Trail Provides Relief for Long-Distance Traveler

by Tony Barrett of Maine, ECGA Board Secretary

I was traveling on US 1 near Whiting, a terrible section of highway — no paved shoulder, broken edges and poor sightlines — and I came up
behind a bicyclist. I pulled over at a safe turnout and met Chris. From his rig, I deduced he was a long-distance touring bicyclist and soon learned that Chris was riding the circumference route of the Continental US and was on the last leg along the East Coast back to his home in Atlanta, Georgia. I asked Chris why he was riding on such
a challenging section of highway?

Chris pulled out a dog-eared mini-
Rand McNally atlas of the US and pointed to the Maine map. “This is the only road shown on the map going along the coast” he replied.

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, Chris had never hear of the East Coast Greenway. Fortunately, I had the route notes for the ECG route in Maine and gave to him my copy. I also had the ECG Guide for New Jersey. Chris was amazed. He said, “I have been worried about how I
would get through New Jersey ever since I started on this trip.”

Chris was not aware that he was very close to a completed section of
the ECG, the Downeast Sunrise Trail (DEST) and he welcomed my offer to
drive him to the trailhead. Luckily I was driving my pick-up truck as
it took two of us to lift his 100+ lb. trailer. Needless to say Chris
was prepared for any emergency except for finding a nice and scenic
route for his trip.

As we drove to Machias, I told him the story of the Downeast Sunrise
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. “Do
you mean I can ride on this trail with no trucks or cars?” asked Chris
who had several close encounters with logging trucks already in Maine.

As Chris reattached his trailer in Machias, I explained that the DEST
follows an abandoned railbed with less than 2% grades. “Do you mean
its flat?” asked Chris unbelievably. After experiencing several days
of the hills in Maine, Chris headed off southwest on the DEST with a
big smile on his face.

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