There’s a sense of freedom and control that wraps around me as I pump up my tires, don my helmet and head out and off the Portland peninsula on my bicycle. I don’t ride to race. I don’t ride in a pack. Sometimes, I ride with friends, but often it is just me and my bike.
My “go-to” ride is from my West End condo on High Street, over the bridge to South Portland, down and off the Eastern Trail through Wainwright Fields to Highland Avenue. Then left on Pleasant Hill Road, and right on Route 77 to Higgins Beach. The total trek is about eighteen miles round trip, or twenty miles if I return via Crescent Beach State Park. This ride never gets old or redundant. As I visit the ocean, I take a deep breath and feel grateful to live here with this ride at my back door!
Join a Ride with the Maine Outdoor Adventure Club!
Occasionally I’ll drive my bike to another scenic start that has been recommended through the Bicycle Coalition of Maine biking resources page or by my friends in MOAC (The Maine Outdoor Adventure Club). MOAC is a diverse outdoors club that has been around for over twenty-five years. We welcome newcomers of all ages and experience.
Volunteer members organize and lead all trips and activities from beginner to expert. MOAC members do it all, from strenuous mountain hikes, maybe as part of the MOAC Trek Across Maine Team, to casual conversational-pace bike rides along the Eastern Trail. Or try an overnight ocean kayaking paddle trip. There are camping outings to Acadia, Baxter and Maine Huts and Trails on weekends. Also, find a plethora of outdoor options such as after-work city or beach walks, or a gentle sail in Casco Bay. MOAC members post their ideas on the calendar to share with other outdoor adventurers!
Connect with Riders ‘From Away!’
Another way to connect with the outdoors and the bicycling community is to post your spare room or pull-out sofa on Warmshowers.org. The Warm Showers Community is “a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink. …a small but dedicated group of volunteers manage the site and communication with our members.”
I learned about the Warmshowers hosting site late last summer when I met long distance cyclist Rory McLeod at the Holy Donut on Exchange Street. Soon after, I listed my condo/couch on their site. So far, I’ve hosted several cyclists. There was the young couple from S. Korea (Pete and Mul-Kyeol) that rode from Vancouver to Maine with plans to ride around the world. Then John and Margaret from Michigan, who rode in on a tandem recumbent machine. And Ken McCarthy, an artist and graphic designer from Seattle who is currently living on his bike, no end in sight.
Here’s Inspiration to Bike for a Good Cause!
When I met Rory last August, he had come from the Pacific NW to dip his tire in the Atlantic Ocean before continuing to Florida and back to the west coast. Soon after he got home, he decided to keep riding and packed up his bike and headed to Ireland, then Scotland and throughout Europe. He spent this past winter in Croatia and is now in Italy with plans to ”give back” and take his bike to yet another continent, to ride Africa for a good cause!
Joining up with World Bicycle Relief, Rory will be heading to Zambia in October to help provide bikes to girls to ride to school. Rory feels this cause will be a huge help, and as he puts it, ”There’s nothing more life changing than a bicycle.”
I’m with Rory! My bike has changed my life for the good. However, since long distance touring and riding in Maine year-round isn’t conducive (for most of us), I’m planning to organize some bicycle away trips this winter and spring, when the weather and plows become a safety hazard here at home. Consider contacting me soon for a wide variety of off-season bike tours to Cuba, Portugal, Costa Rica, Greece and beyond. Please contact me for details…“Don’t delay, NOW is someday!”