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.