Bicycling 4,174 Miles Across the United States

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August 17th: Bridgton to Freeport, ME and Atlantic Ocean

It was a very special gift to have Nancy bike the final miles with me to the Atlantic Ocean pictured above (taken by our friend Carol) for the official conclusion of my grand adventure bicycling 4,085 miles and climbing 114,562 feet from Anacortes, Washington to Freeport, Maine.

August 17th Statistics: Bridgton to Freeport, ME

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 59.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 14.2 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.2 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,310 feet

FINAL TOUR STATISTICS:

  • Total Trip Biking Days – 54
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 4,084.7 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 75.6 miles
  • Total Trip Average Speed – 13.9 mph
  • Total Trip Ascent – 114,562 feet

Knowing that today was my final bicycle ride of the cross country adventure, I admit sleeping was difficult.  I was awake by 6 am and ready to go.  However, today’s ride was very short, 50 miles to Freeport, Maine and 4 more miles from Freeport to the Atlantic Ocean. Considering the terrain, it appeared the ride was only going to take about 4 hours.

Doug, Robert, Jim and I agreed that we would meet at noon a corner just outside downtown Freeport so that we could ride together into town to the cheers of Doug’s wife and sister, Nancy, and friends Carol and Al (who bicycled across the country last summer).  I was so anxious to complete the ride and see Nancy, I was the first one on the road this morning (7:30 am) and only stopped for water.  My focus on the biking today resulted in my 1) only taking one photo during the ride (see photo below of Joanne and John) and 2) arriving at the designated corner in Freeport at 11:15 am (Jim, Robert and Doug arrived together about 11:50 am).

The shock of the day occurred at just before 11 am when I was about 4 miles from Freeport.  To my joy Nancy pulled up next to me in our SUV for the first eye-to-eye contact we have had in over two months (64 days to be exact).  With both of us trying to avoid a collision because we were so focused on each other, we found a pull off just ahead and celebrated the moment with a long and passionate kiss.  It was only after the kiss I noted that friends Carol and Al had joined Nancy and pulled over for a reunion.  Hard as it was, Nancy and I parted so she could get setup at L.L. Bean’s for the arrival of the four cross-country bikers and have her bicycle ready to join me for the final 4 mile ride to the Atlantic Ocean.

After Doug, Jim, Robert and I met outside Freeport, Doug got on the phone with his wife Lisa (see photo below of Doug and Lisa) and I got on the phone with Nancy trying (with great difficulty) to connect his family and Nancy/Carol/Al at the L.L. Beans complex so they could be together for our group arrival.  Finally, after many cell minutes , it was clear to Doug and me that they had found each other and were ready for our grand arrival.   Doug, Jim, Robert and I mounted our bikes for the ride to a reception at L.L. Beans in Freeport, Maine.

As we rode into downtown Freeport (which was mobbed with people and autos), a sudden chorus of “pops” and voices rang out as a crowd of people (10 actually) waved and yelled as our group of four bikers arrived at the corner in Freeport where L.L. Bean was located.  Doug was surprised for the third time on this trip with unexpected family members greeting him.  While he was expecting his wife and sister, greeting us were also his son and daughter-in-law and his daughter (see photo below of Doug’s family).  Joining family and friends for our arrival at L.L. Bean were also fellow bikers Joanne and John who had arrived earlier at L.L. Beans.  Nancy was there with balloons and a badge, “Action Hero” which she pinned on me.  The celebration at the arrival of four cyclist at L.L. Bean led bystanders to ask if we were celebrities or professional athletes.  I must admit it was a hoot to get this kind of unexpected attention.

After many introductions, handshakes, kisses, and congratulations in downtown Freeport, everyone was off on a bike or in a car to the Atlantic Ocean 4 miles away for the formal dipping of front bicycle tires by Jim, Robert, Doug and me.  Joining the four of us on bicycles to the Atlantic Ocean was Nancy, who was unmistakable due to the six helium celebration balloons she had tied to her bicycle.  I was very impressed to note that Nancy was easily able to keep up with me on her bike (actually passing me on one hill).

The celebration continued for everyone (including bikers Steve and Sharon) at the Atlantic Ocean where the four cross country cyclists had individual and group photos taken with bicycles (front tires resting in the Atlantic Ocean) by a dozen or more cameras.  Then it was a photo session with family and friends.

Finally, it was time to bike back to Freeport, where with a great sense of accomplishment  (and  a little sorrow), I ended the bicycling element of this adventure by mounting my Trek on our SUV.  Two more events occurred before we disbanded and went our separate ways.  A wonderful celebration dinner for all cyclists (the four cross-country group as well as the 10 who joined us in Brockport, NY), family, and friends was hosted by  Dale and Diane at  Linda Bean’s (grand daughter of LL Bean) Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern in Freeport, Maine followed by a round of final comments by Dale, Diane, Doug, Jim, Robert, and me.  After a good nights sleep, Robert, Jim, Doug, and I met in the morning for a final farewell before Jim and Robert  left with Dale and Diane for the Airport in Portland, Maine, Doug left with his family for a long weekend reunion in Portland, Maine, and Nancy and I left for a week’s vacation (biking and hiking) in Kennebunkport, Maine and Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.

I am at a loss for more words at the moment, but will spend the next several weeks compiling my final thoughts, perspectives and insights about this adventure.  If you would like me to comment on any particular aspect of the adventure (I have already been asked to share my favorite state, hardest biking day, best restaurant and hotels, personal learnings, etc), let me know.

Thanks for your support, feedback and encouragement over the last two months.   I look forward to personally connecting with each of  you in the coming weeks.  Till then, best wishes to everyone.

Steve

Cyclist Prichard

Joanne and John from Avon, Connecticut who I bike with for some of today’s miles.

Mile 52:  Jim, Robert, me and Doug upon our arrive to the cheers of the crowd (actually 8 people – Doug’s wife, sister, son, daughter, and daughter-in-law as well as Nancy, and our friends Carol and Al, who bicycled coast-to coast last summer) when we arrived outside L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine. The four of us met at a corner just outside of town so we could ride into Freeport together.  The commotion of our  friends and families at our arrival at L.L. Bean led bystanders to ask if we were celebrities or professional athletes (I must admit it was a hoot to get this kind of attention which was completely unexpected).   At this point we still had 4 miles to cycle for the official completion of a coast to coast bike trip by dipping our front tires in the Atlantic Ocean.

John (left) and Jim (right) with me outside L.L. Bean just after our arrival in Freeport, Maine.

Mile 4,085: Dipping my front tire in the Atlantic Ocean near Freeport, Maine.

My friend Al and me at the Atlantic Ocean near Freeport, Maine.  Al bicycled coast to coast last summer and provided me valuable advice as I planned my own trip.

Nancy and our friends Carol and Al at the Atlantic Ocean. Nancy was dressed in her bike attire and had her bike ready when I arrived at L.L. Bean in Freeport, Maine so she could ride the final 4 miles with me to the Atlantic Ocean.  Thanks to Carol and Al for hosting Nancy at their Maine retreat the evening before I arrived and for making the special effort to be there for my arrival in Freeport and joining the celebration.

Doug and his wife Lisa at our final dinner at Linda Bean’s (grand daughter of LL Bean) Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern in Freeport, Maine.

Doug and his family at the final dinner at Linda Bean’s (grand daughter of LL Bean) Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern in Freeport, Maine.


August 16th: Lincoln, NH to Bridgton, ME

Mile 13: As I began the long downhill from Kancamagus Pass into Conway, NH, I stopped at a lookout just below the pass to take this photo. The day was very overcast and rain was expected as you might tell from this photo. Fortunately, the rain held off until after the downhill (wet roads makes downhill riding dangerous, scary, and stressful).

August 16th Statistics:  Lincoln, NH to Bridgton, ME

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 69.9 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.1 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.3 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,804 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 53
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 4,025.4 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.0 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 111,252 feet

Today may have provided the most beautiful scenery that I did not get to view on our cross country tour.  Overcast skies, fog, and rain combined to thwart  enjoyment of the beauty of New Hampshire and Maine scenery.  The day started with a 12 mile, 1,900 foot climb to Kancamagus Pass in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  Fortunately, it was a relatively gradual climb (4% to 7%) on a relatively smooth and wide shoulder.  Dave from Grand Rapids and I decided to bike to the pass together and had a great conversation, particularly about his and Susie’s exceptional volunteer work several times each year as physicians in third world countries (Susie, who is a family practice physician, is leaving for Nepal for a two month assignment this fall).

The long (12 miles) ride down from Kancamagus Pass was cold (needed to put on a jacket and gloves), exciting (fast), stressful (some wet spots) and, most importantly, uneventful.  At mile 42 we entered our last state of the cross-country tour, Maine.   Doug, Jim, Robert, and I spent what felt like 30 minutes for individual and group photos with the “State Line Maine” sign (and the “State Line New Hampshire” – see photo below).  Shortly after entering Maine, the rain with an occasional downpour began and continued for the rest of my bike ride (2 hours) to the lodging in Bridgton, ME.  At mile 56 the SAG wagon (with some riders who decided that only crazy/obsessed cyclist, like me, would continue to bike under these weather conditions) pulled up next to me so Diane and Dale could get my advice on the route.  It happened that a street sign at a critical turn was missing and I was able to confirm the turn with my bike computer which has a GPS that shows street names.  Somehow, I was the first rider to arrive (on a bike) at the Pleasant Mountain Inn.  I felt energized (to everyone’s surprise), accomplished, comfortable, drenched, and very pleased with my Gore-Tex, Pearl Izumi, and Taiga rain gear.  A long hot shower never felt better.  Dinner at the Campfire Grill next to our lodging was outstanding which topped off a good day.  It is hard for me to believe and accept that I only have one more day of biking to complete the Pacific to Atlantic bicycle tour!

I have three notable (at least to me) personal accomplishments to maintain for one more day – 1) Biking every mile of the tour (I don’t count the two miles in Montana when I was forced by the State of Montana to ride in a Department of Transportation pickup truck through a construction area with a grizzly bear grazing with a cub), 2) Biking through every weather situation without stopping or waiting it out in the SAG wagon, and 3) Not having a flat tire  (4,025 miles – thank you Specialized for your Armadillo All Condition Bicycle Tires).

Our lodging in Lincoln, NH (very touristy at an exit from Interstate 93), the Kancamagus Lodge. Lincoln is at the entrance to the White Mountain National Forest.  Last evening dinner was “on your own”, so Robert, Jim, Doug and I dined at the Common Man across the street from our lodging, which was excellent. My Uncommon Salad, “Seasonal greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and topped with Gorgonzola and candied hazelnuts, lobster Mac & Cheese, and Apple Tart, “A buttery flaky puff pastry layered with fresh ripe apples and baked golden brown. Served warm with C-man made vanilla ice cream and drizzled with caramel sauce (which I ordered only after craving it when Doug and Robert were served theirs) was delicious. Additionally, the Common Man had a 1/2 price wine bottle night so Robert ordered the white wine and I ordered the red wine (Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon – excellent).  I highly recommend the Common Man (multiple locations).

Mile 12: The ride from Lincoln started with a 12 mile, 1,900 foot climb to Kancamagus Pass in the White Mountains. Fortunately, it was a relatively gradual climb (4% to 7%) on a relatively smooth and wide shoulder. Dave from Grand Rapids and I decided to bike to the pass together and had a great conversation along the way. Thanks Dave. When Dave and I reached Kancamagus Pass, there were Diane and Dale with the SAG wagon, waiting with refreshments, encouragement, and praise.

Mile 13:  An educational marker about rain drops at Kancamagus Pass.

Mile 13: Doug at the Kancamagus Lookout showing the appropriate attire (except for insulated and waterproof booties which I highly recommend) for a long, cold, downhill bike ride.

Mile 15: Another view of the downhill ride from Kancamagus Pass. It was very tricky stopping the bicycle to take this photo as I was traveling close to 35 mph when I saw the view (which would disappear around the curve) and the road was slightly wet in spots from an earlier shower.

Mile 27:  This is the Albany Covered Bridge (see marker below) which I crossed on the ride today on my way to Conway, NH.

Mile 27:  Historical and Educational Marker about the Albany Covered Bridge.

Mile 28:  After crossing the Albany Covered Bridge, I biked on this beautiful road, Passaconaway Road, for 5 miles on the way into Conway, NH.

Mile 42: For Robert fans, here he is entering the last state of our cross country tour, Maine, at the border of Conway, NH and Fryeburg, Maine.

Mile 42: Entering my 15th and last state, Maine, on my cross country bicycle tour.

Mile 42:  This sign is somewhat out of sequence.  Since there was no “Welcome to New Hampshire” sign when we entered New Hampshire yesterday from White River Junction, Vermont, Jim, Robert, Doug and I used the other side of the “State Line Maine” pictured in the previous photo to document our visit to New Hampshire.

Mile 42:  A group photo of, left to right, Doug, Jim, Robert, and me as we enter the 15th and final state (Maine) of our cross country bike tour.


ONE DAY TO GO!

Dear Family and Friends,

Tomorrow will be my final day of biking across the United States.  I plan three more posts: 1) Today’s (8/16) commentary and photos will be posted in the next several days, 2) Tomorrow’s final day commentary and photos posted in the next several days and 3) A final post with my thoughts about the entire tour as well as my favorite photos posted after I return from my vacation with Nancy on August 26th.

It has been a wonderful experience.  I’ll have much more to say later.  Hope you have enjoyed my blog so far.

Steve


August 15th: White River Junction, VT to Lincoln, NH

August 15th Statistics:  White River Junction, VT to Lincoln, NH

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 63.2 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.0 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.9 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,548 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 52
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,955.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.1 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 107,448 feet

Beautiful scenery, overcast weather, long climb, long downhill.  Hard to believe that I only have two more days of riding after today and I touch the Atlantic Ocean and kiss my wife (not necessarily in that order).

One of our first views of New Hampshire (near Haverhill) which we entered this morning.

Another view on our route near Haverhill, NH.

Steve & Sharon on today’s long and gradual climb (compared to yesterday’s climb to the Middlebury Gap) to the pass where the Appalachian Trail crossed the road.

Another view of Sharon and Steve on the climb to the Appalachain Trail.

Appalachian Trail Marker at the top of the pass . When we arrived we found a dozen college age hikers resting or hitchhiking the six miles into town. One group of six hikers told me that they had been hiking the Appalachian since February when they started in Georgia and were going to complete the trip in September.

View on the six mile downhill ride from the Appalachian Trail to the town of Lincoln, NH.


August 14th: Middlebury to White River Junction, VT

View of a valley in Vermont that we traveled today.

August 14th Statistics:  Middlebury to White River Junction, VT

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 71.8 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 13.3 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.4 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,605 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 51
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,892.3 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.3 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 103,900 feet

The climb from Middlebury to Middlebury Gap may have been the most difficult climb of the entire trip.  It was not the elevation gain (about 1,600 feet), but the grade (several miles at 11% to 14%) and road surface (new rough pavement). Glad it came at the end of the trip.

A highlight of the ride was traveling through the campus of the Bread Load School of English (see photos) where Robert Frost taught.  The scenery was beautiful for the entire route today, but did include some heavily travels roads.

View of our climb up Route 125 to the Middlebury Gap.

View of the Vermont mountains from the Campus of the Bread Loaf School of English. Middlebury established the Bread Loaf School of English in 1919 with involvement of Robert Frost who taught there to provide graduate education in the fields of English and American literature, public speaking, creative writing, dramatic production, and the teaching of English.

Another view of the campus of Bread Loaf School of English.

Fellow biker Steve climbing to Middlebury Gap.

Robert and Doug on the route today.

I stopped to take this photo of a strange monument, an antique motorcycle mounted on a rock. A man from a house across the street from it called me over to explain it. A good friend who was a BMW motorcycle mechanic died in his sleep several years ago when he was 50. In his honor his friends took one of his motorcycles and mounted it on the side of the road as a memorial to him.

Bikers Mollie and Joanne on the busy road today approaching Royalton, VT.

View of four of our bikers climbing a hill near Royalton, VT.

View of the road we climbed out of South Royalton, VT.

View of the final miles into White River Junction, VT.


August 13th: North Creek, NY to Middlebury, VT

A view of the Vermont bike route with Mollie of Coral Gables, who joined us in Brockport, biking one of the many hills today. You can see the road that led Mollie here in the background.

August 13th Statistics:  North Creek, NY to Middlebury, VT

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 65.7 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 15.5 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 4.2 hours
  • Today Ascent – 3,598 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 50
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,820.5 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.4 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 100,295 feet

Today I reached a major milestone – I have climbed over 100,000 feet on my bike during the tour!  Amazingly, I also continue to evade a flat tire and more often than not – the forecasted rain as I did again today.

It was with fond memories I biked from Ticonderoga, NY to Middlebury, VT today.  About a year ago, Nancy and I persuaded six friends (Shelley & Eugene, Ted & Kristin, and Mike & Cheryl) to join us on a 6 day bike tour (the 1st bike tour for them) of the Lake Champaign region of Vermont.  The  last 20 miles of today’s ride including 1) the Kissing Bridge in Ticonderoga where Nancy and I were photographed kissing, 2) the Ticonderoga Ferry, 3) the beautiful ride to Shoreham), and 4) Middlebury, were part of last year’s tour which was great.  Even our hotel tonight, the historic Middlebury Inn, was the same hotel we stayed in last year.  The only things different were my riding ability (increased), the water flow (decreased) in the Otter Creek in Middlebury (a city we love to visit), and the location of dinner (this year we dined at the Two Brothers Tavern where the food was excellent, but the service was painfully slow).

View of Vermont as I begin the long downhill into Ticonderoga, NY.

Another view of Vermont from the downhill ride into Ticonderoga, NY.

The waterfalls (left) and “Kissing Bridge” (right) in Ticonderoga, which Nancy and I visited last year on our bike tour of Vermont’s lake region with our friends Shelley & Eugene, Ted & Kristin, and Mike & Cheryl.

My friend Jim who was summering nearby decided to ride with me for some miles into Vermont from the Ticonderoga Ferry. Pictured above is Jim and bike and his wife Nini as we wait for for the Ferry.

Pictured above with me on the Ticonderoga Ferry into Vermont are three bikers who joined us in Brockport, NY. Left to right next to me are Mollie from Coral Gables, FL, and Steve and Sharon from Los Gatos, CA.

Entering Vermont – only two states to go.

Mollie after a long climb from the Ticonderoga Ferry with the New York hills in the background.

Mollie after a long climb from the Ticonderoga Ferry with the New York hills in the background and a beautiful hilltop cemetery on both sides of road.

Steve after the long climb from the Ticonderoga Ferry with the New York hills in the background and a beautiful hilltop cemetery on both sides of the road.

A view of the Vermont as we bike towards MIddlebury, VT.

Pictured above is the Otter Creek Falls in Middlebury. Last year when Nancy I were in Middlebury (which we love) with our friends on a bike trip, Hurricane Irene had just passed. The Otter Creek waterflow last year dwarfs what you see in this photo.


August 12th: Old Forge to North Creek, NY

Pictured above are four of my closest friends from Philadelphia (left to right, Nini and Jim Wolitarsky, and Ted and Kristin Laws) who made a special trip to North Creek, NY to visit me on my tour. We shared a wonderful dinner in the Tavern at Copperfield.

August 12th Statistics:  Old Forge to North Creek, NY

  • Today’s Biking Distance – 65.3 miles
  • Today’s Average Speed – 11.4 mph
  • Today’s Time In Saddle – 5.7 hours
  • Today Ascent – 2,722 feet
  • Total Trip Biking Days – 49
  • Total Trip Biking Distance – 3,754.8 miles
  • Total Trip Average Biking Distance/Day – 76.6 miles
  • Total Trip Ascent – 96,697 feet

Today had its highs and lows.  The high was certainly the visit by my close friends Jim and Nini Wolitarsky and Ted and Kristin Laws.  The biggest surprise of the day was biking a tough section of Route 28 with my eyes totally focused on the road and having a convertible (top down) pull up next to me with Ted and Kristin.  They had been cruising the road between Old Forge and North Creek looking for me (using my yellow handlebar bag to identify me which turned out to be meaningful as there were hundreds of cyclists on the same route biking the 78 mile Adirondack Ididaride being held today).  After finding a place to pull over we had a joyful reunion after two months.  We continued catching up and sharing stories over dinner with Jim (who is joining me for a bike tomorrow at the Ticonderoga Ferry) and Nini.

The low was the loss of my energy level early in the day.  I felt great for the beautiful first 11 miles of today’s ride from Old Forge to Inlet, NY on a country road.  Then it felt like someone had tied anchors to my feet (but no other symptoms) or that the excellent blueberry pancakes I had for breakfast (I am occasionally eating breakfast) went to my feet.  I was struggling to maintain my new performance levels for speed and cadence (yesterday I climb more elevation and rode more miles, but went much faster than today).  Making me feel even more depressed, dozens of riders were passing me from the Ididaride and our own group at speeds far below my recent performance.  Fortunately, the ride was short (only 65 miles) so I arrived at our lodge at about 2pm and spent the entire afternoon napping so I would be in better shape for dinner with Jim, Nini, Ted, and Kristin.  I felt surprisingly better after the nap and even more so after a great evening with my friends.

Now the rest of the story – When I was preparing my bike for the ride the next day, I found that the front wheel was very loose.  Now it appears that my problem today was mechanical, not physical.  My front wheel may have been rubbing the brake pads for the entire ride providing me an extra challenge.  Supporting this conclusion was the fact that on the ride the next day, my performance immediately returned to my new expectations and I was energized.

Steve & Nancy highly recommended Keyes Pancake House for breakfast, so Jim (pictured), Robert, Doug, and I left the hotel early so we could be at Keyes when they opened at 7 am. Thank you Steve & Nancy, the breakfast was delicious.

View of Fulton Lake on our ride today.

Another view of the Fulton Lake Chain near Inlet, NY

View of one of the many lakes we passed on our ride today.

View of one of the many river crossings on our bike route today.

View of our lodging in North Creek, NY, the Alpine Lodge.

View of my room at the Alpine Lodge showing the rustic theme of the furnishings – very nice.

I was not the only biker to have company for the evening. Doug was thrilled for the second time on the tour to be surprised by family members showing up unexpectedly at one of our overnight cities. Pictured above are two of Doug’s sisters and a brother-in-law who drove up from Albany to share the afternoon and evening with him.