When I first heard that there was a place in the US where cars were banned and travel was limited to foot, bicycle and or horse-n-buggy, I thought — this is a place where I need to be.
Since the late 1800’s – cars have been banned on Mackinac Island, Michigan. Located amidst the Straits of Mackinaw — where Lake Huron and Lake Michigan meet separating mainland Michigan and the Upper Pennisula – is Mackinac Island. Accessible only by Ferry, the island is known for continuing it’s car-less tradition, promoting bicycling or foot travels and no shortage of handmade chocolate and fudge. Bicycling, followed by chocolate. It doesn’t get any better than that! Continue reading Mackinac Island – a haven for cycling→
Day 9 of our bicycle tour that began in Bar Harbor Maine has ended in Ronks PA. A few miles shy of our goal to reach the Maryland state line.. but who’s counting? Our touring travels, beginning each day putting gear on our bikes, inhaling nutrients, navigating unknown roads and discovering nuggets of magic along the way – was coming to a close.
Today’s ride began at 5:30AM with the addition of a third rider (Tamar) who brought fresh legs, fresh conversation and a fast road bike. We would ride the Amish Country just east of Lancaster. Amish Country from a bicyclist perspective is comprised of rolling hills, farmland, churches, small towns and quiet people who embrace a simple life from simpler times. Horses pulling buggies can be seen along less traveled farm roads as well as more populated and busy routes. Drivers who are in a hurry, are forced to slow down for the horse drawn buggies, and wait. Continue reading Bringing it home→
Apparently the size of the climbs and steep pitches of the Pocono Mountains went unnoticed while researching “best routes” for our final 150+ miles. A few other details also went unnoticed. Such as we are in “black bear country”, and the area is well known for timber rattlesnakes. And, the roads are narrow, apparently no budget for bike able shoulders and abundance of 90 degree blind turns. We had a decision to make.
We could ride the back woods bike trails along the Delaware River and take our chances with the black bear and rattlesnakes, or opt for the open roads with no shoulders. I am not fond of black bear, and equally not fond of rattlesnakes, but the super skinny switchbacks on the open roads left us with no choice. We would bike along the trails in the wilderness along the Delaware River. Continue reading Bike tested by the Poconos→
Getting internet has been a challenge for the last few days. Our final day of ocean side bicycle touring is in Newport Rhode Island. After revisiting our route and wondering how we could possibly navigate the busy narrow roadways through touristy downtown, we happened on a road called Ocean Way. Who can resist a road called Ocean Way?
Newport is home port for sailors (The Americas Cup), the Tennis Hall of Fame and some of the most amazing seafood. All of these attractions draws tourists and traffic. And here we are, trying to ride our bikes on one way roads that are foreign to us, with drivers that are not as bicycle friendly as our prior days of touring. Continue reading Seaside to mountains…→
There is nothing quite like waking up every morning and the only item in your day-plan is to ride your bike. No checking emails (partly thanks to no internet) to see who may be knocking on your virtual door, no questions on what to do with your time, no coffee to jump start your brain. After five days of bicycle touring, there appears to be some slack in my hoidy-toidy veggie organic food diet. We have run out wild rice and corn, and in it’s place are day-old sandwich leftovers for breakfast, pretzels, chips, cliff bars and just about anything we can get our hands on. The switch from hoidy-toidy to anything-goes happened somewhere around day 3 and we put up no resistance to the change.
Somewhere south of Portland Maine, our ride took on elements of bicycle friendly roadways (shoulders the size of entire lanes), off-road trails, and substantially less intense hills. This area embraces bicyclists, and this is obvious by the dramatic increase in bicycle traffic.
Today’s ride was to begin at 6AM, and at 6:05 we realized that we had overslept. Camping under huge spruce tree cover, plus very dense fog had our bio-clock confused. Despite the late wake-up, we managed to shovel down handfuls of food, place our gear on our bikes, pump up the tires and break-down everything else that needed to be done in a 15 minute window. By 6:20AM, we were on the road, traveling. The only worry in our world was getting beyond heavily traveled Route 1 before the rush of humanity had the same idea. We biked fast, together, with front lights and tail lights blinking like a Christmas tree. And then we veered off Route 1, to begin a ride that would soon morph into a biker’s dream. Continue reading Bike friendly roads and less hills→
There is very little access to internet – so we haven’t been in touch with what is going on in the world. And that might be a good thing. We discovered later (once internet re-appeared) that south of Maine the country is baking in heat. We are enjoying perfect bicycling weather conditions – temperatures in the 60’s, overcast skies, and just enough fog to keep a constant mist on your skin. Today’s ride has us working our way south along the Maine coastline south of Rockland.
Despite my yearning for miles that don’t include mega+ percent grade hills, we are still located in ‘hill country’. Here is how hill climbing on a 40+ pound 38 mil fat tire touring bicycle works –
You notice you are riding toward what appears to be a WALL
You tell yourself it is NOT a wall
You size up the ‘non-wall’ and convince yourself it’s not that bad
¾ of the way up the ‘non-wall’, you have used up all your lower gears and you wonder if it is time to un-clip your shoes from the bike to avoid the dreaded bike-topple and just walk the bike to the top
And just when your mind has you convinced that walking up “the wall” would not shame your ego, your heart takes over
the thought of letting that ‘non-wall hill’ turn you into a walker is too much to bear
So you leave a few remnants of your lungs on the road
And somehow dig deep for one more piece of grit to reach the summit
My 4:15AM alarm was barely audible over the downpour of rain on our cabin. It’s one thing to be out bicycling and get caught in the rain, and a whole different deal to start your ride in a torrential downpour. A quick rendezvous with my biking partner, and we decided to wait for a weather window.
In the meantime, we are awake. We are ready to get started, doing “something”. So we put on our foul weather gear – and began fast walking the starting miles of our bike route for a sneak preview – in hopes that the rain gods would notice and shut off the faucet.
8 walking miles later, something unexpected happened. The rain gods took pity on us, the rains ceased, and we discovered alternate roadways that offered us a chance to get the bulk of our ride complete – void of vehicle traffic.
We discovered 40 miles of roads – not asphalt, but dirt and gravel the width of a very narrow car. Not ideal for road bike tires, but perfect for our touring bikes with fat 38 mil puncture resistant tires. We would put these tires to the test today. Continue reading The rain gods and alternate routes→
When I awoke to sunlight and bright skies my first thoughts were “Oh no – I overslept on the first day of the adventure”. Fortunately, in Maine, dawn breaks around 4AM with sunrise at 5AM — so we had not overslept at all! It took a while to get our gear loaded, but by 5:30AM we had navigation gear connected, a quick breakfast of rice and corn consumed, food packed for the day, and a few spare dollars in case we come across a general store if our food stash runs out. Notice the preoccupation with food .
After a tire dip in the big ‘pond’, we began our ride across Mt. Desert Island and quickly found our way along the coast. From here, we truly biked the slowest 7 miles ever. Not because of traffic, not because of bike issues, not because of operator issues. We were stopped in our tracks by the views. The views were SO amazing, that we had to keep stopping for photo opportunities. At some point, we realized we were not making anywhere near the progress we needed to make, and perhaps we better get on with biking. Continue reading Spectacular ride along the Maine coastline→
We arrived at our campground in Bar Harbor Maine on Friday and were greeted with cool temperatures, zero humidity and the most mesmerizing coastline views. Words I would use to describe the Maine coast are – rugged, rocky, pristine and very hilly!
After 12+ hours of driving, we arrived in the town of Bar Harbor on Friday, July 17th. Our bike ride south to Baltimore Maryland begins tomorrow. And, I have to admit I’m nervous. Nervous of the unknown. Nervous about what lies ahead. Nervous about riding completely new terrain. Hopeful that the routes I have planned will have wide shoulders and low volume traffic. Hopeful that our bikes will be up to the challenge. And yet not worried in the least that our mind and bodies are up for the challenge. Continue reading Taking it in…→