Bangor, Maine to Charlotte, North Carolina…

Hi all,

Last year I cycled from Portland to LA and blogged about my experiences along the way.

I’m not a ‘natural’ adventurer and as I’ve said many times, I’ve lived quite a fearful life, always thinking about what could go wrong instead of what could go right. Last years trip really opened my eyes up to so many new experiences and I met some cracking people. There was David, the guy who gave me the keys to his apt after 45 mins of meeting, gave me a guided tour of Bandon Oregon and then paid for dinner! I’ve told that story a lot when working. How many of us are truly willing to engage with strangers and take a risk? But as Brene Brown says, it’s hard to hate people close up. Be brave, Lean in, take a risk and you will be surprised. The world is not as bad as some might make out!

I was really impressed with American Airlines Economy. Great seats, lots of leg room and the time passes really quickly for a transatlantic flight. I really enjoyed ‘The Journeyman’ a movie about a boxer who has to make a long road to recovery. Fab performances and left me quite emotional! Not sure if making visitors wait 2 hours to get through passport control is making America great again. There was a point where I was thinking I was going to miss my flight to Bangor, Maine.

Bangor is a pretty small, nondescript town in northern Maine. If I’m honest, I just looked at the map and went for the airport to start the trip. The coolest thing about Bangor is the welcome sign!

image1Not sure why I hate planning so much. Would rather get on with it and sort it out when it happens. How hard can it be? Very hard when your Garmin computer isn’t loading maps and no one can sort it! Wanted to get a US SIM card for phone but they installed it and didn’t work. Then I couldn’t use British settings either! Got it sorted but could have done without the 25 miles cycling in the heat and humidity!

Day 1 (Bangor, ME to Camden Hills State Park ME)

How hard can it be? Last year, Day 1 was bloody hard. Not sure why I forgot this, because this year was no different. I’d kept myself fit and trim since 2006, but since moving to Manchester the weight has piled on. Too much good living and eating out with Peggy and Jamie! So one of the big aims of this trip is to shed the timber. Who wants a fat ‘motivational’ speaker. Nothing motivating about that! It’s great to be back on the bike again. I love the freedom, the independence. It’s a great way to see the country too and meet amazing people. Maine is beautiful, with its stunning beaches and lush greenery. But it’s rolling. And rolling makes it really hard! With 55 miles in the legs, I could go no further. I hadn’t made it to the pre booked campground and pulled into a motel. I needed a good shower and a bed. Luckily for me, Mount Battie Motel is run by the very lovely Ed and Christine. They were so helpful and nothing was too much trouble. Ed used to own his own aviation company worth $150m but lost it all after 9/11. Very interesting to get his take on life and what makes him happy. Suffice to say, it’s a lot more of the everyday things.  Christine bakes delicious cakes and breads every day for breakfast. I was good..honest! If you are ever near Camden Hills, Maine, make sure you stay the night!

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Day 2 (Camden Hills to Thomas Point Beach and campground, Bath, ME)

Highlights included my first lobster roll and homemade blueberry pie. Did I say I was trying to lose weight? I couldn’t resist that! Unfortunately, cycling on a full stomach is not ideal as I could hardly breath my stomach was so big! I spent most of the day on Route 1 South. A busy, loud highway with a wide shoulder. 34c with high humidity made it essential to keep drinking water so was glad for the regular service stations. With time getting on and no accommodation booked, I took a chance on getting a camping spot. If they didn’t have any I was pretty stuck, as have no lights either. Luckily, Donna let me stay in the Hiker/biker area. $8 for the night. However, didn’t sleep a wink as so bloody hot! But the dip in the water in the morning more than made up for it!

Day 3 (Thomas Point Beach and Campground to Saco, ME)

Getting stronger by the day. Climbing out the saddle now and not blowing out of my arse so much! Another beautiful day in Maine. Discovered the East Coast Greenway which connects 15 states, 450 cities and towns, and 3,000 miles of people-powered trails from Maine to Florida —the country’s longest biking and walking route. This should take me all the way down to North Carolina!

And about that diet…it includes delicious Peanut Butter ice cream at Beal’s in Portland, Maine.

image1 (1)The plan was to stay in a hotel in Portland early doors and do washing etc so I booked into a motel 6 budget hotel. $80 online. Bargain. Unfortunately I had booked it for September…Now wanted $160. No chance! So I stuffed my face, got my sugars up and cycled another 20 miles to a state Park in Saco. It was late when I arrived only for ranger John, lovely bloke, who informed me that there was no camping! So had to fork out $190 on a night in the Ramada. And the moral of the story is…

Day 4 (Saco, ME to Hampton Falls, New Hampshire)

I had an epiphany today. New England is so called because it really is a new England! All the place names are nicked from us. Sorry, sounds obvious but not really thought about it before! Lovely riding on rural roads of Eastern Trail in the morning but the heavens opened all afternoon. Glad I kept the mudguards on and packed my waterproof jacket! Airbnb host Sylvie does Reiki with cancer patients. She backed up the findings of the study that investigated top 5 regrets of the dying. People wish they had taken more risks, spent more time with family, hugged their kids more, not worked so hard…

Day 5 (Hampton Falls, NH to Lincoln, MA)

Another wet day but all worth it as I got to see Sara for the first time since 1990! Sara and I spent a couple of summers working at the same summer camp in Pennsylvania. Great to catch up, share stories and meet her family. Hopefully won’t have to wait another 28 years to do it again!

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300 miles in and the hard miles are behind me hopefully…This week, this muppet is going to take Manhattan! Should be in NYC by Thursday, fingers crossed.
Cheers,
Kev.
Words and pictures – Kevin House

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