Category Archives: Maine

Strength from Cycling

I met Linda Braley on a ride a couple years back. We had just formed the PVC women’s team and I invited her to join us on a ride. She was hooked on the camaraderie of the women’s club and quickly joined and has been a member ever since. She’s been a staple on all the rides and we love her to pieces! (PS I’m the one with the helmet cam. Linda asked that I take the camera for some on-bike video and I think I did a pretty good job. LOL)

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Night Riders

Who says you have to stop riding just because the sun has gone down?

Well, that’s what I used to think. Once we reached the point where we didn’t have enough evening daylight for our mid-week afternoon/evening rides they came to an end. Unfortunately so did the fitness until you started hitting the trainer.

This year a club member who grew up in Philly and used to do “night riding” with her club there has organized a night ride with our group.

Last week was the first one but I didn’t go. It was dark and windy. I had gotten home early enough to settle in for the evening and I would be damned if I was going back out on the bike.

This week was different. I had bike commuted to work so my return trip got me home a little later than driving. I was dressed and ready for biking so I didn’t change. The ride departure was also a little earlier, which meant there was less time to settle in. It was also warmer – in the mid 50’s.

I was excited and a little apprehensive, not ridden in the dark much. However, two days earlier I was out on a club ride and heading back when it was getting pretty dark. Surprisingly I felt pretty comfortable with it so I was ready for a full-on night ride.

A small group met at 6:10 to head north to rendezvous with another group 15-20 minutes away and then we headed off as a larger group. There were 11 of us total with a nice mix of men and women. Everyone had at least one head and tail light on. Some of us had two, like me who had a bike mounted front/rear light in addition to a head lamp and rear light on my helmet. Many of us also had reflective clothing on, or additional items for reflection. In short, we were highly visible and I was really surprised at how much we lit up the road.

I found the drivers seemed more courteous as well. I’m sure many of them were more than a little surprised to see a group of hearty, and perhaps a little crazy, cyclists out on an evening ride well after sunset.

We ended up with a 30-mile route and the pace was such that we all stayed together. That’s key so no one gets dropped or left behind in the dark.

Two hours later I arrived back home and thrilled about my first successful night ride and looking forward to next week’s ride with my fellow night riders.

A Man Named George

Sometimes it is well worth the time to slow down on the bike.

As I left my office by bike today I noticed a cyclist in the distance with panniers. This is not uncommon around my office – I often see groups of people riding through (always south) loaded down with gear.

I knew I would catch up to him/her and figured I’d slow down, say hi, and chat for a bit.

After saying hello, it was the usual questions. I asked him where he was heading. He replied in an accent, “Oh, Portland, then Portsmouth, and finally New York.”

So I asked him where he was from, expecting to hear Canada. I was wrong. He was from the Netherlands. Okay, now I needed  to know more!

Where was he coming from? Again, assuming Canada was the correct answer, which it was, but there was more. Turns out he had flown to England on June 21st to bike up to Scotland before flying to Iceland and biking around that country then finally flying into Hallifax, Nova Scotia. He explained he was biking to New York and need to be there by September 1st, which was when his wife was flying there to meet him. He was also making this trip solo.

We hit a hill and he said, “Okay, bye-bye.” He was much slower than me on the little hill, and with 50 kilos of gear and on a mountain bike,  you would be, too! I slowed and he caught up to me at the top. I told him that I wasn’t leaving him because I was enjoying chatting with him and if he didn’t mind, I’d like to ride with him for a while. He was agreeable to the idea so we rode and chatted more.

I asked him what the best part of the trip had been. He told me it was Prince Edward Island. I have heard it’s beautiful there and told him that. Then it occurred to me that he didn’t just land in Hallifax and head south. The guy headed north and rode around Nova Scotia before turning towards New York.

His average day is between 100 – 120 kilometers (60-75 miles) a day. Every day. He typically stays at a campground and sleeps in a tent but a few days ago, when I rained a lot, he told me with a sly grin that he stayed in a motel instead.

Soon I got to the intersection where I would normally turn right. Knowing George was going straight, I decided to go straight and continue to ride with him.

We talked about what we did for a living, how many kids we each had (and how many grandchildren he had), etc.  I’m not sure what it is about being on a bike but I can talk to anyone when I’m out biking. Put me in a room of strangers and expect me to mingle and I struggle. When I’m on the bike I can roll up to anyone and strike up a conversation.

He had ridden all over France and Switzerland in his life. I joked that this route must have seemed pretty flat to him after biking in Europe.This trip had been a dream of his for 10 years and here he was making it happen.

As we neared Portland I was already late getting home but decided a detour was in order to show him an efficient way to get him through the city and towards his destination a bit quicker.

We got to a point where I was going to leave him and wanted to get his picture. He was happy to accommodate my request.

My commuting companion, George from The Netherlands

I called my husband to report that I was late, had a good reason for it, and would explain when I arrived home soon. He informed me that he still wasn’t home and would be in about 30 minutes. I made the decision to ride a little further with George to make sure he made his way okay.

Then I realized it would be really nice to take a photo of him in Portland and email it to his family. He also thought this would be a great idea. So we did!

"Greetings from George in Portland, Maine"

It was finally time to say goodbye to George. I wished him well and told him it was a pleasure to join him on part of his journey. I will be thinking of him often over the next few weeks as he continues on his trip and especially on September 1st when his wife arrives to meet him.

Tonight I got home an hour later than normal, took a route I wouldn’t normally take, all because of a man named George. And I was happier for it.

Living in Vacationland – Part 4 – Wild Animal Park

This is the final installment in this blog series.

We saw some kids at the Portland Observatory that were here on vacation and mentioned they were headed to the Gray Wild Animal Park during their stay here. That reminded me that I hadn’t been there since I was a kid and though Dad might like it.

They are a lot of native Maine animals at this park. Unfortunately it was so hot that many of the animals were trying to stay cool in some of the shade, including the moose so we didn’t really get to see them – they were too far away under the cover of some trees.

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Moose hanging out in the shade very far away from us.

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This fox was finding a little shade in the scrub.

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I think the bears had it the best – a pool to cool off in.

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The deer and the bears knew the routine – people meant food. There was a food dispenser not far away that you could buy to throw to the animals. This guy was enjoying the corn we provided him from a nearby dispenser.

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Even the albino porcupine was dealing with the heat in his own way. This was the funniest photo we took all day.

There were a fair number of birds at the park. Many of them in cages so taking photos was a challenge but we did get a few:

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We hoped he was going to spread his feathers but never did.

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A golden eagle. They are always majestic. There was a bald eagle too, but we were not able to get any photos.

One of the best displays there was this display of two moose that whose remains had been found a while back with their antlers locked. It’s believed that they got locked during rutting season and never came loose and the animals died as a result.

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Living in Vacationland – Part 3B – Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

During my father-in-law’s visit to Maine, and after out Whale Watching excursion, we grabbed some lunch then headed to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens nearby. I had heard this was a great place and it didn’t disappoint. If you have and opportunity to visit, I highly recommend it.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, below you’ll find several thousand words. Enjoy!

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One of the coolest parts of the garden was this moving sculpture. It mesmerized us all.

Living in Vacationland – Part 3A – Whale Watching

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on a whale watching trip. We thought it would be fun to do with my visiting father-in-law. We drove to Boothbay Harbor for an excursion on Captain Fish’s Whale Watching Trips.

Unfortunately we didn’t see any whales but we did see some dolphins.

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A video of the dolphins – the loved surfing in the wake of the boat.

Living in Vacationland – Part 2 – The Coast

As I mentioned in my previous post, my father-in-law came to visit recently. The first day he was here we spent the afternoon on Peaks Island with a picnic lunch.

The next two days, after all that walking, we thought it might make sense to take it easy. We drove to Kennebunkport the day after Peaks Island and then meandered our way back along the coast, which includes views of Walker Point (the Bush residence) and Ferry Beach.

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Walker Point, Kennebunkport, ME

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Dad and Don at Ferry Beach

The next day we made our way around closer to Portland with a trip the the Observatory, Two Lights, including lunch at The Lobster Shack, and Fort Williams/Portland Head Light.

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View of the Portland Observatory

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View of Portland Harbor from the Observatory

My lunch of fried clams at The Lobster Shack

The last stop of the day was to the iconic Portland Head Light.

The most photographed lighthouse in Maine, Portland Head Light.

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The best part of the week’s events planned was still yet to come. Stay tuned for that post!