Ohio Farmer Finds Maine Bicycle Navigation Frustrating Until the Eastern Trail

by Tony Barrett, ECGA Boardmember

It’s not surprising when bicyclists pass me going up hills (I’m a slow bicyclist) but this guy was loaded down with gear and he just breezed by me with a quick ‘hello’. I pulled out my camera and got a quick snapshot of him receding over the crest of the bridge.

When I got to the top, I noticed that he was proceeding on the Leamon Viaduct and
soon to be on a limited-access highway. I geared up and sprinted
after him. After convincing him to stop, I asked if he was familiar
with the routes for bicyclists in this part of Maine. Clearly, he
was not.

I later learned that Phil Boye, an organic farmer from southern Ohio,
had a road map of the Eastern US — which only displayed the US and
Interstate Highway systems. Phil had always wanted to visit the East
Coast and especially Acadia NP. He had set out on his bicycle
directly from Ohio to northern Maine. After a two week visit to
Acadia, Phil was headed south to Alabama to visit some friends. His
plan was to ride to Portland, head West to US Route 202, which
according to his map, went straight to Alabama. I mentioned that his
proposed route crossed a very hilly section of New England. Phil was
interested to learn about some alternative routes.

I led Phil away from the highway to the back-roads of Bath (albeit at
faster than my normal pace) to connect up to the Androscoggin River
bike path in Brunswick. Phil exclaimed, “This is great! I had no
idea bike paths were so close”. I asked if he had heard of the East
Coast Greenway (ECG), a non-traffic alternative route to US 1 that
follows low-traffic roads where not completed. Not surprisingly, Phil
had never heard of the East Coast Greenway or US Bike Route 1. With a
detailed guide or route markers showing him the way, his journey would
have been so much more pleasant and easy.

As it was late, I offered Phil a place to stay. That night a front
moved in and it was raining hard the next morning. After waiting for
the rain to abate, he finally decided to ‘hit the road’ even though it
was still raining steadily. Since I had agreed to drive him back to
the bike path in Brunswick, I offered to take him further to make up
for the late morning start to the beginning of another path, the
Eastern Trail.

As we drove in my truck, I told him the story of the Eastern Trail,
one of the many such sections of trail that are being built connecting
the major cities along the East Coast to form the ECG.
I said that the Eastern Trail offers a much nicer route than heading
away from the coast to ride on a highway. I pointed out the “ET”
marker and said to simply follow the signs.

Phil seemed a little discouraged to have to ride off into a cold rain
but at least he didn’t have to contend with unfamiliar traffic. I
received an e-mail from New Jersey a couple of days later.

Phil said that the rain stopped and sun came out as he crossed the Scarborough
Marsh. He had a beautiful ride following the ‘ET’ markers and then
following the NH Seacoast Greenway markers to spend that night in
Massachusetts. “Thanks to the Eastern Trail, I had one of the best
day’s bicycling of my trip” Phil reported.


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