Over the weekend I picked up a complete, original 1971 Iverson Road Runner, a classic rat rod bike style that brought me right back to my childhood days on a banana seat Schwinn my dad repainted and named “The Streaker.”
This Maine barn find is the coolest thing. Stickers on the double-crown fork give it the look of a sprung front suspension. Ape hanger bars are each mounted in their own posts, affording maximum flexibility in positioning the bars. The chainguard is in great shape, and both fenders are solid, original, and nearly perfect.
Sure there’s rust all over the chromed bars, the rims, and even the chainring. And the foam in the seat is, well, nonexistent. But the seat has no tears in it and the tires held air when we got it home and pumped them up for a test ride.
Why did I get this thing? Over a couple weeks, I had been eyeballing it beside a barn during my commute. It looked like it was going to the trash, but I couldn’t tell for sure. Jess could tell that it pained me to see it out in the weather. When I saw the homeowner outside, I pulled over, made some inquiries, and loaded up the bike (and one more that isn’t nearly as cool).
I’m not sure what I want to do with the bike. It’s an excellent resto candidate since it is, quite literally, complete. But I almost think it’s just more fun the way it is. For now, it’s just really cool to see my own kids taking a spin on the kind of bike I rode back in the day.
This is my second attempt at a POV video of a Mount Agamenticus ride. The first attempt involved a great 25-degree cold weather ride, but the cam was pointed at the ground and one could get no perspective. On this second attempt, I tried to get the cam mounted in a better position. Things start out ok, but the duct tape/bubble gum rig I have set up just seems unable to hold the cam in the right position. All the bouncing over rocks doesn’t help.
The audio for this video is courtesy of Youtube’s Audio Swap feature. Apparently, I wasn’t careful enough with fair use in dropping in my own music; Youtube graciously deleted the audio associated with my original before publishing the project. (Thanks, I think.)
HTC Evo mounted to a plastic lightswitch cover using zip ties and o-rings. That apparatus is then mounted to the decent quality helmet mount for my night light rig. But the weight of the phone seems to be too much for the little adjustment hinge on the night light rig.
I like this challenging little ride. The first part involves a decent climb up the west side of Mt. A, and around to the north. It’s mostly a wide double-track, but there are plenty of decent boulders, slippery wet washouts, and some serious roots to ride. On a dry day it’s 100% doable, provided you’ve got the legs and lungs to take it. In the video, it’s pretty clear that things are very wet and loose. The decaying leaves complicate matters by hiding the treacherous stuff that’ll cause the rear wheel to give way, the front end to stall on a big root, or worse.
The video doesn’t capture the ride to the summit because I skipped that part of the ride that day. It does capture the easterly descent from Mt. A and over to Second Hill. That’s a hairy downhill section with some sizable 2′ drops off boulders that head right into a tangled nest of roots and loose rocks, followed by some nice technical switchbacks that head to Porcupine and Second Hill.
The ascent of Second Hill is another good little workout that’s about 95% doable, at least when it’s mostly dry. I’ve done this hill about 15 times and I have yet to pull up the last little piece of rock to get clear to the summit. Mostly, it’s because it’s a near vertical face, but there’s also the thigh burn to contend with by that point. Descending Second Hill on the north side is a fun section because it isn’t quite as rocky and root-infested as so much of the other hills, at least until you get near the bottom. At the bottom, there’s a pretty serious washout and root-laden section that’ll draw some blood if a tire slips out at the wrong time. In the video, there’s a nice foot-deep puddle marking the end of the descent. I’m sure some folks have wiped out there and gotten wet. Thankfully, I’ve avoided that problem.
There’s some nice, somewhat challenging up and down riding on the way back over to Mt. A, and I actually wish there were more of that sort of terrain on my ride. And then it’s a good backtrack up the mountain and down the northwest side to the parking lot.
After driving past Smith Preserve for a month or so, I decided to give it a shot. There’s a clear sign indicating that mountain biking is allowed there. It’s a network of double-track trails likely to draw cross-country skiers in the winter months, along with some single-track that I have yet to fully explore because I don’t want to be lost in the dark back there. Mostly, I’ve managed to eke out small 30-minute rides before fearing that darkness will set in and leave me hanging. It’s clear that there’s more to explore, and I have yet to find a soul in the woods.
It’s not at all challenging from a technical perspective, though the flat terrain does make for a good cardio ride. It’s a soupy mess in places, owing to the general marshy nature of the entire Kennebunkport area. Autumn leaves littering the trail do make the ride a bit challenging since boulders, downed logs, and more hide in the puddles. There are definitely trail hazards in there. Even with a good night light, the dusk rides get a bit scary in places.
It’s hunting season as well. Pick-ups are parked all around the area, a clear sign that one could get shot. My guess is that the preserve is off limits, but I’m not sure. I broke out my fluorescent orange waterproof cycling jacket for the occasion. The bonus is that it keeps me warm enough to ride as the temperature dips. No frosty rides – yet.
I started to struggle to get myself around Mt. Agamenticus before darkness set in once we turned back the clocks. Not wanting to be caught out in the cold and the dark on the mountain, and tiring of the 35-minute drive just to hit a trail, I had to strike out and find another riding spot if I wanted to stay on the bike. Smith Preserve fits the bill just fine right now.
I found another nice set of bike trails in the area. Mt. Agamenticus is a cool mountain in York at the heart of “one of the largest remaining expanses of undeveloped forests in coastal New England” (http://www.agamenticus.org/index.html). On Sunday I rode the trails that head to the mountain peak. It’s only about 30 minutes away from my place, making it fairly easy to ride.
I rode Ring and Fisher on the way up, and Witch Hazel, Ring, Chestnut Oak, Porcupine, Rocky Road, and Ring on the way down. I missed the turn to hit Chestnut Oak, ending up on a nice, technical ride down Goosefoot. But Goosefoot dropped me at Cedar, a trail that ran off my trail map. I had to climb that same technical hill back up to catch the Chestnut Oak trail. (Oops.)
Perhaps the coolest thing about this ride is the bonus view from the top of Mt. Agamenticus. A lookout on the north end of the mountain offers views of the hills and valleys of Maine and New Hampshire, and I could see the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the distance. (A panoramic sketch of the mountain silhouette helped me locate those mountains, taking me back to the days when I used to hike those mountains all the time.) And from the southeast side of the peak I could see the Atlantic ocean. This will be a great place to ride as the leaves turn, and as they drop and the views just open up. This is a great place for hiking as well. On the summit, at the ranger station, there’s a wonderful nature exhibit, with hawk wings, pelts, and plants that introduce visitors to the wildlife of the region. I’ll bring the family here soon!
It was such a nice ride that I headed back for more on Monday evening. I met Rob, a local Ogunquit bike shop owner, at the trail head. He offered to show me some of the trails I hadn’t yet explored. We had a really nice, quiet evening ride as I explored the northeast end of this conservation area. After running around Ring and out around Second Hill, we rode straight up the north side of Agamenticus on Sweet Fern. We hit the summit just as the sun was setting over the mountains to the west. Gorgeous! I don’t normally ride with a partner these days, unless I’m riding with my kids. It was great to have someone to ride with and I’ll be sure to try to ride with Rob again.
Apparently, there’s another network of trails in a water district conservation area just across Mountain Road. Rob and I agreed that it would be nice to explore that area some other time.
I am a professor in the English Department at the University of New England, where I direct composition and teach freshman writing. My scholarly interests include new media composition, writing program administration, and Writing Across the Curriculum.