Atlantic Coast '95
Prelude: Christmas Day, 12/25/94, Burlington Vermont
The idea was simple. To bicycle the Atlantic Coast from Key West
Florida to Eastport, Maine during calendar year 1995. I'm not even
quite certain how I settled on this as a vacation plan. I had already
completed a cross-continent tour in 1992. Several years later it seemed
natural to try a tour for the distance of one of the coasts, either the
Pacific from Vancouver to Tijuana or the Atlantic from Florida to Maine.
I was also intrigued by a book by Donna Ikenberry Aitkenhead, "Bicycling
the Atlantic Coast" that I picked up at the local EMS store.
One of the larger hesitations I had about doing such a trip was
getting a large enough chunk of vacation time in one shot to do such
a ride. On the one hand, I had enough vacation time saved up and was
even accruing additional vacation. However, in 1993 I had started a
demanding job and still didn't quite feel that I could easily take a
month off and leave the demands of work behind, or pause the active
projects I was guiding. What I needed was a way to complete my bicycle
adventure but still meet the demands of work.
I settled on taking a bicycle trip for the distance of the Atlantic
coast. Given my situation I also decided to relax the "rules" that I
would try to follow:
- The trip would be completed in several distinct chunks. I would
go bicycling for a week or so and then fly home. A few months later
I would fly back again to bicycle the next section. In addition to
breaking this into smaller vacations, I figured it would work out
better for the climate changes from South to North.
- I would try to complete the trip under my own power. However,
I decided to allow the occasional ferry ride across an inlet
or out to an Island. I thought of this as a pretty minor relaxation.
- I decided to start a few days early in 1994 (December 27th, 1994)
to take advantage of the Christmas break.
Anticipation is part of the fun. I started planning this trip months
in advance. I spent time poring over maps and getting myself psyched.
My airline tickets themselves were bought back in August of 1994. At the
same time I was mentally ready for the ride, I neglected being physically
ready until late. I didn't get much actual cycling in during November
or December. My packing and bike preparation happened late. Nonetheless,
on Christmas Day 1994 I was all packed and ready to start my journey.
A complete inventory of stuff in included in the appendix.
Part I, Key West, FL to Savannah, GA; 12/28/94 to 1/5/95
December 27, Burlington to Key West
On the 27th I traveled down to Key West. Travel consisted of an airline
flight from Burlington, Vermont via Philadelphia to Miami, Florida. My
bicycle was boxed and on the plane ($45 for travel plus $10 for the box).
In Miami I rented a hatchback car to fit my bike and drive down to
Key West. In hindsight, I probably violated all the travel taboos,
flying on US Air, renting a car in Miami, etc.
Fellow passengers on the plane started getting into a "Florida Spirit"
as we neared. Heavy coats, gloves and mittens were stowed. Joey, the guy
in the seat next to me went to the restroom and came back wearing shorts and
sandals. He was a former Yankee who had caught what he called "the Keys
disease", when people travel to the Florida Keys and decided to never
return. He used to have a job in the computer field, but had foregone
that for a job with Key Largo Canvas, an awning company. He worked at
trying to convince me to spend more time in Key West and that I wouldn't
want to return north [he was wrong]. I asked him all I could to prepare
myself for the road and route along the way.
In Miami I rented a hatchback car to transport myself and gear to
Key West. While I could have flown, I decided to get an early look at
US #1 the only road through much of the area. I had some misgivings from
Barbara Savage's book and wanted to get a chance to see things first. The
drive itself was fairly uneventful and in short order I found myself at
my motel, the Garden House, where I had made a reservation for the night.
While I had made my plans months in advance, reservations here had been
slightly difficult to come by since Christmas week was peak season and
many places wanted a three night minimum stay.
It was 10pm by the time I had dropped off the rental car and had
assembled my bicycle back at the motel. I decided to take the bike for
a quick adjustment ride for about a half mile to Mile Marker 0, the start
of US #1. This marker was located at the intersection of Whitehead and
Fleming streets in the old town of Key West.
December 28, Key West to Islamorada [86.4 miles]
My alarm went off at 5:30am. I started early so as to start at first
daylight. I actually left the motel at 6:00am when it was still almost
dark (sunrise was at 7:09am). I made my way back to mile marker 0 for
an "official" start of the trip. I carefully leaned my bicycle against
the sign and stood back to take a picture. Nothing. My camera appeared
jammed as the button wouldn't press. I verified I had film, and
that there was no obvious cause. Oh well, looks like no pictures on this
I cycled through the old part of town, pausing briefly by a sign that
indicated I was now on US#1 which would continue all the way until Fort
Kent, Maine. Another missed photo opportunity. As I cycled out of Key
West it was starting to get more light. There was lots of clear sky,
blue water and green vegetation. A sharp contrast with Vermont.
I cycled through the keys for about ten miles before stopping briefly
for a pre-breakfast Gatorade+chocolate stop. I then continued until
Big Pine (mile marker 31, all locations in the Keys appear to be
stated in reference to a mile marker) where I stopped at a local cafe
for a 2-2-2 breakfast (sausage, eggs, toast).
The road through the lower Keys was better than I expected from my
readings. The shoulder while not generous was adequate. The cars behind
were courteous and gave adequate room while passing.
At mile marker 40 I reached the seven mile bridge, one continuous
bridge across the water. There was approximately two feet of shoulder.
There was a bit of debris on the side of the road as the shoulder itself
was terminated with a Jersey Barrier. There was a bit of a wind across
the open water, but overall it was manageable.
I had lunch in Marathon at slightly over 50 miles. In Marathon I
actually took the bicycle path for a short while. After lunch, I noticed
my lack of conditioning a bit as I started to drag a bit and started
going a bit slower. Luckily my motel reservation wasn't too much further
down the road. At 4:30pm with a cumulative mileage of 86.4 I stopped for
the night. This would be my last night of reservations. From here on out
I could stop wherever it made sense. Even my endpoint wasn't completely
fixed. I had an Amtrak ticket from Jacksonville, FL but would have
the ability to get on at a later train stop.
December 29, Islamorada to North Miami Beach [88.1 miles]
I got an early start for the second day in a row. By 6:30am I was off
and cycling in the early morning light. There were very little shoulders
along this part of US#1, but traffic on the two lane road was light and
most cars shifted into the other lane.
Approximately ten miles down the road I stopped at a nearby McDonalds
for breakfast. Not the most exciting cuisine but relatively quick for
getting fuel for the first part of the ride. Shortly before Key Largo
I shifted off US#1 to an adjacent bike path. I'm always a bit wary of
off-street paths in the USA because of potential collisions with careless
car drivers. However, the path through Key Largo worked well with not
many cross streets and not too many cars.
My trip through Key Largo continued until mile marker 107. At this
point one can choose either to proceed on the main road to Homestead
(21 miles) or take a less traveled road across Card Sound (30 miles).
While it was still early, I decided to try the main road so that I would
get into and through Miami sooner.
"The stretch" was the name Joey had given the next 21 miles. In this
section US #1 continues fairly straight across the low swamps of the
southern tip of Florida. There was a sign saying "Crocodile Crossing
next nine miles". The road through the stretch is mostly a single lane
each way with a few small parts with passing lanes. As a result, it
appeared that convoys of cars would form all stuck behind a slow car
(doing 60mph or so). Occasionally cars would dart across the line to
pass these slow cars. I crossed the stretch early on a weekday morning.
I saw enough of the cars racing through the stretch to realize that while
the road was tolerable, it would be a pretty obnoxious section to bicycle
in heavier traffic. The other item that made the ride unpleasant was the
shoulder. At 2-3 feet this was wide enough in most places. However, the
highway department had installed a row of four raised reflectors every
fifteen feet or so. These reflectors formed a bump of approximately an
inch high so it was definitely desirable to keep riding between a 4-6
inch gap between adjacent reflectors. This wasn't hard to do, but took
a little extra care to keep doing this every fifteen feet or so. If I
were to advise someone else riding the area, I'd recommend trying Card
Sound Road as a better alternative than the stretch (just as Joey had
recommended to me).
After the stretch I paused for an early lunch and map check. At this
point I decided I would try to continue on US#1 until it became way too
busy or until I found some locals who could guide me to a better route.
The road through Homestead and Cutler ridge was reasonable, two or three
lanes with not too much traffic. The areas I was cycling through
occasionally looked a bit seedy but nothing too bad. I hadn't been to
south Florida before so didn't know what to expect. My cautions about
the area were reinforced in Homestead when a car with several teens pulled
alongside. They rolled down the window and yelled out "hey, how much does
your bike cost" (not the best opening question for someone like me who
fears they may be calculating how much drugs they can get by knocking me
off...). I try ignoring them, and waving them off with my hand. However,
they continue driving alongside. I think they take my waving as an attempt
to raise fingers, so they ask "four or five hundred dollars?" I more
decisively hold up four fingers and they drive off and leave me alone and
feeling a bit more wary.
I stop for a second lunch at an Arbys close to a bunch of malls in
Cutler Ridge. I ask several locals about the roads ahead. How is US#1?
...not bad if you like lots of stop lights. The locals convince me that
US#1 isn't ideal, but is survivable and likely to stray from some of the
worst neighborhoods ("Overton" is one that is mentioned).
I continue on US#1 all the way in to the heart of Miami. Along the way
the tiny shoulder goes away. A third lane is added. The lanes themselves
become more narrow so that my bicycle doesn't fit with most cars. Luckily
frequent traffic lights keep the speeds down, and except for a few honks
I ride in all the way to the center of Miami without incident.
Downtown Miami is setting up for an Orange Bowl parade. Several streets
are closed off. I am able to ride through without too much problem, passing
the center of town at approximately 2pm.
I take US#41 across the intercoastal waterway to Miami Beach. In
contrast with Homestead this appears pretty upscale with lots of large
hotels. Unfortunately there is also a good amount of traffic. In a
few stretches lanes of A1A are closed down resulting in traffic jams.
While I'm stopped in one of those traffic jams I notice my rear tire
has gone flat. I'm stuck in traffic, breathing fumes, feeling very hot
and sweaty with a flat. At the same time, I look up and see a motel with
a "vacancy" sign out, and a Pizza Hut across the street. Taking it as an
omen, I decide to stop for the day. In the evening, I fix my flat, wander
on the beach and past the shops.
December 30th, North Miami Beach to Stuart [97.1 miles]
Third day on the road. I leave at 6:15am and really feel like I'm
starting to get in the rhythm of the trip. While it is still dark, there
are plenty of streetlights to guide my way. The next few miles alternate
with hotels/high rises and then also have some residential sections. Eight
miles from my start I briefly stop at a motel my parent's neighbor had
recommended, mostly to say that I at least went by.
From here the road goes inland towards Dania and US#1 and then Fort
Lauderdale. South of Fort Lauderdale as US#1 passes the airport it becomes
much larger. Luckily traffic is light and I am soon in to Ft. Lauderdale
for breakfast. After the center of town, I head back across the
intercoastal waterway (ICW) to A1A.
Fort Lauderdale beach is very nice, with the road going right by the
beach (as opposed to having intervening high rise buildings as further
south). The ocean and waves are very pretty. Unfortunately, one can also
see smog on the horizon over the ocean, yuck.
Cycling up past Boca Raton I suddenly start to see a much larger presence
of bicycles (something that had bothered me a bit further south where I saw
practically no other cyclists). I see several ride groups pass me by, and
also a few "Adopt a Highway" signs with bicycle organizations. This must
be the place locals ride. North of Boca Raton I also start seeing some
very nice oceanside mansions.
There are some very impressive mansions along the next part of the
route as I proceed into and through Palm Beach. Many of them have
very high walls or hedges to keep the rifraff such as myself out. I make
it through Palm Beach shortly before lunch. At this point, I cycle back
across the ICW to West Palm Beach. What a contrast! I pass through a
few run down sections and see my first Pawn Shops and "Money to Loan"
shops in a while.
North of West Palm Beach I decide to try keeping to US#1 rather than
going back across the ICW for a fairly short section of A1A. This turns
out to be a mistake. US#1 becomes a 55mph road with very little shoulder
lots of traffic. Luckily the mistake isn't permanent as I can get off
US#1 at Hobe Sound and take the backroads.
The backroads heading in to Stuart are rural and very quiet. There
are a few trailer parks nestled away, but not too much else. By this time
I'm starting to drag a bit at the end of a long day. At the same time I'm
feeling pretty good having passed almost halfway to Jacksonville in the
first three days. If all goes well (omens ahead...) I would be there in
three or four more days. I stop in Stuart at a motel for the night.
I also find a local AAA office that can get me county maps of upcoming
December 31st, Stuart to Cocoa Beach [91.3 miles]
Another 6:30am start. This is becoming a habit. I stop for breakfast
soon after starting. At Stuart I cross yet another metal grating drawbridge
(seems to be the norm across the ICW and little sounds). Traffic on US#1
isn't too bad out of Stuart. However, I decide to use my new county maps
to good use and find some backroads to Fort Pierce. I miss one turn and
end up going out of my way for a mile or so but soon get on track.
Pedaling is somewhat difficult. I notice that my rear brake has been
lightly rubbing for a while, probably even since yesterday afternoon when
I just thought I was tired. I re-adjust the brakes. Wow! Cycling is a lot
easier now without the extra drag.
I zip along the inland side of the ICW. This is a very quiet peaceful
route. Lots of residential homes and docks long the route. Across the bay
I see cooling towers for the Hutchison Island Nuclear plant. I cross the
center of Fort Pierce and make my way back to A1A. I stop at a local
food store for a chocolate+Gatorade stop.
There are a few larger hotel/condo buildings at Fort Pierce. However,
much of the next thirty miles consists of "private developments". These
appear as exclusive communities that are fenced off and that contain a
little guard houses at their entrances. Each of these resorts seems to
have its own fancy name, such as Mariposa Shores or Treasure Sound or...
The road itself is somewhat boring to cycle along. This is because the
private communities block all access to or views of the beaches. There
also aren't very many 7-11 sorts of stores (where do these people buy
I make it across Sebastian Inlet. At this point I feel like I'm
starting to get a bit tired. A cross wind that has picked up doesn't
help. I find myself doing a thirty second feet on the ground stop every
five miles or so.
Close to Melbourne the route starts to be much more built up. Lots
more cross streets and also a bit more traffic as I make my way through
Indialantic. I pass through a succession of small towns. There are a
number of motels along the way and other signs of a "strip" as I go through
I pass Patrick Air Force Base with all it's space defense motif and
also the airfield. I make it in to Cocoa Beach at approximately 4:30pm.
Cocoa Beach had been my destination because friends of my father have
their winter residence there and had offered to let me stay.
I visit the D'Acutis that evening. They are off to a New Years Eve
party. This is just as well for me because I am off and asleep not too
long after 10pm. Sleeping into 1995.
January 1st, Cocoa Beach to New Smyrna Beach [59.2 miles]
At 6:45am, I tried to quietly leave with the D'Acutis still asleep.
There was heavy mist everywhere. Water droplets quickly collect on
my glasses. I find myself stopping frequently to clear my lenses.
I also find myself and bicycle dragging a bit, perhaps as a continuation
of the day before.
There are several routes from Cocoa Beach to the mainland. I find
myself on the northernmost, 528/A1A. This road is actually a limited
access route with controlled interchanges. Too late I notice a
"no bicycles" sign along the way. At this point backtracking to the
other bridge would cost me an extra eight miles. I decided to risk it and
press on. I also figure this is probably at least as good a route given
that it has a wide six foot shoulder. The fog and mist is thick and I
am grateful for that extra shoulder. There are a few bridges where
the shoulder narrows so I cross those quickly. I'm still stopping
frequently to demist my glasses.
I make it back to US#1 and the mainland. I stop for breakfast south
of Titusville. After breakfast I still find myself and bicycle dragging
some. I stop, adjust the brakes, reoil the chain and pump up the tires
some more. The tires are rated at 85psi so it is difficult to see when
they are overful. I'm still stopping to demist my glasses as the fog
Shortly before Mims I meet up with another cyclist and take a rest
break with him. He is ~60 year old, a veteran and living off a disability
check. He was bitten fairly recently by a bicycling bug and is out for a
spin. He's got a distinctive beard so lots of the other locals seem to
recognize him. After our rest stop the fog finally lifts at 11am. The
other cyclist leaves me behind as we both continue on towards Oak Hill.
Just when I reach the Oak Hill city limits things go wrong. I step
down with my right foot and it goes down to the ground. My shoe is still
attached to the pedal with the toe strap but the pedal is no longer
connected to the crank. The pedal spindle has sheared. Ooops.
I look up and see the local police station, one of few establishments
likely to be open on New Year's day. I walk my bicycle over to the
police station and spend some time trying to figure out what to do next.
Inside I borrow a yellow pages and locate the nearest bicycle stores,
in New Smyrna Beach, 12 miles away or in 17 miles back in Titusville.
There are no stores, motels or other establishments in town.
Without much else to do, I decide to slowly push on to New Smyrna
Beach. In the worst case I have enough time to walk all the way there
or can try hitching a ride with a passing pickup. I find that I can still
bicycle with one leg. This is somewhat awkward and somewhat tiring but
I find I can make ok time if I stop every mile and a half or so. By 2:30
I have made it to NSB. I locate the bicycle store, it's opening times and
go off in search of a local motel.
A few blocks from the bike store, I hear a rubbing at my back tire.
The tire has been overinflated and has just popped off the rim. Before
I can do anything further the tire pops out and has a rather explosive
blowout. Sigh. Oh well. Luckily I find a motel approximately a block
I settle in for an early end to the day. The motel owner is a bit
concerned about me bringing my bicycle inside but he lets me do it after
letting me know the room was newly cleaned. He is also helpful at getting
my Omnibook modem connected for the first time on the trip. I am able to
log in and catch up with email, etc.
January 2, New Smyrna Beach to Marineland [50.5 miles]
I slept in and still was at the Firestone Bicycle store shortly after
it opens at 8am. I pick up a pair of pedals. I had fixed the flat
the previous evening so in fairly short order I am ready to roll again.
While I'm in town for the morning, I decide that I'll try to do something
about the extra weight/blowout problem from yesterday. I buy a box and
find several things to mail home. In goes the extra pedals, two AAA tour
guides, a book I finished reading, extra maps from the start of the trip,
an extra shirt, my extra cycling shorts, the nonfunctional camera and two
of five waterbottles. It probably only saves a five pounds, but I figure
every little bit helps.
It is 10am by the time I leave town. For the first time in the trip,
I have consistent strong headwinds. The temperature is also much cooler
so I am wearing a long sleeved shirt for the first time in the trip. I
make my way through Port Orange to Daytona. The headwind is strong enough
that I consider bagging it for the day and taking today as a rest day with
the late start and all. However, the weather is also ugly to spend time
on the beach, so I decide to continue on to at least Flagler.
The Daytona Beach and Ormond area reminds me a bit of Cocoa Beach.
Both seem to have a reasonable "strip" with lots of shops, signs and
motels along the way. In the stretch towards Flagler there are more
small residences right along the coast. There are also several open areas
where I can see the shore, the waves and the wind from the road. There
are a few folks folks out fishing at the water. The road itself doesn't
have much of a shoulder, but is otherwise ok.
Flagler Beach is a nice small town with a few small motels, but mostly
residences. I stop at the local ice cream place for a hot dog. The locals
direct me to upcoming motels in the Hammock (9 miles north) and at
Marineland (16 miles north).
The Hammock is another expensive private community with a golf course
or two. I loose my ocean view as the comes inland. However, I also loose
some of the consistent wind. Motels in Hammock are not too much to write
home about, so I continue to Marineland for the day.
Overall a late start and consistent winds make for a shorter ride today.
I also suspect that I've erred on the side of underinflating the rear tire
to avoid another blowout.
January 3, Marineland to Fernandina Beach [76.4 miles]
Throughout the night I continue to hear the waves and the wind.
So much for prevailing winds up the coast! The wind and the extra
darkness that comes with higher latitude causes me to wait until 7am
before I'm off.
I start the day off with a strong headwind. From Marineland the road
goes right along the coast with a wonderful view of the ocean. Several of
the miles up to Crescent Beach are Fort Mantanzas National Monument, so
there are no houses. Just road, sky, ocean and wind. I continue on to
St. Augustine Beach for breakfast.
After St. Augustine Beach the wind starts to subside. Hooray! I
bicycle in through St. Augustine. It is a nice touristy town, with a
historic old town center. There are a number of horse drawn carriage
rides and tour busses. Also one of the old forts right along the way.
I continue through fairly quickly and make a note to come back here
From St. Augustine the road goes back out to A1A along the coast.
This stretch of beach resembles the previous ones with small houses.
The headwind continues but is somewhat better than expected. By noon
I am in Vedra Beach. I stop by a local AAA to pick up maps and get
lunch. While I'm having lunch it the a light rain suddenly turns a bit
heavier. After the rain subsides, the wind appears to have died down a
I bicycle along the Mayport Naval air station and out to the mouth
of the St. Johns river. I cross the water on a small toll ferry ($0.50).
It is still sprinkling a bit as I cross. The ferryboat driver doesn't
seem to be particularly skilled at landing the boat without bumping
against pylons and others.
North of the St. James, A1A becomes very quiet at the road winds through
Little Talbot Island. The ride through the forests is very peaceful and
the shoulders are wide. The sun even comes out for a bit as I cross
Amelia Island. This island looks like it has some more expensive private
developments. I stop for the day when I reach Fernandina Beach.
January 4, Fernandina Beach to Brunswick GA [82.4 miles]
I break from routine by having breakfast before I leave. By now I'm
far enough north that sunrise is now 7:25am instead of 7:09 further south.
I bicycle in on A1A towards Yulee. The road is two lanes with a lot of
traffic and little shoulder so I ride pretty carefully.
Shortly before Yulee I notice that I've broken a spoke. Rear wheel
freewheel side. Sigh. I stop at the local gas station, and work at
removing the freewheel and replacing the spoke. I haven't done this
very often, so I accidentally remove the axle when it wasn't necessary.
I have difficulty removing the freewheel, so finally decide I'll get
some assistance at the next bicycle store.
The yellow pages lists two bicycle stores, one in Fernandina Beach
(backtrack eleven miles...nope) and one in Kings Bay Village. I try
calling the bike stores but receive no answers. I'm not certain where
Kings Bay Village is, but it has a Georgia phone number so I continue on.
This next stretch to the Georgia border is wonderful, newly paved with a
reasonable shoulder. I cross over the St. Mary's river and find myself
in Georgia. Hooray, I've cross the state! Unfortunately at the border
both the new asphalt and the shoulder go away. In a few miles I make my
way to Kingsland.
In Kingsland I ask several folks about "the nearest bicycle store".
The answers are all the same, though the estimated distances to the store
are that it is three, five/six or nine miles away.
The correct answer appears eight miles later where I find A&B Bike Store
in St. Marys. Along the way, I observe that logging is a major industry
of this area as several log trucks pass me by. Another large industry in
St. Marys is the local submarine base with a number of folks in Navy
The bicycle store owner fixes the broken spoke, sells me a new tube
and gets me off on the local backroads with a local county map. The
backroad is quieter and more pleasant without as many log trucks going by.
By mid-afternoon I am back to US 17.
The section of road from Kingsland northwards becomes more rural.
The road is mostly two lanes with a number of log trucks passing by.
A light rain has started by the time I go through White Oak. By Waverly
the rain becomes more fierce. The rain is fairly cold, but I'm cycling
hard enough to generate some heat with my bare legs. I bicycle out to
under the interstate, past some low swamps and on to Brunswick for the
January 5, Brunswick to Savannah [82.1 miles]
Today starts very cold. At 31 degrees this is the first day of frost
of the year (! in Boston this happened in September...). However, the
cold is made more intense by a sharp 20 mile per hour north wind. Another
headwind, sigh. From my shorts and T-shirt in Key West I have now gone
full circle to long pants, light coat and mittens. For the first few miles
I'm overdressed working up a sweat. After that I can work an equilibrium
I pass two old historical plantations. I cross a lower swampy section and
find a local cafe in Darien for my second breakfast. It is pleasant to get
out of the cold biting wind. After breakfast, it has gotten a it warmer.
From Darien north the road is rural, with many log trucks. I cycle past
a local sawmill in Riceboro, and stop for lunch in Midway.
From Midway it feels like a fairly short section to Richmond Hill. The
road becomes progressively busier as the region becomes less rural. I have
a snack at Richmond Hill and bicycle in to Savannah. First section complete.
End of the trip for now.
January 6th, 7th and 8th. Postlogue for the first section
January 6th is spent looking around Savannah, seeing the local visitor
center, walking through all of the city squares in town and seeing the
On the evening of the 6th, I find my way to the Amtrak station.
From here I take an overnight train to Washington DC. I spend the
afternoon of the 7th in DC and then catch another overnight train to
Burlington Vermont to end the trip.
Part II, Savannah, GA to Atlantic City, NJ: 4/15/95 to 4/22/95
April 15, Manchester to Savannah and
Savannah to Gardens Corner [59.2 miles]
On April 15th I flew back down to Savannah to continue the bicycle trip
along the Atlantic Coast. I had been looking forward to the trip as a
chance to catch my breath, relax and reflect on things. The previous
three months had been pretty hectic and I had put in some pretty long
hours at work. There were lots of other things going on outside of work and
thus I was definitely ready for a break.
I waited to pack for the trip until the night before I left. Luckily I
still had my checklist from my last segment, so I put together the same
items in fairly quick order. I did try to pare down a little bit by
bringing one less pair of socks, etc. All the while I recognized that the
best place to be cut travel weight would be with myself. It was of course
a little late for that.
I awoke at 4:00am in time to drive to the airport for my 6:15am flight.
My flight plan included a three hop flight from Manchester to Washington DC
to Charlotte and then on to Savannah. Overall, the flight down was
uneventful. On all three segments the plane was filled to capacity. I
think this was due to the upcoming Easter weekend and numerous school
vacations. There were a number of families on my flights. This did make
me worry a bit about my reservation back (I had none and was planning on
stopping at the nearest airport for a trip back). However, this would have
to wait until later.
I and my bicycle made it to the Savannah airport around 12:15pm. All
looked to be in good order as I unpacked and assembled the bicycle. It did
take a while for the bike to arrive but all was assembled shortly after
As I was riding out the door, a gentleman asked me if I knew where
to find the nearest gas station. My response was, "Sir, I'm not even
100% certain of the way out of the airport...". I proved him right by
cycling out the main exit only to find myself led onramps for I-95.
I backtracked most of the way back to the main terminal before finding
other surface roads that would take me out of the airport. This extra
detour cost me about three miles.
In due course I found myself out to the correct roads. I doubled
back slightly to 307/21 to insure that my path overlapped with the prior
segment. I then proceeded back north to the US17 bridge by Port
Wentworth. My mileage was up to about fifteen miles when I left Georgia
for South Carolina.
I crossed a set of low swampy areas and proceeded along a sequence
of 17/170/46/278/170. The sun was shining, the trees had leaves
(unlike the still barren Massachusetts trees), winds were calm, it was
mostly flat and it sure felt good to be out riding again. Ah vacation!
At mile 29 on 170/46 I saw a roadside stand with a sign "Peaches". I
stopped but they only had onions and tomatoes. I briefly contemplated
munching some tomatoes but decided against it. Three miles later there was
another stand where I bought an apple and some grapes.
Several things struck me about riding through this part of South
Carolina. There seemed to be a mix of poorer areas with trailer homes
and also a lot of billboards for pricy areas such as Hilton Head. The
latter apparently specialized in golf as one could buy golf balls etc.
The road itself had almost no shoulder and was pretty busy, so this
took a bit of concentration. This area appeared to be somewhat
At mile 38 I cycled across the Broad River. The wind had picked up
across the bridge but luckily it was a cross wind. In fairly short order
I found myself nearing Beaufort which had tentatively been my initial
stopping point. The sun was still shining so I decided to bypass
things and head north along 21. I passed the Marine Corps Air Station
but otherwise this area was pretty sparsely populated. I became a bit
concerned as there was one small "motel" that looked very pathetic.
At 6:00pm I decided to press on and until the first reasonable motel.
At 6:30 I stopped in Gardens Corner. The motel itself was pretty run
down (peeling paint, two prong outlets, no TV or phone, the water
tasted ok but smelled funny...) but it had a bed and shower and was
adequate for the night. I paid $25 in cash for a room. I got some
Fish and Chips at the store and relaxed. Gardens Corner was a meeting
spot for locals from the area. I did feel a bit out of place as they
were mostly black.
April 16, Easter Sunday, Gardens Corner to Myrtle Beach [145.6 miles]
The sun rose at 6:50am so I was on the road at 6:30am. The morning
was cool and somewhat humid. Along the road the forest was thick and there
weren't many houses. After a few miles it thinned out and became low
swamp grass near the Combahee river. My bicycle was rolling fairly well
and within an hour I stopped outside Ashepoo for breakfast. I bought a map
of Charleston and tried to figure out how I would cross this city. I
decided to try the direct route straight across on US17.
Not too long after breakfast the road became two lanes at Jacksonboro.
At 25 miles I encountered the first motel (good thing I stopped the prior
night). The very smooth road and a slight tailwind cause me to reach
Ravenel for another breakfast.
After breakfast the road kept getting more crowded as I neared
Charleston and as the morning stretched on. There was still no shoulder
(is this an attribute of roads in SC?) but luckily most cars give me some
berth. The number of friendly toots (two taps on the horn when one is
past) was about equal to the number of obnoxious toots (one loud beep
typically made directly from behind). Not too long past 11am I was in and
The direct route through Charleston was a pretty good choice. It
turns into a limited access highway but remains legal for bicycles.
It did take a little extra care to avoid the extra on ramps and off ramps.
The first bridge onto Charleston Island is small, but the second is a
pretty high bridge that took a bit to climb. On the other side of
Charleston I stopped for lunch.
The next 55 miles from Charleston to Georgetown was among the more
boring stretches of road I've cycled. The state map listed it as a scenic
route, but the person placing that designation definitely had a different
idea of scenic than I did. Most of the route was the same consistent pine
forest without much variation. Luckily I had a tailwind to help me along
in this stretch.
At 4pm I made it to Georgetown. I decided to continue on for a while.
Not too long out of Georgetown the scenery changes to more of a resort
area. The mobile homes are gone and are replaced with water parks,
batting cages, miniature golf etc. I also saw some motels along the way.
At Litchfield I stop for a snack. By now I had 123 miles behind
me and was starting to feel a bit tired. I stopped in at a combination
gas station and yuppie food mart. I ate some Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and
an apple. A few miles later the road split into US17-Business and US17 and
I took the business route along the beach. My cumulative trip mileage was
nearing 200 miles and this was one of the first times I actually see the
I made my way into Myrtle Beach shortly before 7:00pm. Myrtle
Beach is definitely a tourist place. Signs are out with "Welcome
Students" and also a few "Welcome Canadians". The students sure looked
young. I later found out they they are mostly high school students so
I don't feel so old anymore.
April 17, Myrtle Beach to Swansboro [146.3 miles]
I was back on the road at 6:20am. I bicycled through the middle of
town along "the strand". This section has many hotels, but within a few
miles it became more residential. I found my way back to US17 business
and followed as it merged with US17. Overall, the road was already
starting to become busy. The next stretch of road periodically becomes a
strip with lots of loud signs and neon. I stopped just outside North
Myrtle Beach for first breakfast.
After NMB the road starts to roll a little on the way to Little River.
There are several low hills to climb and descend as I neared the state
line. I thought, "uh oh a sign of things to come?" Luckily it pretty
quickly flattened out not to reappear in the next section.
I crossed into North Carolina. The road was a divided highway with
two lanes each way. I felt fortunate to have 12 inches of shoulder
with some pretty high speed traffic. I avoided the bypass and went
through the middle of Shallotte. I noticed more plowed fields in this
section than previous in the trip. It was too early to see what was
At Supply I had choice of going right 19 miles to Southport and a ferry
or 29 miles on to Wilmington. I noticed the ferry schedule was pretty
sporadic so I decided to continue through Wilmington. I took another
bypass through Bolivia and stop at a small gas station for a hot dog and a
Gatorade. Cycling through the miles I found myself refueling lots of
little spots along the way.
Outside Wilmington the road became very busy. The road merged with
US74/US76 and became a high speed limited access highway. The shoulder
is six feet and I kept needing to be careful with on-ramps and off-ramps.
A kid from the area had cycled behind me and let me know that the US17
bridge is pretty dangerous. He recommended the US421 bridge. I detoured
north for a mile, crossed the Cape Fear River and then headed south again.
It was noon and I'm was in downtown Wilmington with 75 miles behind me.
This felt pretty good and was somewhat of a contrast with the previous
I stopped for lunch on the far side of Wilmington. At 12:45 I was back
on the road again. It was getting pretty hot and I was going through a
lot of water. I also found myself stopping periodically. The road out
of Wilmington is two lanes each way for about six miles. Following
this it became a narrow two lane road with passing zones. The traffic was
pretty heavy. I stopped for another break at Holly Ridge. By now it was
late in the day and I was dragging a bit.
I reached Folkstone at 3:30pm. Here I decided to push it for the day
and take NC 172 out through Camp Lejune. This was be a shorter route, but
also meant no motels in the next 33+ miles. Four miles from the turnoff
was a concentration of businesses. Seven miles from the turnoff was an
entrance to the Marine Corps base. I cycled slowly past the sentry who
waved me in.
The base was a nice ride. The road is somewhat calmer and the drivers
were considerate. There were a number of cute signs with "Tank Xing" and
the like. One of the signs was for something named "DLZ Canary". The next
sign said, "DLZ Blue Bird". I tried to guess whether the theme was colors
or birds. The next two signs ("DLZ Albatross" and "DLZ Goose") answered
the question. At 22 miles from the turnoff I passed another sentry and
was out of the base.
I was starting to regret pushing the extra miles. Luckily a sign said
Swansboro was only seven miles away. About five miles past Swansboro I
found a motel two miles north of the intersection of 24/58. It was 7:00pm
and definitely time to stop.
April 18, Swansboro to Hatteras [79.3 miles]
Continental breakfast at the Parkerton Inn was at 6am. I talked with
the hotel manager before departing. At 6:30am I was back on the road.
Once again the air felt heavy and somewhat humid. There was a slight
breeze from the north (headwind :-(). The road had an occasional small
rise but was otherwise pretty flat. In addition to the slight cross wind
I could also feel my legs from the two days before. I decided to make this
day be an easier rest day. I stopped again briefly outside Moorhead City
where US70 joins. The stretch leading into Moorhead City was a pretty busy
strip. In town, most of the main street was torn up as I cycled through.
I crossed a large bridge across the sound and made it in through
Beaufort. It seemed like the wind had picked up a bit. The first
signs for the ferry appear (37 miles...) so I have some time to get set.
At the hotel I found a ferry schedule which said ferries left at 7am, 10am,
1pm and 4pm. I figured I would try for the 1pm ferry.
I stopped again at Otway. It was time for a hot dog and a Gatorade to
fuel me a bit further. The road was getting quieter and more out of the
way. I passed through several different ecosystems in the next stretch.
Sometimes it was pine forest, sometimes tidal marsh and sometimes across a
narrow bridge across the water. Compared to the past days, this felt like
I was along the coast.
I took a 30 second stop again at Davis and at Stacy. The light headwind
kept up so my average speed was down. Shortly past Stacy the main
road splits right and NC 12 continues on. I crossed a high bridge and
then crossed a three and half mile wide tidal marsh (the wind had picked up
so I was closely watching my odometer). It appears that in order to fill
the road they had dredged two large canals, one on each side. I reached
the pine trees at the far end and felt like I was getting close.
I pull in to the ferry spot at 12:10pm. While I figured I'd have to
wait for another hour, I actually found that they had added an extra ferry
departing at noon. I was in luck as they were just busy with boarding. I
almost didn't have to wait to get on the ferry. I paid my $2 fare and
found myself a comfortable place to sit.
The ferry was full with about thirty cars on board. I went to the open
deck and sit there with my PC typing my notes. Several other people on the
ferry said hello as they had seen me cycling along the route. I must have
obviously looked (smelled?) like a cyclist. At 2:30pm the ferry landed at
Ocracoke Island. I cycled through town a bit, but then decided to continue
on towards Hatteras. The wind picked up a bit as I cycled past the dunes
out of town. Once I was outside town it looked fairly unspoiled with land,
dunes and sea. Fourteen miles later I ended up at the other end of the
island. There was a long row of cars waiting for the next ferry, but was
able to cycle right past and pretty quickly board the ferry. This one was
This ferry is a bit smaller than the last. It took approximately
40 mintes and I'm in Hattaras. It is shortly before 5pm but I decided
to stop for the night. I found a small motel. There were no telephones in
the motel and the manager indicated she hoped it stayed that way.
April 19, Hatteras to Virginia Beach [136.8 miles]
Tailwinds! The Weather channel had said south winds of 10-15mph were
expected and it was true. The sky was mostly overcast but it was dry.
I was on the road at 6:15am to take advantage of the extra wind. I cycled
out of Hatteras past Frisco to Buxton for a quick morning stop.
These small towns looked like an interesting place to come back and
explore. Lots of small houses and some shops nestled amongst the dunes.
There wasn't many loud signs or other commercial "beach strip" aspect to
them. At Buxton I passed "the lighthouse". It was still off in the
distance. I debated whether I should turn off to see it, but then decided
to continue with my tailwinds.
At the northern edge of Buxton the settlement abruptly stopped and I
entered the national seashore. There were many dunes covered with scraggly
junipers and low grasses. There was a bit of drifting sand blown by the
wind. Off to the left I could see the bay. Over the dunes to the right
was the ocean. In the middle of this a single two lane road continued on
northwards. There was another small town at Avon and then it was dunes
and sand again.
I reached Rodanthe around 8:30. I took a short break to check my
voicemail at work and to eat breakfast.
The next 24 miles looked somewhat desolate. Back to the sand, dunes,
sea and junipers. At times the I could still see the bay off to the left.
At other times I could see over the dunes towards the ocean. In some
spots the wind erosion was significant and large sandbags had been placed
to contain the remaining amounts of sand. At some points it also looked
like the highway department had swept sand off the road to keep it from
drifting shut. The wind continued from behind. I crossed the Oregon
Inlet bridge from Hatteras Island to Bodie Island. In the fall of 1993 (?)
a span of this bridge had been knocked out by a barge. For six months the
tip of Hatteras had been an island again. I found a section of bridge
that was noticeably newer than the rest and figured this was the spot that
had been removed.
It didn't take too long to make it to Nags Head. I continued a bit
further to Kill Devil Hills for lunch with about 68 miles behind me.
From Kill Devil Hills it was about eight miles further until the
bridge across the Currituck Sound. There was a single two lane bridge
across the sound. There was a second new bridge almost completed but this
was still under construction.
As I continued past Point Harbor the signs started saying, "please
come back" as if I was leaving a vacation area. The next 30 miles
were fairly uneventful as I got to Currituck at about 3:20pm.
At Currituck there is a ferry that goes across the sound to Knotts
Island. The next ferry left at 3:30pm. Given that the time worked out so
well, I decided to take the ferry across to Knotts Island and head north
from there. It wasn't completely well marked on my map, but I figured I
couldn't go too wrong. The ferry was free.
The ferry took 45 minutes to get across the sound. This particular
ferry was smaller than the prior ones, though I did meet some folks who
had seen me on the road or otherwise been on the other ferries the day
I got off at Knotts Island. This area was very rural. There were
mostly houses on large lots mixed in with the pine trees. The route was
obvious as there was only a single road leading north. This road had very
little shoulder. Within this shoulder, there were placed obnoxious raised
reflectors so I needed to ride a bit further towards the center. I was
starting to mix with the 5pm commuter traffic. I got several obnoxious
gestures and toots as I rode along. I figured having just a single narrow
road must have caused some of these motorists to get a bit impatient with
The wind shifted slightly as I got off the island. At mile 114 I
crossed over into Virginia. The road was named Princess Anne road, but
I wasn't completely certain of the route. I stopped in at a convenience
store for directions. It was supposedly 15-20 miles in to the main part
of town. I hoped these were correct.
The road came to a dead end at General Booth Road. This road was
considerably more busy as I headed in towards town. There was a bicycle
path along the way but it didn't look too safe with lots of right turn
lanes, debris and other obstructions. Hence I continued along the main
road. I cycled in and across a low bridge to find myself on the breach at
April 20, Virginia Beach to Pocomoke City [82.9 miles]
Headwinds! My luck had changed as the winds had shifted to be from the
north. I left about 7am and cycled the strand along Atlantic Avenue.
There were many hotels in the first stretch along the beach but it became
more residential in a few miles. There wasn't very much traffic in this
first stretch but the road became busier as it turned westward along the
As the road turned westward it became a 55mph expressway with lots of
traffic and little shoulder. I had seen this trick before and made certain
I rode predictably and visibly. The traffic also seemed to give me a bit
of room. At mile 12.8 I turned northwards to the onramps for the
Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel. I was there right around 8am.
No bicycles are allowed on the bridge/tunnel. It wouldn't be a safe
ride anyway. My choice was thus to either hitchhike across the bridge, to
bicycle via Washington DC around the bay, or to go a ways to ferries at
Tangier Island. I elected to try hitchhiking as cycling through/around DC
didn't particularly appeal to me and the ferries seemed like they could be
I set out at the onramps to the bridge with my carefully lettered sign:
"Across the Bridge" and bicycle with full paniers. About five minutes
later one of the guards from the bridge came out and informed me that I
was not allowed to hitchhike on bridge property. He was friendly enough
and did let me know if I backed up 200 yards or so, behind some bushes and
out of sight, that would be fine.
Approximately ten minutes after setting up in the new location, a truck
stopped. The driver was from the Virginia Highway department and was
willing to take me across if we could find a space in the back of the
crowded pickup truck. I packed my bicycle and we headed across. I
offered to pay his fare ($10 for a vehicle) but he had tickets from the
highway department that provided for that. Interestingly enough the
bridge/tunnel is not run by the state of Virginia but by entirely
different entity. Hence, although his expertise was in asphalt he had
nothing to do with this particular bridge. He did tell me a bit more about
the Currituck bridge though.
At approximately 8:45 I was across the bridge and at the north side.
As a started again, the headwinds continued to be fairly strong and
consistent. This day was going to be bit of a slog upwind. This next
stretch had a number of open fields so that the wind wasn't blocked at
much. Overall, this was a pretty sharp contrast with the day before. At
times I figured my average speed was about half the prior day.
I continued northwards with frequent stops. The first such stop was
outside Cape Charles. The road itself was a four lane highway. The
shoulders were pretty inconsistent. Sometimes there would be a generous
six foot paved shoulder. Other times it would narrow to six inches.
Perhaps the worst sections were those with a poorly surfaced six foot
shoulder. In these sections I rode out in traffic anyway. Every mile or
two there would be a small cross road.
I stopped for a while for an extended breakfast at Nassawadox to get
out of the wind and recuperate. It was good to take a break. In the
newspaper I read about some nuts who had blown up a federal building in
Exmore was a slightly larger town as I cycled by on the bypass. Other
towns such as Painter were mostly a small street, often called "Main
Street" with a few houses and shops. Overall, the road continued fairly
I found another excuse to stop for longer lunch at Onley. The wind
continued from the north. At times there would be trees along the way that
would provide some relief, although I needed to figure out how to best
adjust my cadence for the wind.
Nelsonia was my last stop in Virginia. I had been seeing signs for a
"Stuckys" for a while. The mileages listed on the signs weren't always
accurate. For example, one sign would say, "seven miles" and then three
miles later it would say "five and a half miles". This was a bit
frustrating but at least they were monotonically decreasing. I stopped in
at Stuckys in time to see this touristy shop with a busload of tourists.
Luckily the wind was starting to die down a bit. Although by now I was
getting a bit tired for the day and wasn't able to take as much advantage
I stopped in at a information center at the Maryland state line. This
added to my collection of states I've cycled through parts of (thirty-two
upon completion of this trip).
The last bit of road in Virginia had a pretty decent shoulder and this
continued into Maryland. I stopped at a motel in Pocomoke City. The motel
was across from a Ponderosa Restaurant advertising 175 item salad bar and I
vowed to have them loose some money on me.
April 21 Pocomoke City to Atlantic City [117.5 miles]
As I woke up at 5:15am there was heavy rain outside. It looked like my
spell of dry weather was about to end. Luckily things cleared up by 6:10am
when I was out riding. My northeastward direction to the trip had allowed
me to get going a little earlier each day.
It had stopped raining as I rode to the intersection of 13/113. There
was a breakfast place at the intersection, but this seemed early, so I
decided to continue and try to find something in Snow Hill. There was a
very light wind from the SSE which shifted from being a slight tailwind to
being a slight headwind. It wasn't very bad at all though. The road had
a nice paved 6ft shoulder. In contrast to the previous three states there
were mileage markers along the way.
I decided to take the bypass past Snow Hill and figured I'd catch
breakfast at one of the intersections. There was no such luck as it took
until mile 21 at Newark before I found a place. This section had a
sequence of "Adopt a Highway" signs that I found a bit amusing. Apparently
each section was adopted by two entities, one of which was the local SWAT
team. To the unwary however, this wasn't obvious according to the sign.
It took me a few signs like the following: "Irving Family SWAT Team" and
"Bethedren Methodist Church SWAT Team" before I correctly parsed the signs.
The road past Newark was pretty rural, but things got busier as I
approached Berlin. At Berlin I took a right on US 50 to head towards Ocean
City. The bad news was this meant cycling upwind again. The good news was
this was only seven miles and was fairly quickly accomplished and I was in
Ocean City at 11am.
It was off season in Ocean City. It looked like a place that could
become very busy mid-summer with many beach house rentals, etc. However,
as I cycled through now, places looked closed. The road looked deserted.
Somewhere between Virginia Beach and Ocean City I had crossed an imaginary
line between places that were an acceptable April vacation destination and
those where it was too cold or off season. The cool 50 degree overcast
(but dry) skies also enhanced the contrast with a sunny 92 degree high at
Virginia Beach less than two days before.
Ocean City continues northwards all the way to the border with Delaware.
Each street is numbered, so it continues well pass 100th street. There was
a bit more city in South Bethany and then it became more of a nature
As I cycled along the Delaware coast the winds had shifted a bit to be
slightly more from behind. This let me coast on in to Rehoboth fairly
quickly. I then took a right on US9 towards Lewes and another ferry. The
ferries left at 11:20am, 1:20pm and 2:40pm. I arrived shortly after 1pm
well in time for the first afternoon ferry. I bought my ticket ($8!) and
waited to board.
This ferry was larger than the previous ones, more expensive and also a
bit more crowded. They had a snack bar on board where I ordered lunch. I
had completed 71 miles by this point.
The ferry arrived at Cape May approximately eightly minutes later.
Traffic was initially heavy as the ferry traffic was getting to the
Turnpike. However, I split off at US9 and continued northwards.
The road through Cape May had many houses along the way, but was
otherwise fairly calm and quiet. I cycled in to the town of Cape May
Court House for another quick stop. At this point I decided I would try
cycling out to ocean and following the coast highway. I headed right
across some low marshlands and then across a bridge to Sea Isle City.
The sun had started coming out for the first time in the day. The wind
had also shifted slightly from behind. The road was marked as a tourist
route with small toll booths between islands (50 cents, but not for
As I cycled towards Ocean City, NJ I passed many more two story beach
houses. Overall it still gave the "off season" tone to it as there were
few people in the houses or along the street. I cycled over the last toll
bridge and on to the same island as Atlantic City. This stretch was built
up with many houses along the way. It felt good to be getting close to
the overall goal.
My initial objective had been to cycle in to Atlantic City and stop at
the airport to make my reservations to get home. I had miscalculated
slightly however since the airport I saw on my map was a small private
field. The real Atlantic City International Airport was 10 miles out of
town at Pomona. Hence as I thought I was getting close I was still pretty
far away. I cycled past streets named after state capitals, Madison...
Little Rock...Raleigh...Trenton...Albany. I could see the large casinos
ahead. I turned left at Albany to the supposed airport.
Two miles from the center of town I realized my mistake. By now it was
slightly after 7pm so I decided to stop and stay at a motel for the night.
April 22 Atlantic City [9.0 miles]
I slept in until 6:30am, then slowly got my things together to make it
to the airport. The road got a bit less busy as I rode through
Pleasantville and on the Atlantic City International Airport. Here I
determined the best way to get home (rental car) and ended this stage of
Part III, Atlantic City, NJ to Chelmsford, MA: 6/30/95 to 7/4/95
June 30, Manchester to Atlantic City [2.9 miles]
On June 30th I flew back for Atlantic City for the next segment. My
parents graciously dropped me off at the airport so that I would have
my car at home. My goal for this next segment was to bicycle from Atlantic
City back home, and thus this was the first segment where the distance was
fixed but the time was variable. I had told my Wednesday appointments that
I might have to reschedule, but also figured I'd be back by then.
Travel down was on a flight from Manchester to Atlantic City via Newark.
With luck I was at the airport in enough time to catch the prior
flight to Newark. At Newark my luck changed, and the outbound flight
was delayed. As a result, I didn't get to AC until after dark at 10pm.
My bicycle came through baggage claim, but one of my panniers, which I
had placed in a box, did not appear. I looked somewhat frantically
for either the pannier or someone from Continental Airlines until I saw
a stranger walking away with the box! I quickly accosted him with a
"hey, that is mine!" before realizing he was from the airline.
I called HoJo national number, made a reservation. I cycled in
through a bit of the dark to a motel I had identified on the last trip.
Luckily, most of the route was lit by street lamps as it was almost new
moon and very dark.
June 30, Atlantic City to New York City [142.4 miles]
It was near the solstice and hence I was up at 4:40am and on the road
by 5:05am. It was somewhat cool, but pretty humid as I cycled back
past the airport and towards Egg Harbor City on 563 and US 30. Traffic
was light and there was a nice shoulder. There were lots of pine
forests along the way.
At Egg Harbor City, I turned north on 563. This region was lightly
populated with lots of pine forests, and some meadows close to the
Mullica river. I made it through Lower Bank to New Gretna. Even here
traffic was pretty light and the shoulder was good. I passed under
the Garden State Parkway. In my trip through NJ I saw many green "to
turnpike/parkway" signs. This must be one of the more popular signs
in New Jersey. I pulled in to Tuckerton at mile 29 for a first breakfast.
After breakfast, traffic slowly picked up as the region became more
populated and the day got later. For the most part the shoulder was
good, but occasionally they had done some poor road work. Traffic kept
getting busier past 72 at Manahawkin. One of my water bottle mounts
loosened but I was able to tighten it up. I continued past a nuclear
plant and made it in to Beachwood by about 9:30am. It started raining
lightly. I found myself directed towards the Garden State Parkway but
turned around when I saw the "no bicycles" signs.
I stopped for a second breakfast at mile 64 outside Toms River.
Road 549 was surprisingly busy which worried me a bit for later
routes. Not too long out of Silverton, the rain stopped. NJ 70 was
fairly large, but luckily traffic was slowed by occasional lights. I
continued on 70 until 34.
34 was a nice road. Even though it was a large divided highway,
traffic was fairly light. It got a little busier when 33 merged in,
but this was still ok. I passed through the Navel Ammunition Depot
with its "careful with cigarettes and fires" message. By noon, I had
completed 85 miles which was pretty good progress.
Not too far outside Colts Neck, my rear tire went flat. There were
some nice shade trees under which I could patch the tire. I found that
my vulcanizing compound had evaporated, but luckily I had two extra tubes.
I would need to pick up another patch kit. For this next stretch I noticed
two things: there was a surprising amount of agricultural fields here, not
far outside NYC; and the land started to roll some. I noticed the downhills
mostly and otherwise that I was occasionally getting tired for not
much reason (aside from nearing the century mark). The region became more
urban at Matawan where I stopped for a lunch at mile 95.
From Matawan I took 516 to 35. 35 was pretty busy with narrow
shoulders. I got a few toots, but most folks were courteous. After
passing South Amboy, I went off the road to the NJ 35 bridge. I
walked my bicycle across the bridge in accordance with the signage. I
was getting a bit tired through this next stretch. I continued with
NJ 35 and stopped briefly at a bike store in Linden. I was able to
pick up a patch kit and an extra tube.
From Linden I headed in towards the Goethals Bridge, arriving
around 4:30pm. I had posted a note to the internet (rec.bicycles.rides)
and received responses that indicated the bridge would be open. It wasn't.
I would not be able to complete my original plan of cycling through
Staten Island to the Staten Island Ferry. I spent some time
contemplating my choices, before deciding to try for one of several
ferries across the Hudson River.
I backtracked and then went north through the center of Elizabeth.
As I went through town, it started raining. Unlike the morning, this
time it was with thunderstorms, lightning and heavy rain. I made my
way best as possible, although my map and myself became thoroughly soggy.
I passed through an industrial area in Newark. Not the best of
neighborhoods but tolerable. I also came in through the center of
Newark before turning on Market Street towards Jersey City.
I followed the truck route across a bridge across Newark Bay. The
bridge had a metal grating and the rain made it very slick so I
stopped and walked the rest of the way on the walkway. I pulled in to
a Jersey City McDonalds at around 6pm. The folks there were very
helpful at directing me to the Jersey City ferry. I made it fairly
quickly only to find the ferry didn't run on weekends. Time for
backup plan #2.
I continued north along the shore towards Hoboken. I crossed the
train tracks before asking for a location of the ferry. I was in luck
the ferry went every hour, so I was able to catch the 7pm ferry ($2).
I was pleased that the backup plan #2 worked because otherwise I would
have had to continue to the George Washington Bridge.
The ferry landed in downtown Manhattan near the financial district.
I decided my goal now would be to find a hotel. I saw one near the
World Trade Center but decided it would be too expensive. I decided
to continue generally north and west through NYC. Navigation through the
city was pretty easy.
I both cycled and walked through Manhattan. It was a Saturday
evening so traffic was pretty light. The cab drivers were fairly
belligerent with their horns, but they also left me lots of room. I
also took some time to walk, partially to avoid the busiest streets
and partially for variety. I traveled through Soho and what looked
like an edge of Chinatown to the numbered streets and avenues.
As I continued north I started looking for hotels again. I wasn't
quite certain where to look, and had some difficulty telling what
buildings were hotels. I found a place on 42nd street and brought my
bicycle up to the 12th floor for the night.
July 2, New York City to New London [111.8 miles]
I was up at 4:45am again and on the road by 5:15am. There was
traffic even at 5am in the morning. I found the on ramp to the
Queensboro Bridge on the second try, my first attempt resulted in my
going to the upper deck. The Queensboro Bridge has a nice combined
pedestrian and bicycle path with a metal grating. I was still a bit
cautious about the slick grating so I walked much of the distance across.
The sky was overcast and would remain that way all day.
The bridge ends in a slightly dumpy looking section of Queens.
There were some people out on the street, but not the sort I'd invite
to dinner. Almost immediately, I went to the left to follow 25A.
Traffic was a bit lighter as street numbers started counting up.
Unfortunately, most of those streets had traffic lights, so I still
needed to stop frequently.
The road became almost a freeway as I got close to Shea Stadium. I
thought I might be on the wrong road so I pulled off. This turned out to
be incorrect as I ended up in a pretty rundown "auto repair" neighborhood.
I made my way back onto Roosevelt Avenue. The surroundings started to
get nicer. I also noticed many Asian characters in this part of town.
I eventually merged back to 25A, where the road started have some
I stopped somewhat before 7am for breakfast at mile #13. It was a
bit slower today due to extra lights and walking. As I left Queens
the hills started getting bigger. In this next stretch I also noticed
that an unfortunate pattern was developing. There were cross roads in
many of the valleys and these roads had lights. I would go zooming
down the hill only to have the light change. I tried timing my descent
by waiting up at the middle of some of the hills with mixed success. The
shoulder was still reasonable, though I wouldn't want to be on this
road during heavier traffic.
The region through Manhasset, East Hills and Muttontown became more
rural with most of the buildings tucked away from the road. I also
started seeing additional cyclists out on the road. There was
one hill climb outside Huntington that was a bit much. An added
diversion of a bagel cafe mandated another morning break. The road past
Huntington became a bit larger. Centerport was a nice small town,
though it looked a bit artsy and expensive. There was another larger
hill outside Kings Park, but after that the route through Long Island
started becoming a bit flatter.
I looked for a lunch spot at Port Jefferson and was able to find
one at Port Jefferson Station. I had done slightly less than 60 miles
by noon, but also had 3000+ feet of elevation gain (and descents).
Heading towards Rocky Point the land became more rural with a few
fields of clover, alfalfa and even corn. This wasn't Iowa, but it
also wasn't what I'd expect on Long Island. Several additional roads
merged in as they ended as I neared Riverhead.
Coming out of Riverhead there were many wineries and signs for the
same. There were also a number of boutiques and craft shops. Traffic
was also very heavy, but pretty slow. For several sections I found
myself passing cars on the right hand lane. I paused outside
Greenport to take a brief break when a cyclist passed me by. I wasn't
going to be much faster than her, so I tagged along on this next
stretch. We crossed a narrow isthmus out to the last point at Orient.
We made it in just in time for the 6pm ferry. I paid my $10.50,
parked my bicycle and settled in for the our and half ride.
The Groton/New London harbor was pretty interesting with several
submarines docked or in dry dock. I found a motel for the evening and
ate at a restaurant with the world's slowest waitress (Lorelei).
July 3, New London to Wrentham [88.2 miles]
Easier day today, slept in to 5:30am. I left New London shortly
after 6am. The sky was clear. It was cool and sunny. I cycled
through the center of town and onto the access routes to the I-95
bridge across the Thames River. I crossed the bridge on the
pedestrian/bicycle path. On the other side I found my way to US1.
For the next fifteen miles the road would frequently climb at a sharp
grade only to descend on the other end. The shoulder was adequate and
early morning traffic was light. I stopped for a breakfast at mile 8.
I crossed through a touristy town of Westerly and in to Rhode
Island. From the center of town the road climbed again. Not too much
further it became a multi-lane divided highway. There was a nice ten
foot shoulder and it was newly paved. The grades also became
shallower as the land flattened some. At Charleston, I passed several
flea markets along the side. As I neared Wakefield, the new pavement
went away and traffic also increased. Hence, I was happy to pull off
the road onto 1A.
Highway 1A heads across to the town of Narragansett. I briefly
stopped by the local beach, but decided to continue after noticing
they were charging $4 admission (!). Heading north our of
Narragansett I several nice New England stone fences. The bay side
also had some very nice mansions. I headed slowly up a hill and
briefly stopped for an early lunch at Plum Point at mile 48.
I continued north until the merge with US1. This road kept getting
busier without much shoulder. The roadway itself was also pretty
poorly surfaced. I passed the airport in Warwick. Not too much later
I saw signs for US1 which I decided to follow. In the next stretch I
got slightly lost, partially due to missing highway signs. I went on
1A, 117 and 12 but mostly headed towards large building downtown.
I was in the center of Providence around 2pm. I stopped and asked
for directions to US1 out of town. The woman telling me directions
said, "and if you keep going, you will eventually get to Boston". Her
tone clearly implied this would be an outlandish thing. I smiled and
thanked her for the information.
Despite the directions, I soon got lost again. I stopped and
bought a map. This was definitely a necessity as I needed to refer to
it several times again. With a few more map checks I made my way out
Pawtucket and in to Massachusetts. In hindsight, I probably had more
difficulty with signage, poor roads and cars going through Providence
as I had with New York City.
I entered the state at South Attleboro which is in Bristol County.
This completed my 14th and final county I have cycled in Massachusetts.
By now the sun was still burning down and it was getting pretty warm.
I was also getting a bit tired. I stopped for a late lunch.
US1 in Massachusetts was a better road than RI. Traffic was still
fairly heavy as I passed several malls. Shortly after crossing I-495
I decided to stop for the day at 4:30pm. This would leave a bit of
cycling for the last day.
July 4, Wrentham to Chelmsford [52.8 miles]
I left the motel at 5:15am. It was cool and clear, but already had
signs of being a hot day. I cycled down and up some rolling hills,
passing by Foxboro Stadium in a few miles. My plan had been to take
115 around the city, but none of the side roads was clearly marked.
US1 would have been difficult under heavier traffic but was fine in
the early holiday morning.
The road briefly merges with several on ramps to I95 not too far
from Sharon. Overall the shoulder varied, sometimes an 8 foot lane
and sometimes an extremely poor shoulder. Not too far outside Norwood
I crested a hill and could see downtown to the skyscrapers. I could
tell I was already getting close.
I passed several malls in Norwood and in Dedham. I was looking for
a place for breakfast but didn't find much suitable. I thus continued
on in to Dedham and reached the VFW parkway. This road is very nice
and tree shaded. I circled around Jamaica Pond before taking back
streets through Brookline. I cycled down St. Paul Street and past my
former fraternity residence, crossed the BU bridge and went out along
the Charles River. I stopped briefly for breakfast in Cambridge.
From Cambridge, US3 is narrow without much shoulders but got better
as I went out through Winchester. There were a few hills in through
Burlington and Billerica on 3A but nothing bad. I continued up to 129
and in to Chelmsford Center.
I was just in time for the 10am 4th of July parade. The parade
route was along my intended direction of travel. Hence, I walked for
some distance but also spent most of the time watching the parade
(why is it that most 4th of July parades have to have a complete
display of all fire equipment from the surrounding region? Chelmsford
parade had more than 30 vehicles...) before cycling home at 11:30am.
Part IV, Chelmsford, MA to Bar Harbor, ME via Yarmouth, NS: 8/11/95 to 8/18/95
August 11, Chelmsford to Salisbury [42.7 miles]
I took a week of vacation in August to complete the last leg of the bicycle
trip. The plan was to bicycle from Chelmsford to Eastport and then continue
on to Saint John, New Brunswick. From there I would take a ferry to Digby,
Nova Scotia, bicycle to Yarmouth and end up at Bar Harbor, ME. If all went
well I would meet my parents in Bar Harbor on Friday for a last weekend
through Maine. Whew!
Once again, I didn't do much training for this ride after the last trip.
I was busy until the last minute, but did get my stuff together on Thursday
night. I made a few substitutions. No mittens or wool hat or sweater. I
brought both a tent and sleeping bag because I feared accommodations might be
somewhat scarce. At the last minute my HP 200lx was added because I didn't
have time to transfer telephone numbers. I figured I would be one of few
cyclists on the road with not one but two on board computers!
I cycled my loaded bicycle to work on Friday. It was definitely heavier
than the last trip, but not too bad. Friday was pretty hectic and thus I
wasn't able to get out of work until 5:15pm. I joked with people about
getting no further than Lowell. I was fortunate to do a little better.
I took 110 straight out of Chelmsford and headed towards Lowell. It had
been a hot day and was still pretty warm. I didn't complain much as I had a
slight tailwind. I cycled through familiar territory, but by the other side
of Lowell, I was already on new ground. I followed 110 along the north side
of the Merrimack River. This was a surprisingly nice route with reasonable
shoulders, and relatively flat. In not too much time I was on my way to
towards Lawrence. The route through Lawrence was fairly well marked as was
the route in Haverhill. At times the route left the river bottom and thus
there were some slight hills. Nothing too bad as I followed 110 through
Merrimac and Amesbury. I crossed under 495 shortly before 8pm. It was
starting to get dark so I started looking for a place to stay. I opted to
pass on a Suisse Chalet and then there was a dearth of places. Luckily after
a few miles I found a motel for the night.
August 12, Salisbury to Damariscotta [126.0 miles]
I was up at 5pm working towards a fairly quick departure. Sunrise wasn't
officially until ~5:40am so I left about 5:20am. More light tailwinds as I
met the coast at Salisbury beach and started heading north. Although it was
early in the morning, it was obviously peak season. Several bait shops were
even open for the early morning fishermen.
Sunrise over the Atlantic was pretty. A bit hazy as the sun was orange
red. I was also pleased with light winds from the south.
It didn't take long before I crossed to Seabrook, NH and then Hampton
Beach. On the north side of Hampton Beach were a number of very nice homes
near the shore. It was still cool. I climbed and descended several hills
in getting into Portsmouth. It was about 7am when I entered Maine.
I was ready for breakfast in Kittery at about 25 miles. After breakfast
it started getting hotter as I cycled through York and Ogunquit. At mile 35
I found I just had to go to the bathroom. With no obvious places in sight,
I dashed off into the woods. I hoped the ferns weren't poisonous (they
weren't, whew!). I had a second light breakfast a few miles down the road
Traffic was still light. The road had a few hills but nothing too bad.
The route alternated between small-town touristy Maine and roads through
trees without much else alongside. Overall, the road was in pretty good
shape. At Biddeford/Saco it got a bit busier before being rural again at
I got close to Portland, not too long before noon. As of 12pm I had 76
miles behind me so I felt pretty good. I decided I'd continue for a while
and then see where I ended up. First I spent a fairly long lunch at Falmouth.
It was now pretty hot/humid and I'd gone through 5+ water bottles as well as
From Yarmouth I dropped into a tourist info center. Route 1 paralleled
I-95. Both went through rolling hills. The road to Freeport was initially
light traffic, but suddenly there was long back up entering Freeport. Almost
all of the cars had out-of-state plates. I was able to pass many cars on the
right. I opted to skip a trip to L.L. Bean due to the crowds. A few miles
later after the next exit the road became quiet again.
There were several larger sized hills before getting in to Brunswick.
I tried following Route 1 through town but then found that there were no
bicycles allowed. I backed up, and took a secondary road to Bath.
It was around 4pm when I got to Bath. I had 105 miles behind me and I had
had enough to look for a place for the night. All the places I saw had no
vacancy signs. I tried the Holiday Inn (a bit pricy but I was getting a bit
desperate). No chance, they were full, all reservations were guaranteed and
they were real iffy about cancellations. They did mention that the Pioneer
Inn outside Wicasset was rumored to still have space. Wicasset was another
eight miles down the road.
I cycled down and across the bridge at Bath. A police officer directed me
to walk my bike on the sidewalk. I could have easily ridden and kept up with
the backed up traffic, but followed his request. Walking the bridge gave me
a good view of an Aegis Destroyer that was built and launched just that day
(named The Sullivans after a set of four brothers from Iowa who were lost on
the same destroyer in WWII. They had been placed on the same boat against
general guidelines because they asked.)
After cycling through Wicasset, I was not yet at the Pioneer, but decided
to try a motel again. A lady at the Edgecomb Inn was very nice and helpful.
She initially directed me to Augusta, but when I mentioned I was on a bicycle
she called around and found a place at a bed and breakfast in Damariscotta.
I got back on my bicycle and continued through the hills to Damariscotta.
This is the first time I had stayed at a bed and breakfast. The B&B was
called The Mandalay. A friendly couple rented rooms in their house. She
was Australian and he was American with an Air Force/Consulting background.
I had a very nice room. The scallops from the restaurant in town were
August 13, Damariscotta to Bucksport [71.1 miles]
Slow day today. Breakfast wasn't supposed to start until 8am, so I slept
in. I met two other couples over breakfast. Both older people from up-state
New York. Not traveling together however. We had a nice full breakfast and
I was off at about 9am.
The sun was already getting hot. The road continued to go over rolling
hills. The shoulder was usually wide, but sometimes went away. Most of the
towns were at the bottoms of hills so I would have half a mile of fine descent
followed by a slow trudge up the other side. I was at Waldoboro at mile 11
about an hour later.
I continued through the hills and descended through Tomaston. It looked
like a nice New England town with classic town center. I went back up a
hillside past a large cement plant and then descended down towards Rockland
and Penobscott Bay. This was one of the first times I'd seen ocean since
Portland. There was usually trees and land in the way.
I stopped for lunch at Rockland at mile 29. It was going to be a slow day.
I climbed out of Rockland and then kept mostly level through Glen Cove. I
continued in through Camden. The center of Camden was pretty crowded. I'm
sure there were lots of touristy shops, etc.
There was a reasonable sized hill getting out of Camden. It continued up
for most of two miles to one of the entrances to Camden Hills park.
Thereafter level and eventually down. I stopped at a small beach in
Lincolnville for a grilled cheese. Someone had placed a "retriever crossing"
sign on the main road. One of the culprits was inside the store lying on the
floor. I mentioned to the store owner that the heat gave him a good excuse
to be lazy. She said, no he usually layed around like that.
Out of Lincolnville it got a bit more rural as I cycled up past Northport
and eventually around to Belfast. Belfast was an ice cream stop at 3pm. I
cycled through town and then across the bridge to Searsport. Traffic had
been pretty heavy for most of this stretch. Winds were intermittent,
occasionally head winds and occasionally from the side.
I was starting to get a bit tired outside Stockton Springs. The road past
Sandy Point was newly done and had wide shoulders. At Verona I beautiful view
of a bridge with Bucksport in the background. I decided this would be my
destination and found a motel for the night. The no vacancy sign was up but
this turned out to be a false alarm.
August 14, Bucksport to Lubec [107.2 miles]
I was up and on the road by 5:20am. It could have been earlier as I'd
traveled a bit east and north and the sun was coming up. For the 20 miles
until Ellsworth, the road had a nice shoulder. It did however have a number
of hills to climb and descend. I was still fresh so kept going through most
of them. There were several spots with nice views of lakes along the way.
It was right around 7am when I came down one last hill into the center of
Ellsworth. I did walk my bicycle up the steep main street to the junction
with 1A. I stopped for breakfast right where route 1 took off again.
After breakfast it started getting warm. The route was also very pretty
through trees and forests. A few miles further 182 split off. While the
inland road was shorter, I decided to stick to the coastal route. I went
down and across a metal decked bridge to Sullivan. From Sullivan, one could
occasionally see the waters again. In East Sullivan I briefly stopped for a
snack and in Gouldsboro I stopped to buy stamps to mail some bills I'd taken
with me from Boston.
Outside Steuben I saw a cyclist coming the other way. He had full gear
and was walking his bicycle on the level ground. I guess he must have gotten
tired cycling and was now walking for variation. I came down and through
Millbridge before I knew it. I had been planning for lunch in Millbridge
but didn't see anything exciting. Outside Millbridge I took 1A. It
immediately became a narrow road with worn edges. When I thought it couldn't
get too much worse, I saw a "road narrows" sign. Luckily, not too far outside
Harrington the road was newly paved with wide shoulders.
I had lunch at the gas station in Harrington. It appeared to be the center
of town with many cars stopping from both directions. About 12:15 I headed
down towards Columbia. I stopped at a bank ATM to get additional cash.
While there and in a supermarket I noticed a surprising number of people with
dirty hands and dirty smudges on their clothes. I later believe this was due
to harvesting all the blueberries in the area (and not a general cleanliness
$1.25/pint. The going rate at signs along the way. Lots of fields
including fields of wild blueberries. The University of Maine had put out
a display along the road.
At the Jonesboro I stopped in the local store. I met a lady formerly
from MA. They had come to Maine eight years ago and never gone back to MA.
She had 17 years with Raytheon when she said, "I'm going to Maine and this
time I'm not coming back". She mentioned being a bit peeved that the guides
to the Maine coast said, "Kittery to Bar Harbor" as if down east didn't exist.
I agreed that this was a prettier part of the coast. Perhaps one should redo
guides to be "The Maine Coast: Bath to Calais".
I was in Machias about 2:30. I cycled along a beautiful inlet and then was
on to East Machias. Outside East Machias, there were a number of lakes along
the way with small vacation homes around them. Otherwise, it was getting
pretty quiet. At Whiting I stopped in for a drink at the gas station. The
response to my inquiry about the road to Lubec was "long".
The road to Lubec turned out not to be too long. I came in to town shortly
before 5pm. There was only one motel outside town and that didn't look too
interesting. I struck out at two B&B's before finding one with vacancy. An
elderly lady ran the place during the summer months and then visited her
children in the rest of the year. I stayed right near the bridge into
Campbello Island, Canada. I had pretty much reached the end of the road in
the United States.
August 14, Lubec to Calais [45.9 miles]
Wonderful blueberry pancakes for breakfast. I had breakfast with the other
guests: a Columbia pre-med student with her parents visiting from Italy and
a woman from Virginia Beach coming "to get away from it all." B&B is
definitely a different way to travel, I'll have to keep this in mind for
Decided to have an easy day today. After breakfast I cycled six miles out
to West Quoddy Light to see the easternmost point in the USA. For all the
hokey things labelled "easternmost..." I was amused to find that the point was
in fact "west". East Quoddy would be on the other side of the bay (in Canada).
I sat out at a picnic table on the point watching the fog come in and wrote
out a few postcards. I also updated my log on my PC.
I cycled back six miles back in town, changed $ in Canadian and bought
stamps before heading across the international bridge to Campobello Island.
The island was a former summer home of FDR. I cycled past the former "cabin"
and on to the ferry crossing. There was lots of green foliage, greenery, etc.
The road was fairly lightly traveled.
I made it just in time for the 11:30 ferry on to Deer Island. It was a
small boat ferry with about 10 cars. Most of them were taking a short cut
across to Deer Island and the New Brunswick. This could save almost 100 miles
off an auto trip. I was the last off the boat. I had almost an hour until
the next one back to Eastport, so went to explore a bit of Deer Island.
I cycled up to the next cove, but then turned back after coming across a *big*
hill. It was, after all, my day off.
I took the 1:00 ferry back to Eastport. It had been overcast and now
started to rain. Eastport had been my original goal when I started in
December '94. I thought it was a bit strange to be arriving there by ferry.
Perhaps fitting as the trip up the entire coast would include eleven ferry
The US customs officer must have thought I looked a bit odd coming ashore
with a loaded touring bicycle in the rain. He gave me an extra set of
questions and even asked for ID. He looked even stranger when I easily pulled
out a drivers license. My passport had been left at home to avoid getting it
I had lunch in Eastport. Over lunch there was a brief downpour. I thought
the worst was over and cycled out of town. It started raining again. I was
however fortunate to pick up a slight tailwind. Outside Eastport it became
rural again, until shortly before Quoddy. Seven miles later I made it to the
intersection with US1. It appeared to be part of an Indian reservation in the
The rain became more intense as I traveled up US1. The road went through
the woods without many houses, save the small towns of Perry and Robbinston.
I just about decided to stop due to rain, but decided to continue on. I
passed a small monument for the 45th Parallel and also granite mile markers
entering Calais. It was 3:30pm and I was a bit wet when I pulled into Calais.
There I found a motel and was able to log in for the first time on the trip.
August 15, Calais to Digby [70.7 miles]
I was up and on the road by about 5:15am (that became 6:15am when I crossed
the border and changed to the Atlantic Time Zone). It was a bit cool and
overcast. I cycled through some of the remainder of Calais and on to the
bridge. I'm certain there wasn't much of the town I'd missed.
Once again, the border guard asked where I lived, how long I was staying
and if I was bringing weapons into Canada. Just a few weeks prior, a small
fuss had been raised in Calais/St. Stephen due to Calais police not being
allowed to bring their guns over for a parade to celebrate US/Canada
cooperation. As a result, the Calais police had stayed home resulting in a
bit of a border fuss and some stories in the local newspapers.
The road turned and climbed out of St. Stephen. It also started to get
foggy. It would remain foggy all morning. I was not able to see my shadow
until shortly before noon. The official signage was either bilingual or
pictorial. Distances on the official signs were metric. The other signs were
predominantly English. About half the distances on those signs was also in
miles and the other half were in kilometers.
The road was quite good with a six foot shoulder. There was some road
construction outside Oak Bay that forced all traffic onto narrow lanes, but
otherwise the road was fine. Once I got out of town, there was relatively
little along the road. The combination of the trees, the fog and the mist
on my glasses prevented me from seeing much more than road and trees.
I took the business route through St. George. There was a nice small town
center. I stopped for breakfast at the restaurant in town. I had cycled
about 26 miles.
As I came out of the restaurant I met several other cyclists. They were
part of a group of 150 (!) doing a supported tour starting and ending in
Bar Harbor. They were doing some of my route in reverse. We traded stories
about road conditions, etc.
The fog persisted as I came out of St. George. The terrain continued to
roll. All throughout, I saw cyclists coming from the other direction. They
were traveling a bit lighter. I was also surprised to see most of them
wearing jackets. I had long gone to a T-shirt and had been sweating some.
From Pennfield, the road became nice and rural again. In a few spots it
got close to the coast. I couldn't see much, but could tell the tide was out.
Tides in this region had quite a variation (20+ feet) which was particularly
apparent when the water was out and mud flats were exposed. The tides would
be particularly pronounced due to Hurricane Felix further down the coast.
I stopped for lunch at a small place in Lepreau. Following lunch the sun
started coming out. I decided to skip the scenic 790 loop and instead
continued on Highway 1. The highway soon became limited access two lanes in
each direction. I was also greeted by another stretch of highway construction
that squeezed everything into two narrow lanes. Luckily, traffic was pretty
About 1:30pm, I came into Saint John. I passed the water supply reservoir,
left 1 and came into the ferry terminal. I had traveled about 70 miles
since the morning. I sat in the terminal building catching up with newspapers
and my journal. I also met several other touring cyclists also heading out to
Ferry crossing was uneventful. On the other side I bicycled about half a
mile to a motel for the evening.
August 17, Digby to Yarmouth [66.9 miles]
An easy day today. Decided to take things as they came and stop somewhere
between Digby and Yarmouth. The remaining distance could be done the next
day. I left the motel at 7:30am and cycled three miles into town. Digby is
a small fishing town known for its scallop fleet. I cycled out to the docks
and looked at the ships.
I didn't see a good breakfast spot so I dropped in to the supermarket for
some food. Following breakfast I looked around town and then shortly after
9am, I cycled up the hill and out of town. I entered highway 101 about at
about six miles.
On entering the highway, I passed two other touring cyclists. Throughout
the day, I would encounter at least eight different groups, usually of one or
two. Nova Scotia clearly is a cyclist destination. I can easily see why with
the beautiful scenery, reasonable roads and nice small towns.
Highway 101 quickly lost a designation as a limited access highway. From
this point, it looked like any other road. The landform included a gentile
slope from the ocean up a hill. The road itself was generally level; climbing
or descending mostly to get closer or further from the water or crossing small
I stopped at a small store in Barton. Consistent with my mellow objective,
I bought a newspaper and sat outside on the picnic table to catch up on the
news. After starting with coastal fog, it was going to be a sunny and hot day.
At Weymouth, the road became limited access again. However, I left on the
local road "1". I cycled up a hill into North Weymouth and then descended
into the city. In this stretch, I was perplexed to find signs of a strong
competition in grave stones. At three or four sites, I noticed a small
collection of grave stones by the road along with a sign of something like,
"Johnson Monuments" and a telephone number. This just seemed a bit strange
I crossed 101 again and entered the "Church District". First came, Eglise
Saint-Bernard. This was a huge stone church seating 1000 people and built
over a period of 32 years. The church was open and was very pretty. A few
miles further there was L'Eglise Sainte-Marie. This was another beautiful
church claiming the North America's tallest steeple. I stopped and enjoyed
looking through both churches.
Lunch was at Belliveau Cove at a small take out place. It was hot, but was
still cool in the shade outside. This region was a French region. The cafe
contained a tricolor with a five pointed yellow star. This appeared to be the
symbol of the "Acadiens". Acadiens were the original residents of Nova Scotia.
Following treaties between Great Britain and France they were forced by the
Deportation act of 1755 to either declare loyalty to the crown or be deported.
Most left and either settled in other parts of the maritimes, in Louisiana or
Following lunch I cycled on towards Meteghan. Traffic slowly got busier.
There was little shoulder, but the cars were very polite and would frequently
remain behind until it was safe to pass. I'm not certain I got more than one
or two horns during the entire day!
Meteghan had been oversold from preliminary reports. I didn't see much
exciting to entice me to stay, so I continued. A few miles later I found a
small turnoff at Smugglers Cove and stopped for more water. St. Alphonse
had lots of trees and little other town. I passed Cape St. Mary with its
beaches at Mailette.
While stopping outside Port Maitland, I decided that it would be pretty
easy to continue to Yarmouth. Skies were still clear and surprisingly there
was a light tail wind.
I crossed the last few hills past Darling Lake, Hebron and then made it in
to Dayton outside Yarmouth at about 4:30pm. Overall, it had still been a
pretty relaxed ride with many stops. I was in Yarmouth a day early and would
have some time to look around before catching the boat the next day.
August 18, Yarmouth [3.5 miles]
Almost there. Left the motel at about 8am and cycled downtown to the
ferry. Center of Yarmouth had a number of touristy shops. Spent an easy day
looking around Yarmouth including visitor center, Firefighters museum and
shops. Although not included in mileage listed above, I also cycled out of
town to inspect the airport and the malls outside town.
At 4:30pm I boarded the ferry for the trip back home. This time I would
travel by ferry to Bar Harbor where I would meet my parents for a weekend in
Maine. We would travel back to Chelmsford after spending the weekend exploring
other parts of the Maine coast.
Part V, Yarmouth, NS to Halifax, NS; 9/1/95 to 9/5/95
September 1, Portland [4.8 miles]
I decided to go back to Nova Scotia for one last weekend over Labor Day.
While I had completed the initial segment up the US Atlantic Coast, I had
enjoyed my previous trip through NS enough to go for "one more ride".
The overall plan entailed approximately 1000 miles of travel. First I would
drive to Portland. Then take a ferry overnight to Yarmouth. I would bicycle
200+ miles to Halifax where I took a flight back to Portland. From Portland I
would drive home.
By now, I had my packing routine down pat. It took but 20 minutes assemble
things from the checklist. I loaded the bicycle in the car and left from
work at about 4:30pm. Five miles down the road, I realized I had left my
helmet (so much for checklists). With the heavy traffic, retrieving the
helmet added another half an hour before I was underway again.
It was reported that Labor Day weekend is the second busiest travel weekend,
after Thanksgiving. Traffic up to Maine certainly was heavy, but I was still
able to get to the airport shortly after 7pm.
My bicycle was quickly assembled. I pedalled out the airport and through
the old streets of Portland to the Ferry terminal. It was almost getting dark.
I retrieved my ticket ($122 for bicycle, myself and a cabin) and parked my
bicycle next to the motorcycles, looking somewhat like a runt.
Ferry boarding was shortly past 8pm when it was already dark. The ferry
has been promoting itself as a short cruise, so several folks were there with
that intent. There were also waiters on deck with cocktails. I heard one
lady discretely ask if people dressed up for dinner. The response was a
non-committal, "some do". I was pleased my T-shirt and shorts were still
clean but also hoped they wouldn't seat me at her table.
The ferry left port about 9:15pm. I had rented a cabin and was in my berth
and asleep not long past 10:30pm.
September 2, Yarmouth to Shelburne [72.8 miles]
I had an early breakfast on the boat. Two couples at my table were both
from Maine, and were doing this as a mini-cruise. If they liked it, they were
thinking of doing a longer trip elsewhere. They were not particularly dressed
up so I was still ok.
The boat landed shortly past 9am Atlantic time. I was off and through
customs by 9:20am. The sky was entirely overcast but it was still dry. I
cycled through town and out 3, past the airport to Arcadia. It was but a few
miles and I was out of town and in a rural area. This area still had a number
of Acadian flags.
At 10 miles I stopped briefly in front of the courthouse at Tusket. By now
there were slight drops of rain, but not enough to put on my raingear. I
joined the main road not too much later. This route was limited access which
meant it had one lane each way and approximately 2 foot shoulders. The scenery
was mostly forests. It was about 11am when I stopped in Pubnico at mile 27
for some chocolate and soda.
I planned on stopping in Barrington for lunch, but I mostly bypassed the
town before I realized it. I continued on and had lunch in Clyde at about
1:30pm. I stopped at a seafood hut that appeared to be quite popular with
locals. There was lots of traffic in and out of the place.
At this point I was back on the main road again. There seem to be two
choices in southern Nova Scotia. The main road is two-lane divided highway
with 100km/h speed limits. It is relatively unscenic with many forests and
not much other variety. The secondary road goes past all the small towns and
is frequently closer to the coast. I was splitting my route, using the
secondary road when it was relatively direct and using the main road when it
was more direct. I would recommend to visitors if they only had time for the
main road, that they would be disappointed.
As I had lunch, it started to rain harder. Out came the rain gear. I also
decided to make it a shorter day overall. I was back on the secondary road
at Bricktown. Bricktown had originally been settled by black loyalists leaving
the former colonies after the revolution. Just a little ways down the road was
Shelburne one of the larger Loyalist sites. I cycled through Shelburne and
headed up the hill and out of town. A sign said Liverpool 86. Just after that
I saw a motel, and decided I would stop for the night rather than press on to
Liverpool. In the evening it had stopped raining when I cycled back to town
September 3, Shelburne to Boutiliers Point [114.2 miles]
At 6am it was still dark. I left shortly afterwards in the first light.
It was cool, and skies were mostly clear. I cycled along the main road on past
Jordan's river. There were some rolling hills, but nothing too bad.
At 14 miles I stopped at a restaurant in Sable River. I waited until it
opened at 7:30am. The proprieter/waiter/cook took my order. He had been
born in Nova Scotia, lived all over and now come back to establish this
business nine years before. He mentioned the area was becoming a popular
place for europeans to buy vacation homes. In particular, there were a number
I rode on a bit warmer with a full breakfast and some sun. There were still
some rolling hills past Port Joli. Sommerset Beach area appeared to be a bit
of a resort area. I went back to the secondary road there and came in to a
donut stand in Liverpool at 10:30am.
There was a large hill coming out of Liverpool. It was now even getting
warm. While I was on the main road, there was still some variety and
occasional cross streets. I stopped at a small store in Italy Cross. It was
nice to see they existed out here, although it was disappointing that they
didn't have a rest room. I was back off the main road at Hebbville.
Lunch was 1:30pm again. This time, I had done 69 miles at was at
Bridgewater. Bridgewater had a feel of being the largest town around. As I
continued through Bridgewater, I found that an important part of my route was
closed for construction. Rather than follow detour signs to an unknown
location, I instead opted to be a pedestrian and walk along the construction.
I crossed the river and headed up out of town. The road was still occasionally
torn up, but it was looking better. Traffic was also heavier as I crossed over
to Malone Bay.
At Malone, I was once again riding along the ocean, with lots of little
inlets and coves. I crossed from one bay to another at Martin's river where
I stopped for an ice cream and to read the newspaper. I zipped through
Chester at mile 93, and then passed a large hardboard plant at East River.
There were lots of people at Hubbards, but not too much further was a motel.
They were full, but luckily directed me to the next motel five miles down the
road. The ride was beautiful as it was starting to cool off, and I was riding
along the ocean.
September 4, Boutiliers Point to Halifax [43.8 miles]
I was on the road at 6:20am. Skies were absolutely clear, and the water
in the bay was very still. As I made it to Upper Tantillon, I was somewhat
disappointed, I would have to leave the bay behind. The road slowly climbed
and as it climbed, it also got poorer. Finally seven miles from the Bay it
had finally degenerated to a gravel road. I crossed the main road and
continued in through Timberlea.
There was a hill at Lakeside and then I descended into the outskirts of
Halifax. In Halifax there was a large traffic circle and then I was on my
way climbing through the main hill containing the city including the Citadel.
I descended the other side down to the MacDonald bridge, a beautiful
suspension bridge with orange top and green bottom. I followed the signs
and walked my bicycle across the bridge from Halifax to Dartmouth. I got a
nice view of Halifax as I crossed over the bridge and then stopped for
Following breakfast, I continued north towards Bedford. Not far from the
Bedford bypass, my tire went flat, so I stopped to fix it. Luckily I wasn't
very time constrained. The route through Bedford entailed a sharp descent
followed by an ascent on the other side. After that the route leveled out
and went past several lakes. I got on a busy freeway for 5km before getting
off at the aeropark and the airport at about 11:30am.
My flight wasn't until 5pm, but I was lucky to find an earlier flight.
Air Canada provided me with a bicycle bag. The bicycle travelled free because
this was an international flight. The flight back first had a stop in Yarmouth
and then one in Boston. In Boston, I went through customs and had quite a
hassle with Delta Airlines. They wanted to charge me an additional $45 for the
bicycle but I was able to avert that. I continued on to Portland and then
retrieved my car for the ride home.
This segment most likely concludes my Atlantic Coast trip for this year.
Now it is time to dream and plan for the next trip.
Appendix: Equipment list
Following are items I have carried on my bicycle trip (for phase I):
one Cannondale ST1000 touring bike, adjusted and ready to go
five water bottles
a bicycle lock
one helmet and cycling gloves
one bicycle pump,
a bike repair kit including: one spare tire, two inner tubes,
two patch kits, spoke wrench, ten spokes, chain tool, freewheel
remover, tire irons, allen wrenches, spare axle, crescent wrench,
Phillips screwdriver, regular screwdriver, cycle wipes, lubricant.
spare clothing including: two long sleeve shirts, two short sleeve shirts,
one long pants, one long cycling pants, one pair shorts, one pair
cycling shorts, five pairs socks, four pair underwear, one sweater,
and one windbreaker
one Goretex rain suit, both jacket and pants
one pair mittens and one pair light gloves
maps of the area
airline and train tickets
pen and paper
Omnibook portable PC
toilet kit including: sunscreen, comb, chapstick, toothbrush, toothpaste,
shampoo, towel, sunglasses, woolite.