Archives for posts with tag: new Hampshire

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.

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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.

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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.

Brian and I have been traipsing all over Vermont visiting my relatives and getting in position to climb the KancamagusHighway. It is the highest peak on the last section of Adventure Cycling’s Northern Tier route and despite some trepidation, we were looking forward to it.

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We really got our butts kicked yesterday and there was every reason to expect worse today. That is why we planned a short 45 mile day, from Lincoln,over the Kanc, to Conway.

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The road started rising immediately. The mountains in the New Hampshire’s Whites have a different flavor than Vermont’s Greens. The Granite State’s peaks are sharper, steeper, and have more exposed rock face. We reached the hairpin turn and were still waiting for the “wall” that would slow us to a snail’s pace and take an hour of sweat and effort before summiting. Then we saw the warning sign; 7% descent, trucks test brakes! It was so much easier than yesterday that we were a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was a challenge. But I never shifted down to my granny gear, I never felt despair, I never thought about ending it all and selling my bicycle and calling a cab (all the things that signify a tough climb).

20120801-212236.jpg Brian suggested that it was easier because we took more breaks at all the scenic overlooks and interpretive centers. Also, we were not battling a headwind, the climb came early in the day, and it was cloudy and cooler.

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We arrived at our hotel so early that the room was not ready yet. We rode the seven miles back into the tourist town in search of a bike shop to tighten Brian’s headset. Rain clouds began to surround us as we pushed on, only to find a sign on the bike shop door “gone for the day”. So we went to the main drag and found a suitable restaurant while a shower moved through.

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Anyone that’s been in Conway knows it is a shopping mecca and a tourist trap. However, we also stumbled upon an EMS store that had a bicycle mechanic on duty. As Mechanic Nick tweaked the headset, I asked him if he had time to clean my chain.

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We are all set now for the final day, into Portland, Maine. We should arrive at East End Beach between 3:00 and 5:00. I will wrestle my fully loaded bicycle across the sand for the bookend photo companion to the one I have from Seaside, Oregon, back on May 27.

20120731-215701.jpgThis is Brian beginning the descent down New Hampshire route 112 into Lincoln, a two mile, 12%, well deserved, coast.

We began our day just west of Barre, VT, at Sandy and Peter’s condo. We pushed against a headwind all day but the sun and clouds were spectacular and the temperature was wonderful. We climbed for 15 miles and then descended for another 15 to the Connecticut River separating Wells River, VT from Woodville, NH.

Brian and I knew we were in the land of the White Mountains and were expecting an epic climb before the descent into Lincoln. However, we leisurely pedaled our way, slowly climbing, alongside the Ammonoosuc River and the Wild Ammonoosuc River. The trees were dense and closed in around us, protecting us from the headwind, making for a pleasant ride. Surely we must start climbing in earnest soon? Well, we did, but it was sneaky. The road created an optical illusion that it was flat or even going downhill. Our speed told us otherwise. We came to a three mile section of fresh pavement and at first our spirits lifted. Then we discovered that they do not know what a steam-roller is in New Hampshire. The new tar was the equivalent of coarse sandpaper and felt like glue on our tires. At least they were sweeping the loose sticky stones and I managed to add to my list of vehicles that I have drafted;

Remember the optical illusion: this section of road may look downhill, but we are surely rising.

This was one of the toughest climbs I had the entire trip. It was long, there was a stiff headwind, and it was demoralizing because it did not look like a climb; until the last mile. We caught up to two other cyclists who had stopped to pick asphalt stones off their legs, Dawn and Lewis.

20120731-222109.jpgBrian and Lewis (this is an uphill!).

20120731-222156.jpgDawn.

We were all struggling to the summit. I felt as if I had two flat tires and my brakes were rubbing. I must have looked bad because Dawn gave me a whole package of Cliff Shots as she passed. I would have taken them intravenously if possible. Something about this climb felt as if the gravity of Jupiter was sucking my bike down into the massive, granite mountain. Suddenly we summited and all was right with the world.

20120731-222720.jpgDawn is an English professor at Brandeis University and her husband Lewis is a psychiatrist. They have a summer home in Waterford, VT. It’s a good thing they enjoy cycling because they still had to climb back over Franconia Notch! We enjoyed an iced tea with them in Woodstock.

Tomorrow, Brian and I will climb the Kancamagus Highway, a short day, only 43 miles. We are still planning on getting to Portland, Maine by Thursday.

Bonus photos: no mooses were harmed (or seen) during this bike ride.

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No aliens harmed any humans during this bike ride.

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