August 24, 2010

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

For the first few days, across northern Vermont and New Hampshire, the scenery was farms, pastures, and mountains.  Really nice biking, and really nice people. 

I've learned that river folk are good folk.  Two nights in a row, in East Charleston VT and Errol NH I stayed with river guides / kayak and canoe rentals.  Both nights I was able to hang out with the owner or employees and both nights I had an excellent time.  With Chris, the owner of Clyde River Recreation, he fed me pasta and meatballs and we talked about the thrill of adventures, and the beauty of northern Vermont.  Because there are no big manufacturing jobs, a tourist attraction, such as a river adventure, brings money to the community, and at the same time shows off the natural beauty of the area, giving support for conservation. 

After crossing some serious hills near Dixville Notch State Park, I pulled into Errol NH, a town of about 300 people.  That night I stayed at Northern Waters Outfitters, at the edge of town.  These guys had a slightly larger operation, and operated white water kayaking, rafting, and tours of wildlife preserves by boat.  Their Campsite was only $10 per person, which was about 2-3 times cheaper then every RV/Campsite place I've stopped, and I got to hang out by the fire with Doug, a 60-something year old guy, with an impressive beard, long gray hair, and about 5 teeth.  He has been living in beautiful places and working odd jobs at outdoor/adventure places his whole life, and was one of the happiest people I've met.  He's been with Northern Waters Outfitters for a while, and just lives in his tent and on the river.  In the winter he grooms x-country Ski trails, and gets the first tracks.  He told me stories of epic powder days in Utah, when he lived there, and an albino trout which he fed worms one summer in northern Quebec.  We talked about music, the outdoors, and small town life for hours. 

Once I crossed into Maine, heading south east on Rt 26, the scenery changed a bit.  Grafton Notch State Park was beautiful, but I was in such a good biking zone that i just powered right through it to Bethel ME.  30 miles before 11am.  Bethel was a really nice mountain town with a really cool BBQ restaurant which sold craft beers, and local wines, and RAW MILK!   However it was all downhill from there, and not in the good, literal, way, I mean it got shitty.  From Bethel to Portland was all towns which had been overrun with chain stores, and auto-dealerships, and dirty industries.  And after 80 miles of pushing through it I camped out in a nice grassy spot in Poland ME (Home of America's first golf course, and the source for Poland Springs Water). 

From Portland all the way to Boston was beach town, followed by beautiful coastal road, to the next beach town.  Really pretty, but not a lot of places to camp out, and not a lot of really cheap food stops, like in the rural places I passed before.

Now, in Boston, my body is nearly fully recovered, after a couple of nights of getting some great food with some great people.  Napalese food with Noah, and Adam.  Shabu food with Noah, Jake and Steff.  And amazing Italian food with all of Noah's friends and roomates.

I think I've officially "seen" Boston now, and I can't wait to start biking again once the weather clears up.

Good times.

August 23, 2010

It has begun...

I'm sitting here in Boston Mass, my legs slightly sore, my butt slightly raw, but overall feeling great.  Let me first apologize for the lack of blog posts.  Not having a computer makes posting hard, and the couple of times I stopped at libraries my limited time had to be used to check routes.  I have however been updating my map every time I touch a computer, and if you click the link to the google map you can even see a brief description of each of the places i've stayed so far (by clicking the green icons).

Every day has been great so far, but I'll start this blog by describing the beginning of the trip.

After a couple of extremely hectic days in montreal, packing, and doing all of the many things I had to do before leaving Canadiaville,  I emptied my apartment and loaded my bike up for the first time and headed up to Mount Royal for a picnic and goodbye party.  I have to say, the first few times I rode with the loaded trailer I got pretty nervous.  I've gotten much more comfortable now, but those first few times I rode were pretty hairy.  Standing up was out of the question, and even taking one hand off to shift gears was nerve racking (aerobars were useless until about 50 miles of getting used to the bike).  

The sendoff picnic was very nice.  It was great getting to say goodbye to everyone, and hear all the support everyone was giving me.  I very much appreciate everyone who came, but as you can imagine I was itching to get on the road (I had been for over a week).  When we did finally leave it was in a brigade of 10 or so bikes bullying our way through the Montreal Traffic.  As I slowly left Montreal, skyscrapers in the background, the brigade thinned and thinned until the hearty goodbye to Marc Trussler left just me and my dad.  The change in vibes, coupled with the crossing over the locks really signified the start of the trip.

With just me and my dad, and about 50 miles to go I was able to really "get in the zone" and start getting used to riding with the loaded bike.

A quick note about my bike:
1983 Schwinn Voyager.  Bullet proof steel.  35lbs unloaded.  This bike has soul.  It was given to me for free by my good friend, and excellent cyclist Danny Goodwin (read his blog for a great insight into the world of riding bikes really really fast).  The bike was given to him by a zen buddhist who had ridden the bike cross country and requested that the bike stay as one and continue its life carrying heavy loads.  It has.  I love it.  I've been riding it every day for the past 6 years or so, in all weather conditions and its still solid as a tank.    It does not have a name yet...

Anyway, the first day was a beautiful ride through rural quebec, and the fact that my dad was breaking the wind for me made it even better.  At the end of the day,  I got to have a good goodbye to my family.  I give my parents a lot of credit for their keeping-it-together-ness.  I know it's not easy for them to not know where I'll be sleeping each night, and to not be able to get in contact with me all the time, but despite that, they are completely supportive of my trip, and for that I am very grateful.

I had discussed when my trip would "sink in" (when I would finally realize that the trip has actually started) with a bunch of different people.  I can easily pinpoint the exact time and place now:  On the third day, after a swim in Lake Memphremagog I pulled into a price chopper to buy groceries for the first time (PB&J, tuna-peas-mac-'n-cheese, pasta, etc.) and as I was picking out my staple foods the fact that i'm in this for the long run really "sank in".

The trip has started, and I like it.