One of my closest friends from graduate school is completing her internship in Vermont, less than five hours-drive away. Knowing that our ability to visit would likely go down as our year progressed and we became busier, we vowed to squeeze in trips to see each other early on. When Melanie came to town we headed to Mt. Desert Island, home to Acadia National Park, to bike the carriage roads inside the park. According to my guide books, I knew two things prior to this little outing: #1 The 50-some miles of roads were built by the Roosevelt family when they used to summer in the area. #2 As cars are not allowed on these interior roads, they were described as “a delightful place to bike inside the park, with the occasional slight hill and gorgeous views.” Upon pick-up of our rental bikes in Bar Harbor, the staff at the bike shop reiterated what a lovely ride it was and assured us that it was not too difficult. They gave us a map and suggested a 10-mile figure-eight around Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond, with a stop for the famous popovers at Jordan Pond House at about the half-way point.
You may see where this was going.
When they suggested a mere 10-mile loop, I should have known then what I know now.
Suffice to say, it was one of the most difficult bike rides of my life, with much steeper grades than anticipated. As I am not in the best physical shape of my life, one could explain my difficulty with this information, but I assure you, there were many a fit-looking-person who struggled up those hills and, at times, even had to walk his or her bike until the path leveled off. Fortunately, what goes up, often must come down and when we did finally reach a peak of some height, we were rewarded with the wind in our faces (to dry the sweat) and absolutely stunning views that made us gasp. (I tried to remind myself that those views were worth the physical discomfort…)
Upon our return of the bikes to the rental shop, I asked what level of difficulty they considered that ride to be. With much hemming and hawing, they finally said that they typically refrain from saying anything about that, so as to not discourage folks from trying. “After all,” they replied, “anyone *can* do it, even if they have to walk the entire way.”
Atop one peak, below, was our view to the right:
Below, our view to the left:
When we saw people in jeans walking near the water (below), we knew that we’d reached Jordan Pond. Should you wish to forgo the bike ride and simply eat popovers, the outer roads accessible to cars will get you there.
Without meaning to, we lingered at Jordan Pond for nearly two-hours, which meant we had to push the last 5 miles in order to make it back by our 5pm rendezvous time with the bike shuttle. Stops to enjoy the views were limited, but this was too peaceful to not take in for a minute or two.