White Mountains to Fryeburg, Maine - The Andersons at one - CycleBlaze

June 19, 1989

White Mountains to Fryeburg, Maine

One of the remarkable aspects of this form of travel is that every day is so distinctive and unique episodes.  Today is one that will certainly stand out clearly in both of our memories for years to come.  (Often, these old journals describe unforgettable days that I'd completely forgotten about. For a change, this one was prescient - it really was an unforgettable day, and we still talk about it from time to time.)

We began the day very early - it was barely light when we began to break camp.  It had begun to rain the night before, shortly before we went to tent, and it continued for much of the night.  We had done a much better job with our tent erection this time and we and our equipment were mostly dry in the morning.

Our breakfast awaited us in Lincoln, nine miles to the east - but to get there we had to climb a steep and unexpected ridge for several miles.  We were both surprised by its difficulty.  We were primed mentally for the long pull up the pass to come after breakfast, but hadn't expected anything this soon.  It was really pretty though, and the sky gradually began opening up, promising a sunnier day than we had seen so far.  Our spirits really soared when we crested the ridge and began a long, satisfying descent to Lincoln.  The lst five miles were all downhill, downriver.

Beaver pond, at the ridge top before descend8ng to Lincoln
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Descending toward Lincoln, and a crash. Better that she had stayed ahead of me.
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We had practically arrived in town when, unbelievably, I single-handedly almost wrecked the whole trip.  For some reason I lost my bearings and stopped very suddenly to look at a gorge by the side of the road, giving almost no warning to Rachael, who tried desperately to swerve and avoid me.  She failed.  Glancing off my handlebars, she crashed to the shoulder of the road.  As she slowly got up, I had visions of broken ribs and serious abrasions.  Luckily, her injuries were not that severe - her breath was knocked out, she suffered a bruise to her hip which would bother her at least throughout the day, and her thigh and knee were mildly scraped.  Considering how hard she had fallen, she got off very lightly.

Her bike though was another story.  Her front wheel was horribly pretzel-like, bent beyond repair, I was sure.  I was resigned to losing at least the day in journeying to some larger town for a replacement.  I decided to at least try straightening it though, shoving and torqueing it against the road and my knee, hoping to flatten it enough to allow us to at least roll the bike to Lincoln.  Miraculously, it gradually reassumed its wheel nature; and after some work with the spoke wrench I was able to restore it to service.  I would not have thought this possible.  (I'm no mechanic, by a long shot.  This feat was probably the high point in my handyman career.)

Nice, but not worth ruining a tour over
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After our unexpected hour's delay, we pedaled on into town for a badly needed breakfast.  We filled up on pancakes, pork, and coffee; and then raided a grocery store to prepare ourselves for the next thirty mile stretch, and by nine were on our way again, east toward the pass.

The climb to the top was not as challenging as we had expected.  It is six steady uphill miles, but none were as steep as the ones before breakfast.  Still, two thousand feet in six miles isn't exactly trivial either.  We were both proud, happy and excited to reach the summit.  I chased Rachael all the way.  She tricked me into stopping for a photograph, and then dashed ahead of me, staying there for the rest of the way  (Well, almost - we stopped to enjoy a viewpoint a mile from the top). 

Beginning the climb to Kancamagus Pass
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Some things never change. I’ve been chasing Rachael up passes for thirty years now.
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The also ran straggles in at last.
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I believe this is Rachael’s first summit shot.
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While we were at the summit, a man stopped his car to talk with us.   He had two bikes on his roof, and wanted to hear where we were going as well as to boast of climbs he had made in the past.  The whole time we were standing there, a small cloud of tiny black insects hovered around our heads, annoying but seemingly innocent.   It was not until we stopped again several miles down the road that I realized that Rachael's neck and face were covered with red blotches, some of which were openly bleeding.  It turns out that these treacherous tiny monsters are the black flies I have heard of before as a menace.  I had always assumed they were large and obviously dangerous.  Rachael had over fifty bites from her neck up; and while I had fewer, my reaction seemed to be worse.  I swelled up a bit and got a mild rash from some of them.  Once we knew we were at risk, we closed the barn door by putting repellant on and were then left alone - bbut not before giving Rachael the appearance of having some dreadful skin disease.

The next 25 miles, to Conway, were a delightful coast out of the past and along the Saco River.  We stopped several times on the way, once for a short stroll up to a pretty waterfall on Sabbaday Creek.  It was a great ride - beautiful scenery, a tailwind, even blue sky!  The only complaint on the long coast was that Rachael's foot was starting to hurt her from supporting her weight.

Dropping from Kancamagus Pass, along the Saco River
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In the White Mountains
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Sabbaday Falls
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We reached Conway about 2:30 and pulled into a small café that featured inexpensive but tasty pizza.  We had no difficulty devouring a thirteen inch sausage, mushroom and olive creation which we consumed across the road on the front lawn of the elementary school.

From Conway, we should have had an easy thirteen mile ride downriver to our campground just north of Fryeberg, Maine; but somewhere near the state line we missed our turn and ended up taking about a five mile detour up the wrong side of the river.  By the time we arrived at the campground we were tired, hot, and prepared to just loaf away the remains of the day.  We did just that, but not quite as planned - as soon as we stopped moving, we were swarmed by mosquitoes.  Rachael performed a lovely little hopping dance while she frantically searched her bags for the repellant.  Once we pitched our tent, we crawled in and dozed in the sun, safe but pooped, until dusk.

I don’t have notes of this, but I think it must be the covered bridge over the Saco, just north of Conway.
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New state! Crossing into Maine
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Rachael has had quite a demanding day.  Between a crash, a mountain pass and two awful bouts with noxious pests, she has been through a lot.  Through it all she has done wonderfully.  She is a great touring companion - strong, courageous, uncomplaining and cheerful, she is always easy to be with.  She has had many excuses to blame me or make me feel guilty - for running her off the road, or for setting her up for the inherent discomforts of the trip - but she never does.  A vacation like this is a pretty severe test of a relationship.  Between the unanticipated hardships and the multitude of small negotiations required daily - where to stop to eat, how fast and how far to go, when to rest - there are many opportunities to have a falling out.  We are doing great.

Today's ride: 62 miles (100 km)
Total: 296 miles (476 km)

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Rachel and Patrick HugensHi,
Love this!
Found it researching adjusting our route from Lebanon across NH into Maine.
Racpat
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9 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Rachel and Patrick HugensBe careful biking down that pass! You don’t need to be repeating our experience.
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9 months ago