Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Parking spaces

Let's talk about parking spaces. No, not parking for cars. There is too much of it anyway. I want to look closer at parking for bicycles in its simplest and cheapest form - bike racks.

Bike racks come in all shapes and colors and some are better than others. On my way to work I counted not less than 6 different racks. Here are some examples.
This pretty, leaf-shaped rack belongs to a local bank. Despite the funky shape, it's actually quite functional. There is plenty of space nearby to park all types of bicycles and the rack provides a number of locking points. The one little problem though - it's not set in concrete but just bolted to it, making it less secure.
This ugly, red "wheelbender" is a very popular place for bicycles in Arlington. That's because it's the only rack available at Trader Joe's and right next to the Minuteman Bikeway. Given its popularity, it's a real shame TJ hasn't replaced it yet with something larger and more secure. The biggest problem with this rack is lack of space. The only somewhat secure spot is the one on the side, where I parked my bike in the above picture. All other spots require locking bikes by the front wheel only and the other side of the rack is blocked by a concrete wall. If you come here with an u-lock, you can only use the side spot. Locking to the inner slots requires you to use a very long chain or cable lock. On top of that, the rack is not even properly bolted to ground!
A bit further down the bike path, in Lexington Center you can find this long, black rack. It may look similar to the red TJ rack but it actually avoids all issues of its neighbor. The top bar is high over the ground so you can push your bike in, far enough to lock frame with front wheel using an u-lock. There is plenty of space for many bicycles in the rack even though most of the time it stays empty.
In Bedford I encountered this beefy structure. It's properly secured to ground and has enough space for a few bikes. I guess it might be the best bike rack here, but that massive tube may not be compatible with some narrower or shorter u-locks.
Finally, here is another rack in Bedford. It works for me, although it could be better secured to the concrete slab than just using a few bolts. I actually like its unique flat shape as it works better with some mini u-locks. 

All the above makes me wonder if we need some kind of national bike rack standard. I know that more regulation is usually not the best answer, but what can we do when we desperately need a place to lock our bikes and all we get is a lousy "wheelbender"?

Finally, I noticed that from all of my bicycles, the easiest one to lock is my Xtracycle - as long as I'm leaving it for only a few minutes! That's because it doesn't need a bike rack at all! I can just park it somewhere out of way and lock the front wheel with frame using an u-lock. No need to lock it to anything!

That's because no one would be able to ride it, nor walk away with it. It's just too heavy to carry and too long to fit in car's trunk. Unless there are two guys nearby with a pick-up truck, I don't see easy way to steal a heavy electric cargo bike. Still, obviously I wouldn't leave my bike locked like this for the whole day.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

It's the end of September and non-motorists are to blame

I just noticed it's the end of September. Time flies! There must be some international conspiracy behind this and it's probably because of those without cars. You know, when in doubt - blame cyclists and pedestrians.

Why?

Because they get away too easily with their crimes! Death by bicycle is rampant, which is why British government considers a new criminal law for cyclists. To be honest, numbers are not exactly in favor because "of 1,730 people killed on UK roads in 2015 just two – 0.12% – were killed in collisions with cyclists". It doesn't matter. Every live saved counts (Ain't that so, Australians?)!

It's also good to blame pedestrians, because they are just a "hazard to cars". That's what they think in California:
This is America. Here, paint on your car has more rights than a person crossing the street so those texting teenagers better be aware of it! If they dive nose-deep in their iPhone screens, they'd better at least wear something bright and reflective. According to American DMV, hi-vis clothing solves such problems. As evidenced here:
Ok, but that's on the other coast. Let's jump to my local backyard. The Mayor of Boston, Marty Walsh, thinks that cyclists don't deserve their space on city streets simply because it's impossible.
Perhaps if we remove cars from some streets, that space would be found. Newbury St and Hanover St seem like perfect candidates. But let's leave our mayor alone. It takes some political balls to pull this off and he's currently fighting for re-election.

Finally, I'm happy to announce that my little village of Arlington and its brother town of Lexington are introducing their own bike share system. How exciting! Obviously, it would make most sense to simply expand Hubway system that already works quite well in neighboring Cambridge and Boston. But it turned out that Hubway is quite too expensive for our town, which is why both towns considered some other options.

Lexington started by approving the location of... one station. Yes, you read it right. They have essentially created the smallest bike share system in the world that operates with 14 bikes from just one station. This means that soon citizens of Lexington will be able to rent a bike to ride twice around town only to drop it off in the same place they took it from. They won't be able to get to work or run errands by bike but who give a shit. They use their cars for "real" stuff anyway.

That's the American way.

Monday, September 18, 2017

S24O - to Pawtuckaway State Park and back

S24O is simply a sub 24-hour, overnight ride. This means, we pack the bare minimum needed for 1 night stay somewhere in the wild, ride to our destination and come back the next day. All that in less than 24 hours.

Last Friday I decided to give it a try - leave my workplace earlier, around 3:30pm and ride to the distant Pawtuckaway State Park in New Hampshire, roughly 60mi (100km) away. This state park has a designated campground, located right on the shores of Pawtuckaway Lake and that's where I planned to stay for the night (even though it's not free).

Because weather was warm and it was only 1 night of camping, I managed to reduce my gear to pretty much bare minimum.
I use an ultralight Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 tent, which I like a lot (despite a few minor things that could be made better). But one issue difficult to solve when packing it on a bike is where to place poles. They are just too long. Once I strapped them separately to the bottom of top tube, the rest of the tent and the mattress fit in a stuff sack that I strapped to the seatpost. That left me with the sleeping bag, some food, spares and minor items (camera, phone, etc.) that I loaded into Apidura handlebar bag. The whole setup worked perfectly, although I would prefer placing the poles somewhere else, since it was awkward to portage bike over obstacles, when I had to lift it up by the top tube.

Day 1 (66mi or 106km)

Shortly after I left Bedford and was approaching Lowell, it started pouring heavily. In no time, I was completely soaked. I thought about stopping somewhere and waiting for rain to stop but I was kind of racing against the clock. I had 60mi to ride and sun was about to set soon. I paused only to pour water out of my shoes and squeeze out any water out of socks and shirt. It was very warm and humid and this kind of heavy rain felt just like a warm shower and didn't really bother me much.
I didn't stop in Lowell but I really liked its restored historical downtown. Looks like a very interesting place for a longer visit. I continued north through Windham to Chester. At this point it was already around 7pm and because of the thick layer of clouds, it got completely dark. I turned lights on and kept going but had to skip some forest trails I wanted to explore on the way. It was simply impossible to find entrance to some paths hidden in darkness.

I usually don't have a chance to ride at night and this was an interesting experience. There was little road traffic in rural New Hampshire. It was very warm, humid and loud, with noise of crickets playing their night tunes.

Some time around 8:45pm I arrived at the campground. I got a spot right at the lake, pitched my tent in darkness and thanks to nearby bathroom facilities I didn't even have to go to sleep with legs covered in mud. There were many people camping nearby but they didn't bother me since camping spots at the park are conveniently spread out. The campground overall looked attractive for a family camping day I'd like to try some time next year.

I didn't sleep that well. Somehow I couldn't fall asleep right away, then some large animal woke me up in the middle of the night. Not sure what it was, but it kept huffing, puffing and sniffing around my tent, making quite a noise. After I figured out that the only things I left outside are my smelly shoes, I decided not to investigate what that creature really was, as there was a remote chance it could've been a skunk. Fortunately, after not finding anything interesting, the thing went on its way into the dark forest.

Day 2 (78mi or 126km)

I woke up around 6am, when most other campers were still sleeping. The morning was even more humid than last night and a heavy cloud layer was hanging low over the lake. I packed my stuff and headed back. I had a long ride ahead.
My camping spot. No fly on the tent as I started to pack things already.

Bridge to Horse Island at 7am. Humid, wet, cloudy.

I didn't want to take the shortest route home but explore the area at least a bit. I took Mountain Trail towards Reservation Rd, but it turned out to be so rocky that I had to walk my bike a lot. It would likely be easier on a mountain bike, although there are sections on the trail where even a MTB would not be much help.
The Reservation Rd was certainly much more suited for my type of bicycle and the rest of park ride was enjoyable. Next, I got to a power line trail off Brown Rd, and it turned out that it didn't matter my shoes and socks were still wet from the previous day. I soaked them again trying to get through some flooded areas on the trail. One more stop to pour water out of shoes, squeeze out socks and I was ready to go.
Once I got to Raymond Rd I thought I could continue along the power line trail even though this section on map is marked "winter only". Well, there is a good reason for it. There is a small wooden bridge ahead you can see from Raymond Rd but unfortunately, there was absolutely no way I could get to it. The whole area is a wetland and it's only passable in winter once everything freezes over. I empirically verified that a detour was required by soaking my shoes for the second time that day when my front wheel sunk up to the axle in a ditch full of water.


At this point I had enough of off-road exploration and decided to take RT107 to Raymond. There, I merged with Rockingham Recreational Trail towards Epping and it was a very pleasant ride. The trail is wide, with hard-packed surface. Too bad crossings with major roads are not designed better. Right now, the trail lacks the feeling of continuity.
From Epping I took the southern section of the trail towards Sandown but it soon turned out to be a disappointment. The first part up to RT107/Main St is very bumpy and difficult to ride. It seems to be used mainly by horseback riders and the entire surface is destroyed by horse hooves.

Then the next section, south of Main St, was free of horse presence. Unfortunately, it seems to be frequently used by motocross bikers and it's just too sandy for my 35mm tires. Had I been there on a plus-sized mountain bike, the situation would've been different. I decided to abandon the trail and take a shortcut along RT111A to Salem, NH.
In Salem, I entered Salem Rail Trail that has a compacted gravel surface and would've been a good place to ride a bicycle, if only busy RT28 wasn't right next to it. Once the trail crosses Massachusetts border it turns into Methuen Rail Trail that started promising, but unfortunately then entered Lawrence where it runs next to an area occupied by a bunch of homeless people, tons of trash and derelict buildings. I teleported myself ASAP away from Lawrence and continued to Tewksbury.

The rest of the trip was relatively non-eventful as I managed to get lost only a couple of times. Navigating through some more remote areas around Billerica I finally reached familiar waters and arrived home at 3:15pm - a touch away from 24hrs mark.

The whole thing was fun even though it took me longer than I expected. If only Pawtuckaway Park was a bit closer! Weather was a bit of a problem. It would be nicer if it wasn't that humid but on the other hand, it would be likely much worse riding on a hot, sunny day. The one thing I have to remember about next time is spare waterproof socks.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

I disappeared in Catalonia for a while but I'm back

It's finally September. I'm waiting for the cooler weather to arrive as I'm a bit tired of the usual summer heat, especially that I spent the last week in rural Catalonia with my family. It was hot, sunny and pretty. I spent time starring at mountains, sleeping late and eating copious amounts of cured ham.

I didn't have my bike with me but it seems that I should return one day to tour some of the lower Pyrenees. Those scenic, unpaved roads are what I craved most and they can't be found anywhere here in New England.
Some roads will lead you to mountain tops, where you will find either an old monastery, view deck for tourists or at very least, a Catalan flag. No matter what's waiting for you at the top, be ready for stunning views.
At the end of our stay, we actually did just a bit of bike riding. I wanted to get a feeling of what Barcelona looks like and for that purpose, me and my brother rented bicycles to ride around the city. Judging by the bikes available for rent, fixies seem to be still fashionable in Barcelona. Thankfully though, they were configured with freewheels so at least I didn't have a chance to quickly kill myself.
Now it's time to revisit the usual grounds. Fall is absolutely the best time to ride bicycles here in Massachusetts - no heat but still warm, less bugs and pretty foliage colors. Can't wait!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Groton Double Loop

It's no secret that I find typical road cycling a bit boring. Speed, power meters, Strava segments - all this is just not for me. I think the fun starts when you get off the beaten path. In my search for unpaved roads and interesting places to ride, I explored areas a bit further from my home in Arlington, yet still close enough to be reachable within an hour by car, or not more than a 3-hour bike ride.

One of my favorite local spots are forests of Groton, MA. It takes 2.5 hrs to get there by bike from Arlington, but only a quick 30 min. drive from my workplace. Last evening, I drove there to leave my car at Martins Pond Rd and rode this fast 26km (16mi) double loop. The route is short and usually takes only 1.5 hrs to ride but that's what I like about it. I can get there after work and finish it before sunset, even in fall when days are shorter.

Starting at Martins Pond Rd, I entered a small network of trails called Wharton Plantation. I followed Dan Parker Rd, which doesn't look much like a road to be honest. It's a wide trail through forest, full of rocks, roots, sand and occasional mud. It may be challenging in places but overall, it's pretty fast to ride. And if you come here in summer, you would want to be fast. Otherwise you're risking being eaten alive by mosquitoes and deer flies.
The road took me then to a clearing where I merged with a maintenance road under high voltage power lines. It quickly turns into a paved section starting at Kemp St, running through some farm land, then continues along Groton St to Hall St. Next, I reached entrance to the Red Line Path, where I went off-road again. This place is not only pretty, overlooking several ponds along the way, but also super fun to ride. The path is very wavy, featuring multiple little hills and pits. If you ride fast enough, you get a feeling of being on a bicycle roller-coaster.
Once the trail ends, I made my way back to Martins Pond Rd, continued past the place where I parked my car to reach Orchard Ln - a small road cutting through a farm, turning into some broken chip seal and then ending with gravel and sand. At the end of this road I found the beginning of Bruce Clements Trail - a narrow singletrack ending at the historic Williams Barn - nowadays the location of Groton Farmers Market.

The trail continues on the other side of Chicopee Row and is marked as McClain's Woods Trail. I followed green arrow markers to reach Reedy Meadow Rd. From there, it was only a short ride to Dan Parker Rd an back to the car.
As I wrote earlier, the route is short is pretty quick to ride. If I could change anything to make it more interesting, I would love to see a way to continue along the power line maintenance road to ride from Kemp St all the way to Hall St. That would eliminate the paved section along Groton St and would let me stay off-road longer. Unfortunately, when I scouted that possibility I found out that a large area under the power lines is completely flooded and inaccessible. Judging from the size of the pond with multiple dams and lodges, I can tell that beavers had something to do with it.

If you are in the area and want to give this route a try, make sure you bring a bike with wider tires. I can't picture riding there on anything narrower than 32mm. My 36mm wide X'Plor MSO were perfect, especially tubeless. I wouldn't want to get a flat in the middle of a mosquito-infested forest.

Now I'm waiting for fall to arrive. I really want to revisit this place in late September.

Friday, August 4, 2017

War on cars, bicycles and... wheelchairs

Maybe you haven't noticed but there's war on cars going on practically everywhere. Watch out, they may come to your house and take your car away too! That's probably the impression you could have after watching this ridiculous video:
War on cars! - brought to you by Ford and GM

No, seriously. There's a "war on cars" and there should be. These metal boxes have been dominating our cities for decades. Unfortunately, judging from the evidence you can find on pretty much daily basis, it's more of a cold war, rather than a full-scale thermonuclear conflict.

This "war" boils down to our wishes that drivers don't kill us when we share the road. And to our government pretending they do anything about it. And media, reporting that it was a "car that jumped the curb and drove into the store front window" - like the driver was never there. And police, addressing sometimes problems from the wrong end of spectrum. Just like this case of bicyclist arrested in my town for running a stop sign and "assault with a deadly weapon" (a bicycle!).

This example is quite extreme as this cyclists was clearly guilty for not submitting to police and crashing into another cyclist (another police officer!), but it makes me think why would police even focus on stopping one cyclist crossing a street on a designated bike path and not stopping at a stop sign? Sure, you would say that signs are there to be followed and he could endanger someone. But it's unlikely he would endanger anyone except himself, should he crash into a car. It also makes me think, where's police when I see drivers notoriously ignore stop signs or "no turn on red" signs every single day? You bet they can endanger someone with their 3000 lbs metal boxes.

Don't believe me? Ask Kyle Wolfe who was hit by a SUV just because he couldn't cross the street fast enough. On top of that, he got a ticket for "disobeying the traffic signal". All that because Kyle uses a wheelchair to move around. In the time of "war", police is supposed to ticket bad drivers, including those impatient ones who would rather mow down a man on a wheelchair than wait extra 10 seconds to let him cross the road.

This "war" continues. We will surely hear more about the collateral damage it does to pedestrians, cyclists and people on wheelchairs.

Ok, now referring back to the above video - do you feel like William Wallace and scream "Freedom!" when you get into your car and drive to work in morning traffic? Or do you sigh "Freedom, finally" when you arrive home after being stuck in evening traffic for the last hour?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Exploring Downeast Maine 3/3

Day 5 - Columbia Falls to Belfast (169km or 105mi)
 

The day started cloudy and shortly after I packed my tent and left the campground, it started to rain. As I mentioned earlier, trail surface in that section was quite nice and light rain made all bugs disappear. When I got to Cherryfield a heavier rain started but not enough to make me stop and try to wait it out somewhere. In fact, I didn't even bother to pack a rain jacket for this whole trip hoping that it wouldn't rain too much. I certainly chanced it and I might not do that again, but the one problem with summer rain I have is that no matter what jacket I wear, I end up wet anyway - from all the sweat underneath.
My first planned stop was at Schoodic Beach - a little gem hidden north off Sunrise Trail. It's not exactly unknown, judging from the number of cars parked nearby and it takes a good hike from the parking lot to get there, but it's all worth it. In fact, I would like to plan another cycling trip just to stay there overnight. While this may not be completely legal, I'm not longer sure what it. First I saw signs "day use only" and "no camping", then another one saying "group camping only" and then I counted at least 5 small tents along the beach. Seems like an unofficial camping spot to me.
I returned to the trail and continued west to Ellsworth. There are sections of the trail that are certainly boring, looking like a straight gravel road through forest where you would see nothing but trees for miles. My overall impression with Sunrise Trail is that it has many beautiful spots along the way that are worth visiting (usually where trail crosses streams, lakes, bogs, etc.), but it probably does make little sense to try to ride the full length of it.
Singing "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd to make passing miles more interesting, I reached Ellsworth where I stopped for lunch. By then, the rain stopped. Next, I had to get to Bucksport, which meant riding on Route 1 again. To keep things weird a bit, I decided to detour north through Red Bridge Rd to Boulder Rd and then back to Route 1. While Boulder Rd is basically a wide fire road through forest and it has some pretty spots, it's also private, so keep it in mind when you try to ride through someones backyard.
I entered Bucksport by 3PM, as it was pretty much all downhill on Route 1 in that direction, stopped at Hannaford again to resupply and continued across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge to Belfast. Instead of riding along the coast again, I decided to try going north, via Old Country Rd. I stopped in Belfast for dinner and tried to figure out where to stay for the night. There were some quiet places on the way I spotted earlier but I didn't feel like climbing the hills I just descended so I rode to Searsport Shores Ocean Campground. They charge $44/night unless you find cash, then it costs only $25. Smells fishy to me but whatever. The campground was actually quite nice.

Day 6 - Belfast to Wiscasset (113km or 70mi)
 

On the last day of my tour I left the campground at 6:20AM and headed back to Belfast. It was raining slightly at night and my tent was all wet. I hate packing wet tent.

I didn't bother to stop in Belfast except for some pictures. The bay and harbor were covered in morning fog and looked mysterious.
Next, I reached Camden by climbing across Camden Hills State Park, but since it was still only 9AM many places were closed so I didn't stop for breakfast anyway. After Camden, I had to climb over a few more hills at Mt Pleasant St and then Clarry Hill Rd (tough one!) to reach Waldoboro and then Newcastle.
In Newcastle I was already starving and needed lunch and fortunately Publick House was nearby with good food and some excellent beer selection. The local Oxbow Farmhouse Ale was a hit.

About an hour later I was back in Wiscasset where I left my car. From there I had a 2.5hrs drive to get back home.

Final thoughts

I'm really happy I had a chance to finally try a longer bike tour. However, now I keep thinking that a 3-4 day trip would be better suited for me. The main reason this tour lasted that many days was distance I wanted to cover. After all, it takes a few days to get to Canada and a few days to ride back.

Even though I planned for up to 140km (85mi) a day, I ended up riding more (sometimes much more). This is due to backtracking after going wrong way, cruising around when searching for camp spots and other changes in route. Technically, there are enough daylight hours in summer to ride 160km (100mi) a day with no issues, but that limits number and length of stops we can make on the way.

All this means my touring days were long - get up at 5:30AM, be on road by 6-6:30AM, ride until 6-7PM and then sleep from 9PM. You could say it's a busy way of spending vacation but on the other hand I would have nothing else to do in the morning or evening. I require no coffee in the morning, I travel with no stove so I don't need time for cooking and once sun sets, I have nothing else to do but sleep.

In terms of bike setup, things I packed, etc. I think everything I took was useful so I didn't haul any unnecessary load with me. I rode the whole trip on tubeless Clement X'Plor MSO 36mm tires and they worked perfectly. In terms of equipment, it's always a compromise. On paved roads I wished I had faster road tires, but then on Sunrise Trail I appreciated the MSOs, sometimes wanting even wider tires on my bike.

I think the no-stove approach works for me too. It reduces carried weight, maximizes daily ride time and in general simplifies things a lot.

Compared to the last trip to Vermont, there was one thing I did much, much better - cell phone power management. First of all, I had a new phone with new battery, which certainly helped a lot, but I also followed this guide on how to navigate by GPS and keep battery drain down to minimum. Let's just say that downloading all maps for offline use and keeping the phone in Airplane Mode as much as possible did the trick. The battery level never dropped lower than 80%.

I'm not sure where my bike will take me next year, but it's going to be fun for sure.

Exploring Downeast Maine 2/3

Day 3 - Millbridge to Lubec (158km or 98mi)
 

Noise of fishing boats leaving Narraguagus Bay woke me up early in the morning. The rain stopped at night but I had to pack my tent wet. I rode back to Millbridge and then continued to Harrington. It was cloudy and cool but some blue sky was visible ahead so I was hoping I wasn't about to have another rainy day.
As I mentioned earlier, I tried to stay away from main roads as much as possible. Some of those hidden ones turned out being tough but accessible, like Cates Rd in Harrington. Others simply didn't exist. Not wanting to ride along Route 1, I planned on crossing Jonesport area using Masons Bay Rd. It does exist on maps. In reality - much less so. What started as paved, turned quickly into a wide gravel road, only to be a rough forest fire road later on and eventually end up in bushes. Chased by a horde of deer flies, I had to turn around, ride back to Route 1 and admit my defeat.
Eventually, I entered Machias, although those last miles were a bit nerve-wrecking. The nice, wide shoulder between Jonesport and Machias town line is gone, which made many trucks passing me by, way too close to my comfort zone. In Machias I treated myself to lunch at Helen's restaurant and it was worth every penny. This place not only serves excellent seafood but also amazing wild blueberry pies.
To be honest, the real Downeast Maine for me starts east of Machias. This is where I entered Sunrise Trail - a long gravel road in place of former old railway, now used mainly by ATVs in summer and snowmobiles in winter. The views were spectacular but I was a bit disappointed that there was so much loose, coarse gravel on the trail, which made riding on my 35mm tires more difficult.
Even though roads were completely empty, riding on rolling hills in Downeast was tedious and I took a short rest in Cutler with its VLF transmitter antennae dominating the landscape. Then I rode along the coast stopping at tiny beaches and coves on the way - at Moose Point and Hamilton Point. These are truly beautiful spots and you won't find many people there even in the middle of high season.
Then I finally reached the easternmost point in the United States - West Quoddy Head Lighthouse in Lubec. Sun was slowly setting and I had to find a place for the night. The nearby Sunset Point RV Park was full of motorhomes but none of its tent sites was occupied. Call me a wuss but I would gladly pay (even though $30/night seemed a bit too much) to have access to a normal bathroom and a hot shower at the end of a long day. Plus, I had a gorgeous views of the bay ahead.
With my tent set up, it was time to take care of my stomach so I rode to Lubec to grab a burger at Cohill's Inn. Shortly after, with sun low over horizon and breeze from the ocean the evening got cool. I decided to hide inside my sleeping bag and call it a day.

Day 4 - Lubec to Campobello Is. to Columbia Falls (167km or 104mi)
 

My next day started early and I left the campground at 6:30AM. It was quiet, misty and cool. I had to start making my way back west on that day, but before that I had some other plans first. I crossed the border bridge and moments later entered Canada.
It was fun to ride on completely empty carriage roads in Roosevelt Campobello International Park. I took a longer detour south to Liberty Point and then went back north to Herring Cove Provincial Park. Next, I merged with Fundy Rd that was wide and unpaved and eventually reached Head Harbor Lighthouse. Unfortunately, by that time it was already a bit late in the morning and high tide was coming. The lighthouse is located on a rocky island and in order to get there I had to cross a beach that gets completely flooded at high tide. This means - I was there either a few hours too late or much too early to be allowed to see the lighthouse.
I started riding back and stopped at Roosevelt's private beach for a while. The nearby Roosevelt Cottage used to be a summer retreat of Franklin D. Roosevelt and his family and now is a museum. It's certainly worth visiting. I didn't bother this time as I've seen this place a few years ago already.
After another quick stop at Mulholland Point Light, I returned to United States, made my way west to Whiting, then north to Dennysville. This is where part of fun was supposed to begin. I entered a long stretch of Sunrise Trail that would take me back to Machias. Unfortunately, while views from the trail were amazing, deer flies and coarse surface were not. It's safe to say that likely the entire section of the trail north of Machias is better suited for bicycles with plus-sized tires. My 35mm tires were sinking too much into loose, coarse gravel and after I reached Rt 191 I happily abandoned the trail. That main road must've been resurfaced recently as asphalt was so smooth I couldn't believe the change.
I arrived in Machias before 5PM and scouted a few places for a stealth camp. But first, I had to resupply so I rode to Hannaford, which is located at the other end of the town. When I got there, I realized it's still quite early so I decided not to stay around Machias for the night but keep going further west.
I quickly reached Jonesboro and then took Station Rd to Sunrise Trail. Here the trail looked much more civilized - smoother, with less gravel and much easier to ride by bicycle. I could maintain speed of nearly 25kph (15mph). As I later found out, the rest of the trail all the way to Ellsworth looked like that. My theory is that there is much more ATV traffic between Ellsworth and Machias and all loose gravel have been simply swept off the trail by wheels of vehicles, while the northern section sees few ATVs and remains rougher in general.
At some point along the trail I saw a sign to Cottonwood Campground so I decided to give it a try. It turned out to be another RV park with some tent sites available as well. The owner was very nice to charge me $15 instead of $25 "because I only had a bike". The best part of this place were the bathroom facilities. To be honest, I've never seen bathrooms like these at any campground nowhere in the world. By camping standards they were luxurious and let's just say that many B&Bs don't have bathrooms like that.

It was a long day and the only one I couldn't finish with a pint of beer but what worried me more were my knees. After four days of riding up and down on rolling hills through Maine my knees were sore. Not to the point when riding is impossible but the pain was certainly annoying.