I have had the good fortune of returning to the County this spring and summer to do some cycling and take part in the events that Fresh Trails Adventures is offering over the next few months. Having been away for three years working and cycling in Boulder, Colorado, it has been a joy to return to Maine to see old friends that I used to ride with and enjoy the special riding that Aroostook County has to offer. I have ridden all over the world, Europe, eastern, midwestern, and western US, Alaska, Canada, Mexico, and Central America, and while I have had terrific rides in all of these places, there is something about riding my bike in the County that brings out the magic of cycling for me.
First a little about what I have been up to while away. While in Colorado the past three years I took advantage of the cycling. Boulder is a mecca for cyclists, with many elite professional road and mountain bikers taking up residence to use the unique terrain and altitude for training. For this reason Boulder has developed a strong cycling culture with a bike store on nearly every corner in town. The roads into the Rockies west of town provide rugged terrain and the ‘Peak to Peak’ highway is a world famous ride that runs from Nederland to Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park. On days when a more rolling gentle ride is called for there are plenty of good roads to use out into the plains east of town. The last few years the world has witnessed some of this fantastic riding as part of the Pro Cycle Challenge, one of the biggest stage races in the country that attracts most of the top World Tour teams. Two years ago the second to last stage finished up Flagstaff Mountain, a climb that was quite literally out my front door. This past year the penultimate stage featured the hills around Fort Collins and Estes Park. It was an unbelievably beautiful stage with Peter Sagan winning in a sprint. Having ridden the route the morning before, I was eating sushi and sipping a Sapporo as I saw them ride past on main street Fort Collins! In addition to cycling in Boulder I have traveled to major skiing events around the country as part of my job with Boulder Nordic Sport. And this past March my wife and I traveled with the Paralympic cross-country skiing and biathlon teams to the Paralympic games in Sochi, Russia. My wife, BethAnn is part of the US Paralympic coaching staff and I was guiding for one of the visually impaired athletes. It was an unbelievable experience.
My post is getting away from my original topic, but I mention all of these things to emphasize my feeling that amongst all the memories I have of my experiences in the outdoors, there are cycling rides in the fields and hills around Caribou, Presque Isle, Houlton, Madawaska, Fort Kent, and New Sweden and Stockholm that are among the best. It is my opinion that the riding in Aroostook County is a hidden gem in the world of cycling, and that the majority of residents here do not know what they have out their front door.
This past weekend I attended the Greater Houlton Christian Academy benefit ride in Houlton, ME. It was a successful event that helped raise money for their programs with 20, 40, and 60 mile rides. I was part of a small group that took on the 60 mile loop. The ride had everything that I enjoy about riding in the County, friends pushing each other, sweeping views of rolling farmland, and good roads with low traffic. Among the riders were Mark and Noah Rossignol, Von and Justin Perry, Joe Ewing, and Brian Bell. These are all friends that I have ridden with before. We endured mechanicals, bugs, and hot sun, but the passion of the ride never left us.
We started Fresh Trails Adventures four years ago to bring a piece of this passion to everyone. This summer and fall we have scheduled a number of events that will work towards our goal of bringing out the cyclist in anyone who takes part in our rides. The annual F.A.R.M. ride is this coming weekend featuring the backroad riding around Long Lake, Madawaska and the St. John River Valley. We are especially proud of our upcoming 2nd annual Tour de L’Acadie on August 16th. This event is part of the 2014 World Acadian Congress happening in northern Maine, western New Brunswick, and the Bas St. Laurent region of Quebec. For those who would like to venture outside of the County for riding we have the Champlain Valley Tour in September as well as our signature ‘Taste of Tuscany’ tour in Siena, Italy. We have full details of these events on our website. For the beginning cyclist and those who are thinking of trying cycling for the first time, call us. We can put together beginner clinics for anyone interested that will be sure to get those of any ability level going in the right direction with safety and equipment.
In the meantime we can be found out on the roads cycling everyday or planning our next adventure. The County is too good a place to ride to let the spring and summer get away, we will be taking advantage of every opportunity to get out on our bikes. We hope you do the same. We are passionate in the belief that there is a ride for everyone here, and everyone should be cycling!