Montréal to Boston
and Back,
July 11/25, 1991

Michael J. Ferguson

Les Publications INRS-Télécommunications, Montréal

Journal Index


1  Thursday, July 11, Montréal
2  Friday, July 12, Eden Mills
3  Saturday, July 13, Bradford ...  sort of
4  Sunday, July 14, Washington, NH
5  Monday, July 15, Dedham
6  Thursday, July 18, Dedham
7  Friday, July 19, Dedham
8  Saturday, July 20, York Beach
9  Sunday, July 21, Kennebunk Beach
10  Monday, July 22, North Conway
11  Tuesday, July 23, Littleton
12  Wednesday, July 24, Stanstead, Québec
13  Thursday, July 25, Brôme
14  Maps

This year the TEX User Group meeting is being held in Boston. It has come to the point that I would have to make explanations if I didn't ride my bike to Boston. That, with a masochistic desire for total exhaustion meant that I couldn't avoid it. I am using Peggy's new bike for this expedition. I broke the frame on mine two weeks ago, for the second time in three months ... I don't really trust it. I have ordered a new frame just like Peggy's. This is not really as unreasonable as it sounds. I have replaced everything on the bike other than the frame. This just completes the job. I guess it can be said that I shall have a new bike ... complete replacement after a mere 30,000 km.

I have a new toy that adds a new dimension to this trip. I have a trip computer that measures altitude - or rather air pressure converted to altitude - and accumulates it. So now I know how far I have gone and how high I have climbed. However, hills don't count unless they are over 30' high. So you have to go continuously up for at least 30' for the computer to register a climb. This means that the Mercier bridge counts ... it rises 60'.

1  Thursday, July 11, Montréal

This morning I had intended to leave by about 5:00 am. Unfortunately I was not able to ``break camp'' until 8:00 am. I was up in time, at about 4:00 am but I was unable to get my modifications of the clips that held on the front and rear paniers (saddle bags) to work. Then I had to organize all my stuff. The first trip of the year, especially with new equipment is always a problem. It took a while, but finally at about 8:00 am I was loaded and ready to go. As usual, I looked rather overloaded - perhaps I am. Neither my tent nor my sleeping bag are very compact - especially since I do not have a stuff bag any more for my sleeping bag.

So off I went. I voyaged through Ville St. Pierre and then on to Lasalle. The Mercier bridge had a new sidewalk but they were painting the bridge. In places, the debris on the sidewalk enforced walking. I had hoped that the sidewalk would go all the down to the end of the on ramp, but that was indeed was wishful thinking. Although the route through St. Catherine looked most interesting, I decided to go straight south on 207 from Kahnawake, through Indian territory. Unlike Kanesatake, golf courses seem to allowed here. There are at least five, each with named on variations of Kahnawake - if you are willing to include ``Mohawk Hills'' too. The road from Kahnawake to St. Remi is straight as an arrow and dull, except for the for the discount gas, sold only on weekends.

From St. Remi I entered a new region, continuing on 221 - the highway changed number as soon as it left Indian territory. At St. Edouard, I went along Rue Principale to Montée Doris and then along Rang des Sloans. I was using a detailed map of Montérégie that actually named the streets/roads. Much to my surprise, the street names were actually on the corners. These really back roads were much more fun than the main roads such as Highway 221. I successfully intercepted Rang Ste. Marguerite and continued on to Napierville. The bridge over Autoroute 15 was the highest thing I had seen since the Mercier Bridge. From Napierville I continued on back roads, avoiding Lacolle, but not the Blockhaus de Lacolle - I didn't stop. I crossed the Richelieu on 202 from Cantic to Noyon. The only other place to cross is at St. Jean sur Richelieu, 30 km to the north.

Continuing on 202, still rather flat, we hit Clarenceville. Clarenceville appears to have institutionalized the two solitudes. The cemetery is on both sides of the highway. It appears that the Macleans and the other Scotch and British are on one side and the Gagnons and their friends are on the other.

From there it is a straight shot to Venise en Québec, hugging the Baie de Venise on Lake Champlain. It was as tacky a ``beach'' town as I have seen any where. However it was noon and I was hungry. I had as old fashioned a hamburger here as I have had any where. The beef had that kind of taste.

From there I continued on to Pike River. This is a quite delightful town with the French name of St. Pierre en Veronne. It reminds me of Rath Luric and its English name Charleville in Ireland. After Bedford, I took Chemin Victoria towards Pigeon Hill ... or so I thought. Here my map failed me. I missed the Pigeon Hill road and continued on to Frelighsburg instead. It was sort of fun though because I passed the Anglican church there and saw the name of an old friend from St. Thomas, the Rev. Mary Gibson. I continued on the 3 km to the border - filled my water bottles and then into Vermont.

Quebec is not entirely flat. By the time I hit the Vermont border, I had climbed 1300 feet of hills. The weather so far has been exemplary. I saw a huge thunder storm in the east - was dribbled upon, but arrived at the border to find wet ground but no rain.

From the border station, I continued south to East Franklin - a small town with few services, and then on to Montgomery Center. My state map of Vermont, does not show campgrounds. Montgomery Center is the ``big'' town. Montgomery was the small one. It was now 5:45 and I still did not have any idea where I was going to camp. I have grown soft in my old age and have trouble sleeping with my own stench. I do really like to have a shower before I go to sleep.

I wonder if people are so friendly because I ride a bike or because I carry such a tremendous load. A old man stopped me as I was leaving the IGA and said in astonishment that he had never seen a bike so loaded. I asked if he knew where there were maps of campgrounds ... or failing that, a campground. He said he had no idea but his friend, who was just coming out of the store might. He put some force into my request by showing off my load. He said that there were none in the vicinity but that there was one on the other side of Hazen's Notch ... a mere 1000 foot climb, and in the wrong direction. he did say that there was one at Eden, 15 miles down the road. It was actually at Eden Mills, but that was only 2 miles out of my way. I started up to Eden, aiming to stop at a picnic area about 5 miles away and possibly camp if my energy ran out. At that point I had gone 93 miles and climbed 1800 feet. The road was up, but not devastatingly so. I was serenaded by birds all the way, and in the shadow of high trees. The picnic area was pleasant but did not have any place for secluded camping. I decided to continue up. At about 8:15 I arrived in Eden. Not being too trusting of maps and directions, I asked a kid who had just put $2.15 worth of gas in his car, if there were a campground up the road. He said yes, and that it wasn't far, only about 5 miles. I groaned in disbelief. I said that if that were the case, I would die. My map only showed 1 mile to Eden Mills and the campground was just beyond. He said of himself, ``What do I know''. But he was right about the hill. It was all the way up for about 2 miles. All said the day was 110 miles long and 2600 feet up. It was semi-dark as I put up the tent but I did have my shower. The Lakeview Campground charged only $2.00 for the night, along with 25 cents for the showers. Perhaps the reason that there are so few camp grounds in Vermont.

2  Friday, July 12, Eden Mills

The dew was very heavy last night, soaking the tent and the sheepskin on the bike that I foolishly forgot to cover. I must have been tired last night. I didn't wake up until just after dawn, at about 5:15 am. It took me my customary one and half hours to break camp. It is nice to start out going downhill.

I am still looking for maps with private campgrounds marked on them. The gas station/general store at the top of the hill in Eden had no maps. In fact, most of the stations do not have maps. Is the profit margin too low? From Eden it was down through rolling country to 550 feet and back up to 1300 feet at Elmore lake and mountain. They claim to be the prettiest place in Vermont. Perhaps it really is.

Its down again to 550 feet in Montpelier. Montpelier and Barre list themselves as twin cities. It looks as though there was a concerted to keep the charm in the state capital Montpelier and put the services in Barre. Whether Barre wanted the shopping centers and large hardware stores or were forced was not at all obvious..

From Barre, it was 1200 feet up, to a top of about 1700 feet, on US302 in a distance of 10 miles. It really felt tougher than that. I stopped part way up to have some potato chips and to cool my feet in a stream. The road turned up to West Topsham where I enraged 4 dogs into snarling fits because I pushed the wrong gearshift lever and came to a stop. The lone cat, though, viewed me with complete composure, not making a sound.

Down 1300 feet to Bradford was a welcome relief, and it was almost completely down. The area was really ``Vert mont'' - green mountain hills.

At about 5:30, just south of Bradford on US5, I found a campground. It was not on any map I had seen. Although it was early, I thought it was prudent to stop. I had no idea whether there would be anything near this. Tomorrow I would discover a campground 30 miles away, well beyond my range for today. Today has been 80 mi and 2900 feet of hill climbing.

There was only one other group in the campground. They had been travelling around the country for a year, had gathered musical instruments from all over and started to play. They offered me a five string banjo but I declined. Father and daughter played guitars while the son played the fiddle. I was disappointed when they quit.

3  Saturday, July 13, Bradford ... sort of

This morning I woke up at first light. We are only at about 450 feet now and the dew was very light. Its nice not to have a totally soaked tent and stuff. I will continue down US 5 this morning. It is overcast. My sunburn will get a respite. Indeed it did.

Breakfast was at the Fairley Diner. They open for breakfast at 5:30 ... full of woods workers getting ready for the day. My neighbour spent the time over his coffee ... he said that a full breakfast ruined him for the day ... complaining about some salt fish that he had been forced to eat when visiting relatives in Boston - so salty you couldn't even get started. Breakfast was substantial but not too exciting.

After about five minutes on the road I stopped to stare at a pond and to fix the seat the bike. I put my seat on Peg's bike and the shaft is slightly to thin. I have to almost shear a bolt to get it tight enough. It was starting to rain so I moved down the road under a tree and worked. After about fifteen minutes of struggle, I tightened it again only to find the drops had changed to real rain. It stayed that way all day. I put on my rain gear and set off. At first it was quite pleasant with the rain gently washing everything. Although my pants and jacket do keep the rain out, my propensity to sweat ensures that I do not keep dry. Fortunately it was quite warm so that the wetness was not too destructive.

I saw a sign that said ``Hanover - 1 mile''. At that point US 5 to White River Junction started up a hill. I had no real desire to see White River junction, and expected to be able to continue along on US 5 if I wanted to. Such was not the case. I crossed the river and discovered that the home of Dartmouth made it very difficult to get into town for bicyclists. The entry was a hill with a very steep pitch. Not too high but intimidating just the same. I stood up on my pedals and climbed - part way and stopped to rest. Then again and to the top. Perhaps it is not such a problem on an empty bike. Hanover looks like a delightful place. I wonder if there is anything other than Dartmouth.

I have now gone about 20 miles and not seen any campground. Perhaps quitting early last night was correct. In fact I did not see any campground until I had gone about 35 miles and that was after making a wrong turn. It is not at all obvious that I would have ever found one.

I turned down NH 10 to West Lebanon, hoping to continue along the river on 12a. I don't know where I missed it but found out when I stopped at the ``Information Bookstore'' that specialized in special types of ``how to'' and ``what'' books. The lady was very disappointed that she did not have any information on private campgrounds in New Hampshire. It was here that I discovered that I was going towards Lebanon rather than down the river. She suggested that the Lebanon Information Office, just under the bandstand might have it, if it were open. Not open on Saturday afternoon - how could that be possible? Apparently it was staffed by Senior Citizens, and indeed it was not open. Other than the rain and the lack of information, it looks like a quite a pleasant village green.

Since I couldn't be sure of a private campground, I decided to aim for either Greenfield State Park or, failing that, the closer Pillsbury State Park. I continued out US 4 towards Enfield and Concord, past a very nice Colonial facade ... and a few wrecks. I turned down at 4A to Enfield Center, hoping that this was the big town in the same manner as Montgomery Center in Vermont. I stopped at my first campground since last night on the upper end of Mascoma Lake to ask if they had a list of private campgrounds. They had not yet got in their supply and, although they indicated that New Hampshire had a lot of campgrounds, they did not know if there would be any on my route. When I asked about showers in the state parks, they said they thought yes, but they did know of a private campground near Greenfield State Park. I didn't know at the time how impossible that would be.

Just below Mascoma lake is the Shaker village, established, so they said, in the 1600s. There is little of that visible from the road. Now it is an ``upscale'' subdivision, with a number of high class hotels and restaurants. It has that typical, This place is so clean and historical, it must be good place to stop or invest. I chose not to.

I did discover, as I was instantly through Enfield Center that its only commercial establishment was a General Store. I asked about a restaurant and was directed 2 miles back to the Shaker Village. I decided to indulge in potato chips and salami sticks on the front porch instead. While I sat, a continuous stream of cars came, their people shopped, and left. I think I saw the entire population of Enfield Center in an hour.

My route was to take me south and then up a small road to Springfield. I just saw a tiny orange spotted salamander trying to cross the wet road. It was unmoving and so lethargic that it let me pick it up and throw it onto the bank. When I went back a couple of minutes later, after my water break, it was actually running into the grass. As I went on, I saw that several dozen of his cousins had not been so fortunate. In couple of minutes, a tiny frog jumped out of the way of my front tire. Others had been less agile.

Five miles later I found a road in approximately the right place with absolutely no signs, and a huge hill. As I was puzzling, two kids in a pickup truck came. They confirmed that this was the correct road, and offered me a ride. It was raining, the cab was small, and my bike was too heavy to lift, without unpacking, into the truck. I said ``No thanks'' and pushed up the hill. It was up for about one mile, with the villages of Springfield and West Springfield at the top. They were just slightly more commercial than Enfield Center, but not much. At West Springfield, I decided to continue on towards Grantham rather than to go towards Sunapee. The first way looked down while the second appeared to go along a ridge line. It was, thankfully, down.

Grantham, on NH 10, looked quite prosperous but without any restaurants in the direction I was going. I would have preferred to have taken NH 10 right out of Lebanon but it merged with I-89 and I was not allowed. In Alabama when they did this, I was allowed to go on.

Ten miles later I was in Newport. I did not see any body of water. I wonder where the port was. The people of Newport are either very determined or silly. Going into town, I saw a baseball game, in pouring rain, with the scorers under a small canopy, and leaving town, still in pouring rain, a foursome was looking for a lost ball. What ever happened to rain delay? Newport did live up to its big type on the map. I stopped at the Village Inn Pizza and had a wonderful body filling thick crust pizza with beer. One lady was so enchanted with the Salad Dressing that she asked for the recipe - it wasn't written down, but was recited instead by the responsable.

At this point it was obvious that Pillsbury was the target. It was five miles to Goshen, and then apparently another 3 or 4 miles to the park. I passed a couple of rather depressing ``Gypsy Camp'' type campgrounds on the way to Goshen.

At Goshen, I found NH 31 south and started up, very up, Mountain Road. A short pitch near the beginning appeared to be almost twenty degrees. This was an incredible workout, especially with my load. It turned out to be a 1400 foot rise in about 2 miles. It was pretty, wet, and I was almost too exhausted to see. At Pillsbury, I was greeted with the fact that there were no showers, but that there was a private campground, Highland Glenn, about 1.7 miles off the road at Washington, five miles away. I had absolutely no inclination to continue but did ... the thought of putting up the tent in the pouring rain and no hot water of any kind was too much. The barn full of bats where I could dry out didn't excite me much either. So off I went into the rain.

It was now just after 7:00 pm. The hill had really done me in. It was almost 8:00 pm when I reached Washington, found the dirt road into the camp, and was dismayed to find that it was 1.7 miles of some of the steepest hills I had seen so far. This was not good for the spirit. It had stopped raining though.

It was almost 8:45 when I reached the camp and starting to be really dark. There was room, the people were very friendly, said it was all downhill to Boston, and the old man said he hoped I wouldn't have any flat tires, His wife admonished him for the curse.

It was almost completely dark as I walked up the hill to my site, but it was not raining. I was able to put the tent up in relative comfort. It was quite dark when I finished. As I was getting undressed, I heard the drops of rain again on the tent. I was too exhausted to trudge through the rain to have a shower. So much for great plans and requirements.

4  Sunday, July 14, Washington, NH

The old man claimed that the weather would break ... and it has. This morning it is actually sunny. I didn't discover it though until about 5:45 because of the shadow of the trees, and the wind dropping residual drops on the tent.

I am late leaving this morning. The new front ``low riders'' for holding my front saddle bags are not very strong and are rubbing the wheel. I took them completely apart discovered that I could make the top bar over the wheel symmetric only if I carefully misadjusted it on the sides. It still will not carry much weight.

At 8:30 I start down the hill. The Killer hill does not seem to be so steep this morning. I do love to start out on a sunny crisp morning going down hill. For the most part it is downhill but I do see a series of ridge lines in front of me. I find it hard to believe that I can thread my way around them without going up.

My map shows a NH 31 turning into a gravel road with a small branch going over to US 202. I am sure that gravel road goes right up the ridge.

I seem to have missed Antrim Center and now am in Antrim village on US 202. New Hampshire towns have the annoying habit of not having name signs at their edge. I discovered this was Antrim because some of the merchants are sufficiently proud of their town that they said where they were in their store signs. It is about 10:00 am and a real breakfast would be very nice now. In Antrim, everybody seems to gather at the ``Four Seasons Studio Restaurant'' for breakfast. The waitress knows everybody, but me, by name. She says that after eight years she should. I have the ``Sir Lille'' breakfast of 2 eggs, bacon, ham and sausage, 3 slices of french toast, and maple syrup. I would hope, but don't expect that the maple syrup would be real. Unfortunately it was ersatz. Although I should like to stay for a while, the tables are in short supply so it would not be fair. One family group of about nine has taken 3 of their 7 tables, and now one table is completely devoid of chairs. It's time to go out into the sun.

I coast down the steep hill out of Antrim and soon find that as I had suspected, the down would not continue forever. Just as I start a rise on 202, I see a sign for Old 202. New 202 has a wide bank and a long up slope. I suspect Old 202 is much more so. Three or four ridges later, I enter Peterborough. It has not been flat and down. This is a nice well kept town. It seems to me that it is the home of some large high tech company but I don't remember which. I see no evidence of its existence.

There is a small picnic area on a shallow lake just south of town which is quite popular today. The table beside me was occupied, when I arrived by a Retired Army - at least that's what the front license plate on their 4x4 said - couple. A young family with two kids waited at another table until this one, their favourite, was empty. Now the little girl is showing her stability and courage by walking on the top of the fence rail.

Now I start up hill and over another ridge towards Jaffrey. At Jaffrey I have the choice of a the smaller NH 124 or going the 4 miles on US 202 to the more main route 119. I ask a couple in a car about both roads and they say that they are both quite hilly. Both seem to go the same direction as the ridges. I opt for the smaller road and start up. It is quiet, tree shaded, quite pleasant and very hilly. So much for it being all downhill to the sea. I am now as high again as I was this morning when I started. It continues this way right up to the Mass. border and down, to about 450 feet at Townsend where I join the main route, now MA 119.

** The little girls just north of Townsend are not selling lemonade, unfortunately, but rather zucchinis for 10 cents each. I can't drink a zucchini.

I sort of expected that when I reached Massachusetts that it would be flat. I am still relatively high and it is rolling ridges. By the time the day is over, I will have accumulated 3000 feet of up on my pure downhill ride to the sea. Never believe people who drive cars.

By the time I reach I-495, I have gone about 75 miles. I grossly underestimated the distance. I thought there was about 10 miles more at that point. The couple in the square in Littleton Common said it was about 20 miles. Ten miles later, another guy on bicycle estimated that I still had 40 miles more to go.

He asked me where I was going and how I was getting there. I said I wasn't sure but that I would take the South Great Road to Waltham and then thread my way, with the help of my detailed map to Dedham. He said that I should go via Wellesley instead. I took a look again at my regional map and found a series of small streets that did seem to go directly to Dedham. I had ignored these small streets before. I threaded my way through Weston, Wellesley, and Needham on Conant, School, Ash, Oak, Cliff, Abbott, Forest, Neihoiden, and Dedham Avenues into Dedham. This was a beautiful ride through very rich neighbourhood suburbs of Boston. The only problem was that I was running out of water. The firefighters at the fire station just north of Wellesley were very friendly and I filled all my bottles from their water fountain, drinking about a litre in the process. When I told them I had gone about 350 miles at that point, one of them that was about right. He asked where I lived in Montréal. He didn't know NDG but did know Old Montréal and the Lachine Rapids where he took his tour groups. It was about 8:00 pm now and his estimate was about another 45 minutes to Dedham. He was right. I arrived there at about 8:45 as it was getting dark.

At the Weston Reservoir I was told that the Dedham Hilton was at the intersection of Routes 1 and 128. Since I couldn't go on either with my bike, I went down Washington, one block west of Route 1. When I reached 128 without seeing any sign of the Hilton, I knew I was in trouble. There was a Holiday Inn there so I went in the parking lot to ask how to get to the Hilton by bicycle. No one knew how. They all went on Route 128. My mobility has been seriously compromised by a sudden flat tire. It was now totally dark. I replaced the rear tube with the new one I carried because I couldn't see where the hole was. The tire had a tiny broken pin sticking into it. I removed it, put the wheel back on and decided to stay the night in the Holiday Inn. I will look for the Hilton in the morning. Still no one knew how to ride a bike there.

This Holiday Inn had a laundry room so I washed my semi-rancid wet clothes from yesterday and fixed the supports on my front saddle bags that had broken in the parking lot while I was fixing my tire.

5  Monday, July 15, Dedham

This morning I found the Hilton. The address was in the phone book and I found it on my map. The hotel is full. I am now staying in a Comfort Inn that is slightly closer to the Hilton than the Holiday Inn.

It is still a beautiful day. The trip from Montréal was 373 miles and 12,100 feet of up. I am a little tired.

6  Thursday, July 18, Dedham

This morning I locked myself out of my room sufficiently well that the good folks at the Comfort Inn had to break down the door to get in. The key would turn the cylinder but the bolt would not move. I left the room at about 5:00 am to go outside to toast my English muffins for breakfast. I thought it indiscreet to activate the fire alarm by doing it in the room. The ``technical'' help did not come in until 6:00am. When I finally got into the room, I found that the inside handle would not move the bolt either. I am not certain what would have been more disconcerting, in or out. I believe they are incorrectly named. They should be the Comfort Out.

This afternoon I had made arrangements to ride with Kees van der Laan to Brookline through parkland, or so he claimed. He had been riding down to Dedham each day. I was going to continue north towards Maine after I left him. By 6:30, he had found more interesting company so I ended up going to dinner with Roswitha Graham and Nelson Beebe.

I stayed tonight again in the Comfort Inn, uneventfully.

7  Friday, July 19, Dedham

I was able to break camp at about 6:00am. I must try to get new pedals and fix the trip computer. I expect the pedals to be easy but not the trip computer. The computer has been acting up ever since I arrived in Boston.

My map says that I can go all the way up Washington to Mass. Ave, and then from there, across the bridge to Cambridge.

For some reason, I am on South Street and now Central Street in Jamaica Plains. After a while I believe that Boston is not indulging in the random name changes, and that I am off the intended route. I found myself on the map. I think my old map led me astray through an intersection near Franklin Park.

As I was looking, a middle aged black asked me how I was doing. I decided to answer with the social ``Ok''. He quickly answered that if I weren't ok, I should say so. He said he was not ok. He wanted to keep his family together so he was about to enter the hospital for detox. I wished him luck. He replied ``God bless you''. I do hope that it is successful.

I continued down Central until it hit Columbus and then on to Mass. Ave. I am just as happy that I didn't travel this way at night. Mass. Ave looked quite prosperous - a marked contrast to some of the other streets I had just been over. After, the Harvard Bridge, I went through the center of MIT, looking rather quiet at 8:00 am. I also passed the ``Bike Works''. It didn't open until 10:00am.

From there I wended my way north, walking over the Mystic River Bridge until I found Route 1A. In Revere, I found my first open Bicycle Shop and replaced my pedals. They had no idea what was wrong with my trip computer. In Ipswich I tried again with no luck, but he suggested a place in Newburyport or ``Gus's Bicycle Shop'' in Hampton. The back country here is quite pretty and wooded, with occasional stretches of ocean and marinas.

I stopped in Newbury's combination town triangle and Civil War Memorial. It appears that there are four graves of veterans of the GAR1 in a square around the memorial. It took me a while to figure out that the A was for Army and not American. I continued on to Newburyport and over to the shopping center complex on 113 near I-95. The bicycle shop there did not have the mounting kit that I thought I needed. They also recommended Gus's.

Unfortunately Gus is on Route 1 rather than 1A in New Hampshire. I guess I shall have to go up this inferior inland route. I am told that Gus is just below Route 111 in New Hampshire. My map does not show a Route 111.

It turned out that Gus was not in Hampton but rather North Hampton, and that 111 and 101D are the same thing. I wonder if this is an old map problem again. It is obvious as I step in the door that this is a serious bike shop. There are a number of customers, and they have about 3 bikes up that they are fixing. Gus has the mounting kit and some experience dealing with the Avocet Altitude 50. He tries my main unit on one of his bikes and it seems to function OK. He then put a new mounting kit on my bike but my unit seemed to still misbehave. Then he put the new sensor unit on the wheel but it still didn't fix it. His unit on my bike worked fine. It then appeared that the main computer was defective. He asked if I were going home - I said yes, but that I needed the unit functioning now during the last 400 miles of my trip. He asked me questions about how it was malfunctioning. I then reprogrammed a new one to see how it worked on my bike. It appeared to work perfectly. Apparently my main unit was defective. He was very nice and said he would warranty it, and send it back to Avocet. He only charged me $12.50 for the mounting kit plus labour. He was an absolutely wonderful guy. The new computer seems to be function perfectly 50 miles later.

It was 6:00pm when I left Gus to continue on towards Maine. I hoped to camp at one of the state parks on 1A that ran along the ocean. It was a beautiful, rocky, sea smell ride with the sun at my bike but there were no private campgrounds and the State Parks did not allow camping. It appears that the only accessible campgrounds are in the Yorks in Maine, about 25 miles away.

** The coast along here is populated by Greater Black-backed Gulls, Cormorants, and Whale Watchers.

I continue on to Portsmouth, arriving there at about 8:00pm with the Yorks at least 7 more miles away. The clouds have caused the sun to appear darker than normal. Again I walk across the bridge, enjoying the riding respite and the boats anchored in the almost still water.

A kid who works on the bridge, which opened just as I got to the lifting part suggests that I stay on Route 1 to York Beach because the alternative, 103 is hilly and it is late. He says he avoids Route 1 because of the 1.5 miles of shopping centers where ``People drive crazy''. The 1.5 miles were wall to wall Factory Outlets with no grocery store to be seen. I wonder why they are here. Maybe it was the wrong time of day but the drivers were not too bad.

When I arrived in York, it was almost dark and when I finished buying ice it was completely dark. It was still about 3 or 4 miles to York Harbour. The map shows 5 campgrounds in the area. The first said NO TENTS, the second said No Vacancies, and I couldn't even see an office to plead for a small place. Then there was a flash of lightning. A few minutes later the rain emptied the beaches. A few minutes later it stopped. York Beach has motel, stuff shop, restaurant one after another ... all brightly lit and open at this 9:30pm inspection ride.

I stop at the first campground on the other side of York Beach to discover ``We don't do tents''. They also didn't think anyone else did either. With this pessimism in mind I stopped at Mrs. Bennett's B&B. She had a single, or rather a room with a double bed on the third floor. At my reluctance, based partially on the thought of hauling my stuff up two flights of stairs, she offered to phone Mrs. Gerald at the York Beach Campground. After several wrong numbers, we got her, found out she was full, but, upon hearing my plight, and the fact that I was unconcerned about having a picnic table, agreed to find a place. I arrived about 15 minutes later, found her, and she put me up in the screened gazebo lounging area. I didn't even need to put up my tent. I had my shower and went to bed.

8  Saturday, July 20, York Beach

I had a visitor last night. At about 2:30am I heard some scraping noises on the floor. A little skunk had snuck under the edge of the gazebo and was trying to haul away my food bag. I shouted ``No!'' and it scurried into the night.

I put everything together by about 6:15am and leave. I am not the first. Two other groups have already gone. Last night Mrs. Gerald said I must see the Marginal Walk near Perkins Cove. The shore ride to Ogunquit was cool, scenic, and oceany. At 6:45am, the parking lot just outside of Perkins Cove was manned and by 7:00am as I was leaving the Cove was noticeably occupied. The Cove seems to be a Deep Sea Fishing center with boats anxious to be filled and leave.

Breakfast was French Toast stuffed with raspberry jam and cream cheese. ``Stuffing'', at the Shore Cafe in Ogunquit, is really a sandwich, but it was quite good - not too much energy for a morning such as this.

Almost immediately I am back on Route 1. I had intended to continue along the shore to Wells Beach but missed Square Ave. I continue on towards Kennebunk Beach and find that the Bélangers are still in bed. Other Clarks are up though.

Florence Clark, Peggy (Clark) Bélanger's mother has never seen the Clarke coat-of-arms that I found for them in Ireland. Neither has any of the Clarks. It is a nice surprise.

9  Sunday, July 21, Kennebunk Beach

There has been a minor two family crisis at the Bélangers here. A family of barn swallows, almost full grown, set up home in the eaves of the porch. They tend to make a rather large mess of the floor near there nest, not worrying if they disturb their landlords with their pooping. On Friday, Mrs. Clark took down their nest, hoping to encourage them to go elsewhere. Mom, Dad, and the three kids came back and were rather perturbed to find their home missing. Now they make the best of the situation by perching, en famille, on the power cord leading to the porch lamp. We put the nest back, slightly reduced in size but they ignored it. It is a wonder that there was room in such a small nest for three hungry youngsters. The babies fly quite well but evidently lack some hunting skills. One grabbed a meal from mom as I watched. I think they will be quite happy on their wire until they become confident enough to leave. I am not as all certain that Mrs. Clark will be as happy with their continual indiscretions.

This morning I am able to organize and leave quite early, about 6:00am. The barn swallows have gone out to hunt and improve their skills. The shore and ocean is covered with a soft haze and the sun is still struggling to push through. The beaches are busy with joggers, fisher folk, and the occasional herring gull standing sentinel duty. Kennebunk covers much more area than I thought. It is about eight miles across and boasts such features as the Wedding Cake House and Kennebunk High School.

Stan makes a hearty and friendly breakfast in Goodwins Mills. He recharged my thermos with ice and even had a clamp that I needed to reinforce the rear saddle bag support.

This part of Maine is gently rolling countryside, with the occasional lake like Ossipee to cool drench down. The ridges start in earnest just south of Limerick, about 33 miles from the beach. Limerick is much smaller than its namesake but does have, in this direction, a nice cooling hill into town. I decided leave Limerick on Maine 160 instead of continuing on Maine 5. It doesn't look any farther and there is less mountain brown. It also goes through Kezar Falls where there might be a decent grocery store.

There might not have been much mountain brown on the map but the road wound up and down on ridge lines - much prettier than I remember Route 5 - but in one place doubling the original height of Limerick. This area of Maine has many tiny lakes wedge between ridges. I spied one from way down in the valley and hoped that the road would get close enough for a nice picnic lunch. No such luck. I continued through the woods - up and down - to Kezar Falls.

Kezar Falls has a Goodwin Market. The Goodwin family are obviously ``men of standing'' in this part of the world. I stocked up on lunch stuff and, I regretted later, forgot to get my morning English Muffins. I am still looking for a lunch spot and water. I am able to fill my bottles at an outside tap on the wall of Kezar's health center. I still am unable to find a place that is decent for a picnic lunch. The first lake I reach is full of boats, skiers, and privately inaccessible from the road. About 4 miles up the road there was a little, shallow, uninhabited lake that could be reached by dropping down a small bank. I had lunch by the lake with purple water hyacinths, a foot long trout lazily swimming by, and a small turtle who occasionally surfaced to examine the situation. While I was eating a couple in pickup with their two dogs drove slowly above me. I guess I was in a favourite spot.

It was pleasantly hilly all the way to East Brownfield. The bike has been wobbling strangely. Ugh! The back tire is soft. There is no gas station here. Perhaps there is one in Brownfield where Maine 160 meets 5. There is, and I examine and take off the rear wheel. There is another wire in the tire. I am beginning to think I ran over a wire brush in Dedham. I fix this hole, put it back together and find another tiny wire in the tire.

The road is flat to Fryeburg - but the rear tire has gone soft again. This time when I take it apart, I find another tiny hole and a wire, invisible from the outside, inside the tire.

Now along US302 to North Conway. I have driven along here many times but not really seen it. The White mountains stand ominously high to the north. As I am slowly? going up one of the long hills, I am quickly passed by another, very lightly loaded touring bicyclist.

Much to my dismay, when I reach North Conway, the rear tire is soft again. This time I thought that I had not put enough air in it in Fryeburg so I decide to blow it up some more. The tire explodes! It has ripped at the rim. The Conoco station that contributed to the explosion has nothing to repair it, and it is now 6:05 - almost everything in town closes at 6:00. The Stop-n-Shop in the Mountain Mall has some electrical tape that might work as a temporary repair. It doesn't. As I blow up the tire by hand, it pulls apart at the rim. I load the bike anyway and start walking over to the huge Motel right by the mall. Up the road, I see a more modest one, and then on my left, I notice the Saco River Campground. They say they are full but perhaps they can find a place for the tent of a equipment failed bicyclist. They put me up in their Picnic area, complete with picnic table and a large maple to protect me from the dew. The shower was wonderfully refreshing.

10  Monday, July 22, North Conway

I woke up to a low mist covering the playing field and campground. As I was making coffee, the chipping sparrows were boldly running on the ground by my feet looking for grubs. One of them came less than 18 inches from my foot as I was drinking my coffee. Now as I write, one came and perched momentarily on my leg.

Soon I shall look for a complete breakfast and then a new tire when the stores open at the indecently late hour of 9:00am.

I found breakfast at McDonald's, half way up the strip. They were nice enough to give some ice water for the rest of the expedition. I walked 2 miles up and back. If you want clothes, this seems like a good place to stop. However, for sheer variety and size, it pales beside the complex in Kittery Maine. Only L.L.Bean seems to be just here.

At 9:05, I found my tire and tubes in the Ames just beside the campground. There was no price marked on any of the four they had in stock. Fifteen minutes later, after searching their microfiche, they discovered that it cost $10.99.

This tire was a little taller than the one it replaced and was rubbing the fender. In fact it took me about six hours before I discovered that the strange rubbing noise I was hearing was caused by little rubber feathers. I also have apparently bent the wheel sufficiently that it either rubs on the frame or the chain. Finally, in this litany of new equipment breakdown, I think I have destroyed the pedal crank bearings.

** North Conway has dropped approximately 200 feet in altitude over night.

The climb up from North Conway to Bartlett was much gentler than I thought. It is a beautiful day and much less humid than yesterday. Like yesterday, I am searching for a nice place to have lunch and adjust the rear wheel. I finally find a picnic table in the shade - in the empty parking lot of the I-Cugno restaurant. They don't open until 5:30pm.

The map shows the Notch where the Appalachian trail crosses the road. Beyond this is the state park. This is not the top of the Notch. That is about five miles up the road and up another four to five hundred feet. I would have been very upset staying in the park to find that it was not really downhill from there.

Willeys historical site and snack bar are three miles up the road. The mountains here and up to the summit are about 2300 feet above the valley, a long high ridge on both sides of the road. I have driven this often but have never really seen it. It was magnificent.

The road from Willeys to the summit rises rather steeply ... a real workout. Two false alarms later, I reach the top. At the top, a nice couple shout ``Great hill, good ride!''.

The girl in the Appalachian Mountain Club information booth says the altitude is 1900 feet. My altimeter says 1720. I guess the whole eastern coast has dropped 180 feet. Instead of being a alarmist, I readjust my altimeter.

The road down on the north towards Bretton Woods is positively gentle compared to the other side ...  but it is down. I have always thought the valley at Bretton Woods was pretty, with the grand old Mount Washington Hotel sitting in the middle. In its time, 57 trains a day brought people to stay. Now all the rail crossings are Exempt with weeds growing between the ties.

** The Mount Washington Hotel at Bretton Woods now features Stickneys Restaurant - sadness.

Now the down starts to be punctuated by noticeable ups.

It is rolling ridge line all the way to Littleton. I arrive at about 7:00pm, see a Pizza Place, but decide that to stop for dinner means that I will not make any place to stay before dark.

At the Maple Leaf Motel, on NH18 towards St. Johnsbury, I get, what will be confusing directions, to the Crazy Horse Campground. At my fourth crossing of I-95 today, I am confused, turn around, and see a Camping sign that was only visible from the opposite direction. A little while later, and after a very steep downhill that I will certainly pay for in the morning, I find the place to pitch my tent and shower.

11  Tuesday, July 23, Littleton

Today started with, not a few gentle drops but pouring rain. In fact it has rained most of the night. At the moment I am staring out my open door at some brown-eyed susans that are so big they almost look like wild sunflowers. After an hour of rain after sunset, it looks as though it might have abated. Oops, the tree just dumped a bucket of water on the tent. I still have some more repairs to do on my bike. Maybe the rain will stop for a while. It did stop, and I was able to repair.

Vermont and New Hampshire are separated here by Moore Lake and river, courtesy of New England Power. Both sides of the lake have high ridge lines. I am now sitting on the Vermont side. I think I have reached the top of this one, about 200 feet higher than I ever was this morning in New Hampshire. To the north is an even higher one than this - around or over.

** NH/VT18 parallel I-93. I have just gone up about 600 feet from the lake. Funny you don't notice it on the Interstate.

It was mostly downhill to St. Johnsbury ... an instant 700 feet. St. Johnsbury seems to be a rather sleepy town. I didn't go out and up US2 but went up US5 instead. Perhaps I didn't really see the centre of town.

I have been looking for a new Vermont map since the rain destroyed the last one. I found a bicycle map of Vermont in the largest and most complete Hallmark store I have ever seen. This one was in the Green Mountain Mall in St. Johnsbury Center.

Since the Pizza Hut in St. Johnsbury was Opening Soon, I ended up in Lyndonville looking for some place to have my picnic. The Hi Boy claimed to have pan pizza. They did, and I also had a salad. I wonder if it is salads or a lack of milk that have made my finger nails too weak to flip up the scissors in my Swiss Army knife.

From Lyndonville, it is up US5 through humid hills to West Burke. Burke Mountain shows the scars of ski runs. From this distance, about 8? miles, it looks like an interesting hill. A day touring couple from Boston, based at Burke mountain tell me that 5A to Westmore is a moderate climb, and then easy by the lake. On the way up, I am passed by another group of about 8. These day tourists are from Ohio, and are currently circling from Island Pond. A second pair of old gentlemen, also obviously day tourists, have just passed. Sometimes I go so slowly up hills that I am overtaken by mosquitoes.

The top of the climb is Lake Willoughby, flanked by 2751 foot Mount Pisgah on the east and unnamed, at least for me, 2400? foot ridge on the west. It is a dark clear 6 mile lake bounded by wooded cliffs on the east and west. As I write this by the lake, I have been passed by a man and lady on a tandem, and just now by a man who looks as though he is out commuting.

The beach at the north end of the lake is crowded and shows off both the mountain and the ridge at the far end of the lake. The hill up is stiff but not too long. I stop for some ice water ... an indulgence on this trip made possible by my new thermos, admire the view, and a family walking up the hill, all except a ten year old who was riding his bike up with a five year old sitting on the handle bar.

North of West Charleston, at the head of Pensioners Pond, the country gets very much gentler ... except for a very stiff little hill leading into Derby Center. My new book says there is a campground between Derby Center and Derby Line on US5.

I am now in Derby Line and have seen no campground. It must have been south rather than north. The American Immigration building is surrounded on both sides by buildings with no obvious exact location of the border. The same is true of the Canadian Customs, just down the road. As I was explaining my expedition, a kid with a pack of cigarettes and a gallon of milk waves them in front of the customs official and walks through.

My Estrie map shows a Campground about 4km up 143. It is Lac Frontière camping - very pleasant and I have supper, set up the tent and check in with Peggy and Virginia. I am about 15km from Peggy's camp - I think.

12  Wednesday, July 24, Stanstead, Québec

It is a beautiful morning, dry and sunny. It has not gotten too hot yet. I am writing now, both to get it done and so that I won't arrive too early at camp. I want too see Peggy and to deliver her German text books.

I needn't have worried about arriving too soon. I took the back roads, which are almost entirely unpaved and go straight up the sides of the hills. It is very hilly. I can't even speed down the hills. The ruts could be fatal. The corn here looks much healthier than what I have seen in Vermont. The only paved road on the trip is that going to Fitch Bay. It is positively gentle. From the south you get a much better look at Lac Lovering, Peggy's new lake. By the time I get to Wilvaken, I have gone 12 miles and gone 1100 feet uphill. I am slightly exhausted ... if the combination is really possible.

It is about 8:45 and breakfast is just finishing. Peggy finally comes out, looking exhausted, sits on my lap, and starts crying, tears of joy, I hope. She says I picked a bad day. This is the last/first day of the session and they are in the kitchen all morning getting ready for the final hamburger feast. Tomorrow would have been worse. It is her day off. I say goodbye to her while she is working in the kitchen. It is now about 10:00am.

I talked a little to Blake Ferger about his apparent dismay. He has found out a hard reality of the theatre while at Williams and wondering if he can fall back on this, his first love.

The crank bearings are making unbearable noises and I am even beginning to feel the vibration. Given the time and distance, there is no chance of getting home tonight. I will change the bearing in Magog. I first need to buy a new set of pipe pliers. After drawing blanks at two stores, I find a much better one than I need at Canadian Tire. The smaller ones are on backorder. After lunch at Pizza Hut, I move to the park in the center of town and pull the bike apart. I have crank bearings with me but they are the wrong size. They fit the other bike. I leave the bike in pieces and walk down to a bike store. After much searching, we find the correct size. I put it in - it fits and seems to have fixed the problem. I won't know for many miles.

I leave Magog at about 3:00pm and cross the top of the lake. This part of the lake is distinguished(?) by tacky new vacation architecture. I turn south on the other side of the lake towards Austin and St. Benoit du Lac. The road climbs several hundred feet above the lake - a sight impossible to find from the other side.

** Ugh! Climbing a 120 foot hill against the wind is not character building.

The houses up here have a magnificent view but are a long way from sailing or swimming. Just outside of Austin, I see a long black and white piece of fur in the grass by the side of the road. As I pass, a baby(?) skunk gives me a puzzled look and returns to its grub hunting.

I drop down the hill to Bolton Center and stop for some energy inducing, I hope, ice cream and Coca-Cola. I ask for a bowl rather than a cone and get a 6in aluminum pan filled with, unfortunately second rate, ice cream. It did restore, somewhat, my spirits if not my energy. My map shows a straight line road to the Ville de Lac Brôme (Knowlton) - yes they did this to Knowlton. However I miss it and go on down to South Bolton. I had neither the spirit nor the energy to climb another ridge.

I survive the road to Knowlton - this is still what the Post Office calls it. It is quite beautiful, and almost cool. It is too bad that the best time for riding is also the time of complete exhaustion. I guess I have not noticed Knowlton for a long time. It certainly has been yuppified since I was last here. It also seems to go on a long way on both sides of the main road to Lac Brôme that used to be its center and reason for existence.

The campground listed on my map just south of Brôme exists. It is undistinguished but will allow me to make supper, breakfast, and take a shower. I expect that tomorrow will start with a workout but settle down to windy flat on the other side of Cowansville, about 10 miles away.

13  Thursday, July 25, Brôme

This camp is really an encampment. The owners and the trailers look as though they are semi-permanently settled. Even the tents by the river look well lived in.

They are very proud of their water here. They claim it tastes good, which it does, and that it is a factor of 10 better purity than required by the government. I guess they have no naturally occurring benzene.

Some Observations

My first view of Montréal was of the downtown skyline and Mount Royal floating above a field just south of St. Phillippe de La Prairie - not quite as impressive as Chartres Cathedral but still surprising. My second view was from the Seaway bike path near the St. Catherine locks. It is an unusual perspective to see the whole of downtown with the Champlain bridge far to the right.

I crossed the ice bridge and arrived at INRS to check the state of things at about 3:00pm. I left at about 4:45 and was intercepted by a thunderstorm about 300 metres from home. At this point the rain was just a cooling encounter.

Distance/Hill Climbing Log

My new bicycle trip computer measures the number of feet climbed going up hills. It only counts a hill if it is over thirty feet high. Then it adds the uphill climbed in increments of ten feet. On this trip, I climbed approximately 24,500 feet of hills. The real measure of difficulty and energy expended is the grade. This you see vividly, and later in the day, depressingly, as you ride. Here is the log.

                   Montreal/Boston/Montreal July 11,1991

                          Distance Log        Uphill Log    
                            (miles)             (feet)      
                       Daily    Total       Daily    Total
    Edens Mills         110      110         2600     2600  
     Bradford            80      190         2900     5500  
    Washington           79      269         3700     9200  
      Dedham            104      373         3000    12200  
  Dedham (Local)         20      393          300    12500    
    York Beach           84      477          300    12800  
     Kennebunk           19      496          300    13100  
   North Conway          77      573         2200    15300   
     Littleton           57      630         2600    17900   
     Stanstead           69      699         3000    20900   
       Brome             58      757         2600    23500   
     Montreal            78      835         1000    24500   

14  Maps


1GAR - Great Army of the Republic

File translated from TEX by TTH, version 3.02.
On 12 Nov 2008, 10:16.