I am really glad Brian was here today. He got to see first-hand several things that I have grown accustomed to; temperatures and humidity that are a little higher, mileage that stretches out into the eighties, headwinds that persist throughout the day, and the google bike mapping function (it is in “beta”) that can put you on a dirt road suitable only for a 250 horse-power all-terrain vehicle.

We allowed google to select us a bike route from Kennebunk to Nashua and finally stopped for breakfast in South Berwick, Maine, across the Salmon Falls River from Dover, New Hampshire.

We needed a little help from a couple of fellow cyclists when a two-mile section suddenly turned to dirt but we were doing OK. It wasn’t until we got to the five mile Rockingham Recreation Trail that things got really confusing.

20120803-221009.jpgYou may notice in the photo that all of the permitted vehicles have motors that burn gasoline. Brian and I dropped back and punted, and took the long way around on the paved roads.

We stopped for directions in at the Epping New Hampshire Fire Department. All four front bay doors were wide open and I knew immediately that we could get some help. I rode my bicycle into the bays, leaned it against the rescue boat, and went in search of the office. I could not find the office entrance, so I walked out front and went in the main door. I found myself inside the police department “reception” room. There was one locked door, a two way mirror, and a window, but no one to say hello to. I saw a police officer in a back office engaged in a conversation and he looked at me, but wasn’t interested enough to get up and come and greet me. Finally I noticed the telephone on the wall with a button for “receptionist”.

Brian, on the other hand, rode his bicycle around the back where the entrance to the fire office was located. The Chief of the Epping Fire Department, Don, DeAngelis, happened to be there, said hello to Brian, and asked how he could help. Brian mentioned something about the heat, being lost, and trying to get to Nashua. The Chief replied “We can get you to Nashua” and invited him inside.

I was having less luck. The receptionist, beckoned by the phone I was using, appeared from around the corner. She picked up the receiver, and with all the personality of getting your prescription at the local drug store, staring at a hot, tired, lost, sweaty cyclist through the bullet proof glass, she said in a rather annoyed voice “Yes?”

I quickly explained that I was lost and was trying to find my way to Nashua. She asked me what street I was looking for. I perused my list, but I was lost, and I really couldn’t tell her what she wanted (I was lost). Finally she said “I will give you directions” and she rattled off a half dozen street names, intersections, and rights and lefts in about 30 seconds. I stood there with my mouth open trying to make sense of anything she said. I asked her if they had a map I could look at. She said no. I asked her if the fire department had a map. She said no. I asked her to repeat the directions again so that I cold write them down. She was so disgusted with me that she rolled her eyes and said, very sarcastically, “I will get you a man to give you directions”. This was not going well.

A uniformed police officer suddenly appeared from behind the tamper proof metal door. With one hand on his gun and the other on his handcuffs, in an authoritative voice, he took immediate charge of the rapidly disintegrating public relations fiasco. “What’s the problem here?, he sternly inquired. I tried to explain that there was no problem, that I was lost, and I needed to look at a map. He told me that there were no maps. I told him that I had been looking for the fire department but the only door I could find was the police department. He sent me around the back.

When I found Brian he was sipping an ice cold bottle of water while the Fire Chief, Don DeAngelis, asked him all about the bike trip. We were invited inside to soak up some air conditioning. Sitting in the kitchen, the Chief gave us each a fresh apple and another bottle of water. Chief DeAngelis is retired from the Concord Fire Department. He got bored and applied for the chief’s job in Epping. We talked shop for a while and I found out that he is friends with Lt. Ian Tenny of Hartford Fire who is a fellow instructor with me at the CT Fire Academy. Before we left, we checked out the map, and took a photo.


Eventually, Brian and I found our way to Nashua. The small city has been twice named the “best place to live in America”, but both of us think it is one of the worst places to be a cyclist. Someone yelled at me to get on the sidewalk (even though there was no sidewalk). In a rotary, the car behind Brian was blowing the horn at him. A driver pulled up next to me and attempted a right hand turn. And apparently, the state slogan “live free or die” also means you don’t have to use your turn signal while you are smoking a cigarette and talking on your cell phone. A police car rolled out into an intersection in front of us and a few seconds later a parked car door flung open in our paths. We survived. We had a wonderful dinner downtown before proceeding to our hotel on the outskirts. We are getting out of town tomorrow, headed south.

Brian’s wife, Marion, may be picking him up tomorrow in the Sturbridge area (he wants to get home to mow the lawn). I will continue may trek and will probably arrive home late Sunday afternoon. I am aiming for the Old Town Cafe, on Main Street in Old Wethersfield, around 4:00 or 5:00.