We knew from looking at the weather forecast that we were in for a damp ride from Cape Cod up to Bradbury Mountain State Park in Maine. We did not know, however, that we would nearly drown on the way.
It had rained during the night so the tent was wet but everything inside was still dry. By the time we started to pack up, the rain had conveniently stopped. We got everything mounted to the Cruiser and were donning our rainsuits when a light rain started again. It was in this light rain that we left Nickerson State Park and turned on to highway 6A headed toward the mainland.
We made it a grand total of two miles before the pace slowed to stop-and-go. I imagined the nightmare of 25 miles of stop-and-go all the way to the canal bridges and turned around to try the main road, US6. Upon reaching US6, the pace was good and we made it almost five miles before, once again, we slowed to nothing. Yeesh. After exiting and weaving around a bit, we ended up back on 6A but after whatever was slowing it down before, leaving us a less congested route to the Sagamore bridge.
Once on the mainland, we picked up US6 to I495. We were just getting up to speed on I495 when the heavens opened and the light sprinkle turned into a steady heavy rain. If you were standing still in this rain, you would be reaching for a poncho or an umbrella less you become soaked in less than a minute. There was very little wind (at the moment) but riding down the highway at 60+ mph, combined with all the road spray churned up by all the cars and trucks on the road, transformed the heavy rain into a storm of biblical proportions.
Karen and I both wore full rainsuits and full-faced helmets. It didn’t matter. Within 15 minutes, Karen had water flowing off her helmet and down the inside of her rainsuit collar. I had rain soaking in the seat of my rainsuit and in through a hole previously created by repeated melting on the exhaust. Both of us had soaked boots.
I had planned to visit some colleagues at our Lexington, Massachusetts office this day. As I neared the I95 interchange that would take us to Lexington, I considered the traffic delay back on the Cape and our slowed pace due to the rain, weighing these factors against the oncoming afternoon rush hour coming out of Boston and the general miserable and non-social shape we were in. I opted for a direct track to Maine.
To add to our rotten moods, we were suffering in solitude. I knew that the wired intercom we used (Chatterbox CB-60) wouldn’t survive this much water, so we had no communcation for this trip, just the constant percussion of the rain hitting our helmets.
Shortly after we saw Noah’s ark float by, we decided to stop for something to eat. We were nearly to New Hampshire so I figured we were far enough north of Boston to be in front of the afternoon rush hour (at least this early in the day). I couldn’t find the Friendly’s restaurant that was supposed to be at this exit so we settled in at a McDonalds.
Note: I know I strongly evangelize never stopping at fast food joints in favor of smaller local dining establishments, but today I simply didn’t care. Today, convenience was king.
Once inside, we took off some of our gear so we could actually eat. Karen took off her gloves to reveal that the black dye in the gloves had bled all over her hands. I told her the gray discoloring would wear off her hands eventually, but she ran off to the bathroom to try and wash it off. We ordered, ate, and discussed the remaining miles to cover through New Hampshire and on into Maine. Karen brightened with the reminder that we’d be shopping at the flagship L.L. Bean store in Freeport, Maine in a few hours.
We also discussed the evening’s accomodations and elected to bail on our reserved campsite at Bradbury Mountain State Park in favor of a hotel room. I poked around online and called a Knight’s Inn in Brunswick, Maine, right along our planned route. They had reasonable rates and a call revealed that they were never full on a Monday night.
With a plan in place, we donned our sopping gear and ventured back out to the Cruiser, sitting forlornly in the downpour that continued to soak the countryside. As we walked out the door, I glanced back inside and had to laugh at what I saw. The place where Karen and I sat was drenched. There were puddles on the table where we had set our helmets. There were puddles on the chairs where we sat. There was a dark stain on the table where Karen had laid her dye-bleeding gloves. The floor under our table was covered with a single large puddle of water. It looked like someone had walked through with a two-gallon watering can and dumped it all over our table, chairs, and the surrounding floor. In any other circumstances, I would have been embarrassed to leave such a mess. Not today.
Crossing New Hampshire was uneventful with the exception of Karen needing to dig for money to pay the one toll along I95 (never a fun task with raingear on). I really need to get one of those iPass transponders so we don’t have to endure the hassle of digging for change on toll roads.
We stopped for gas just short of Freeport and, for the second time that day, happened to stop at an exit that did not have a corresponding on-ramp to get us back on the highway in the desired direction. I was beginning to think I was being punished by the gods. We took the backroads up to the next exit, got back on I95 and were soon parking in blessed, wonderful, covered parking at the L.L. Bean store in Freeport.
We spent some time shopping but didn’t buy anything. Of course, the desire to shop is inversely proportional to how soaked your clothes or directly proportional to how wide a path of water you leave while you walk through the store. Needless to say, the L.L. Bean flagship store is a worthwhile stop, but today our hearts just weren’t in it.
The sky was darkening now and we still had a few miles to traverse before we got to our alternative destination for the day: a hotel in Brunswick. The remaining trip was easy enough, but still dampened (literally) by the continued heavy rain.
We reached the Knights Inn and acquired a room with two double beds: one to sleep in and one to layout some of our wet clothing. Once we were unpacked, our room looked like the inside of a Japanese laundry, with drying clothing hanging from every possible lamp, curtain rod, chairback, etc. Not wanting to venture out into the downpour yet again, we ordered a pizza, breadsticks, and pop for delivery. I turned on a preseason game on Monday Night Football, and we settled in for a well-earned rest. The rain was supposed to end overnight, so tomorrow would be an easier day.
Aside: I heard the next morning on the Weather Channel that most of central Massechusetts received two inches (or more) of rain during that day. I’ve ridden in some horriffic storms where the wind (and/or hail) was much harder and the winds much stronger, but such storms were short lived. I’ve never ridden in such a long, steady, heavy rain.