Monday, July 5, 2010

Mind over matter

Portland, ME is one of my favorite spots on the planet (so far). At 115-120ish miles from Cambridge/Somerville, it seemed doable in a day by bicycle. The thing is with how much time I've been putting in at the shop I haven't had much time for riding/training. I usually get in at least 50 miles a week commuting, so there's that, but as far as actually blocking out time to get in shape, I've got nothin. In fact, the longest ride I'd done in 2010 was 32 miles (Tour de Cure! Check back next week for more about bikes and diabetes...). Details, details. Plus this was kind of an impulsive idea, so I didn't have weeks to prepare. This is where mind over matter comes in. I figured if I got on my bike and kept pedaling eventually I would get there. And to be fair, I do commute by bicycle, and it's not like I sit in a cube all day, so I'm probably more active than the average American-Canadian. So that was the plan: 1) Get on bike. 2) Pedal. 3) Don't worry about it.

I packed up the ol' cross bike with the one pannier I have. I can now say with confidence two would be much better for balance, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

I fueled up for/ on the trip with a highly effective cocktail of fruit snacks, peanut butter M&Ms and mate. Pretty much the food of the gods. I had a full set of travel tools, but no mechanicals (natch). Although I did get to help a guy with a flat in Ogunquit. One thing I forgot was sunscreen. I'm pretty sure the burn on my shoulders goes down to the muscle. I printed out directions from Google, but I scrapped them right away. The directions were pretty easy- get to 1A, take 1A to 1, arrive in the Greater Portland Area.

A few highlights:

-I saw a squirrel eating/smoking a cigarette. Stay classy, Medford.

-Speaking of smoking, I totally smoked this lady:

But I think it was the flag in her jersey pocket that was holding her back. Patriotism is not good for aerodynamics. (She caught back up with me during a re-fueling stop.)

-New Hampshire is very serious about their state motto.

-I talked to a couple of motorcyclists at stop lights on Route 1. Super friendly. Much more friendly than the drivers in Ipswich.

-Based on my field observations, the only vehicle available in Quebec is the Dodge Minivan. One such minivan pulled over to ask me directions to Old Orchard Beach. Way to play into the stereotype, lady.

11 hours and 123.4 miles after leaving my front door I arrived at my final destination. Not bad, I think. Another nice thing about traveling to Portland is taking the train back into Boston. Other than the sunburn and a couple of detours (why is it so hard to leave the Greater Boston Area by bicycle?), it was a (relatively) easy and wicked fun trip.


  1. That's an awesome ride.

    BTW - I'm Matt, the guy who brought in the red Allez road bike a few weeks back? The day after you gave it a tune-up, it was stolen from South Station. I've been bike-commuting to there for a year and a half, guess my luck ran out.

    But in the few miles that I did ride it, it was shifting much better and felt tighter/faster. Oh well. Time for a new road bike.

  2. Outstanding. How was the elevation for the ride? Any serious hills? After reading, I kinda want to give it a go.

  3. Matt- That's a bummer! That was a nice bike to lose...

    TK- Here's the route (I left out the parts where I got lost...). It was really flat, and pretty scenic.

  4. Awesome, way to be spontaneous-ish and just go for it. If i eeever actually get a road bike i'll be tempted to try the ride myself.

    And i still need to come visit yer shop!

  5. RE leaving boston by bicycle: serious, wtf? I biked to Ipswitch from Somerville a few weeks back, and we got so frustrated trying to avoid getting run over (what a request, seriously), we ended up taking the Orange line 1 stop just to get across the Mystic River.