A dark, wet morning on the Greenway near downtown Portland, ME
Today was a tough day of riding. We had a gusty headwind and near constant hills for most of the 62 miles. And bridges. I lost count after the fourth big one. It’s starting to feel like this last week in Maine and our first week in Florida are strange bookends to the trip. So far they share headwinds and bridges. Florida was miserably hot and the flattest state, Maine has been cool and the hilliest.
There’s also something mental at play, I’m sure. In road races, 5K to marathon, I’m often a 90 percenter. I’ll be doing just fine, running a respectable pace until the last 10 or 15 percent of the route — and then I often fall apart and want to quit. I once interviewed a fitness coach about the phenomenon and what to do about it. “You’ve lost your focus,” he said, “and you won’t get it back by trying to force it. Instead, you should pick a new focus, like trying to pass the three people in front of you.” Which, by the way, never worked; if I’m tired at the end of a race chances are I won’t be passing you.
But I think something like this might be going on now. Here we are in the last 10 percent of our trip, the last 250 or so miles of maybe 2,900 total. I’m afraid my head may be too focused on the end, which makes a tough day in wind and hills even tougher. There’s nothing like a headwind to make my odometer slow to a crawl. I’ve got to work harder on staying in the present these last few days of riding. A little sun and tailwinds would help, of course.
Two nice surprises on the trail: Dee’s friend Jim, out for a walk from his Portland apartment, greeted us early on, then Dick Woodbury found us on the Greenway in Yarmouth.
Even with my head down, all too aware of the wind and foggy mist this morning, I did catch sight of a grey pickup truck with the tip of a blue bike and orange kayak visible from the back. My kind of people, I thought. The truck also sported a round “I 🚲 the East Coast Greenway” sticker, which I called out to Dee, because it’s such a rare sight. Ten minutes down the road, a fellow was standing on the side of the road by old railroad tracks, wearing the familiar East Coast Greenway jersey: Dick Woodbury. The truck’s owner; he had spotted us and waited for us right where he hopes the Geeenway will go one day, replacing the railroad tracks and stretching to Portland.
Dick joined the Greenway’s Board of Trustees in January. He’s an economist and former Maine state representative and senator and lives in Yarmouth. He took us a few blocks down the road to Clayton’s for coffee and breakfast. We talked about our route and how we are navigating, because Dick is going to ride from Calais to Yarmouth next month with his wife and 26-year-old son. We also talked state politics, given his background. We were tickled to learn that Dick chaired the committee that created the ranked choice voting initiative. We had just learned about this at dinner the night before. Maine is the first state to try such a thing, in which voters choose not just one candidate but rank them first, second, third — so that if no candidate receives a majority of votes, the rankings ensure a better determination of winner. Google it, I know I am not explaining it very well. But the Greenway is lucky to have this smart, independent thinker on our board, and we were delighted to be able to visit with him over coffee.
Downtown Damariscotta, the front door of our Airbnb, and the river dock. We may stay here and skip the rest of the ride.
We were weary pulling into Damariscotta but our gloom evaporated quickly. Our Airbnb for the night is tucked in back of an old house right on Main Street. It charmed us instantly: two cute bedrooms upstairs, comfy living space downstairs for $78. And we can walk out through the backyard to a floating dock on the Damariscotta River.
I walked around the corner to a little general store for coffee and seltzer this afternoon and came back “home” just as thunder rumbled and a light rain started. Here we are, just a half hour after finishing our ride, tucked cozily in our little place and not in the storm. Clean living.