Day 3: Machias, ME to Ellsworth, 69 miles 3,914 feet
Couldn’t decide between “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” or the “Sawtooth Ride” to accurately describe today’s ride. It rained all night and we had already given up on any chance of riding the unpaved dirt trail to Ellsworth. When I awoke this morning I attempted to turn on the TV to get an updated weather report but the TV Remote, see below, had more buttons than NASA Mission Control and even with my reading glasses I could not figure out which button to press to turn on the TV. We met over breakfast and scoured all the weather apps and came to the conclusion that the rain would last till at least 10AM and perhaps an hour more. Some folks donned their rain gear at set of at 8AM while others tried to wait it out. I went back t the room and watched Crash Landing on You, a great Netflix Korean mini-series on my iPhone and waited till 10:30 checkout time to hit the road. By then the rain had eased a bit but was still fairly steady. The 69 mile ride had nearly 4,000 feet of climbing but no long climbs, just constant short steep peaks and troughs, just like the teeth on a saw. It reminded me of riding into and out of the drainage canals in the Borrego Springs dessert, except that was dry and hot while today was cold and wet.
About an hour into my ride the rain changed from gentle but steady to a torrential downpour just as my iPhone navigation app told me to turn of the paved road onto a dirt path. It made no sense but I confirmed the audible cue with the breadcrumb trail and they agreed. At that point my hands and the phone screen were so wet that I could not pull up any more detail or open another app to find a paved road to use as an alternative. I spent the next 20-30 minutes riding, walking, and carrying my 40 pound bike 2 miles through mud, sand, rock,and even grass to get around swamped potholes up to 15 feet in diameter filled with enough water to swim in. Just like in RAAM, as long as you and your bike move up the course together, it doesn’t matter if you walk, ride, carry, drag, or push the your bike, you still get credit for it. I did’ see any obvious tread marks from the earlier riders but I thought they might have been washed out or covered by the fresh truck tracks. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally made it back to the tarmac. I wish I could have taken a few photos to document how ridiculous that “shortcut” was. I found out later at the hotel that we were not supposed to ride that section but there was apparently a glitch in some of our electronic ride files.
I caught up to our support van at about the 2 hour mark, devoured some no bake peanut butter cookies from our breakfast stop, topped of my water bottle and pressed onward. Within an hour I felt comfortable stripping my rain gear and enjoying the cool north west breeze. Much of the rest of the ride was along US 1 with lots of trucks but a nice wide shoulder. Their was ample opportunity to see Flanders Bay and Bar Harbor in the distance. About 10 miles from our hotel I noticed a change in the wind direction and the approach of some low dark clouds, the sure sign of an incoming cold front. I didn’t relish the thought of putting my wet rain gear back on so I ratcheted up my pace a bit. Pulled into the hotel parking lot just as the skies opened up again and sought refuge in the lobby while my room was being readied. I was starved, so after a quick hot shower, I ran to the closest open restaurant , with a bar, which turned out to be a Chinese restaurant that also served sushi and burgers. I grabbed a 22 oz IPA and a cheeseburger with a side of pork fried rice. ur group would be eating dinner in about an hour but I simply could not wait that long.
I did of course join everyone for my second dinner. For more ride details see my Strava link