Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tour de Maine

While Alberto Contador and Andy Schleck—and, of course, Lance--raced along the oxygen-thin ridge of the French Alps, Bruce and I hopped on our own bikes. We rode two "stages" for a total of fifty miles, compared to the twenty-stage, 2000-plus mile run of the Tour de France.

Our "alps" were the rolling hills of coastal Maine where the oxygen is at a comfortable sea-level dose, no matter how high the hill might seem to the biker. And we weren't racing. But still… I'll bet every one of the eighteen of us on the trip thought of Lance with great respect at least once, especially when puffing up a steep incline. And there were a few!

When my friend Amy suggested the Maine Coastal Camping Bike Tour sponsored by L.L. Bean of Freeport, Maine, I thought it sounded fun. What better way to explore than on a bike, where the sights and scents are not held at bay by the walls of an air-conditioned car? The website promised a leisurely paced weekend bike tour along scenic routes, a boiled lobster dinner, a night of camping on Casco Bay while watching the sunset over the water.

What they didn't promise was… the sun.

When you pick a date a month ahead, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope the weather cooperates. In this case it didn't.  The region was swathed in showers, and the grey clouds that threatened in the distance wended their way directly above our bikes right about noon on both Saturday and Sunday. The rain soaked us to the skin. But the thing is, it didn't—couldn't--dampen our spirits. It kept us cool when we might have been dripping with sweat and complaining about the heat.

In her three years of being a guide, Rachel told us, it was the first time it had rained on a bike tour. So we had the distinction of being "the first," a distinction we'd not have competed for, but a distinction nonetheless. I ended up grateful for the rain, a blessing in disguise that didn't stop any of us from having lots of laughs and doing everything planned, including watching a magnificent sunset after all…complete with a rainbow. Can't have those without rain!

The champions!

(L-R Front) Nancy, Tony, Mary, Ginny, Debbie, Nancy, Teresa, Nate
(L-R Back) Bruce, Ruth, Frank, Rich, Amy, Willie, Joe, Joe, Phil, Josh

A heartfelt thanks to our hard-working guides, Dave and Rachel, who did everything they could to make the weekend work, including making blueberry pancakes after all. They succeeded.

More pictures will be posted here: Ruthiedee's Photography in the "Maine Bike Tour" album. Scroll to find the album. Click on each thumbnail to enlarge the view. There will be several pages, so make sure to see them all.


Michelle said...

How fun and what a great idea!

Wanda said...

How cool is this!! BTW can I borrow your sky pictures for my Sky Watch Friday...I will give you credit!!

Ruth D~ said...

Michelle... I can't get into your blog. I miss it. I know there is a way, you told me, but it doesn't work.

Wanda... Yes, I'd be honored if you used the picture. Do you need me to email it to you?

Ross Eldridge said...

Hallo there, Ruth!

Good on you and Bruce for taking on the refuge of the roads (Joni Mitchell's phrase) ...

I live on the "Coastal Route" for hikers and cyclists in the north east of England. Pretty much down the coast from Scotland gets one in Amble after 35 miles, then another 30 or so puts you near Newcastle's northern suburbs. The North Sea on one side, and castles and old churches, and history, everywhere. If any of your readers is into back-packing or cycling, and might be in the UK, this is a great spot to do that. The beaches are soft, golden sand (frigid ocean though).

I do the Tour by bus or car. Not sure I could balance myself on a bicycle now (I started getting wobbly on my motorbike about ten years ago and quit that).

I'm off on the first part of my summer holiday in a month's time. Steam train trip down in the Yorkshire Dales (Herriott Country, and that town, Thirsk, is where my mother's family lived in the 1700s and 1800s). I hope I can get lovely photos like yours (but no rain, I trust, at least for the trip time).

I used to order from the LL Bean catalogue. Great stuff.



Wanda said...

Thanks Ruth, I don't need them emailed I can copy them from your blog. One will be for tomorrow's sky watch!

Wanda said...

Folks are already loving your sky picture Ruth... Drop by and read the comments.

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Tere said...

This looks like so much fun. Quite an adventure.

Bob Sanchez said...

Sounds like a wonderful time. I love Maine.

DuchessOmnium said...

Oh that sounds like fun! I'd love to do it some day. My longest bike trip here was a few years ago, 70 miles over 2 days -- also not quite the Tour de France, but it felt great.

We celebrated half way with cream tea -- scones, clotted cream and jam. I have to say I'll take that over blueberry pancakes every day of the week and twice on Sunday. But I have never liked pancakes...

Pauline said...

Brave (and in good shape) you! Sounds like a marvelous trip and the photos are equally as champion!

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