Thursday, May 13, 2010
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 Duane.Weaver@maine.gov. 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.