Monday, May 28, 2012

The Large Lakes

Heading into Winthrop

We had another really fine ride last Saturday, stringing together a remarkably flat route through three towns (Livermore, Fayette, and Chesterville) and three counties (Androscoggin, Kennebec, and Franklin), including a delightful run along the Chesterville Esker and back again.  We'll see if three's a charm this Saturday when Denise takes us on a tour of the three big lakes in Winthrop, Monmouth, and Manchester - another great route.  And BCM's popular Womens' Ride is Sunday in Freeport, so we have some great riding in store!

Saturday, June 2nd - EAST WINTHROP
"The Big Lakes Tour" - a ride along the shorelines of Lakes Maranacook, Annabessacook, and Cobbosseecontee.
START: 9:00 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.

A Tour of the Back Forty

Cruising by one of the large dairy farms in Whitefield

We had an outstanding ride along the Sheepscott River on Saturday, May 19th. Beautiful weather - warm, calm, with a sparkling, cloudless blue sky. After a long, rainy spring, it felt like summer had finally arrived.

One of the few flat stretches on the route  

Leanne led us out of the Windsor Fairgrounds as we headed south towards Whitefield. We rode along some great back roads past some large, prosperous dairy farms set back from the river  among lush, verdant hillsides.

One of a seemingly endless series of hills

As the ride continued south down towards Alna and Head Tide we encountered a challenging series of short hills. The rains had nurtured an abundance of greenery, and the roads were often lined with wildflowers. We stopped to admire the many metal sculptures at the Iron Horse, the sculpture garden of Roger Majorowitz set in a pastoral setting. Continuing along, we came to the endgame of dairy country: the large manure processing outfits of "Cowshit Corner."

The Not-So-Blime
The Sublime: Roger Majorowitz's Sculpture Garden

Photo-Op at the Dam on the Sheepscott

We stopped at the dam on the Sheepscott River with a number of old mills in the background. We watched dense schools of alwives cluster at the face of the dam, working their way up the fish ladder at the far side. There were a pair of fish-monitoring traps set downstream of the dam, and a number of canoes were being launched from the river landing. Leanne gathered us together on the dam for a group photo before we headed back on the return trip. You couldn't ask for a nicer 40-mile ride.

A velo study in primary colors

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Breakfast in Livermore

Heading Towards Leeds
We had a really first rate ride along the Sheepscot River last Saturday.  Leanne put together a great route, taking us over some challenging terrain and some beautiful roads that I, for one, had never ridden down before.  The weather could not have been nicer.  It felt like the first ride of summer - definitely the first ride to break out the sunscreen - and we had a great group.  The ride had just about everything: we had sunshine, blue skies, art, country stores, metal sculpture, dams, alwives, llamas, prosperous dairy farms, and Cow Shit Corner (with everything, you get everything).  Our thanks again to Leanne for leading a great ride.  This Saturday, kick off your Memorial Day weekend with an adventure from Livermore to Leeds, as well as a great run along the Chesterville Esker.  Come early, and we'll have breakfast!
Saturday, May 26th - LIVERMORE
"Single Chainring Tour" - an exploration of the flatlands from Livermore to Leeds, through Fayette to the Chesterville Esker.
START: 8:30 AM at the Lunch Pad Restaurant (7:30 am if you want to join us for breakfast) at the junction of Rt.17 and Rt. 133 (Park Street) in Livermore, where Rt. 17 N comes into a "T" intersection just before downtown Livermore Falls.  Park in the Footware parking lot next to the diner.
DISTANCE: about 25 miles.
TERRAIN: mostly moderate with no big hills.
HIGHLIGHTS: Breakfast, beautiful roads and a nice flat run along the scenic Chesterville Esker.
LEADER: Jim Merrick.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Couldn't Be Finah in China

Ride Start in East Vassalboro at the Historical Society

We had fine weather and a fine crowd at the Start of last Saturday's ride in East Vassalboro. It was a bit cool, but sunny and dry, and we had about 20 riders, young and not-so-young, many in training for the Trek Across Maine. It was great to have everyone out and it made for a really fun day.

Jeanine, our intrepid ride leader, handed out maps and led us out on a loop around China Lake. Traffic was light and the group started to stretch out along the back roads to enjoy the morning's scenery.

Stopping for History at an Old Cemetery in China

We took a side trip down a dead-end road to view a "surprise" - an historic cemetery with a carefully marked grave of a former slave, buried alongside his former masters. China was once a Quaker town where former slaves could find refuge, both in the Underground Railroad and in free black settlements along one of the high ridges on the outskirts of town.

Back on the road, we circled the north end of the lake and headed back down Lakeview Drive (Rt.202). Here traffic picked up a bit, but we took advantage of the wide shoulder and the long, flat stretches of good pavement to head down to South China Village.

Considering Destinations Near and Far

We stopped for a group photo at the International Signpost in South China - half the world seemingly a day's ride away. With a bike you can go anywhere!

Hope you can join us next Saturday, May 19th, in Windsor, where we'll view things you can't see anywhere else, no matter how far you travel. Our thanks to Jeanine for a great ride in China (now that was no surprise!).

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Windsor au Couture

Stopping at Roger Majorowitz's Sculpture Garden in Alna
We had a simply splendid ride last Saturday from Vassalboro around China Lake, with great weather and a great turnout.  Jeanine led us on great tour around the lake, and even took us down a little-traveled back road to an historic cemetery in China, the last resting place for a former slave, who was as far away from his home as...well, China.  And in keeping with the theme of near and far, Jeanine had us gather for a group photo in front of the International Signpost in So. China - a nice touch.  Thanks, Jeanine!  And if you are near this Saturday, you don't have to go far to find another great ride, as Leanne will take us on a tour of the Sheepscot River valley from Windsor to Alna.  As always, see you then!
May 19th, Saturday:  WINDSOR
"Windsor au Couture":  a tour up and down the banks of the Sheepscot River from Windsor to Alna.
START:  10:00 A.M., at the Windsor Fair Grounds on Rt. 32, about a half mile north from the junction of Rt. 17 and Rt. 32.  Park in the lot across from the entrance.
DISTANCE:  35 miles.
TERRAIN:  moderate to hilly.
HIGHLIGHTS:  scenic back roads with fine straight runs (definitely), the R. Majorowitz Sculpture Garden in Alna (maybe), and nice views of the Sheepscot (for sure), one of the most pristine rivers in the Northeast.
LEADER:  Leanne Moll.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

China Surprise

A Road to China
We had a great ride last week in Manchester - the roads dried up and the sun came out - it began to feel like Spring was finally upon us (following early Summer and late Winter).  I had an eventful ride with a broken chain and a malfunctioning chain tool (more on this in a blog post later).  But a number of our riders realized that I was overdue and decided to "rescue the ride leader" - many thanks to you all! - and I made it back in time for the scheduled afternoon piano and dance recitals that I was expected at.  Saved indeed!  With my chain finally repaired, I'm ready for this week's ride in Vassalboro - and I trust you all are, too!  See you Saturday!

Saturday, May 12th, EAST VASSALBORO
"China Surprise" - a delightful tour over the hills and dells of Vassalboro and China.
START: 10:00 AM at the Vassalboro Historical Society parking lot just north of the China Lake boat landing on Rt. 32 in East Vassalboro (not the boat landing in South China).
DISTANCE: 25 miles.
TERRAIN: moderate, with some hills and flat sections.
HIGHLIGHTS: a selection of great, scenic rural Maine roads with great views of China Lake and surroundings, with a surprise thrown in!
LEADER: Jeanine Libby.

Cinco de Chaino

Exchanging Greetings at the Ride Start in Manchester
After a week of what seemed like steady rain, we caught a break last Saturday for a relatively dry Cinco de Mayo ride in Manchester. A few leftover sprinkles left the pavement wet at the ride start, but soon gave way to partly sunny skies and drier roads ahead. It was great to see some old friends at the ride start, renewing acquaintances and making new ones, and we set off up Rt.17 toward Readfield.

We stopped to regroup at the end of Scribner Hill Road, removing layers as it warmed up.
Regrouping after climbing the ridge along Scribner Hill Road
We made our way over to Wing's Mills, past some early season fishermen on the dam. Up to this point it had been a very pleasant, uneventful ride, but as we entered into the hilly home stretch, I had what might be described as a "multiple mechanical failure." It was as sudden as it was unexpected.

As I started up a steep pitch, I went to shift onto a small chainring and (a) nothing happened (except some excessive chain chatter), which (b) stopped abruptly as the chain snapped, as (c) I did also, just managing to free a foot to set down without toppling over. Everyone ahead was by then out of earshot, but I was unfazed, as I was prepared (as ride leader) with a chain tool. Or so I thought. With an increasing multitude of black flies swarming about, I discovered that: (d) the damn chain tool didn't work. Fortunately Ray and Jane came along, and: (e) Ray had no more luck getting the chain tool to work than I, which didn't solve anything but my feelings of ineptitude. Ray offered to ride on ahead with my car keys, fetch my car and return, which would enable me to make my daughters' piano recital in time, and really keep me out of hot water. Meanwhile, I packed up the broken chain and balky chain tool, and set off to practice my "scooter bike" technique, coasting down the hills as far as I could stretch them. By this time everyone who had finished the ride was wondering where I was, and several folks drove up alongside me as I was merrily coasting down hills, and I reluctantly had to stop. I almost finished the ride sans chain, which would have been something to boast about. But I was just as glad for all the assistance. Certainly made for an eventful ride! I'll have to follow up with a technical report in a later post. Till then, be with us next time, Saturday, May 12, in East Vassalboro, where Jeanine will get her chance to be ride leader. Hopefully just as interesting, but not quite so eventful. See you then!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Chilly and Hilly

The Many Layers of Spring Cycling in Maine
It was bright and sunny for our April 28 ride in Wayne. It was also 35 degrees at the start, and blustery (35 degrees + 20 mph winds = 24 degrees windchill factor). Definitely not a day for lots of exposed skin. I think I started the ride with four layers, and I may have finished the ride with more. But if conditions were crisp, they were also dry, and it was a great day for a ride.

The route, laid out by Ray Giglio, took us from the Wayne Elementary School along the shorelines of Pocasset Lake and Lovejoy Pond, and past the southern tip of Echo Lake (or the left leg of "Crotched Pond" - to use its former name). We rode up Rt.17 to Baldwin Hill Road and the Home Nest Farm overlook. The return route took us along some very scenic back roads through Richmond Mills and back to Wayne.

Heading up Walton Road to North Wayne

Cold? No, just warming up.
Weighing options at the crossroads.
Along Rt.17.

Scenic Overlook from Home Nest Farm.

Thanks to Ray and to all who braved the conditions and took part in the ride. We will revisit parts of Wayne later in the season when we can peel off a few more layers and explore more of the great back roads that traverse this hidden corner of Maine.