Yesterday was a special occasion for us, and we wanted to do something special to celebrate. We decided to visit an area of Seacoast New Hampshire and Southern Maine where we used to live a few years back - but for the first time, get around entirely on our bicycles.
We began by driving to Portsmouth, NH - which is only an hour North of Boston. We parked in a municipal lot, unfastened the bicycles, and set off. Portsmouth itself is a fantastic town and is very easy to cycle in, but our destination was Maine - which is accessible via a very cool truss lift bridge.
We had to wait for some ships to pass underneath, but they soon lowered the bridge and we walked our bicycles across.
The views from this bridge are amazing, and we even spotted a boat with some bicycles strapped to it.
The Co-Habitant's Myles.
And my Marianne, enjoying the view. I took the vintage mixte, because I wanted to be more upright than on my roadbike - so as to have a better view of the scenery and to carry a camera across my back. All of that I did, but at the expense of both comfort and speed: Despite her beauty, this bicycle is just not as pleasant to ride as the Rivendell Sam Hillborne, and without drop bars it is also not as fast. In fact, now that I am finally building up my custom new mixte, we have plans for Marianne that will rescue her from redundancy - but I will save that for later.
And here we are, in Kittery Maine. This was the first time we crossed a state line on bicycle.
I like to think that I know coastal Southern Maine like the back of my hand. And if you were to ask me, "Is it hilly?", a few days ago I would have answered "not at all" - and I would have been so wrong! It is amazing how we are just not as aware of topography in a car as we are on a bicycle.
We have a favourite road in this area that is an off-shoot of Route 1A and offers spectacular views of the coastline, and I simply do not remember this road having hills. But on my 12-speed Motobecane mixte, I was soon switching gears all over the place as I tried to keep up with the frequent and considerable changes in elevation.
Still, it was so worth it and our trip was spectacular; I would most definitely recommend Southern Maine for touring. The traffic on the roads was much lighter than we expected, and cycling was considerably more peaceful than in the countryside around Boston. There are many non-touristy spots in the Kittery, York, and Ogunquit areas where the beaches are pristine, the restaurants are inexpensive, and the landscape is not cluttered with "motel sprawl".
Steamers, caught on the property of the restaurant that serves them. When it comes to seafood in Maine, there is so much choice that you really need to know where to go, so it helps having once been a local. Our favourite place was right along our route, and we happily stopped by after all those lovely hills.
All in all, this was probably the nicest cycling trip we have taken so far. Next time we will figure out how to plan it so that we can keep going further North before turning back - maybe stay in a motel somewhere overnight. One of our favourite places on Earth has become even "favouriter", once traveled by bicycle.