Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

High-Wheel Santa (Louis Prang)
Merry Christmas to Everyone from the Kennebec Valley Bicycle Club!  May you all have a fine year of cycling ahead!

This past year we had a terrific calendar of rides, most of which had fine weather and were really well-attended - one of our best years ever!  Many, many thanks to everyone who volunteered to lead rides and who helped out in many other ways - we couldn't have done it without you.  I also want to note that several of our "regulars" - due to circumstances unforeseen and otherwise - were unable to ride with us this year: I want you to know we missed you all, and we hope you can make it back and ride with us again in the coming year!

Winter Events coming up: we will once again schedule a Ride Planning Pizza Party sometime in late January or early February, most likely at the offices of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine in Augusta.  If you could send along to me any preference for evenings that you could (or could not) make a meeting, I'll try and sort through the responses and arrange a date fro us to meet.  If the Old Farmer's Almanac predictions are correct and we get substantial snow this Winter, we might also try to schedule a snowshoe/x-country ski event, too - just to keep your cross-training honest!  And if the OFM is full of baloney, and we have a few opportune mild days, we may try to stir up a club ride or two at the last minute.

Facebook: as I already administer two other work-related Facebook pages, I'm considering whether it would be manageable to set up a KVBC Facebook page to help get ride notices out and attract new riders.  If you are already on Facebook, please let me know, so I know what kind of member participation might result - I wouldn't want our "outreach" to exclude our current membership.

Club Dues: there is a concern that the League of American Bicyclists might be forced to raise next year's club insurance rates for member clubs (such as KVBC) but right now it looks as if the club can absorb the increase without raising our membership dues.  We had some good fortune that the insurance fees have been quite modest and have held steady over the past few years - and that we've never had to draw on the insurance!

May you all have a safe and enjoyable year a'wheel next year!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veterans' Day

We had a great ride last Saturday in Wayne, taking advantage of some nice late-season riding weather.  A good group of nine of us rode in crisp, sunny late-Fall conditions, stopping at the Wing & Kent round cemeteries, the Home Nest Farm scenic overlook, and the warm confines of the Wayne General Store.  The weather this weekend looks favorable for a Veterans' Day ride on Sunday in Mount Vernon - for all you KVBC veterans this may be your last chance to get in a group ride this year!  We will reprise part of the arrowed Mount Vernon ride from last June - there is a hilly 14-mile option, and a more ambitious 29-mile option that also takes in a delightful run along the Chesterville Esker.  We may also get together after the ride at the cafe in Mount Vernon (which closes at 2pm).  Hope to see you there!
Sunday, November 11th - MOUNT VERNON
"Veterans' Day" - a KVBC veterans' ride past many of the hidden ponds and lakes in Mount Vernon, Fayette, Chesterville, and Vienna.
START:  10:30 AM, Mount Vernon Post Office, just off Rt. 41 on Main Street in Mount Vernon.
DISTANCE:  14 and 29 miles.
TERRAIN:  Rolling with a few good hills.
HIGHLIGHTS:  rural back roads winding through many small ponds and lakes; longer loop runs across the top of the Chesterville Esker.  Possible post-ride get-together at the cafe in Mt. Vernon village.
LEADER:  Jim Merrick.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hallows and Gallows

"Bring out your Dead" - Cycling Undertaker, Netherlands

I hope everyone stayed high and dry during the past storm.  The weekend is looking much better - cool and dry - so it's time for a final, post-Halloween, pre-Election, apocalyptic ride!  We'll meet in Wayne at the Elementary School and work our way past the historic "Wing Ring" cemetery and up to Kents Hill, scene of an unsolved murder many years past, and we may stop at the Apple Shed and talk about what life will be like next Wednesday.  Will there be a turnover?  Apple or raspberry?  Even if your taste by now may lean to hermits, come find out!  We'll see you then!

Saturday, November 3rd - WAYNE
"Hallows and Gallows" - a post-Halloween ride featuring some historic cemeteries.
START:  10:30 AM at the Wayne Elementary School, 48 Pond Road, Wayne.
DISTANCE:  15-20 miles.
TERRAIN:  moderate, creepy in spots.
HIGHLIGHTS:  the Wing family cemetery, the Kents Hill orchard, perhaps a notorious historic crime scene, and other local haunts.
LEADER:  Jim Merrick.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Goodbye Columbus

Stopping at the Cemetery on Watson Pond Road
I reluctantly missed the last ride from Farmington to Industry, but Larry made a detailed ride report (below):

Hi Jim,

I was hoping the forecast for better weather toward the north and west would hold, and it seemed to be improving as I drove up with the rain stopping and pavement looking drier around Farmington Falls, but when I got to Hannaford’s at 8:30 it was not looking good. By 9:00 we had eight brave cyclists getting geared up for the ride, but then a steady drizzle ensued and the group decided we should go somewhere to wait awhile to see if things would improve. So bikes were repacked and we drove into town and had second (or third) breakfast at the Homestead Bakery for close to an hour, but when we left it was still drizzly so four cyclists decided they didn’t want to ride in the rain and headed home. That left four of us who decided to go anyway.

We modified the ride and started from where we parked in town and did the loop clockwise so we could cut the ride short by returning back on Route 2 for those who had time commitments. As we progressed toward Clearwater Pond, with a gaggle of geese flying over us headed south, there was a steady drizzle and poor visibility but we were all dressed for the conditions and we were actually quite comfortable while doing our usual social chatting as we rode with our lights blinking away brightly. When we got to New Sharon we met two other diehard cyclists riding on Route 2  in the mist and drizzle. At that point the four of us decided to cut a few miles off the ride and headed directly back to Farmington passing all the activity at the Farmington Fair.

Although it would have been nice to have dry weather and good visibility to see the early leaf colors and ridge top views, all four of us were in high spirits and really enjoyed the 23 miles that we rode. You just can’t keep us intrepid cyclists down with a little uncooperative weather. Sorry you couldn’t make it, but you can chalk this up to another completed ride by the Kennebec Valley Bicycle Club.
Good show!  Kudos to all who showed up and to Larry for leading the ride!  This weekend's forecast is looking like it is going to clear up a bit on Monday, which is Columbus Day.  Let's go discover some dry roads in and around the Kennebec Highlands.  The route(s) are already arrowed, so you can spend more time looking at the scenery and the fall colors than looking at your cue sheet.  Since the mornings are getting cooler, lets aim for a 10 am start to let things warm up a bit.  If you're going to be around (and for those who would like a tune-up for the Dempsey Challenge) I hope you can join us.  Otherwise, have a great holiday weekend!

October 8th, Monday:  BELGRADE LAKES
"Goodbye Columbus" - a discovery tour around Great Pond through Belgrade, Rome, and Smithfield.
START:  10:00 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 (all arrowed).
TERRAIN:  rolling to "moderately" hilly (translation: there are hills on this ride).
HIGHLIGHTS:  prime foliage views of the Belgrade Lakes, some roller coaster hills, Castle Island, and Blueberry Hill.
LEADER:  Jim Merrick.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Off to Industry

Clearwater Pond

We had a nice turn-out under cloudy skies for our ride last Saturday around Lake Cobbossee.  Managed to avoid any serious rain, as we just had to contend with some wet roads for a time (and for one member of our group, a couple of flat tires).  Thanks to Cynthia Snow for volunteering to lead the ride, and showing some of us an unfamiliar route.  Please join us Saturday morning in Farmington for a pretty ride to Clearwater Pond in Allens Mills and some great ridgetop views as we head into the Fall Season.
Saturday, September 22nd:  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:  Larry Childs.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Cobbossee, Cobbossee

Taking a Break near Monmouth

We had a nice ride Sunday in Belgrade Lakes.  It was cloudy and quite cool at the start, but it stayed dry and the sun did finally come out as we were climbing the hills on Rt. 226 into Rome.  It is definitely starting to feel like Fall, and we have a beautiful stretch of weather ahead.  This Saturday we'll meet in East Winthrop in front of Tom's Bike Boutique where Cynthia has a great route planned around Lake Cobbossee.  Hope you can make it!

September 15th, Saturday:  EAST WINTHROP

"A Cobbossee Odyssey":  a tour around Cobbosseecontee Lake.
START:  9:00 A.M., at the parking lot of Tom's Bike Boutique, 2208 Rt.202 in East Winthrop, across from D.R Struck's Nursery.
DISTANCE:  30 miles.
TERRAIN:  rolling with some challenging hills.
HIGHLIGHTS:  views of Cobbossee Lake, back roads of Winthrop, Manchester, West Gardiner, Litchfield, and Monmouth.
LEADER:  Cynthia Snow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Grading on the Bel(grade) Curve

Blueberry Hill Overlook
We had beautiful weather last Saturday for the ride in Smithfield, and we had a nice turnout for a holiday weekend.  We has some really nice runs through Smithfield, Rome & Mercer, and we even got to the Ice Cream Place in Smithfield before it closed for the season.  Many thanks to Larry Childs for leading the ride, and to all who turned out.  This Sunday's ride will see a return to the site of our very first club ride in May 2002, at the Belgrade Community Center.  The records show we had 17 people turn out in cold, raw, blustery conditions for a 15 mile ride (still one of the route options for Sunday, hopefully in nicer conditions).  Just for kicks, I dug out the original email announcement for the "First Bike Ride" sent out ten years ago:
First Bike Ride - Saturday, May 11th, 9:30 AM
Ride Start: Belgrade Community Center, Rt. 27, a half mile south of the village of Belgrade Lakes, on the right (southbound) next to the Great Pond Marina.  Park along the road in front of the Community Center.
Ride Description: "The Long and the Short of It" - a short ride around Long Pond.  This will be a 15 mile road ride around Long Pond in Belgrade, with an optional climb up Blueberry Hill (.4 mi. of dirt).  Helmets required.
Terrain:  rolling with a few hills.
Highlights:  the village of Belgrade Lakes, Blueberry Hill Scenic Area, Castle Island.
Special Note:  there will be an opportunity for a post-ride get together at a restaurant in Belgrade Lakes, to socialize and discuss upcoming rides, and club organization.
For more information, contact: Jim Merrick.
You'll note that we didn't have a club name (or even any actual members yet) and that I was just as bad at giving directions.  It was very strange leading a ride when I really didn't know anyone there, but I was just glad that anyone showed up.  It certainly never occurred to me that ten years later I would be back in Belgrade Lakes leading my 100th KVBC ride.  I guess that means I'm still glad anyone shows up.  Anyway, the ride Sunday is a nice one - scenic with some challenging hills - and hopefully the rain will clear out by the weekend.  I did manage to get out and arrow the routes before the rain, so the route is freshly marked.  Hope to see you there!
September 9th, Sunday:  BELGRADE LAKES
"Belgrade Lakes and Highlands" - a tour around Great Pond through Belgrade, Rome, and Smithfield.
START:  9:00 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 (all arrowed).
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.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Looping the Lakes in Smithfield

Cycling along Lakeshore Drive in Smithfield
Hey, it's September already!  Where did the summer go?  Fortunately we still have some great cycling ahead as we head into Fall.  We had a fine ride last Saturday from Richmond to Topsham - there were over 40 of us!  Well, actually, most of "us" were riding the Maine Hospice Century and Half-Century which overlapped a great part of our route.  It was a great ride and great to have so much company!  This Saturday we will be meeting in Smithfield for a great double loop around North and East Ponds with some great lakeside runs, followed by a nifty ice cream stop.  Hope you can join us!
Saturday, September 1st - SMITHFIELD
"Route 8 Figure 8" - a scenic tour through Smithfield, Belgrade, Rome, and Mercer.
START:  9:00 AM, at the new Smithfield Fire Station on Rt. 8 in Smithfield, about a quarter-mile north of the junction of Rt. 8 and Rt. 137.
DISTANCE:  15 and 28 miles.
TERRAIN:  moderate to moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS:  many scenic lake views and back roads, and an ice cream stop.
LEADER:  Larry Childs.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Merrymeeting in the Interim

"Coastal Rider" by Timothy Easton
The rains that fell just prior to the start of last Saturday's ride in Wings Mills couldn't deter the lure of gourmet hot dogs to an intrepid group of club members, and I have it on good authority that the ride went off on a roll, and drew plenty of nice condiments.  There were no weiners (weenies? whiners?) at the start of the ride, and they made short work of the weiners at the end of the ride.  OK, I'll stop now before I come up with another bad pun, and frankly thank Ken Louis for another great ride and his post-ride hospitality.  This Saturday's ride starts in Richmond, as we explore part of the proposed Merrymeeting Trail - the trail's interim on-road section from Richmond to Topsham, along the shore of Merrymeeting Bay.  The weather looks great and we hope you can make it!
Saturday, August 25th, RICHMOND
"Merrymeeting in the Interim" - a tour of the new Merrymeeting Trail Interim on-road route from Richmond to Topsham and return.
START: 9:00 am at the Fort Richmond Waterfront Park Gazebo, Front Street (Rt. 24), Richmond
DISTANCE: 34 miles
TERRAIN: unknown at press time
HIGHLIGHTS: scenic waterfront roads along the western shore of Merrymeeting Bay
LEADER: "To Be Determined," aka Jim Merrick.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hot Dog!

Riding Out of Wings Mills

We certainly are having a great year for cycling, weather-wise.  Once again, the weather cooperated (despite a lousy forecast) and we were able to get in our ride in Gardner on Saturday without any rain.  Some drizzle, yes, and some wet pavement, but for those of us who rode it was an extremely nice ride along the back roads of Gardiner, Richmond and Litchfield.  We have another great ride coming up this Saturday in Wings Mills - Ken's fabulous Hot Dog Ride!  If you can live down being a Hot Dog at the beginning, you'll definitely be rewarded with a Hot Dog at the end!  Don't miss it!

Saturday, August 18th - WING'S MILLS (Mount Vernon)
"Hot Dog! - The Hot Dog Ride" (not because we'll ride like one but because we will want one) - a tour through Mount Vernon, Belgrade, North Augusta, and Manchester
START: 9:00 AM at 49 Marble Point Rd., Mount Vernon
      Directions to Start:
           From Augusta, take #27 North to Belgrade and turn left onto #135 (Christy's store   and blinking light)
           Go 3 miles and right onto Wings Mill Rd; go 2.5 miles and right onto Marble Point Rd. which is just
           after crossing Belgrade Stream; it is a hard pack dirt road and we are the log home on the right)

           From Mount Vernon, Readfield: Take North Rd to Wings Mills Rd and go about 3 miles to Marble Point Rd;
           just after passing Bartlett Rd on the right, turn left onto Marble Point

           Delorme Maine Atlas Map 12; A-4. Just west and across the stream from the intersection of Dunn Rd and
           Wings Mill Rd. (Marble Point is not listed by name on the map).
DISTANCE: 29 miles
TERRAIN: Moderate with some hills
HIGHLIGHTS: Views of Belgrade Stream, Hamilton Pond, Stuart Pond, Messalonskee Lake, Doctor Pond, Silver Lake, Gould Pond, with a Hot Dog cookout lunch following the ride - swimming available also.  
LEADER: Ken Louis.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Gardiner Field & Stream

Heading out from Gardiner
We had another great ride from Winthrop last Saturday, welcoming some new riders and exploring some new pavement.  A smooth introduction to riding with the KVBC!  We had a fine turnout, and again some superb weather for cycling.  Hopefully it will continue this weekend when we meet in Gardiner on Saturday for another tour along the quiet back roads to the south of Augusta, the route slightly modified from the original ride description in the calendar.  You'll be slightly mollified when you see how nice it is.  Hope to see you there!
Saturday, August 11th - GARDINER
"Gardiner Field & Stream" - a tour of the southern Kennebec Valley through Gardiner, Richmond, Bowdoin, and Litchfield.
START:  9:00 AM, at the Laura Richards School, Rt. 201 in Gardiner, 1.5 miles south of the junction of Rt. 201 and Rt.s 126/9 (the junction near the A-1 Diner).  The school is a new brick building with a "spiked ball" sculpture, on the west side of Rt. 201, on the left past the Gardiner Armory (just as you enter the "thickly settled" area).  Park in the lot on the north side of the school.
DISTANCE:  27 miles.
TERRAIN:  Moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS:  quiet back roads along streams and farmland south & west of Gardiner.
LEADER:  Jim Merrick.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Hills Take Their Toll

Heading off down Mercer Road in Rome
The legendary Hills of Rome can be punishing, but I was wondering if I was even going to see them at the start of the ride on July 7. Less than a half-mile down Mercer Road from the Rome Town Hall, my rear wheel began making some persistent clicking and pinging - upon inspection, several pairs of spokes had come loose - real loose. No spoke wrench, so I had to make some delicate tensioning with a 6" adjustable wrench - enough to get by, but I spent the rest of the ride picking the smoothest line I could find through occasionally rough pavement.

The Descent Down Wooster Hill

I wasn't so lucky on the descent that followed on Wooster Hill. My wheel held up fine, but my little trustworthy digital camera flew off, and I had to waste more time backtracking and searching for scattered pieces. After a time, I did manage to find everything and put it back together, but I couldn't get it to work for the rest of the ride. Good that I carry two cameras. Good also that my cycling companions are quite patient - and by some estimation, photogenic. (Nice modelling of the new BCM 20th anniversary jersey, Ken.)

Smooth Shoulders on Rt. 27

We emerged from the hills of Rome to a nice long downhill run on Rt. 27. With smooth pavement and wide shoulders, I could take some chances with the second camera and record some images on the descent.

Approaching Belgrade Lakes Village

We rolled into Belgrade Lakes village and stopped by the village store, where a fellow from across the street tried to sell us an aluminum boat dock and a pontoon boat to go with it (or actually, raffle tickets for the same). Yep, we were in Belgrade Lakes all right. We decided not to take a chance - hey, you might win, you know - and we headed off toward Castle Island.

Passing through the Isthmus of Castle Island

Castle Island is always a pretty spot where the road threads its way along the narrow causeway and connecting bridges between the lakes. The speed limit drops to 15 mph, however, which causes some consternation in some motorists who cannot accept going as slow as (or slower!) than cyclists. But we managed to evade the more impatient drivers and passed though without incident.

Heading back through Mount Vernon

It began to cloud up a bit as we headed back through Mount Vernon and up Watson Pond Road. We passed Blueberry Hill and French's Mountain, descending back to Rt. 27 and climbing back to Rt. 225. From there it was just a short spin back to the start at the Rome Town Hall, bringing to conclusion one of the hilliest 20-mile rides you can find anywhere.

Until Next Time - See You on the Road!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

In Winthrop We Meet Again

Heading towards Monmouth
We had a great turnout and a great ride last Saturday in Wayne.  Our thanks to Ray and Jane Giglio for another great route, which included some outstanding views of Androscoggin Lake, Mt. Pisgah, old windmills and grain silos, long climbs and fast descents, and a post-ride stop at Tubby's Ice Cream.  A most enjoyable ride.  This week we will kick off the month of August with a classic ride from Winthrop on Saturday.  We'll see you then!
Saturday, August 4th - WINTHROP
"Lakes and Orchards" - a tour through Winthrop and Monmouth.
START:  9:00 AM at the Winthrop Town Boat Landing on Maranacook Lake, near the gazebo on Coady Street, off of Memorial Drive.  If the boat landing parking lot is full, there are additional spaces around the corner on Summer Street, lakeside.
DISTANCE:  18 or 24 Miles.
TERRAIN:  Rolling, with a few stiff hills.
HIGHLIGHTS:  Back roads beside rolling orchards, lakeside summer camps, small hidden hamlets.
LEADER:  Jim Merrick.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What the Doctor Ordered

A Good Crowd at the Start in Sidney

With great weather and great roads ordered up by the good doctor, Jim Putnam's annual Fourth of July ride always attracts a good crowd. Traditionally on Fourth of July weekend, this year the ride was held on June 30, proceeding a mid-week 4th.

Heading out from the James H. Bean Elementary School on Middle Road on the first leg of a "figure 8" route, we climbed up and over the interstate to pick up the West River Road heading north.
Riding through Farmland on West River Road

Both Middle Road and West River Road provide long, flat straightaways, perfect for cruising or hammering, whichever suits your fancy.

Stepping up the Hills on Trafton Road

Of course, when you have two flat roads that parallel, it figures that you have to do some climbing to cross over from one to the other, and getting back to Middle Road meant we had to first tackle some hill work.

Chasing Shadows

The route flattened out again as we made our way back to Middle Road and the Bean School, chasing shadows a good part of the way. The second part of the ride took us past fields and bogs, down through Sidney to North Augusta, where we turned up Rt. 27 to Rt. 23, picking up the first real traffic on the ride.

Heading Back on the Return Route

We soon left the traffic behind, turning off on Quaker Road, where we encountered a hill that would make anyone quake. The climb was rewarded with a sweet downhill run, and from there it was only a series of low hills back to the start. Another great Fourth of July ride, regardless of the calendar, and just what the doctor ordered.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Wayne Refrain

Setting Out on Another Leg Back to Wayne
We had another fine ride from Gardiner on July 15. although due to temperatures well up in the 90s we decided to cut the ride short a bit.  It was a great ride with very little traffic - maybe it was too hot for the air-conditioned bohemoths?  Our thanks to Geology Joe for another great improvised ride.  Word is that the BCM Lobster Ride last Saturday was such a success, they had to close registration before the ride even started!  And the gorgeous weather looks like it will continue this weekend, when we will meet again in Wayne for the Wayne Refrain around Androscoggin Lake, with a possible post-ride stop at Tubby's Ice Cream.  Don't refrain from showing up!
Saturday, July 28th - WAYNE
"The Wayne Refrain - Androscoggin Lake Loop" - a loop of Androscoggin Lake, with a couple detours for special Wayne sights. 
START: 8:30 AM, at the Wayne Elementary School, Pond Rd (turn north from Rt. 133, just west of Wayne village; go 1/4-mile, park in lot at north end of bldg.)
DISTANCE: 26 miles
TERRAIN: Moderately hilly
HIGHLIGHTS:  beginning loop goes by the Wayne Ring cemetery (Pond Rd) and the Wayne Desert (Berry Rd).  Great views eastward in Leeds (Rt. 106).  A detour near the end climbs Morrison Heights for a beautiful view westward over Lake Androscoggin.  Food and ice cream at Tubby's at the finish, and if before noon, grocery shopping at the adjacent Wayne Farmers' Market.
LEADER:  Ray Giglio.

Breakfast on 17

Heading up Rt. 201 to North Augusta
Despite some stormy weather forecast, a sizable group of diehards gathered at 8 am at the Hussey Elementary School in Augusta on June 23rd for the promise of a bike ride and the prospect of breakfast - enough to trump any forecast. The route took us out through residential neighborhoods and up Rt. 201 towards North Augusta. Normally busy during the week, traffic was quite calm early on a Saturday morning, and the wide shoulder made it easy to avoid any irregular pavement and broken glass.

No Traffic, Wide Shoulder

The route was copied from the original, designed by Connie Brown, who was unable to make the ride this year. I saw no reason to change any part of the route, although since I got lost on the ride the year before (and I can get lost just about anywhere, anytime) I decided to leave nothing to chance and went out and arrowed the route. I have been on an arrowing kick since I learned of the passing of the legendary Dan Henry, the patron saint of bicycle route marking, earlier this year in March. And I found some great paint cheap at Marden's.

One of Many Long Stretches

We soon left the numbered route and headed east on Stevens Road to Church Hill Road - both with nice, long stretches of low traffic and distant hills.

Climbing up Rt. 3 in Formation

To work up an appetite for breakfast the route took us up some long hills on Rt. 3, where we had to contend with some traffic, but once again had a wide shoulder to ride on. After a few miles we turned off onto Bolton Hill Road where we had a nice long descent.

A Back Road in Chelsea

Remarkably, most of the route, as rural as it was, remained within the city limits of Augusta with a short section in neighboring Chelsea. For a good part of the way we managed to stay together as a group until towards the end of the ride when we began to spread out. Plans were to detour up Rt. 17 for breakfast at Rebecca's Place, but the prospect of thunderstorms convinced many to simply return to the start.

 Rebecca's, as it turned out, was OK, but it definitely wasn't as nice as Connie's. If breakfast wasn't the highlight of the trip, the ride getting there certainly was. A Capitol ride in every respect.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bloomsday in Kents Hill

A Run Along Echo Lake

The Kents Hill Roundabout started at the Torsey Church parking lot on the top of Kents Hill on June 16 - Bloomsday, for you Joyce fans. Starting at the top of a hill means the ride starts off with a fast downhill - not a bad thing, ordinarily, but in the chill of the morning air we were nearly shivering by the time we got to the base of the hill. We soon warmed up, as Ray took us on a pretty three-mile run along the shore of Echo Lake.

Up Rt. 17 North to North Fayette

Although the day was clear and sunny, the temperature stayed quite cool as we headed up Rt. 17 towards North Fayette.

Stopping at Home Nest Farm

After the climb up Baldwin Hill, we stopped to regroup and admire the scenery at Home Nest Farm and the Sturtevant Farm Scenic Area. From there we passed over Campground Road to Pike's Oasis and down Rt. 133 to Wayne.

South on Rt. 133 towards Wayne

Heading toward Pikes Oasis

Passing the "Wing Ring" Cemetery in Wayne

From Wayne, we worked our way back to the start, with some great runs along Pocassett Lake and Lovejoy Pond, passing the historic Wing Cemetery-in-the-round and the waterfalls in North Wayne. Finally, it was back up the long climb to the summit of Kents Hill. Our thanks to Ray and Jane, who were soon off to the land of Joyce, where we hope they'd be spared the worst of the weather Ireland can bring.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Gardiner to Bowdoinham

Entering Bowdoinham
We had a great ride Saturday in Rome - once we stopped counting the hills.  There were seven of us who did the seven hills, and then some.  Fortunately most of the climbing was in shade, as the morning gave way to mid-day heat and humidity.  We have another fine stretch of weather ahead, by all accounts, and another classic ride to Bowdoinham coming up next Sunday.  Summer is definitely here, so get out and get on your bike and join us!
Sunday, July 15th - GARDINER
"Biking to Bowdoinham" - a tour of the southern Kennebec Valley through Gardiner, Richmond and Bowdoinham.
START:  9:00 AM, at the Laura Richards School, Rt. 201 in Gardiner, 1.5 miles south of the junction of Rt. 201 and Rt.s 126/9 (the junction near the A-1 Diner).  The school is a new brick building with a "spiked ball" sculpture, on the west side of Rt. 201, on the left past the Gardiner Armory (just as you enter the "thickly settled" area).  Park in the lot on the north side of the school.
DISTANCE:  40-45 miles.
TERRAIN:  Moderately hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS:  quiet back roads along streams and farmland south & west of Gardiner.
LEADER:  Joe Renda.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Ponds to Ponder

Rolling along Dutch Gap Road in Chesterville
We were fortunate to have the rains lift in time for the ride from Mount Vernon on June 10. The rains had left us with an abundance of roadside wildflowers under crystal clear skies. The break in the weather left me rather ambitious, and I went out and arrowed the route. I hadn't arrowed the route in some years, and I had a few old cans of white paint leftover from another ride years ago. Turned out the paint was still good, as a result the route is now marked for anyone to revisit anytime this year (the paint usually does not survive the winter).

Heading toward Farmington Falls
Arrow Color & Shape

Blue Skies in Chesterville

Setting out on Rt. 41 South from the Mount Vernon Post Office, we turned off on Sandy River Road at "The Chimney" and worked our way up a series of stiff hills, including the infamous "Upchuck Hill" as we crossed into Chesterville and Franklin County. From there the road descended to the Chesterville Esker. Normally a really fast descent, the roads were in such rough shape that one had to descend with caution, and we couldn't realize the top speeds possible.

The Chesterville Esker

The trees lining the Chesterville Esker provided us with a nice, shady, flat run along one of the most scenic natural areas in central Maine. In places the Ridge Road drops off dramatically on either side, bracketed by small ponds glimpsed through the foliage, beautiful in any time of year.

Stopping at the Village Store in Chesterville

We found ourselves at a familiar stopping point: the Village Store in Chesterville - where we had stopped twice in the course of the Livermore ride two weeks earlier. Since the store had been closed for a few years, and it is one of the few stores in the area, it's good to see it open again. If we keep stopping there like we have, it may stay that way.

A Remarkably Flat Stretch
After a few hills on the return route up Tower Road, during which we twice hit 50 mph on two smooth descents, we finished the ride back in Mount Vernon in time to have lunch at the Old Post Office Cafe in town, marking the end of another great KVBC ride. 

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Roman Over the Hills

Climbing Blueberry Hill
We had another spectacular day for last Saturday's ride in Sidney.  Beautiful sunshine, calm winds, and some nice shady stretches when it started to get too hot.  Many thanks to Jim Putnam for another great ride leading up to the Fourth of July.  For those of you who are not going to the Maine Bike Rally this weekend, we have a ride planned for Saturday, the Seventh of July, exploring the Seven Hills of Rome (more or less).  Hope we see you on Saturday - have a great Fourth and a great weekend!
Saturday, July 7th: ROME
"The Seven Hills of Rome" - a roadside tour of the many hillside trails through Rome and Belgrade.
START: 9:00 AM, Rome Town Hall at the corner of Rt. 225 and Mercer Road, about 0.3 mi from the junction of Rt. 27 and Rt. 225.
DISTANCE: about 20 miles.
TERRAIN:  Hills. Seven at least. Otherwise moderate to hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS: the route passes 5 trailheads, Blueberry Hill and the Kennebec Highlands.  There is an optional short hike up French's Mountain to a spectacular scenic vista.  Several swimming opportunites, too.  Possible ice cream stop.
LEADER: Jim Merrick.