#acaNoTier North Woodstock, NH to Naples, ME, 76 Miles | Kancamagus Conquered!

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From Tom:

I am lying in my tent, holding my breath and typing since it is hot and I am sweating which just blends in nicely with the aroma of our thermarest and sleeping bags. Deb tried fanning us with the ACA map but it only circulates the stench further. #straywetdogstank

We got a great start with a big breakfast at our Inn since we knew we had our biggest climb up Kancamagus Gap first thing. We were surrounded with hikers who were in town for resupply at breakfast.

We headed out and started our climb up the mountain. About 5 miles up a cyclist on a light weight road bike came up beside me and says we are his heroes trying to do this climb with all that weight. He mentioned the last 5 miles are really steep especially the last mile. He left me with that wonderful news and took off up the mountain.

We kept climbing up and up stopping every so often to capture the wonderful views and take pics. Next thing we know there is the summit sign and we were at the top. #nottoobad.

We then enjoyed the wonderful descent down the other side for 10 miles. We stopped at the half way point and grabbed a lunch at Beas cafe. Deb enjoyed the triple decker chicken salad while I had the egg salad #maybethebestmealofthetrip

Deb notice a shortcut that might save us 10 miles once we enter Maine. Highway 302 would take us directly to our destination rather than going north through a couple more climbs. We stopped at the Maine state line visitor center and asked the guide about our idea of staying on 302. She didn’t seem to keen on our idea since shoulders are small or non existent and 302 is the busiest highway in Maine.

With that info we decided to follow our maps. 28 miles to go. We got about 14 miles in and knew we had two more short climbs. Deb and I were both out of water and were both looking for a place to stop as it was 90 degrees and the route was mostly exposed and without shade.

I got to the top of the first climb and out of the blue a man waved me down and told me just around the corner is a pipe coming out of the ground with ice cold spring fed clean water that everyone drinks around there #trailmagic.

After filling our bottles we were on our way to our destination of Four Seasons campground in Naples, ME. Tent set up, dinner eaten, shower taken, we are now all cuddled up praying for a slight breeze to cool us down so we can go to sleep #onlyfourdaysleft

#acaNoTier East Thetford, VT to North Woodstock, NH, 47 Miles | Bookends Make for Short Rides with Tall Climbs

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It’s been a big week! A couple new states, turning to the last map, a bear siting and these eastern climbs.

Seriously, the Northern Tier route might as well be nicknamed “Bike the Bookends” as that describes the route with elevation at each end of the county and flats in the middle.

I believe my legs are as strong as they have ever been. We left on our bike adventure two months ago today and have taken just four rest/recovery days yet still I struggle on some of this elevation.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just a reality check. There is a lot of weight on an already heavy bike so at times it’s just a grind up these hills/mountains.

When I cannot absolutely pedal one more rotation I quickly unclip my right foot and step down. My legs quiver from the work I’m asking them to do. But… the mind, the heart and even the legs are willing to try again a couple minutes later. It’s definitely a humbling experience and at the same time, gratifying.

On this bike trip, having so much time to think while riding, I’ve come up with so many metaphors for life. There’s a lot you can relate to cycling, especially when encountering tailwinds, steep elevations, living simply, navigation, companionship, mentoring and yep, even solitude.

Tom has been super strong on the climbs and successfully reached the top without rests and waits patiently for me until I get to the top. Dang am I ever glad when I see him… then I know I’m finally at the top, not just a false summit. Good for another metaphor.

Tomorrow is our last big climb of the trip on the Kancamagus Highway. From then on it’s “mainly Maine” with shorter yet more regular hills.

Although we planned on camping near Lincoln to be close to the beginning of the big climb in the morning, we stopped short in North Woodstock due to incoming steady rain.

We got lucky and found an Inn, brewery and fantastic restaurant all wrapped up in one for a reasonable rate. Yay!

Looks like there may be a little weather coming in over the next few days but still we are soaking in these last miles on the Northern Tier.

Rain or shine we are so grateful for this opportunity and appreciate the messages, comments, prayers and donations.

#acaNoTier Ripton to East Thetford, 62 Miles | Well Hello Mr. Bear!

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From Tom:

We woke up in our comfy bed and Deb says, we are taking the day off and staying in bed all day long. Of course Tom jumps out of bed and starts packing up his things 😁. We can smell the bacon cooking downstairs and the coffee brewing and Deb decides maybe I will go ahead and get out of bed 👍.

Tom got everything carried downstairs and went out to the shed to check on the bikes and fill up the tires for our mountain climbs today.

Chris the owner of the Inn, got our tasty breakfast prepared: fresh fruit with yogurt, eggs, bacon, toast with fresh blueberry jam. Others staying at the Inn started ambling down and great conversations continued from last night. Chris was a teenager when Ben and Jerry used to deliver their Ice Cream in the 70s. He described them as long haired, pot smoking kids and nobody would ever eat their Ice Cream in cold Vermont 😁. Too bad his family didn’t invest in the company back then.

We knew our ride began with a very steep 5 mile climb so we were delaying our departure. Once we left, it was fun, everyone at the Inn was standing outside, looking through windows and waving as Deb and I jumped on our bikes and headed off.

We conquered the Middlebury Gap and had a great chat with Long Trail hikers at the top. The next several miles were 12% grade downhill, which can be a little bit scary on curvy roads. We knew we had another climb later in the day, but for the next 30 miles or so we enjoyed the slight downhill and Vermont countryside riding through small villages along the way. We grabbed a nice picnic lunch in a gazebo along the road with leftover pizza from couple of nights ago and Vermont cheese/peanut butter and crackers. 10 miles to go with another climb and we were ready to go to our destination of “Rest and Nest” campground.

We just started the climb and 100 yards ahead a Black Bear comes running out of the woods and ambles right over the guardrail in front of us. We immediately stop our ride and Deb reaches into her bag and hands me the bear spray. Thankfully no more bear sightings 😁.

We are now sitting at our campsite chillaxing and getting ready to cook up dinner.

Hard to believe a week from now we will be driving home 😁

#acaNoTier North Hudson to Ripton, 54 Miles | Say Cheese!

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We have entered Vermont! But you know you are in trouble when the state tag line has the word “mountain” in it.

Here are Tom’s highlights of the day:

  • Up early enjoying Deb’s oatmeal and coffee while we packed up, pushups/planks and hit the road ~6:30 or so
  • Enjoying another sunny, chilly morning riding the backroads of eastern New York
  • Jumping on a busy road for 16 miles at 7:30am just in time for the Monday morning rush hour.
  • Stopping for breakfast in Ticonderoga at Mickey D’s
  • Jumping on the Ferry crossing Lake Champlain to Vermont
  • Let climbs begin in the Green Mountains
  • Checking into the Chapman Hill Inn half way up the climb to Bread Loaf.
  • Sitting with the owner and other guests at 6pm chatting and next thing you look at your watch and it is 10 pm
  • Loving to hear about the history of the Inn. Back in the 70s, Ben or Jerry would ride their motorcycle with 5 gallon bucket of ice cream in the panniers and hand deliver in to the walk in cold fridge in the Inn.
  • Robert Frost used to spend 39 years visiting in Ripton
  • Having a great sleep in a comfy bed which will be the last for the remainder of our trip

#acaNoTier Raquette Lake to North Hudson, 62 Miles | Cycling The Adirondacks

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From Tom:

Today’s blog is going to be a bullet list of today’s memories.

  • Carrying the bikes down the stairs at 6am hoping the grocery was open early for coffee (no luck 😔)
  • Jumping on the bikes at 6:30am before anyone is stirring on highway 28 and we had the road to ourselves
  • Stopping at mile 15 at Blue Mountain grocery for coffee and breakfast sandwich
  • Visiting with Baxter and Steve for over an hour who also stopped for coffee. They just left Bar Harbor a week ago and are heading west to our start, Anacortes, WA. And we are a week away from finishing at Bar Harbor.

  • Watching Baxter’s drone videos from their first week. He is carrying a 10 lb case with him with his drone (he is only 20 and Debster is major tech envy of his skills)
  • Riding the next 30 miles along Highway 28 up and down and all around the pine tree lined Adirondacks
  • Stopping at “The Scoop” for ice cream and a strawberry shake
  • Enjoying our first big climbs since we left West Glacier
  • Enjoying all the Harley riders giving us the wave as they cruised by
  • Every other car that went by us with kayaks and bikes hanging on their cars
  • The number of lakes that we passed during our ride
  • The last 10 mile downhill reaching 39.5 mph and trying to outrace the turbo Carrara that passed me and gave me a thumbs up
  • Reaching our destination and pulling into a Jellystone campground/Park (this place is awesome with beautiful campground, spotless showers, store, restaurant, and laundry facility). Oh and yogi is walking around greeting all the guests 😁
  • Reaching the 3700 mile mark and starting our last week of riding tomorrow 😟

Ok the tent is set up and all dried out from the heavy dew and rain from a couple of days ago. The thermarests/sleeping bags are febreezed and aired out. Our snacks are eaten. Time to shower up and decide on dinner.

From Deb:

I LOVE the Adirondacks. Riding surrounded by dense timber, crystal clear lakes, with favorable winds and skies made for stellar riding. Could not have been better.

#acaNoTier West Leyden to Raquette Lake, 57 Miles | On The Water

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From Tom:

We rode home last night from dinner in the dark to set our tent up behind the Hilltop Grocery. Waking up, everything was soaked from the heavy dew.

We ventured into the grocery store bright and early to grab a coffee. Interesting to see what locals show up early on a Saturday morning. Many locals showing up with trucks on trailers. Turns out there is a fair going on down the road with a tractor pull.

We packed up and headed east with the destination of Raquette Lake, 60 miles down the road. The ride was beautiful with rolling/curving hills throughout the Adirondacks. We stopped at Old Forge which was Nashville on steroids for a quick lunch. We arrived at our hotel at 3pm, Raquette Hotel and Taproom. This entire town is in one building: Grocery, Hotel, Tap Room, Post Office, and Laundry. It is right on the lake. We walked into the taproom and asked for a room and cold brewski just the way they did back in the day. Instead of surrounded by cowboys, we were surrounded by local New Yorkers enjoying the lake on the weekend. Several of the locals said we need to do the dinner cruise on the lake.

Just imagine us sitting outside the taproom enjoying wonderful conversations with everyone asking about our trip. At 5pm, we ventured down to the docks to investigate the cruise. It launches at 5:30 and is a 4 course meal. We were still in our bike clothes at this time and hadn’t even been up to our room which was upstairs over the bar. We said “sign us up” and we hustled up to take our bags/bikes up to the room, get dressed and get back to the boat for the 5:30 launch. We made it back in time and the captain’s wife said we made quite the transformation over the past half hour. The captain blew the horn and we were off.

Captain Dean gave a great history lesson as we toured on the lake. The captain explained he and a crew hand built this boat over 40 years ago and it took over two years. It is now a family owned business with his wife and three children as part of the crew.

Back in the day this lake is where the Carnegie’s and Mellon’s had their summer camps (homes). We were all summoned to head below, that dinner will be served. Our table mates were visiting their summer camps on the lake and had their 88 year old mother with them.

The boat went right by their camp and they pointed it out and explained you can only reach the house by boat and there is no electricity to this location of the shore. During the winters the lake freezes to 4 feet thick and the locals travel by car or snow mobile over the lake.

I could ramble on for quite awhile about the cruise since it obviously was a highlight of our entire trip. Going from camping in the weeds behind the convenience store to sitting in a beautiful boat being served a 4 course dinner on white linens; we have experienced it all 😁.

We returned back our hotel room, showered up and called it a night. What an absolute great day.

#acaNoTier Fair Haven to West Leyden, 82 Miles | Eat Local; Drink Local

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From Tom:

We fell asleep to a few thunderstorms and gentle showers last night coming down on the tent

We got up early and Tom packed things up while Deb cooked up another one of her gourmet breakfasts. We were once again greeted by our neighbors inviting us over for coffee, but we needed to head off to get our 2nd Breakfast and for Deb to get started on yesterday’s blog. Every so often it is good to stop into a fast food joint and get a large coffee and breakfast Sammie. BK was right on the route at mile 20. 😀. Debbie worked on the blog and I spent time looking for places to stay tonight.

We are trying to split two long days into three more manageable rides with the mountains coming up. I am typing this blog during our ride today.

We just finished about 10 miles on a NY bike route which consisted of a 2 ft shoulder and semis/dump trucks whizzing by at 60mph without even trying to slow down or get out of your way. I just got honked off the road by an oversized load semi hauling a huge piece of construction front loader. Folks this isn’t Canada anymore.

We got off the busy road and enjoyed the countryside of New York with flat riding and nice tailwind 😁 for about 10 miles. Then at 50 miles I saw a sign “6 miles to skiing slopes”. I knew what was coming. The next 10 miles was a solid climb to Redfield and our 1st possible destination.

We arrived at 3:30 and had a chat with the motel guy who was doing his best to convince us to stay at his place (since the place was deserted). We chose to continue for the next 20 miles to the next town in West Leyden population 239. The only place to stay is camp behind the local gas station/convenience store.

We scoped out the camping spot and headed down to the local pub “The Milk Plant”. The Meatloaf dinner was highly recommended and did not disappoint followed with the rhubarb pie a la mode 👍.

We enjoyed multiple conversations with the locals who saw our bikes and loved hearing our stories. Right now Deb and I are lying in the tent behind the gas station and looking forward to a good cup of coffee at 6am tomorrow 😁