Each Monday, we hope to post a summary of that week’s adventures. For organizational purposes, each day has a few paragraphs to give you a sense of what we experienced. We apologize in advance for any errors/typos/formatting issues- this was typed on an iPhone in a small cafe in Middlebury, Vermont.
Please enjoy 🙂
DAY 1: Monday – June 6th, 2016
Camden, ME to Bath, ME – 42 miles
Wow, Maine was hilly. While coasting downhill, one of my panniers fell off. Luckily, no damage. We stayed with our first warm showers host- Mike, Amy and Juniper.
We chatted with us almost the entire night about their travels. They were extremely kind and shared their delicious meal with us. The coolest part was looking at a map with their two year, Juniper, who showed us all the states where she knew people. Lucky for us, they had a guest bed for us to sleep in on our first night. We couldn’t have asked for a better first night.
DAY 2: Tuesday – June 7th, 2016
Bath, ME to Poland, ME – 50 miles
“Joe, wait! What time is it?” Jordan shouted to me as we passed a tall, white church in Durham, ME. I looked at my bike computer: it read 11:20. The sign sitting outside the church read LUNCH 11:30. We parked our bikes and headed inside.
There, we were met by the kindest elderly folk who welcomed us in and asked for a small donation to cover the cost of the food. While there, we chatted about our trip and received significant donations. One man even told us to stop at his friends in Bridgton who brews his own beer.
That night, we found a parking lot behind a church to pitch our tents. As soon as Jordan finished attaching the rain fly, the rain poured down and all we could do was laugh at how timely we had set up our tents.
DAY 3: Wednesday – June 8th, 2016
Poland, ME to Fryeburg, ME – ~40 miles
We stopped at the house of the friend we met the day before to taste home brewed beer. Steve, the friend, opened the door. “I was expected you two yesterday! What happened?” He chuckled. “Come on in, I heard you two were interested in trying my home brews.”
He taught us all about the art of home brewing, what he liked to call “Old Pondy’s.” We tried a raspberry ale and a porter- both delicious. Then, he sent us off with a bottle of wheat beer that was the same recipe of the beer he entered into a town contest and win first place. The day didn’t end there.
That evening, we weren’t sure where we’d be resting our heads that night. After being turned down by the Fryeburg Fire Department, we thought we’d try our luck with a complete stranger. Down the street, we watched a woman gardening in the back. I approached her with our situation and asked if we could camp in her backyard. As a worker for th tourist center, she said yes with hesitation.
While there, her tenant who lived upstairs came out to say hello. Her name was Nickie and she was a water activist and a director for Wilderness First Responder training programs in the US who lived lightly with her son who was 12 named Luke. She told about her hikes thru the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail and her work with refugees in Burma and Thailand. Then, she invited us in for beers, to meet her son and on a hike. She brought us in her car to a place called Jockey Cap, which was on a small mountain that overlooked all the nearby mountains in Maine. It was gorgeous.
DAY 4: Thursday – June 9th, 2016
Fryeburg, ME to Lincon, NH- 47.5 miles
We conquered our toughest hill- Kancamagus Pass- 22 miles of uphill to reach 2,855 feet in elevation.
Oh, and while stopping at a creek, my phone fell out of my jacket pocket and into the creek, two feet under water. Jordan had to hold me by my feet to reach it. My Lifeproof case failed me and didn’t stop the water from entering. However, lucky I have amazing friends like Jessica Edwards who is shipping me her brothers old phone to use (thank you so much!).
That night, we didn’t know where we were going to sleep. We stopped at a pizza shop but they were out of slices, lucky for us (although we didn’t know it at the time). So we headed to Woodstock Brewery, where we told the bartender our situation and she told us about a guy who hosts Appalachain Trail thru hikers at his house. We headed to his house and crossed our fingers.
At the house, we made eye contact with a man through the window seconds before ringing the door bell. He pulled a cord and the window opened.
“Can I help you?”
“We’re looking for Chet. That’s me. Who are you?”
“I’m Joe and this is Jordan and we’re riding our bikes across the country and we heard you host AT thru hikers. We were hoping to stay at your place or pitch our tents.”
“Where did you start and where are you going?”
“We started in Camden, Maine and we’re heading to Seattle.”
He paused for a few seconds. Then he said with a smile, “Well, that’s enough information for me. You boys have a place tonight. Welcome to Chet’s Hostel.”
I could write a whole blog post on this night but I’ll summarize for you. Chet was injured in a backpacking incident and now sits in a wheel chair. He told us it’s a miracle he’s even alive but through spiritual healing techniques like reiki, he awoke from a coma. Now, he hosts hikers and cyclists for a work/trade stay, meaning you do something as simple as sweeping the porch or donating any unused gear to stay for free. Chet told us some amazing stories. We felt so thankful to have met him and stay with him. He is one of the most inspiring individuals we’ve met this far.
DAY 5: Friday, June 10th, 2016
Lincon, NH to Lime, NH – 42 miles
We rode over another hill and then stopped in Orford to eat some of the not-so-delicious mac and cheese and mozzarella. After attempting to contact a few other warmshowers hosts, we didn’t have too much luck. We decided to keep riding and just camp when we were tired of riding.
A few miles from the convenience store, we stopped to double check the map. A cyclist, an older gentleman around the age of a grandpa, came up behind me while Jordan was looking at the map and said, “Where you going?”
“Thetford, I think.”
“Where are you coming from?”
Jordan stopped looking at the map to join the conversation. He looked at me with the face “Should I ask?” and then went for it.
“This may sound strange… but do you have a patch of grass at your house?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Well, we don’t have a place to stay tonight. Could we camp on your grass?”
“Sure, follow me.”
Of course, his house happened to be along the road our map told us to take. After a mile, we turned right down a lightly gravel-ed driveway that seemed to extend for at least 50 yards where we pulled up to a gorgeous mansion, right next to the Conneticut River. He had more than a small patch of grass.
Then he offered to take us to the grocery store to buy sandwiches for dinner. We returned to the house, showered and sat on a bench overlooking the river. He would have had us over for dinner but he had guests coming and didn’t prepare enough food.
He later came down and invited us to join his guests for food and drinks on the back patio. It turns out his three Dartmouth roommates were over for dinner along with his daughter, son-in-law and their two year old. We made great conversation and him and his wife made us feel so welcome with their friends and family. They also let us sleep in their small guest house. It felt like a true New England experience.
DAY 6: Saturday, June 11th, 2016
Lime, NH to Rochester, VT – 57 miles
Dave, the man we stayed with, walked us out that morning and sent us to Isabell’s, a local diner. There, we met two University of Arizona alum who graduated in 2008 and now the wife is pursuing a PhD in computer engineering at Dartmouth.
On our way, a woman told us that a bike shop in Rochester might let us camp out there.
We arrived ten minutes before they closed shop and found clip less pedals to switch to becaus we figured they might help us go faster. The bike shop guys were so kind and helpful. While there, the owner offered to let us camp in his backyard behind the shop. It worked out too because this awesome guy named Vince was doing a demo the next day for Kona bikes. He inspected our bikes, taught us a lot and even gave us chain lube and a rag.
DAY 7: Sunday, June 12th, 2016
Rochester, VT to Middlebury, VT- 32 miles
In the morning, Vince gave us a few more cycling tips and said bye. We passed over Brandon Gap, about 2,000 feet in elevation, and even saw other cyclists pass by us on the way up.
On the way down, we hit 43 mph- our fastest yet! At the bottom, we stopped at the convenience store and ran into about 10 cyclists, the same ones who passed us and chatted with us earlier. One, who I had talked to briefly, walked up and handled me a $10 bill. “Hey, lunch is on me guys.”
It was really kind of him and he really didn’t need to but he wouldn’t take no for a answer. Later, a woman from the group said he was the town postman and had once climbed Mount Everest.
In Middlebury, we struggled a bit. We didn’t know where we would stay and we were banking on Jordan’s friend of a friend to respond to our Facebook. After riding on Middlebury College campus with no luck of running into students who might let us crash in their dorm, we went back to a cafe we had eaten at earlier. We asked someone on Couchsurfing and later received a yes, we could stay with her.
On our way to her house, Jordan’s connection came through. “Oh no… Now what?” I asked Jordan.
We went to the Couchsurfer’s house and explained the situation. She understood and was very kind. We rode to Elana’s, Jordan’s friend’s house, and ended up staying there with her and her roommate Zane.
They gave us a tour of Middlebury, introduced us to several friends and were very hospitable. All the conversations that night pertained to education, journalism, politics and the incredible amount of opportunities youth have today in society.
Wow, we could end our trip today and be satisfied with our experience. Thank you to everyone out there cheering us on and supporting us! We couldn’t imagine doing anything else right now.
If you’d like to donate to Outdoor Outreach, please follow this link and help us reach our goal of $20,000:
Written by Joe Previte