June 20, 2013
Kittery, ME to Andover, MA
(Yesterday was super busy, as you'll soon read, so this post is a day late...sorry!)
I woke up this morning fearing that I would be in pain in every muscle of my body. To my surprise, I felt 100 times better than I thought I would! I got to sleep on a couch last night because I am one of the shorter ones that could actually fit on the couch. It was awesome.
We left Kittery around 7:30am and started heading towards Andover, MA. Not far into the ride, we crossed over a bridge with unbelievable views in every direction. The middle of the bridge was the state line between Maine and New Hampshire! This was the first state line crossing of the day. I was riding with three other girls and we were super excited to have crossed our first state line of the trip, but unfortunately we were immediately greeted in NH by big rolling hills. They were a struggle to say the least. Thankfully, around mile 18, everyone was advised to take a 1.5 mile detour to visit an amazing swimming hole. The water was refreshing and felt so good on our aching muscles.
After our quick dip in the pond, we headed out towards lunch in Exeter. The hills just kept coming. A few miles after we left the pond, we saw bike and build people going in the other direction. Since the day before we had all gotten very lost frequently, we thought we might have missed a turn or something, but as they approached, we realized we didn't recognize any of them. As we passed, we heard them yell out, "You're going the right way! We're the Northern route!" The Northern US route, which leaves from Providence, RI, had just left that morning for their first day of biking and we just happened to run into them on the same stretch of road going in different directions. As we kept biking, we all hoped to see more NUS bikers. At a huge stop sign less than a mile down the road, we found a large group of bike and builders, both from our route and theirs. We pulled over and started chatting with them. It was so cool to see another trip on the road!
When we finally got to lunch I didn't even bother taking my biking gloves off before I started eating I was so hungry. For lunches we usually just have leftovers and the dinner the night before was delicious so I was excited to have more. After lunch we headed out again and crossed our second state line of the day into Massachusetts!
As we got closer to Andover, the hills got bigger and longer and steeper. It felt like every time we got up one we would look around the corner and see another. Finally, on a lovely downhill, we decided to stop at an ice cream shop and the store agreed to give us all a free scoop! Let me just say it was the biggest "scoop" of ice cream I have ever had.
Getting back on our bikes, I was thinking about how I was really impressed with how well we had been following directions that day. Only a few minutes after I said that, we found ourselves on a road under construction that had been torn up and left with the bumpy texture roads get before they are paved. I have never felt something so uncomfortable and weird in my entire life. Sitting on the seat was almost unbearable at times it was so bumpy and I couldn't feel my feet or my hands. Everyone had an amazing attitude about it though and we made our way through it laughing and signing the Circle of Life intro from The Lion King "nAaAaAaAants ingonyamaAaAaAa bagithi Baba", a song with a lot of vibrato (confession: I just looked up those lyrics and was shocked to discover that the beginning of that song is actually words). About 2/3 of the way down this horrible road, we agreed that it was acceptable to break the rules this one time and ride on the sidewalk. It felt like heaven. Luckily, or unluckily depending on your perspective, our turning error brought us to the same street, just further down the hill that we needed to climb. The worst part of the whole climb was having to stop at a red light on a steep part of the hill. It is extremely hard to get going after stopping on hills. --Side note, there were also lots of steep downs hills that ended in stop signs or red lights that were almost equalling as aggravating because then we lost almost all of our momentum for the next climb.-- Anyway, while stopped at this stop light on the hill, a woman in a convertible looks at us and says something along the lines of how much she doesn't envy us at this moment, very encouraging. Finally we made it to the Pike School were we set up camp in their gymnasium, took showers, spread our stuff out, and got ready for dinner. Tonight's dinner was very special. We ate at the house of Chris Webber's parents. Chris was a bike and build alum who did two different trips and then also worked as one on their few staff members in the office running the trips. Sadly he was struck by a car and killed a few years ago. In memory of him, there is a Chris Webber Memorial ride in Florida, and also on the ME2SB trip, his family hosts the group for dinner one night and talk about how much bike and build meant to Chris. It was amazing to hear stories about him from so many people that loved him and I was so grateful to have been able to be a part of it. Bike and build is an amazing community and I can't be more thankful that I have this opportunity to be a part of it.