of ten riders. Many Thanks to George for leading the ride and marking the route, and to Chris for the wonderful cookie stop. We have a fine stretch of weather forecast ahead and Denise has planned a new ride for this Saturday starting in East Winthrop. If you are going to be around for the long weekend, come on out! Otherwise have a great holiday weekend, and we'll see you in June (Vassalboro ride on Saturday the 5th).
Saturday, May 29th - EAST WINTHROP
"The Big Lakes Tour" - a ride along the shorelines of Lakes Maranacook, Annabessacook, and Cobbosseecontee.
START: 9:30 AM at the parking lot of Tom's Bike Boutique, 2208 Rt.202 in East Winthrop, across from D.R Struck's Nursery.
DISTANCE: 25-30 miles.
TERRAIN: moderate with some hills.
HIGHLIGHTS: Some nice lakeside runs along backroads in Winthrop, Monmouth, and Manchester.
LEADER: Denise Crowell.

Down By The Riverside

We had about a dozen riders on the KVBC rail trail ride, Sunday, May 16th. Many thanks to Dave, who led the group out of the Augusta end of the rail trail. The weather was fine - a bit breezy, but sunny and dry.

The Kennebec River Rail Trail follows along the river and the existing RR tracks from Augusta to Hallowell, where it briefly merges with street traffic through the center of Hallowell. The trail then resumes off-road for the remaining stretch to Gardiner.

The trail is paved for most of its length - there is a short section of cinder-pack at the north end. There are narrow sections where signs direct cyclists to dismount and walk (although we didn't find that necessary with light trail traffic) and there are barriers or berms at street intersections. Two of us - Jim & I - rode tandems with our daughters, and we were able to negotiate the barriers and narrow sections without difficulty. We saw a number of young children riding solo as well, accompanied by their parents - there were two young lads who were likely not more than 4 years old.

Dave took us beyond the Gardiner terminus of the trail to the riverside park just beyond, where we took in a spectacular overview of the mighty Kennebec, running clean through its banks. Dave told us that years ago, no one would want to get this close to the river, but now that it is much cleaner thanks to the efforts of many communities and agencies (and activists spurring them on) the river is now a popular spot for all sorts of recreational activity.

Including ours, and we turned back and rode the trail back to the capitol. We could see first-hand why those who live nearby the trail would find it a real attraction.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tour de Litchfield Redux

We had a great day on the Rail Trail - about a dozen riders (in our group) and lots more along the path. We had two tandem teams of dads with stokids, all of whom did very well. A bit windy along the waterfront, but nice and sunny. Thanks to David for leading the ride, pointing out the sights, and updating us on future plans and prospects for trail expansion. Next Saturday's ride takes us back to the fine cycling roads along the Tour de Litchfield. This was a very popular ride last year, as hinted by the highlights (below). Hope to see you all there!

Saturday, May 22nd - LITCHFIELD
"Tour de Litchfield" - an exploration of the back roads of Litchfield.
START: 9:30 AM at the Libby-Tosier Elementary School parking lot, at the junction of Rt. 197 and Academy Road in Litchfield Corners.
DISTANCE: about 25 miles.
TERRAIN: moderate to rolling.
HIGHLIGHTS: quiet back roads and ponds in Litchfield, and possibly a cookie stop. (Actually, didn't we vote to make the latter mandatory?)
LEADER: George Luckhurst.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inland Rides

One of the nice things about working part-time in Waterville is that I now get to check out the Tuesday night Inland rides. "Inland," as the rides are known, is a weekly fitness-style ride series that starts and ends in the spacious back parking lot behind the Inland Hospital off of Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville. Every Tuesday night from May to September (weather and daylight permitting) a sizable and growing group of enthusiasts get together at 5:30 pm and head out on a 20-30+ mile ride. The routes vary from week to week, and the riders tend to split into two groups: one faster and one slower. The rides leave the back parking lot past a gate at the end of a quiet residential street, avoiding the traffic on Kennedy Memorial Drive. The routes take advantage of the scenic back roads that stretch along the relatively flat river plain along the Kennebec basin.

The Inland rides were long organized by Tina Quinn, the petite dynamo who directs the Birthing Center at the Inland Hospital. It is probably a non sequitur to describe a health professional's enthusiasm as "infectious," but that would seem apt. As a measure of Tina's efforts in promoting the Inland rides, one might observe that the rides draw the participation of almost equal numbers of men and women - not always the case in rides of this type - and a welcome and inclusive mix.

At last Tuesday's Inland ride, the faster and slower groups set off on two different loops, with volunteers acting as ride leaders and sweeps for both. By my helmet count, I would estimate there were at least 17 riders at the start, although Duane later calculated that there were perhaps as many as 23 altogether. I opted to ride with the slower group, cycling the shorter loop.

I can't attest to how fast the "faster" group travels, but I can say that some of the "slower" riders can set a pretty brisk pace. Trying to get steady photographs at speed can be challenging, even on fairly smooth pavement. Our group headed south on Rt. 104, past one or two fragrant farms. We made a number of stops at turns to regroup, and then crossed over I95 to the Middle Road in Sidney to head back towards Waterville. We zigzagged back across I95 to avoid some construction on our way back to Rt. 104. As dusk was closing in, we finished up the 20 mile route and made our way back to the Inland parking lot. It was a really nice ride - a good workout at the end of a day's work.

If you are situated close by Waterville and looking for something to do on Tuesdays after work, you would do well to check out the Inland rides. Updated ride announcements are often sent out by Duane Weaver, who would be happy to add you to the list if you send him an email at I plan to frequent the rides now that I have the opportunity. If one of these days I'm able to hang with the "faster" group, I might even stay for ice cream at Gifford's afterwards.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Misty Belgrade

It was misting, drizzling, and spitting enough to require intermittent wipers on the way to the ride start at Belgrade Lakes last Saturday. The weather forecast had gotten progressively worse all week, to the throw-in-the-towel point of "100 per cent chance of showers" but I packed up my bike and a stack of ride maps and headed over to the Belgrade Community Center to see if anyone would show up. As I waited there, Denise pulled into the parking lot. We discussed the weather and our route options - I mentioned that I had a piano recital to attend at 1 pm - and we had almost talked ourselves out of riding when Jim pulled in. Almost simultaneously, the misting let up, Jim confidently cited a more optimistic forecast of rain to the south of us, and we talked ourselves back into riding again. It would prove to be a good choice.

Not entirely convinced that the rain would actually hold off, we opted to set out on the 15 mile loop. The temperature and the winds were moderate, although the pavement was wet. We headed up the long hill out of Belgrade Lakes village on Rt.27. Except for the spray from an occasional passing car, the climb went well, and we warmed up quickly. We turned off onto Watson Pond Road and began the stepped climb up Blueberry Hill. For some reason it seemed steeper than usual - that wasn't part of the forecast - but soon enough, we were at the summit.

As we contemplated the descent, it started drizzling again, so we pressed on, turning onto Castle Island Road. The rollers into the Castle Island Camps were fun - and pretty in any weather. By the time we got to Fast Fred's hot dog stand it was raining too hard to stop, even though Fast Fred was open for business. We headed back down to Belgrade Lakes village past the golf course, the rain starting to come down steadier. No dilly-dallying in the village - we headed up Rt.27 straightaway, and back to the Community Center. Packing up our bikes, it started to rain in earnest. Our hunch at the start was right - the weather held up just long enough for us to get the 15 miles in, and the three of us had a great ride. I was really glad that Denise and Jim had come and "coerced" me into riding on a very misty day.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

KVBC on the KRRT

In spite of some threatening weather last Saturday, three of us did the Belgrade Lakes ride. The conditions were much better than expected, and we timed the 15 mile loop just right to avoid any serious rain. As much as we would prefer sunny, warm and dry conditions, sometimes riding in less than ideal weather with good friends can be just as much fun, and we were glad to get the ride in. This Sunday's ride will be much flatter - and hopefully dryer - as we explore the Kennebec River Rail Trail in Augusta. This will be a great ride for new cyclists and for those who have not gotten out much as yet this year. You can't find a route much flatter than this one in Central Maine.

May 16th, Sunday - AUGUSTA
"KVBC on the KRRT" - the Kennebec River Rail Trail through Augusta, Hallowell, and Gardiner.
START: 9:30 AM at the Augusta trail head of the rail trail - the municipal parking lot off of Water Street adjacent to the Maine State Housing Authority (353 Water St.) in the shadow of Memorial Bridge.
DISTANCE: 20 miles
TERRAIN: flat (and we mean flat)
HIGHLIGHTS: a pleasant run along the Kennebec River, with some great natural scenery mixed with some urban vistas, "the way cities are supposed to be."
LEADER: David Auclair.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In Wayne, One Can't Complain

We had a gorgeous day for a bike ride last Saturday in Wayne - cool and dry, bright sunshine, clear skies, little wind. Frank took us out along some scenic back roads along the shore of Pocasset Pond. We headed north to Fayette, passing by the "round cemetery" where there lie Wings, not Celts.

After a spin down Route 17, we headed north again, towards Chesterville, along the ridge of the famed Chesterville Esker, a geologic formation seemingly tailor-made for cycling. A beautiful flat (!) stretch of road follows the ridge of a prehistoric sand bar left by a melting glacier eons ago. At points, the terrain drops off sharply to pristine small lakes on either side of the tree-lined route. The natural beauty is marred only by a gravel-pit operation, which served as our turn-around point. We could have gone on and on, but our return route lay in the opposite direction. We will return to the Esker later in the season, as it is a special run through all four seasons (yes, even when plowed in mid-winter!).

On the return route, Frank took us on some more pleasant back roads towards Livermore. We stopped to regroup at most intersections and turns, as usual, but the emerging black flies kept these interludes short. We gathered again for a stop at Pike's Oasis, and then headed toward Leeds. Here the local pastoralists must have missed my memo about manure spreaders, as we were treated to a magnificent roadside display.

Undaunted, we pressed on to Wayne, where a stop at the waterfall by Tubby's Ice Cream beckoned. It was a great day to be out on a bike with a great group. Many thanks to Frank and to all who took part in a sweet ride.

Next Saturday's KVBC ride will explore the Belgrade Lakes. The weather forecast is a bit damp, but think positive! More great riding is ahead.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Great Pond Go 'Round

We had another great ride in Wayne last Saturday - spectacular weather, another great route and another great crowd. Many thanks to Frank Rosen who revised his planned route and put together another great ride for us. This Saturday's ride will tour through the Belgrade Lakes, with three challenging routes of varying distances. Hope you can make it!

May 8th, Saturday: BELGRADE LAKES
"Great Pond Go 'Round" - a tour around Great Pond through Belgrade, Rome, and Smithfield.
START: 9:30 A.M., at the Belgrade Community Center on Rt. 27, a half mile south of the Village of Belgrade Lakes, on the right (northbound) just past the Great Pond Marina. Park in the community center parking lot nearest the street (just as you turn in).
DISTANCE: 23 or 30 miles, with a short option of 15 miles.
TERRAIN: rolling to "moderately" hilly (translation: there are hills on this ride).
HIGHLIGHTS: views of the Belgrade Lakes, some roller coaster hills, Castle Island, and Blueberry Hill.
LEADER: Jim Merrick.