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pedal plenty

notes on a north american cycle trip in 2008

Archive for the 'food' Category

Day 76 stats. Last day.

Lubec, Maine to Quoddy Point, Maine (most easterly place in the USA)

Distance: 4 miles
Distance so far: 4140 miles
Champagne: a glass at the Masonic BBQ
Pie: Yes. The official last piece of pie in Umerica was at the Masonic BBQ. It was rhubarb and strawberry. Oh yes. A good way to end me thinks.


Posted by me on August 4th, 2008

A bit blue …

I’m a bit blue today. Not in that sad, Joni Mitchell way but in the colour way. My body has started to turn blue. The onset of blueness began this morning when I set off cycling. It was only 68F (20C). Brrrrrr! If this continues I’ll need to get my merino sheep cardigan out (it’s a sports cardigan with loopy bits for your thumbs I’ll have you know, not a librarian style cardigan!) And then the haar (sea fog) came and it got even colder. I had to speed up to 14 miles an hour to keep warm.

But the biggest reason for me being blue is that I ate and drank a lot of blue things today. Here, in Down East Maine (I assume there’s an Up East Maine somewhere) is the official land of the blueberry. Ummericans LOVE blueberries. They make muffins with them in (I had one today), they put them on or in their pancakes for breakfast, they make jam with them etc etc. So I am going along minding my own business and look there are lots of people selling wild blueberries, and over there is the Blueberry Research Institute (you think I am kidding? I am not) and what the? What is that. A giant Blueberry cafe?


So I arrive at my destination Machias, starving. I have only had two breakfast today. I go immediately to Helen’s Restaurant where I wolf a fried clam sandwich, chased down with Blueberry soda, followed by a slice of very, very delicious blueberry pie. Later I have some Blueberry cream soda which is not the same as Blueberry soda and, I’m ashamed to say, another slice of blueberry pie. Now you will understand my blueness. Factoid: 95% of the world’s blueberry crop comes from this part of the world i.e. here in Washington county.

Today is my penultimate day of acrossness. Tomorrow I will be in Lubec the most easterly and north easterly town in mainland Umerica. I thought today I might see the Atlantic Ocean but the coastline is quite jaggy here, even more so than Scotland so all I have seen, through the Haar, are inlets. Umericans call the inlets bays where we Scotchlanders call them lochs. How educational this diary is. So, it seems that I won’t see the Atlantic from Lubec coz there’s a small matter of Canada being in the way. How inconvenient! I will see the Bay of Fundy though which is famous for the biggest …… You’ll just have to wait.

Posted by me on August 2nd, 2008

Slow down

I need to slow down, well not slow down just travel less distance. I have been used to cycling anywhere between no miles and more than 80 miles a day for weeks now. I am so ahead of schedule that, if I don’t slow down/travel less distance, I will be cooling my heals / SPDs for ages in Halifax before I head to Quebec for business. So yesterday I thought. If I just do these 125 miles I’ll be done. 125 miles is TOO FAR. The farthest I have cycled in one day is 117 miles and that was with a raging tail wind on the high plain in Wyoming. So I have decided to do 125 miles in 3 days. Today I did 37 miles. I lay in bed as late as possible (0630). I am driven from my bed by raging thirst and hunger. I show off how much I can eat to the folks in the motel (a bagel, a muffin, two bananas, OJ, 3 cups of coffee and a donut). I go back to my room and take another shower just for the hell of it (i.e. time wasting). Go on the internet to waste further time. And eventually I leave at 0945. I try hard to cycle slow. Well slower than normal. I meet other cyclists. I try to delay them from their cycling by yapping endlessly. And I arrive at my destination at lunchtime. I waste further time eating crab cakes. Hardly time wasted! So I’m done for the day at 1400. The fog / haar has come. So nothing for it but to relax reading about Lewis and Clark, chat online with my pals and stuff myself with haddock and scallops and strawberry and rhubarb pie (but not all on the same plate obv!).


Posted by me on August 1st, 2008

B.E.L.H. ….

It’s not big and it’s not clever to cry in your omelette. I am in the A1 diner in Gardiner, Maine. It’s a very fine diner to have breakfast number 2 in. The choices are better than usual and I swear this place is a converted AirStream. I am eating by delicious three egg omelette with smoked salmon, asparagus, dill and cheese. On top of the pie fridge there are several bottles of beer. Regretfully it is only 0950 so it’s a little early to start. But I am intrigued by one bottle. All I can see from here are the letters B. E. L. H. and underneath I can see S. C. O. T. It can’t be. Can it? I ask to see it. It IS a bottle of Belhaven. Scottish ale (I bet it’s really 80 shilling). It says Imported from Dunbar, Scotland. It has a little Scottish flag on the label. I tell the waitress it’s made down the road from where I stay. I sniffle a little. I am a bit homesick.

I meander around the back roads of South Central Maine. Back roads means more evil hills but here is a nice cafe in the middle of no where. It’s a very good cafe. They have real ginger beer. I have strawberry shortcake. Yum. Have you noticed? I never have lunch. Just several breakfasts and then I start on high tea. (NB High tea is not brewed tea or evening meal tea it is afternoon snacks usually of the cake variety with or without tea of the brewed type – ginger beer, and lashings of it, is allowable for high tea but is usually given to children).

And I just ate my first lobster roll. Fab! And cheap. Huge amounts of lobster, fries, salad etc for $10. How I laffed.

Sorry, you want to know something of Maine and less of my eating habits? Maine is great. It is hilly and forested and friendly. It reminds me a lot of the Highlands. Belfast, the town I am now in (which was preceded by Londonderry obv.) is right down beside the water and I would go look at the pretty setting but for the warning of a thunder and lightning storm from The Weather Channel. The weather-casters put the fear of death in you. They say, Rain never killed anyone. Hail never killed anyone. But lightning … lightning it’ll strike you down especially those of you by the water admiring the view from the saddle of a metal bicycle.



Posted by me on July 31st, 2008


I don’t feel great today. I gradually work out that I am dehydrated and under nourished. I didn’t drink enough when cycling yesterday and although I drank lots later sometimes it’s just not possible to replace everything you’ve sweated out in the humidity. I also realise that I am not eating enough during the day. I just snack as I go along and eat a normal amount at tea-time. That’s hardly sufficient to sustain all this effort. So today I drink lots and eat lots. I have three breakfasts.

  • Breakfast 1: orange juice, cornflakes, frosted shredded wheat and coffee.
  • Breakfast 2: an Orangina type drink and a Twix.
  • Breakfast 3: a big coffee and a raspberry and white chocolate scone.
  • And for tea tonight I ate two pizzas.
  • I feel better now.

Today, in my motel I catch myself in the mirror. I see for the first time in ages, my back. There are two mirrors here that facilitate back viewing. Well I am looking at my back and I’m thinking. That’s unusual. I can see all those muscles in my shoulders. I flex my shoulders in a Mr/Ms Universe style. Oooh. Horrid. Shoulder blades. Ribs. The reason for this? Well. Bits of me have become a bit scrawny. I seem to be developing a six pack too. But then there are my thighs. They are bigger. If that is at all possible. Huge quads. And sometimes I think my calves look like Lance Armstrong’s.

We interrupt this diary entry to bring you the following announcement from our sponsor.

  • Do you huff and puff when you climb the stairs?
  • Do bits of you wobble that didn’t used to?
  • Want to eat more than you already do and still lose weight?
  • Do you want to build unnatural muscles?

Then you need the amazing and wonderous Haggis Supper diet.

The Haggis Supper diet guarantees that you will become as fit as a fiddle and shed thirteen YES, 13 pounds in just two months while increasing your calorific input threefold.

What Haggis Supper dieters say:

I stuff myself on pie all day and have dropped a stone. Ms H. Edinburgh, Scotland

Get off me you fat human and get on the Haggis Supper Diet. A bicycle.

Spin. Spin. Sugar. A Sneaker Pimp.

Small print: The Haggis Supper Diet must only be used as part of a calorie uncontrolled diet. It may be necessary to cycle up to 85 miles a day over mountain passes to see benefits. Unsightly muscles may develop in unusual places. Scrawniness is a possibility. All symptoms can be reversed by reclining on a couch for 2 months drinking beer and eating Minstrels.



Posted by me on July 30th, 2008

Drowning, not waving

The weather for the next few days is for rain but no thunder and lightning storms, so I regretfully decide to leave Madge’s and her fridge of pie but not before having a final piece for breakfast. I take a box of the leftover delicious courgette (zucchini) croustade for fuel. So I hit the road and 10 miles down the heavens open. A biblical style rain storm. A torrent. It doesn’t let up all day. We’re not talking an unpleasant drizzle here. We’re talking downpour. The rain is so heavy it stings my legs. The rain is so heavy I can hardly see as the water runs down my face. I am NOT amused! Also, it is humid. It’s a well known fact that Goretex doesn’t work when it’s humid. I am as wet inside as I am out. My shoes are waterlogged. I am very miserable. I don’t like Vermont so much now.

And another thing! I have come nearly 4000 miles and have not experienced such evil, vicious hills. The mountains in the West have a decent grade of about 6% to 7% which is easily manageable in the middle ring of my crank (36 teeth) and bottom of the cassette (34 teeth). But for the first time I have to go into the bottom gear on my crank (26 teeth). This allows me to go up the hills but the gear is so low that the bike moves very slowly and becomes quite unstable. Some of these hills are quite long too. Hmm, Vermont? Going down in my estimations.

And finally. The roads! The roads are a disgrace. The Vermont DOT must be a lazy bunch coz the roads are lumpy and bumpy and degrading. The roads, in fact, are worse than Scotland and that is saying something. Vermont? Scratch that one off the list for another visit ;-)

Posted by me on July 28th, 2008

Rained off

Shocking weather in Vermont. Thunder and lightning storms. I opt to stay another day at Madge’s. Well, there’s some pie to eat. To earn my keep, (you know how I like to do that) I help by painting an Adirondack chair. I paint my chair a nice lemon colour in celebration of lemon meringue pie and Madge paints her chair a pretty violet colour in honour of blueberry peach pie. The chairs were made by students from Madge’s school. Adirondack chairs are very functional. They are made of wood, allow for a good reclining position, they have wide, flat arms to enable placement of New Yorker magazine on left arm and glass of beer/ a martini on right arm. The only problem is getting out of them and that has nothing to do with the number of martinis consumed!

Some of Madge’s neighbours are coming for tea (that is tea as in evening meal not tea as in a brew). A banana cream pie is being made. I haven’t sampled banana cream yet. Oh banana cream pie (with cream obv!) is delicious. Not too banana-y. Not too sweet.


Posted by me on July 27th, 2008

Ferry …. cross the ….

There’s a ferry here at Ticonderoga. It goes across Lake Champlain. If I go on the ferry my trip to Marge’s will be just 8 miles. If I don’t go on the ferry it’ll be at least 30 miles. If I go on the ferry it’s not quite but almost cross country by bike. If I don’t go on the ferry IT IS cross country by bike. I, of course, go by road, via The Bridge to Vermont.

I miss the cunning short cut to Madge’s house coz I am so busy yapping to the Bike Vermont cyclists. And then I arrive at Madge’s in West Cornwall. A peach and blueberry pie is cooling on the worktop and a lemon meringue pie is in the fridge. Clearly Madge has heard rumour of the ravenous appetite of cross country cyclists.

About Madge: Madge is a friend of Pauline’s from work. She has just retired from teaching Latin at the Middlebury High School. She has a great house with a great big garden and a big vegetable patch including tomatoes growing outside. In the house is an organ in the shape of a grand piano, a pianola and a huge musical thing with drums and pipes (I don’t know what you call it). Also in the house are Edinburgh and New York, two very shy cats who are so shy they don’t make me sneeze. And of course there is the fridge, full of pie.


Posted by me on July 26th, 2008


I am in The Swing Inn (no sniggering at the back please) in Remsen. The Swing Inn is a little motel. I like my room, I like it very much. It’s small and cozy. It has a wooden floor which reminds me of home. It has wood paneling which isn’t like home. It has air-con which is essential in this humidity and heat. It has satellite which means BBC Umerica delivering Newsnight and endless episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Everyone (well not everyone but lots of people) are called Jones here. This is because Remsen has many people descended from the Welsh and the Welsh community is still very strong. Ellie who runs the motel directs me to The Soda Fountain which although new is in the style of a 50s …eh … Soda Fountain. I have a vanilla soda and fish and chips. Lots of people are having fancy shakes and ice cream floats. The waitresses are all dressed in a 1950s stylee. Buddy Holly is on the jukebox and if you so desire you can get Elvis’s favourite fried sandwich of peanut butter and bananas (I warn you though, it killed him). After my fine dinner I go to the store and see a New York Times. I get quite excited. I haven’t seen a New York Times in my whole trip. Then I remember I am in New York so of course The New York Times is here. I buy a copy. The NYT is a good newspaper coz it actually has international news in it and I read it avidly to learn that nothing has changed in the world since my departure on this trip on 17 May. It’s all the same old, same old.


Posted by me on July 22nd, 2008

Contre la montre

I have a very, very important appointment today at 2pm. I must zoom. I decide to go on the traffic free Erie Canal so I can go quickly and arrive for my appointment on time. The canal route is very nice, a wide path of packed gravel with the occasional jogger, cyclist, dog walker, yacht passing me. I hear rumble. I look back. On no! That will teach me to be blasé and not watch The Weather Channel in the morning. There is a big blackness behind me and sunglass removal doesn’t make it go away or be any less black. I do a calculation:

thunder and lightning storm
+ proximity to water

+ metal bicycle
+ being tallest thing around for miles
+ no helmet on
= certain death due to lightning strike

I fret, I go faster. The lightning flashes … I count … one … two … BANG … oh no. The Grim Reaper approaches. But here is Medina. The lockmaster at Medina directs me to a local cafe and I sit out the storm for an hour. But now I might be late for my very important appointment. I zoom even faster flying past other cyclists dust blowing up from my rear wheel. I pass a a little boy walking his dachshund, the vortex created by the speeding Haggis sweeps them in to the canal. Do I stop. I do not. I must make my appointment.

I arrive at my destination just in time, covered in dust, sweat, sunscreen and dachshund fur. I have come to meet Stephen and Denise, the Voyager Management team at Rochester University Library. We have very important business. We have pies to eat!

Stephen and Denise got in touch with me two days ago tempting me to come to visit Rochester with the promise of pie. I contemplated this for about two seconds, checked Google maps and thought Pie? Canada? Pie? Canada? Well here I am, still in Umerica eating pie at Rochester University. Oh we had peach pie and chocolate cream pie. So very yummy. I got a tour of the Library including the tower, met with librarians and the Dean and .. eh … ate more pie. I even took pie away for me for my tea tonight. Stephen,Denise, thanks so much for making my day.

Dear Boss: surely this hard working systems librarian warrants a Business Leave day for being so fastidious in her attendance to pie eating work.

Posted by me on July 20th, 2008