Tag Archives: bike ride

Carless Sunday: We Take to the Roads on Our Bikes

For Clif and me, one of the great pleasures of summer is riding our bikes around Winthrop. We feel extremely fortunate to live in such a beautiful town of lakes, fields, and forests. When we leave our driveway, no matter which way we turn, we have a choice of scenic rides.

Usually we begin riding our bikes in May, perhaps even late April if the weather is warm enough. However this year, because of library brouhaha and gardening, we have gotten a late start and have just begun riding our bikes. But better late than never, and eight slow miles will eventually lead to ten, fourteen, perhaps even twenty miles covered in less time. (I do want to add that speed is never our goal. Clif and I are what might be called steady riders rather than speedy ones.)

One of the reasons that Clif and I like biking so much is that we are very concerned about our carbon footprint. When we bike, the only carbon emissions come from us, a big improvement over our belching car. In the summer, especially, we try to reserve Sunday for a carless day, and we take to our bikes for an outing. We can even stop at a convenience store along the way to pick up the Sunday paper, which is then tucked into my trusty bike bag.

This Sunday, Clif and I went for a bike ride along shimmering Maranacook Lake. Aside from the beauty, we like this ride for a number of reasons—the road is relatively flat, there are lots of other bikers and walkers, and the traffic is slow.

On this ride, there is even a sign to encourage car and truck drivers to watch out for bikers and walkers.

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There is Maranacook Lake, gleaming beside us as we ride.

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This time of year the lupines are in bloom. Such a cheery burst of purple.

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In Maine, the gardens aren’t in full bloom yet, but Joan’s peonies have started to blossom, and although they are not my favorite flower, I couldn’t resist taking a picture of one of them. (Yes, yes, I will admit it. They are lovely. I don’t know why I’m such a grump about peonies.)

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Whatever the season, there is always something to notice on this bike ride. My friend Cheryl has observed that a person riding a bike can achieve a perfect speed—faster than walking but slower than a car. On a bike, a rider can cover quite a few miles while still observing the land, the sky, the water, people, and animals.

Even though we are late this year, Clif and I still have many months ahead of us for biking. Let the season commence.

Changed Plans: The Red Barn, the Rail Trail, and the Dairy Queen

IMG_6568Last Sunday, Clif and I had planned to ride from Hallowell to Richmond—a twenty-three-mile bike ride—but when we got up, we changed our minds. Although the day was bright and sunny, there was a very brisk wind and the temperature was about forty degrees. Too cold!

“Let’s go to Plan B,” I suggested. “How about a trip to the Red Barn, for homemade chips and fried chicken, a walk on the Rail Trail in Augusta, and then dessert at the Dairy Queen?” (Full disclosure: I love peanut buster parfaits. Fortunately, I only indulge once during the summer/fall season.)

“Sounds good to me,” Clif said, and to the Red Barn we went. The place was packed, as it always is on Sunday afternoons, and we had to drive around a bit before we found an empty space. However, the terrific staff—who are paid a living wage, I might add—were their usual cheerful, quick, and competent selves. I waited no more than five minutes for chips and chicken, cooked fresh and piping hot.

IMG_6550Because the day was sunny and involved a walk, we brought Liam, and by then it was warm enough to eat outside rather than in the car. The Red Barn is extremely pet friendly, and other people brought their dogs, too.  At first Liam was excited and yippy, but he soon settled down so that we could eat our meal with only a minimum amount of barking and disruption.

After the big meal, a walk was certainly in order, and we drove to Hallowell where we could park the car and walk a portion of the Rail Trail. In Liam’s younger days, he would zip right along, and we would go several miles. However, Liam will be ten in January, and nowadays he likes to amble and sniff. Clif and I don’t mind. When we take the dog for a walk, we are doing it for him, not for exercise for us, and we let him take his time.

On the trail, I met Denis Ledoux, a writer who is in the Franco-American artists group I belong to. It was a bit of a surprise to see him out of context, so to speak, as he lives a fair distance from Augusta. He had come to visit a friend, and they were walking the trail together. Denis and I talked about what many Francos talk about when they get together—cleaning the house, garage, and yard.

As I’ve written before, Francos have a zeal for cleanliness and order that borders on fanaticism, and it is one of our big topics of discussion.  There are, of course,  individual Francos who buck this tradition, but even so, cleaning the house usually hangs heavy over their heads. It’s a rare Franco, male or female, who breaks free from the grip of cleaning the house.

We also talked a bit about writing and the goings-on within the Franco Artists Group, one of the best groups I have ever belonged to. So many talented writers, artists, and performers in this group.

After saying goodbye to Denis, we continued on for a little longer. Asters and thistles were in bloom, giving modest bursts of color to the fall landscape. The wind had stopped blowing, and it was so warm that I had to take off my jacket.

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“We could have gone on that bike ride,” I said.

“I know,” Clif replied.

Ah, well! We had made our decision. After the walk,  it was on to the Dairy Queen, where everyone had ice cream, even the dog. As the young woman made up Liam’s doggy ice cream, she said, “When you make a dog a treat, it should be a real treat,” and she studded his ice cream with four dog biscuits.

After we finished our ice cream, it was late afternoon, with plenty of daylight left. On the way home, I said to Clif, “Let’s go for a short bike ride along Memorial Drive.”

And so we did, sliding the bike ride into a day filled with good food, sun, the dog, a walk, and an unexpected meeting.