Introduction - Bar Harbor to Boston - CycleBlaze


This introduction is being written after the journey. How we arrived at our journey from Bar Harbor Boston needs a bit of explaining. 2023 is the year of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. We were making plans and most of the family and friends from the 2019 WWC adventure in France were in. Mary Jane had scheduled six weeks off of work half a year in advance. Maps were hung on the wall, travel books arrive and were studied and discussed, bike transport and the like were detailed for several months. Then MJ came home and told me her supervisor had chalked out the wrong dates for her vacation. Simple enough change the dates, right? Not so simple in the medical field, plus her boss had scheduled the same dates out for herself for maternity leave. Certainly not so simple to change birthing dates.  Strike-1

MJ backed up her vacation to the last part of June and all of July. Where to ride? A GCN (General Cycling Network) video showed a Scotland ride called the North Coast 500 (805 Km) route. The GCN riders did it in three  never stop pedaling days. The route circles around the northern tip of Scotland with stunning scenery. GCN did not cement the deal but Tom LIttlehales' 2021 NC 500 ride journaled right here on CB did ( MJ was totally in on the route plus some stays in the major cities, probably flying home from London. Maps were hung on the wall, books were ordered and studied. Alaska Airlines, where our covid Visa miles had stacked up high into the sky, had a partner airline getting us to Edinburgh through Ireland at a very reasonable price. I think cool summer Scottish weather is making it a summertime global warming vacation "hot-spot". My Caladonian motherland was book solid including air travel. Strike-2.

At this point I might well just jump on my bicycle and start riding from my driveway to somewhere, anywhere. But I was not riding alone. MJ and our grandson Walton were in the paceline. MJ needs assurance of clean, comfortable lodging, good, tasty and nutritious food. No gas station sandwiches no matter how deep the calorie debt is or how steep and long the climb ahead. No crowded high speed highways allowed. We’ve walked/pushed our bikes for several miles at times on soft, crumbling nearly non existent shoulders rather than put our faith in the common courtesy and safety concerns of passing motorists. We would experience such situations on the coming ride

The Route Vert in Quebec came to mind as meeting all and everyone's needs and wishes. Thousands of kilometers of bike trails and paths throughout Quebec. Everyone was in. Maps were hung on the wall, books were ordered and studied. Alaska Airlines tickets were purchased to New York with the return flight leaving Boston. Even the Amtrak seats and bike spaces were reserved from NYC to Montreal. It was happening and it would be grand. Well those best laid plans quickly went up in smoke, literally. Our son, Po, sent photos of the lingering Canadian death pall of smoke and haze in New York City. When the Canadian Ironman Triathlon in Montreal was canceled due to dangerous air quality. MJ pulled the plug. C’est la guerre! Strike-3

Time had not run out, but we were getting close to the start of MJ's vacation. I checked the weather and fire maps of eastern Canada and the north east of the US multiple times every day. Turns out Maine has prevailing onshore winds during the summer and the skies were clear. A Google search discovered the East Coast Greenway bike route with online maps.  It starts at Calais on the Maine-New Brunswick frontier, an opportunity for Walton to visit a foreign country, if only briefly. I shot into high gear. Maps and books were ordered with express delivery. I started this journal with the working title of "Calais to Portland" and the CycleBlaze unique journal identifier of “calais”, which it still remains. The maps arrived and were placed on Mary Jane’s pillow. The maps included the northern section of the Adventure Cycling Association’s Atlantic Coast Bicycle Route that starts in Bar Harbor. MJ opened it up and with all its comforting details and route information declared Bar Harbor to Boston to be our journey. I got the ACA online map and worked out the logistics of getting the three of us to Bangor, Maine from NYC. MJ took over most of the day to day details and planning.

We hope you enjoy the ride.

Robert, MJ and Walton, August 2023

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Graham SmithHi Robert,

It’s groto see your journal pop up here.

Ah yes.
The FIFA World Cup.
This reader’s team came fourth.
Go The Matildas !

More importantly.
I know that you know textiles.

What’s your opinion on cotton duck fabric. For use to make bike tourer’s gear. eg The fabric which is used by British Carradice.
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7 months ago
Robert EwingTo Graham SmithHi Graham, The Matildas did very well - probably should have made it to finals. The US team was a disaster and were lucky to make it to the knockout round. They have to reboot and build a team that doesn't play to the premadonna veterans looking for endorsement.

Cotton duck has its strong and weak points. I suppose its strongest sell is being a natural fiber. Its weakest point is being organic and subject to mildew and rot. The very best cotton duck I've ever used is made in Australia. I mean it was on a different level of quality - breathable, water repellent to a degree I would call it waterproof, Excellent UV resistance. Apparently Australia has spec’ed it regarding trucking fresh veggies so they don't stew in their own juices during transport and tarps are made to higher specs than anything available in the USA.

I don't have any experience with English cotton. I assume Carradice uses it. What I've read, it is mostly waxed and they've been treating cotton for a very long time and lots of folk swear by it.

Cotton has poor abrasion resistance. On your classic bike bags you see leather chafe patches to guard against wear. Historically hemp and flax are both stronger and more durable fibers but from what I've seen, fabrics made with them are kind of green boutique and not ready for prime time, and expensive. In the days of old nobody sailed to Australia from England with cotton sails. Flax and hemp flew off the main and gallant yards. Cotton was the domain of the yacht club.

So good to hear from you,
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7 months ago
Graham SmithTo Robert EwingRobert thanks for the informative reply. I had no idea that Australia produced cotton duck. We do grow excellent cotton, albeit in small quantities, and at questionable cost to our struggling river systems.

I’ve ordered a few Carradice cotton duck bags to use on our folding bikes. The Klickfix fixings, combined with with the design of the Carradice saddle and handlebar bags, seem to be very suited to lightweight touring on small wheeled bikes combined with train and bus travel. My first tour with the new bags will be in New Zealand in November. Nothing epic.
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7 months ago