Wednesday, April 15

Get Lost? Gladly!

I'd have to say that the thing I've always enjoyed most about cycling is that you can just go, ride, and explore. I guess you could do that in a car, too. Cycling's more fun though. And you're not in a big metal box when you're doing it. You're really out there.

Finally with temperatures above 60, it's been nice enough outside to go out and ride in normal clothes--and by that I mean spandex but not arm warmers. Over the last couple years of riding, I've known it's serious in spring when I drag my lazily-wintered derrière out and up the great hill that is Mount Agamenticus. It's a pretty brutal climb, one that always redlines me, and it's particularly tough as the first real ride in the spring.

So after bicycling about 15-20 miles of Maine's charming coastal and rural roads, I come up to the great mountain. The auto road to the summit is only one kilometer, including the switchbacks, but it's a fairly steep grade, averaging eight percent. You're saying to yourself "doesn't that just mean it's a four degree angle from a flat plane?" You're saying "That doesn't sound so bad, I think you're a sissy." ... Well I heartily encourage you to take your little bubble measure and go out there then ride up it and come talk to me after. You will find yourself gasping for breath, if you can make it up the mountain at all. The air is rarified up in the clouds around Mount Agamenticus, at an altitude of nearly 22,000 centimeters!

Anyway, so I go up there, and I'm heading back and I see a little sign for Clay Hill Farm Restaurant. I figured, that sounds nice, so I head down that direction. Whatever direction that is. A couple miles down is this charming little farm restaurant. I somehow forgot to get a picture of it. There's some on that link there. Oh, I guess they did a wedding give-away thing for some friends-of-friends. Anyway, I checked it out, looked at their menu, and headed on my way.

Instead of heading back though, I decided to take the road the other way. That's the nice thing about riding on nice days. Just take any random road and navigate by the sun. If you get lost, just keep the sun at your right until you get to an ocean. If you're in Maine, take a right. If you're in Massachusettes or New Hampshire, take a left. Eventually you'll get home. Riding the back roads in Maine is great. Everything is all, you know, New England-y. Riding through the back roads' woods and little wooden cottages gives me a strong sensation of nostalgia. So I kept going.

The road eventually ended in Ogunquit, Maine. You can say what you want about Ogunquit, in particular exactly what do to if you accidentally drop your wallet while in Ogunquit, but it is a very pretty beach town with a good coastal road and fun to explore. It is very Maine. Eventually I start heading south, until, just north of Perkin's Cove, I saw this:

If you're a racing cyclist your will know the signficance of a giant sign by the side of hte road that says "Prime" but I'll explain it briefly for everyone else. A prime (pronounced 'preem') is a intermediary sprint point along a course, particularly in criteriums. And on some group rides, some road signs (most often town line markers) are sprinted for. This is fairly ubiquitous, even up to professional team group rides. So, a giant sign that says "Prime" right on it is just sort of thing that might make an amatuer racer's cockles tingle. Unfortunately I was alone so I stopped to take a picture instead.

The rest of the ride was more of that. Pretty Maine coastal roads, until York Beach and their pre-summer pre-hubbub. York and Kittery Point's back roads (Route 1A, Route 103) are pretty too but I've seen them a million times so whatever. At that point I've got 40 miles in me and have already ridden them once today and am hungry and not excited about sluggin my way over Kittery Point's rolling hills.

Home, recovery food, nap.

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