Over the next seven days, Kelly Sturmer, Gorham & Standish Market Manager, will be representing Norway Savings Bank and putting in some serious miles on her bike with BikeMaine! 270 miles to be exact! Kelly will be sharing updates with us each day so we can all vicariously experience everything that BikeMaine and the coast of Maine have to offer. Be sure to check back throughout the week to read her blog posts and view photos from the day’s events!
Day 1 – Sunday:
The Coastal Connections adventure has begun! Over the next seven days, I will pedal 270 miles throughout Midcoast Maine. The fully supported tour includes 400 fellow cyclists from all over the world. Saturday night, before the tour began, we enjoyed fantastic feast of herbed lamb and pork kofta kebabs, vegetarian stuffed cabbage and lemon cake with blueberry compote (YUM!) with entertainment by The Crown Vic’s in the Maine Beer Company beer garden.
Our journey began Sunday morning in Waterville, crossing the Kennebec River via the historic Two Cent Bridge; a foot bridge built in 1903, named for the original toll that was charged when the bridge was crossed. The day started off chilly after a rainy night in a single person tent! But the mood was not dampened because everyone was excited to get started.
From Waterville, the route traveled through the scenic north shore of China Lake, then criss-crossed past several smaller ponds as we rode through Palermo and the farmlands of South Liberty. Our journey continued into Knox County to the town of Union, home to the Matthews Museum of Maine Heritage, which houses over 10,000 artifacts of Maine’s early lifestyles.
When we reached the mile-42 rest stop, we had already done a significant amount of climbing – a banana with peanut butter never tasted so good! Finally, we finished our day in Hope, at our home for the evening at the Alfond Lake Camp, what a beautiful sight. I came off the course second-to-last, with my friend Kristen by my side, who motivated me to keep going when I didn’t think I could go up another hill. Today’s ride totaled 4,127 feet – the most vertical feet I’ve done in a single ride! My mantra for the week is “I can, I can!” with every pedal stroke.
Tonight, we devoured ancho lime smoked brisket, stuffed spaghetti squash, baked sweet potatoes, Maine baked beans and a delicious mixed-berry crisp, a la mode! The entertainment was great tonight! We enjoyed a live performance by a Klezmer band. But early to bed, another big day tomorrow!
Day 2 – Monday:
My day started at 5:30 this morning to a brisk 45 degrees! We fueled up on a hearty breakfast, left our camp and headed west to Jefferson. It wasn’t long before we turned south to pedal along the shores of Damariscotta Lake and Pemaquid Pond and the historic Pemaquid Peninsula. This area is home to some of the earliest settlements in New England!
We enjoyed a tasty lunch of fish tacos, on the water at Round Pond. I wasn’t feeling very well so I opted to end my ride early today. My adventure didn’t end with my bike ride though! I learned so much from the SAG Van drivers, Bruce from Yarmouth and Bruce from Blue Hill.
We settled in for the evening at Coastal Rivers Round Top Farm, a beautiful spot in Damariscotta, owned by Coastal Rivers Conservation Trust. After our information meeting, we headed to dinner. We feasted on a turkey dinner with all the fixings and topped it off with raspberry bars and brownies with Round Top Ice Cream! I’ve met some amazing people on this journey, including two gentlemen I ate dinner with. They were riding buddies who met years ago on a ride and make an effort to meet up a couple times a year for week long rides – one was from California and the other from South Africa. The evening was filled with chatter and a live performance from The Portland Bach Experience.
Tomorrow we continue on to Rockland for a much-deserved rest day!
Day 3 – Tuesday:
WHAT.A.DAY! I got an early start today. I was packed up and ready to hit the course when it opened at 7:30 this morning. I was anxious to head into some of the most authentic communities of Midcoast Maine.
The course took us though Nobleboro before turning southeast, running parallel to the train line toward Waldoboro. We crossed six railroad tracks in the first 15 miles of our ride!
From there we zigzagged our way through farmlands back to the coast. This ride has been a history lesson! Every town and village we visit has a great deal of Maine history to share with us! We saw some pretty great sites in Warren where we stopped and had a delicious lunch provided by the Masons. After we ate our pulled pork sandwiches and fresh garden salad, we set onward!
After a brief stop to check out some quintessential Maine scenery surrounding Owls Head Lighthouse, we started our trek to Rockland. We arrived to our home away from home in Rockland’s Snow Marine Park around 4:30 p.m.
The ride has been fantastic, my appreciation for what Maine has to offer, has grown with every town we stop in or pass through. But, I am happy to be at camp until Thursday morning. After almost 3,000 feet of climbing today – we rest tomorrow to enjoy one of Maine’s gems, Rockland.
This evening, we had the opportunity to enjoy dinner anywhere we chose in Rockland. I decided to check out Claws to try their Lobster Mac & Cheese – it was voted First Place Maine Lobsterpalooza People’s Choice & Professional Chef Awards after all, and rightfully so!
I’m really looking forward to checking out the sites of Rockland tomorrow.
Day 4 – Wednesday:
After 137 miles in the saddle, I am so thankful for this rest day! The day started off pretty wet so I sat in my tent and listened to it rain for a while. The Rockland Harbor Trail connects the BikeMaine village to downtown Rockland, so once the weather let up and the sun came out, I set off to explore the scenery, on foot.
The scenery is as picturesque as you would think, with boats in the harbor (including a cruise ship!), late flowers blooming and the freshest sea food you can find – right off the boat! I had some tasty fish and chips for lunch because who could resist freshly caught fish?
I’m looking forward to getting back to the village and relaxing a bit before our lobster feast, this evening.
Tomorrow, we set off to Belfast!
Day 5 – Thursday:
Yesterday was a great rest day and the lobster dinner was fantastic but it was time to get back on the bike to head to Belfast!
The climb out of Rockland today seemed to go on for miles! We were very grateful for the descent into Rockville, we needed a break.
We traveled through Rockport, Camden and Lincolnville. The route was beautiful, giving way to scenery along shores Megunticook Lake.
We rolled into Belfast around 3:30 this afternoon, where I will end my 183-mile BikeMaine adventure.
Tonight we enjoyed a gorgeous evening on the water, a tasty dinner hosted by the YMCA and entertainment by the Leaky Boot Jug Band.
Day 6 – Friday:
After 183 miles, 12,000 feet of vertical gain in 4 days, on a bike, I bid my BikeMaine friends farewell, this morning. As they took to the route, I packed my belongings in preparation to head home. I am so thankful for this opportunity. I’ve become a better cyclist, met a lot of new friends from around the country, and set new cycling goals for myself.
For anyone who is thinking about participating in BikeMaine, I highly recommend doing it! It is an experience of a lifetime.