Tour de Maine Daily Blog




Day 1

Wednesday May 22, 2002


Everyone arrived at Ken’s shop by 4:45AM eager to get the tour started. The weather forecast is for bright sunshine and temperatures in the mid to high 60’s.  It should be a perfect start to our next tour.


Tim had just purchased a new Garmin GPS we hoped to use for mapping.  Being so new he was still unsure of how it operated.  Because of this paper directions were still very important on this tour.


 All of us are better prepared for this tour then we were for last years Summer Summit Tour to Canada. We learned from our mistakes. This time we trained with bikes at full touring weight.



Another lesson learned was only bring the barest of essentials.  Every ounce of weight you leave behind is only to your advantage.  Carrying an item for 1000 miles that you could do without is a waste of energy. Joe who carried the heaviest load last year will benefit the most from this lesson learned.


With the bikes loaded onto a pick-up truck we were off to our next adventure by 5:20AM.  Our destination was the tiny town of Hill, New Hampshire where Ken’s relatives have a home.


We arrive to a sunny day in Hill around 9AM.  Ken’s sister-in-law Sharon had been waiting to make breakfast for us. She cooked 18 eggs, 2 pounds of bacon, and a pound of sausage. There was a big bowl of oatmeal and homemade muffins. Lucky Sharon’s husband Mark and two kids Noah and Sarah offered to help us eat the table full of food.


Mark called us over to the side yard and pointed to the horizon.  Off in the distance we could clearly see the snow capped peak of Mount Washington. Mount Washington has the distinction of having some of the most violent weather on earth. Winds exceeding hurricane force blow more then 110 days a year on this mountain.   The all time highest wind speed ever recorded of 231 miles per hour was set here in 1934.  Our trip would take us to the base lodge of this beautiful mountain.


After a great breakfast with good people we hopped on our bikes and headed north. It was 10:30AM.


Noah had prepared us a great set of directions that led us to the beginning of the Kancamagus Highway. This twisting road climbs to an elevation of over 3000’ and is one of the most scenic by-ways in the northeast.


Noah, a cyclist himself, had picked some beautiful roads for us to ride on.

We reached the start of the Kancamagus in Lincoln, NH around 4:30 in the afternoon.  The rear wheel on Ken’s bike has picked up a slight wobble and would need attention tonight. Even late in the afternoon the weather was still warm and beautiful. 


The crew had hoped to camp on the first night. Upon arrival we found the campground we had picked was without showers. Not acceptable. Instead we found The Millhouse Inn a nice motel with a hot tub and a pool for only $62 a night.  It seemed like a bargain so we grabbed it.


 Next to the motel was a steakhouse that had the inviting aroma of good food grilling.  It did not take us long to decide where to eat that night. As usual we ate until we were ready to pop and then asked for the dessert menu.

The steakhouse proved to be another bargain with all of our meals only costing $70.


Back at the motel Ken trued his rear wheel while Tim studied his new electronic gadget. It would be interesting to see how helpful a GPS could be navigating the back woods on a bike. “But first you need to know how to operate it”.


Because of our late start and site seeing we did not cover very many miles today.  We will makeup for lost time tomorrow.



55 Miles



Day 2

Thursday May 23, 2002



We woke early knowing the climb up the Kanc was our first order of business. We all were excited about conquering this unknown pass.


Tim told us he had the GPS up and running and would be able to record our elevation gain and loss each day.


Our training has paid off as we find the climb up to the Kancamagus Pass very easy.    Last year a climb like this would have killed us.  Once at the top we stopped and posed for a few celebratory pictures.  The weather is picture perfect with plenty of sunshine and temperatures in the mid 60’s. All day we had beautiful views of Mt. Washington’s snow cover peak.


Around mid-day we spot a crystal clear stream rolling over the rocks on its way south.  What a perfect place to stop and chill out for a while.  We pulled off our cycling shoes and sat with our feet in the water.  It is amazing how clear and refreshing the water is.  Tim takes it a step further and lies on a flat rock in the rushing stream of water. After a nice 45 minute stop we hopped back on the bikes and rode on.




Our destination is The White Birch Campground just east of Gorham NH. As soon as we pulled into the campground we could see it was a nice place.  The sites were big and grass covered.  Instead of cooking we called a local pizza house and had it delivered to the Camp office where we were waiting.


Tim was able to record our days climbing with 4274’ of accent and 5252 feet of decent.  It sure seemed like we climbed more then we descended but the GPS does not lie.


66.5 Miles



Day 3

Friday May 24, 2002



We woke up early and eager to get riding again. Joe is complaining of some lower back pain and a blister on his foot.  We could see by the way he was hunched over he was hurting a bit.


Our plan was to follow the Androscoggin River on Route 16 towards the town of Errol NH. As we enter the panhandle of New Hampshire the landscape is becoming more remote. 


One of very few cars we have seen all day stops and rolls downs his window. The driver says to us, “Hey guys there is a moose standing in the middle of the road up ahead and he looks confused, better keep an eye out for him”.  Wow that sounds cool, our first moose.  None of us had ever seen a moose in the wild before.  We picked up the pace so not to miss out on seeing a moose.



As we crested the hill we came upon a moose standing in the middle of the road.  This hairy thing was enormous. There is something that comes over you when you are confronted with a possible threat from an animal five times your size.  I think it is called the “Fight or Flight” instinct.  Well none of us planned on picking a fight with a 1000 pound animal so we backed down quickly.  The moose slowly walked into the woods and left.


That was an exciting few minutes.  We pondered the thought of what it would be like running into a moose that was having a bad hair day.  Not a good thing we figured.


Around noon we entered the state of Maine just northeast of Errol, NH.  As soon as we crossed the border we started spotting more moose. 


If you see a swamp or marsh you will most likely spot a moose eating the vegetation. They seemed to have no interest in us as we rode past on our bicycles.  Still we kept our distance from them.  No need to piss one off that’s for sure.




Clouds started to roll in as the day wore on. It is beginning to look like rain was not far off. We saw names of towns on our map but when you arrive there is nothing there.  No stores, no houses just a black dot on the map.


When the sky started getting thicker with clouds we began to get a little nervous.  We are going to need a place to stay and soon. Camping seemed like a bad idea with rain coming so we decided on a motel.





At the intersection of Route 4 and 16 we came into a very small town with a motel.  It was 6PM with a light rain just starting to fall. 


8 Moose

83 Miles

4950’ Climbing



Day 4

Saturday May 25, 2002



We woke up to clear skies and knew it would be a beautiful day for cycling. At dinner last night the crew decided to have an easy day and only ride 65 or 70 miles.  


We could stay in the town of Bingham which is on our way to Moosehead Lake.  Moosehead is the 2nd largest lake east of the Mississippi. The area surrounding the lake also holds the largest population of moose in the Northeast.  We are looking forward to seeing this large body of water.


It did not take us long to spot another moose.  This guy was standing in a swampy area right next to the road. We pedaled by slowly watching the animal for any signs of nervousness or aggression. The moose hardly paid attention to us. It just kept dipping its head into the swamp for another mouthful of wet greens.  This would be the first of three moose we would see today.



A little after noon the group was riding single file down the road when Joe spotted a funny sign.  He yelled back to Ken who was behind him to read it.  Ken slowed down to a near stop to read what it said. Tim who was also reading the sign did not notice Ken had slowed. 


Without time to stop Tim plowed into the back of Ken’s bike.

Tim’s front wheel hit Ken’s left side rear pannier sending it flying off the bike.


 Ken was pushed forward and unexpectedly to the right.  He was able to keep control of his bike and not fall.  Tim was also lucky not to crash as his bike veered abruptly to the left after impact.


After the crash the crew looked the bikes over for damage. Tim’s bike was ok but the impact that ripped the pannier off Ken’s bike also broke his rack.


One of the aluminum rods that hold the rack on had snapped in half. Without a repair this bike was going nowhere.  Tim had two mini hose clamps in his bag of emergency spares. The clamps were used to lash the two half’s together and the repair was rock solid.  It is amazing what can be done with a couple hose clamps.  This road side repair lasted the last the rest of the tour.


When we reached Bingham dusk was not far off.  We had traveled at a slower than normal pace knowing we had planned a short day.  Also the crash repair had taken some of our time.


We were expecting to find a motel in this town but there were none.  The clerk at the general store knew of a nearby motel and gave us the number to call.


When we called they said they were full but gave us the number of a Bed and Breakfast that may have a room available.


A bed and breakfast?  None of us had ever stayed at one of those.  Something seemed a little weird about staying in a person’s house you don’t even know.  Now add to this we are in the wilderness of Maine.  What kind of a B&B would be out in the boonies?  And the B&B was in the town of Guilford which was 27 miles away.


The sky was getting darker by the minute and we needed to make a move soon.  We mulled it over and decided to give them a call.  A woman answered the phone and told us a room was available so we took it.  After she gave us the directions we told her it would take us about 2-1/2 hours to cover the distance.


It was already dark when we pulled in the driveway.  The house look big and well kept.  We knocked on the door not really knowing what to expect. 


Once inside we found the owners, a couple in their late 40’s to be very nice. They suggested we put our bicycles in the shed for the night.  We really did not like the idea of abandoning our bikes in the shed but had no choice.  In the darkness the large shed looked like it was stuffed full of junk.  The old door did not even close completely and had no lock. I could see some hay on the floor. Not the place you would want to leave you beloved bicycle. 


But we were in “North Nowhere Maine” nobody is going to steal our bikes out here. This is not New York City that’s for sure.


We asked for the nearest place where we could get dinner.  The woman suggested a pizza place a few miles away. She had their menu and would drive someone there to pick it up. After we called in the order she looked at us and said, “You boys couldn’t possibly eat all that food”.


We sat in the big living room and devoured every slice of pizza.  We would have eaten the paper boxes had more cheese fallen on them.  The woman was impressed. After our feast we went to our room for a good nights sleep.



95.5 Miles

6541’ of Climbing




Day 5

Sunday May 26, 2002


Breakfast was blueberry stuffed pancakes and they were delicious.  She told us after watching last nights feeding frenzy she made a few extra pancakes, so help yourself.


Once outside we could now see the house and the shed for the first time in the light.  The house was nice but the shed looked just like it appeared in the dark, old and full of junk.  We hoped our bike were alright.


As we pulled our bikes out of the shed a light rain started to fall. The forecast was for rain clearing late.


Today’s route is to take us north going by Moosehead Lake and on to Baxter State Park where Mt Katahdin is located. We would camp there.


The light rain turned into a downpour just a few minutes after we left.  Route 15 the only road heading to the lake was busy and without a useable shoulder.


Many roads in Maine have a gravel shoulder that is impossible to ride on and this was one of them. There was a 4 to 6 inch drop from the asphalt road to the gravel shoulder below. If you fell off the edge you would crash flying over the handlebars. The road was hardly wide enough for two cars to pass. You had to ride inches from the roads edge not to get run over. One mistake either way would be ugly.


This was also the first time we were ever forced to ride in the rain and we didn’t like it at all. The narrow road and pouring rain were dragging us down fast.


When we reached Mooshead Lake the rain was still coming down hard. We decided to stop for a few minutes somewhere and get out of the rain.  Maybe it would let up.


We pulled off the road at the first place with an overhang and took cover.  It did not look like the rain was going to stop soon and we were wet and cold. It was miserable out, should we stop here?  Within our view was a motel sitting right on the lake’s shore called the Chalet Moosehead Motel.


We had only covered 30 miles since we left the B&B in Guilford when we decided to park the bikes.  Riding on towards Mt Katahdin had too many negatives.  It was raining, it was cold and the road we just left was a nightmare.


What if we can’t find a place to stay when we get there?  We have a nice motel right on the lake only 100 yards up the road.  Instead of another round of white knuckle riding we could sit in the warm room and watch the rain splash in the lake.


When one of the locals told us the road to Katahdin was gravel we headed to the motel’s office. They had a room that faced that lake and some canoes we were welcome to use if the rain ever stopped. 


About an hour and a half after we booked the motel room the rain stopped and the sky started to clear.  We all felt like we tossed in the towel a little premature now that it is clearing up. A lesson learned.


On the side of the motel we found a garden hose so we gave our bikes a needed bath. Just up the road we could see a laundry mat so we took advantage of it.  By the time our clothes were dry so were the roads.


The weather cleared up and we decided to take out the canoes the woman told us we could use.  We had fun padding around the lake for a couple hours while it was still daylight. Our fun quickly ended as the sun set below the horizon. As the day’s sunlight turned to dusk we got our first taste of Maine mosquitoes.  They grow so big some people call it the State Bird.


They were ferocious and unrelenting. They came in swarms surrounding us by the hundreds.  All you can do is run for cover.


At dinner we decided to cut off the loop to Baxter State Park and Mt Katahdin. This with a couple 90+ mile days will get us back on schedule.  It would be fun to ride your bike forever but it does not pay the bills, so we are on a schedule.



Day 6

Monday May 27, 2002



We were up early and on our bikes quickly. Our new route has us backtracking about 25 miles on yesterday’s terrible road.  There will be less traffic to contend with early in the morning and at least it is not raining. There is a campground on the Penobscot River in Lincoln and that is where we are headed.


The weather is a big improvement over yesterday misery. The sun is out and it seems warm even though it is only in the low 60’s.


By 10AM we had already covered 35 miles and by 4:30 we had covered the 91 miles to Lincoln.   The first building we spotted was a gas station so we pulled in for directions to the campground.  The attendant told us he was unaware of any campground in this town.  That is not what you want to hear after 91 miles.


There was a little store across the street so decided to check and see if they knew where the campground was.  At first they told us there were no campgrounds in the area then another person said, “Hey what about the place near the airport?”


Lucky for us that was the place we were looking for so we headed towards the airport.  When we got there nobody was around.  We rode down by the river and saw a campsite with a trailer and someone sitting on a chair out side.  This was the only sign of life anywhere.


We asked the guy if he was in charge of the campground and if any sites were available.  He told us the person who runs the campground was not here and for us to just go pick a spot and set up.  It seemed a little strange to set up camp where ever we wanted without permission but we did it anyway.


As we were setting up camp the owner came buy and collected the money.  He seemed like a nice guy and told us there were some canoes we could use if we wanted to explore the river or do some fishing.  He told us they had just filmed a bass fishing show here a couple weeks ago.  “There is some great small mouth fishing in that river if you boys fish” he said.  


There was still some light left so we took the canoes out into the river.  We paddled for about an hour in the narrow river. Then just as the sun started to set the hungry mosquitoes attacked us again.  Within minutes we were in a panic to get back to shore.  The blood sucking pests had us surrounded as we rushed to put the canoes away.


Back at the camp it was not any better. The secluded campsite we picked was tree covered with a little wet area nearby.  At least here we could put on some long clothes and don our bug nets. 


Don’t ever leave home without a bug net.  These are little mesh nets that go over your head so the bugs can’t bite you.  They are super light and pack small.


Even with long pants, a shirt and the bug net they were still biting us. All we wanted to do was eat our dinner and get to the safety of our bug proof tents. To eat dinner you had to quickly lift the bug net, put the food in your mouth then drop the net back down.  If you were not fast enough one of those winged vampires would get inside the net.


There will be no sitting by the campfire chewing the fat tonight.  None of us had ever experienced such a well executed attach from this many mosquitoes before.

It was bad yesterday at Moosehead but nothing like this.


When it was time to get into you tent you had to be fast.  If you left the zipper open one second longer than necessary you could have a dozen mosquitoes the size of hummingbirds in the tent with you. You would not have enough blood in your body to survive the night if they got in.


As we laid in out tents thousands of hungry mosquitoes were buzzing just outside the screen.  They could smell your sweaty body inside and it made them crazy for blood.  The buzzing was so loud it made you think they may be a few inside with you.  Everyone checked the screen and tent seams with a flashlight for holes.


Hour after hour all night long an army of buzzing bloodsuckers were stationed outside of the screen.   The next morning when we woke they were still there surrounding our tents waiting for us to come out. 


91 Miles



Day 7

Tuesday May 28, 2002



Kelley was the first out of his tent and it was an ugly site. They had smelled our sweaty bodies all night and were ready to feed.  They attacked him like a swarm of bees as he started packing his bike.


The rest of us were out of our tents and getting eaten alive as we packed. Ken had socks on his hands trying to protect himself from bites. 


We crammed our gear in the panniers anyway we could.  There was no time to try and be neat or put stuff where it belonged.  Get packed and get out while you still had some blood left.


Even as we pedaled down the road away from the campsite they followed us trying to get in that last bite.  The smarter ones stayed in our draft and even at 10mph they were landing on the back of your neck.


Once on the blacktop we got up to speed the army of mosquitoes retreated.

A couple minutes later we realized we had left some items hanging on a clothesline back at the camp.  There was not one item on anyone’s bike that was worth dealing with those bugs again.  We rode on without a second thought about it.  No way, no how would anyone go through that again.


It was cloudy and sprinkling just enough to make the roads wet.  By 9AM it started getting brighter and the roads began to dry.


Today we saw our first Bald Eagle.  It was perched on a man made nest on a tall pole.  We were at a considerable distance but could clearly see its white head.


We pulled into the Hilltop campground after riding over 90 miles.  The site they gave us was secluded but a little overgrown. Just as soon as we started unpacking our bikes the first sortie of mosquitoes attacked.


Within a couple minutes it was apparent that this was going to be a repeat performance of last nights horror show. There was no way it was going to happen so we repacked our gear and asked for a refund.


We had passed a motel a few miles back on the main road so we headed in that direction.  We pulled into the Downeaster Motel at dusk. The rooms were more like little cabins.  Each one had a kitchen with dishes and pans for cooking. We had bought steaks for dinner at the campsite and can still cook them.  Kelley and Joe did the cooking and dinner was excellent.


95 Miles




Day 8

Wednesday May 29, 2002


The morning was overcast and foggy.  The plan was to ride into Eastport before we stopped for breakfast. The damp air was cool and we all needed our jackets.


Not long after departing we spotted our second Bald Eagle. The eagle was perched in a tree across a small body of water on St Croix Island. As it sat a group of 3 crows were dive bombing it relentlessly.  The eagle seems not to be bothered by the crows buzzing by.  Even at this distance the bird looks huge.



When we arrived in Eastport the first thing we wanted to see was the level of the tide in the Bay of Fundy.  Each day over 100 billion tons of seawater flows in and out of the bay creating one of the tallest tides on earth. 


When we arrived at the shore we could see it was dead low tide. The huge bay was void of any water.  The docks were perched on piers taller than telephone poles to accommodate the near 40’ tide.  A vast empty stretch of barren wet sand is all we could see. No water, no fish just a few birds walking on the sea floor looking for anything that the tide left behind. Across the empty bay we could see Campobello Island.


Not far from shore were boats laying in the sand looking abandoned and out of place. They were tethered by long lines to exposed mooring anchors dug into the sand.


As we were looking at the vast empty bay another Bald Eagle appeared.  This one flew over our heads at a low altitude and we could now clearly see how big this bird was. With its six foot wingspan the eagle made several slow passes only 20’ or 30’ above us. It was an amazing site to see.


We took our time riding through town looking for a place to have breakfast. All of us wanted to stick around long enough to see the bays water start to return. At breakfast we wondered how the water would return to the bay.  Did it come in a three foot wave or trickle in gradually.  Somehow 40’ of water has to arrive in 6 hours.


After finishing breakfast we hopped on the bikes and returned to the dock we had stopped at earlier.  Already almost the entire bay had a few inches of water in it. The boats in the bay were still sitting firmly on the sandy bottom but not for long.


To our amazement two people had already started fishing off the tall dock.  What could they be fishing for in an inch or two of water we wondered?

Ken walked up to one of the fishermen who appeared to be Native American.  He asked them how can there be anything to catch in 2” of water.  They pointed over to their pail and amazingly enough it had a couple of flat fish in it.


The fisherman explained that when the first trickle of water enters the bay the flat fish follow it in.  They are hunting for bugs and other food that got stuck in the sand after the tide went out.  It was almost hard to believe fish had already returned to the empty bay but the proof was in the pail.


As we traveled along the coast we saw three more Bald Eagles flying in the distance.  The day ended in Jonesboro, Maine population 654.  We stayed at the Blueberry Patch Motel. The tiny motel was spotlessly clean and neat.  The beds in every room had a quilt that was handmade by the motels owner.


75 Miles.




Day 9

Thursday May 30, 2002


Breakfast was at a restaurant next to the motel called The White House. The day was overcast and it looked like we could see some wet weather.  A thick fog made for poor visibility. 


As we traveled down Route 1 we passed fields where the vegetation was charred black from fire. The burn patterns in the fields looked uniform unlike a brush fire would be.  This was definitely a controlled burn for some reason.  We later found out these were blueberry patches. A blueberry bush produces less fruit every year.  So every two years they burn the fields. New blueberry plants emerge from the roots and the cycle continues.


By noon a stiff breeze was blowing hard in our faces slowing forward progress.  On the flat terrain of the coast we should be traveling fast but the wind is holding us back. The puffy panniers stuffed with camping gear acts like a sail slowing us even more. It is very frustrating putting in 20mph of effort to only be moving 10mph against the wind.


Around 4pm we pull off Route 1 onto Route 3 and across the bridge into Acadia National Park.  Acadia was the first National Park east of the Mississippi and sits on Mount Dessert Island.  Only a few miles down the road we came upon a go-cart track where you could rent carts.  We decided to get a little racing in before we set up camp.  The carts were pretty fast and we had a good time.

Only a couple miles down the road we found a KOA campground. We could see it looked like a good place to spend the night. They had a laundry and a well equipped camp store for food. The wind had been beating us up all day and we were happy to find a nice campground. 

Thick black clouds moved in just before dark.  It was obvious that it could rain overnight.  None of our tents have ever weathered a rainstorm so this could be interesting.  Hopefully just interesting and not interesting and wet!  All the bikes were secured and covered before we crawled into our tents.


Around 10PM the thunder and rain started.  The rain came down hard for a while then tapered off. Inside our tents we all stayed dry.


68 Miles of Wind






Day 10

Friday May 31, 2002



The rain had stopped over night but the wind had not.  Already early there was a stiff breeze blowing right up the coast.  The wind blew the fog in off the ocean making it hard to see more than a hundred yards or so.


How could it be possible to survive another day of the wind screaming in your ears and slowing you down to a crawl?  We had no choice as the wind speed increased steadily all day.


By afternoon forward progress was below 10mph pushing as hard as we could. It was like riding with your brakes on. We would see bicycles going in the opposite direction moving at 30mph effortlessly as they whizzed by.  Our day was consumed by hating the wind.  Ken tore strips of paper towel for earplugs hoping to deaden the sound and ease the pain.


The weather was clearly deteriorating and we still were twenty miles from our destination of Rockport.  When we reached the campground the sky was already dark with rain clouds. We were given a site and rushed to set up camp.  Before we could even get out tents up it started to pour.  Camping looked like a hopeless situation. This campground also had some primitive cabins to rent.  We switched the camp site for one of the cabins. It was a tiny little cabin with two bunk beds crammed side by side. The small porch outside the front door barley protected our bikes from the rain which lasted for hours.


The cabin quarters were tight but dry, we were glad to be inside.


84 Miles of wind torture.



Day 11

Saturday June 1, 2002


We woke up to clear skies and for the first time in a few days no fog. That was not the case for the wind though.  It was still blowing up the coast in the opposite direction we were heading.


We endure 20 miles of severe wind abuse before we stop for breakfast. This is the third day of strong head winds and it is beating us down mentally and physically.


All we can do is try and pound on the miles hoping when we start to head inland away from the coast winds will subside.



When we reached the bridge in Bath Maine the wind seemed to be blowing a gale.  Flags were pointing upward as the wind whipped them viscously.  Mentally we had lost the wind game but we still pedaled forward.


In Freeport we take a break from the punishment for a quick look in the LL Bean store. We see another cyclist with panniers outside the building ready to go in. We find out he is on the last leg of a cross country ride.  Ken drills him with a 100 questions about his journey. A cross country ride is a dream we all hope to do.


We reach Sebago Lake late in the afternoon. Our faces are bright red burnt from the wind which is still blowing hard.  Nobody has the energy it takes to set up a camp.  It will be a restaurant and a motel tonight.


93 Very Windy Miles




Day 12

Sunday  June 2, 2002


It is not going to be a good day when you wake up and even inside a closed motel room you can hear the wind howling outside.  We are almost twenty miles inland now and the wind is just as strong as ever.


The break from the wind we hoped to get pulling away from the shore did not happen.  Hill, NH and the conclusion of this tour is within reach today.


We kept the hammer down all day knowing we had about 100 miles to cover on the bikes and then a 3 hour ride in the truck back to Connecticut. Knowing this will be the last day to be tormented by the wind made it a little easier to bear.


The climbing started once we reached New Hampshire and the most difficult one was the last climbing up Murray Hill Road back the Wilderman’s house and our truck.


100.75 Miles of Windy Riding


Total for the Tour 936 Miles