Local’s Guide to Peaks Island

4,600. That’s the number of islands that belong to the state of Maine. Somewhere in there is Peaks Island – a busy little suburb off the coast of Portland and home to one of our all-time favorite Toads, Ponch. He’s our National Retail Development Manager and has been heading up our flagship store in Freeport since 2001. A few things you should know about Ponch: he’s part polar bear, can fix literally anything, and he’s the greatest pizza chef in the state of Maine (unconfirmed, but trust us on this). He’s got every skill you need to live on a tiny Maine island for 365 days a year (which he does with his wife, 2 daughters, and 2 pups). When were out there for our photoshoot this fall, we sat around Ponch’s kitchen and got the local’s take on Peaks Island living.

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How many years have you lived on Peaks?

This stint is 13 years, but Jess and I did a previous 3 year stint.

What’s the easiest way to get there?

Casco Bay Lines Ferries out of the Portland harbor – same spot they’ve been running out of since 1880! It’s a 17 minute ferry through the bay, and you pass the old Fort Scammel, can see lighthouses and the Portland skyline. It’s really pretty (You can always take a water Taxi if you plan a late night out on the town).

What’s your last stop before the mainland?

Standard Baking Co. for incredible bread and Old Port Spirits and Cigars for libations.

Best place to get a pizza on the island?

My house! There aren’t any pizza joints on the island, but I like Portland’s Flatbread Pizza, or Micucci’s for a Sicilian Slab.

What’s the best way to get around on the island?

When you get off the ferry, walk up the hill, take the first left, walk a few blocks and visit Brad’s Recycled Bike Shop – you can rent all sorts of 80’s and 90’s bikes, plus some old Schwinn tandems and even kid carriers – great for your beer and lobsters, or dog, if not your kid. Walking is also great as is unicycling.

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Best place to watch the sunrise?

Picnic Point – I recommend walking out past the rope swing.

Best place to watch the sunset?

Picnic Point is still a great spot, or the front of the island to watch the sun set over Portland.  

Best spot to the get creative juices flowing?

The Illustration Institute cabins. The Illustration Institute is a non-profit based in Portland that allows artists to spend a few weeks off the grid, living in quiet cabins on the island just working on their craft.

Best spot for a cocktail?

Make your own in advance or pack the ingredients, put it in a thermos, and go hang out on the rocks.

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Best place to pitch a tent: 

It’s not necessarily legal, but can’t say it doesn’t happen… Best advice is to be friendly, and don’t make a mess, but know that most of the land is private and the rest of the island is Portland City property.

Best piece of advice for living on an island: 

A friend of mine had recently moved to the Great State of Maine and was considering buying a house but didn’t know where. He asked me about Peaks but had heard that it was a pain. My response to him was “It’s only a pain if you don’t like boats.” You have to know that you can’t get home without a boat and you can’t come and go on your own schedule. You have to share transportation with a whole bunch of people – some you know and some you don’t, some you like and some you don’t care for. BUT it’s a very pleasant way to start a commute or end a long day or week. 

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For more local tips about Maine, catch up with Ponch and the rest of the Toads at our Toad&Co Freeport store at 11 Bow Street in Freeport, ME.

A Day in Portland, Maine

Words and Photos by Gretchen Powers 

Twenty minutes south of the Toad&Co Store in Freeport, Maine lies the beer capitol of Maine: Portland. When a commitment free afternoon presented itself midsummer, I called up my friend Giuliana and we charted our course for a beer-tasctic day. We discussed matters of the utmost concern (specifically which brewery to sample) and found that sometimes lots of options can really complicate things!  We narrowed it down to two local favorites: Bissell Brothers Brewery or Lone Pine Brewery. A simple flip of a coin had us heading in the direction of Lone Pine Brewery. As we were en route, I learned that one of my favorite Portland food trucks, Tacos Del Seoul, was heading for Lone Pine at the same time. Talk about a match made in heaven! Side note, Lone Pine Brewery is positioned right off the Eastern promenade and is great for dogs. My dog Ella happens to love it there, and gets tons of belly scratches from everyone we meet.

Both Guliana and I sported our Toad and Co. Swifty Vent Tanks and Sun Kissed Pull On Shorts for the afternoon’s excursion.  Let me just say, this combo has quickly become my go-to outfit of the summer.  Regardless of the low-key occasion, it’s perfect.  The high neckline of the tank covers whichever sports bra I wear and keeps my chest from getting burnt.  The stretchy, lightweight material is breathable and quick to dry – perfect for a sweaty back after biking with a backpack. And the shorts are a game-changer.  With a super stretchy wide waist band, they accommodate even my most beer-filled afternoons, and with fabric so lightweight and breathable it’s easy to forget you are wearing anything else at all.  The front pockets and zippered back pocket take these shorts from cute to useful and I don them for all kinds of summer activities from backyard barbecues, to kayaks, to tennis to biking to breweries.

 

We hopped on bike paths from different parts of town (Giuliana coming from Back Cove and I near the wharf at Commercial Street) and rendezvoused on the Eastern Promenade.  We swung around the tip of the Portland Peninsula to arrive at the Bayside neighborhood brewery. The Portland Trail System has a convenient digital map so you can plan your ride before hopping on one of the many trails in the Portland area. But of course, winging it is always fine too!

My partner Kaleigh met us at Lone Pine with Ella and we enjoyed some Korean style tacos and a flight of beer. Giuliana loved the Tessellation Double IPA, while Kaleigh’s favorite was the Portland Pale Ale and I preferred the Brightside IPA. When we finished our flight sampler, we decided it was time for some tacos! Kaleigh and I often joke that Mexican and Asian style foods are the best for bringing people together – whether someone is gluten free, vegetarian or has another food restriction, there is usually something for everyone.  On this particular afternoon, I was really feeling tacos but Taco Del Seoul also has really good rice bowls if you’re so inclined.  Ella loves food trucks in general – so many opportunities for unintentional scraps on the ground! With our bellies stuffed full of Korean beef and pale ale, we hefted ourselves back onto our bikes and pedaled slowly home.

It was nice to spend a leisurely afternoon at one brewery and one food truck, but there are so many options for great food and beer in the Portland area. If you’re into craft beer, add Maine Beer Co., Allagash Brewing Co., Rising Tide Brewing Co., and Foundation brewing Co to your list. Aside from Tacos Del Seoul, I would recommend El Corazon for delish mexican food, Urban Sugar for  donuts and other tasty treats, and Mami Japanese Street Food for all-time Japanese fusion cuisine.

Shop the Swifty Vent Tank Here! 

The 7 Best Trail-to-Pub Pairings in Maine’s Midcoast and Islands

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Maine’s picturesque lighthouses, rocky coastlines, uninhabited islands, charming small towns, and relaxed vibe have been attracting visitors for centuries. But it’s the state’s booming craft beer scene that has an entirely new group of visitors coming to the Pine Tree State. With so many breweries—90 and counting—and so little time, it can be tough to choose which brewpubs to visit and which to save for your next trip. That’s where we come in. We’ve put together a list of some of the best brewpubs in Maine’s midcoast region, and the best hiking trails to pair with them (you gotta work for it, right?). And you can trust us since our flagship store is in Freeport, Maine! Pop in and say hi to our GM, Ponch, and the rest of the Toads – they may even join you for a beer!

1. Hidden Valley Nature Center | Oxbow Brewery in Newcastle

The Oxbow Brewery’s beautiful rustic farmhouse location, where there’s usually a local food truck parked.The Oxbow Brewery’s beautiful rustic farmhouse location, where there’s usually a local food truck parked. Cait Bourgault/ Maine Midcoast and Islands

Explore 1,000 acres of pristine Maine wilderness at the Hidden Valley Nature Center, where 18 miles of interconnected, forested trails pass wetlands and ponds before leading to clifftop views. Try the easy, one-mile walk along the Moose Alley-Couch Hill Nature Trail to learn more about the area, or the three-mile Bowl Loop Trail through wildlife habitats and past a 30-foot rock face for a longer trek.

Then trust your GPS as it guides you five miles down a rural road and into the woods to Oxbow Brewery’s rustic farmhouse location. The cozy space is open Wednesdays-Saturdays and is home to their tasting room and brewing operations. Boston Globe Travel raves about the fact that you can even rent the farmhouse for up to nine people. Order a flight of their inventive, Belgian-style varietals like Harvest, a saison brewed with Maine-grown hops and grains. Pair your beer with local cheese and crackers or homemade pickles served at their outdoor picnic tables. Follow it with a round of cornhole or a tour of the growing orchard behind the brewery.

2. Oven’s Mouth Preserve | Boothbay Craft Brewery in Boothbay

Boothbay Craft Brewery is a close four miles from Oven’s Mouth Preserve.Boothbay Craft Brewery is a close four miles from Oven’s Mouth Preserve. Watershed Tavern & Boothbay Craft Brewery

Bring your four-legged friend along on this must-do hike, the 1.75-mile Oven’s Mouth Preserve’s Western Shoreline Loop. The short but challenging trail passes salt marshes, tidal rivers, forested shoreline, and the remnants of Ice House Cove, where a dam was constructed in the late 1880s to make ice that was shipped to large American cities.

Get your hike in early and return in time for Boothbay Craft Brewery’s 3 p.m. daily tour and tasting. This quintessential Maine brewery is just four miles from the preserve, and doesn’t use any artificial ingredients in their handcrafted ales. Stay after the tour for organic cuisine and fresh seafood at their restaurant, the Watershed Tavern.

3. Lobster Cove Trail | Monhegan Brewing Company on Monhegan Island

Lobster Cove Trail on Monhegan Island is the perfect scenic day hike.Lobster Cove Trail on Monhegan Island is the perfect scenic day hike. JR P

Ten miles off Maine’s coast you’ll find Monhegan Island, a rocky haven for wilderness seekers and artists alike. The only way to visit is by boat, and there are no cars or even paved roads on the island. But it’s paradise for solitude seekers as quiet, scenic hiking trails crisscross it. If you only have a day, check out the Lobster Cove Trail to see a lighthouse, the shipwreck of a tugboat, and spectacular ocean views.

Return to town for a pint of the aptly named Lobster Cove American Pale Ale on the deck of Monhegan Brewing Company. As the first beer this family-owned brewery ever created, it’s light and refreshing after a hike.

4. Bald Rock Mountain |The Drouthy Bear in Camden

The views from Bald Rock Mountain Trail go on as far as the eye can see.The views from Bald Rock Mountain Trail go on as far as the eye can see. Jerry Stone

Panoramic views of Penobscot Bay and Maine’s islands await on this quiet hike to the top of Camden Hills State Park’s second tallest peak. Don’t let the elevation scare you off though—the gradually ascending trail is doable for groups, families, and dogs (just be sure to keep them on a leash). To get to the 1,100-foot summit, hike 1.3 miles on a multi-use trail beginning in Lincolnville before connecting to the quiet, half-mile path to the top.

Once your legs are spent from the trek up the mountain and back, drive to Camden to visit the cozy brew pub in the heart of town, The Drouthy Bear. For scotch and whiskey aficionados, this place is a dream. They carry more than 70 single-malts and whiskies from around the world. The beer selection, both local and international, is just as good.

5. Moose Point State Park | Three Tides and Marshall Wharf Brewing Company in Belfast

Take a short hike through Moose Point State Park.Take a short hike through Moose Point State Park. Bob Zarazowski

Maine’s iconic rocky, forested coastline is on full display at Moose Point State Park, just four miles from Belfast. Small in size, but big on beauty, take Big Spruce Trail to Moose Trail for a 1.2-mile loop past tidal pools, bay views, and towering pines.

After exploring the park, drive five miles and step back in time at the small, coastal town of Belfast. This gem overlooks Penobscot Bay and is home to art galleries, historic architecture, the country’s oldest shoe store, and a unique local bar and small plates eatery, Three Tides.

Boasting a spot right on the water and an outdoor deck with an oyster shell floor, visitors rave about the locally sourced oysters and mussels. The adjacent Marshall Wharf Brewing Company offers 17 craft beers on draft, including unique seasonal favorites like a Cream Ale and Sea Belt, a Scotch ale brewed with Maine sugar kelp that made HopCulture’s List of Weirdest Beers from the Sea this year.

6. Rockland Breakwater Trail | Rock Harbor Brewing Company in Rockland

The walkable granite breakwater extends 4,346 feet, eight tenths of a mile, from Jameson Point into Rockland Harbor.The walkable granite breakwater extends 4,346 feet, eight tenths of a mile, from Jameson Point into Rockland Harbor. Jonmikel & Kat Pardo

When in Maine, coastal lighthouse touring is a must. And in Rockland, even the walk to the lighthouse is rich with history. It took the last two decades of the 1800s to complete the mile-long granite walkway that extends into the bay and leads out to the Breakwater Lighthouse. Designed to protect Rockland Harbor from storms, the path’s massive granite blocks were placed up to 70-feet deep and cut to form a path. The lighthouse at the end of the trail is still in use today, and you can see U.S. Coast Guard memorabilia inside.

After walking on water, explore Rockland’s quaint Main Street coffee shops and boutiques before grabbing a pint and an appetizer at the city’s only brewery, Rock Harbor Pub and Brewing Company. Don’t leave without tasting the Breakwater Wheat, a lighter beer brewed with coriander and orange peel.

7. Salt Bay Heritage Trail | King Eider’s Pub in Damariscotta

The Glidden Midden is a neat archaeological site to see on the Salt Bay Heritage Trail.The Glidden Midden is a neat archaeological site to see on the Salt Bay Heritage Trail. J.Elizabeth Clark /Liz Summit

See evidence of ancient coastal Maine settlements on this trail along Great Salt Bay. Visit at low tide to ensure the boardwalks and bridges are above water, and take the approximately three-mile loop to a fascinating archaeological site—the Glidden Midden. A midden is a massive pile of discarded shells left behind centuries ago, and this oyster shell pile was made by Abenaki and Algonquin tribes long before colonists arrived in Maine.

Après in the charming coastal village of Damariscotta at King Eider’s Pub for a brew and some renown Damariscotta River oysters. The locally sourced menu features fresh seafood, British favorites like Bangers and Mash, and craft beer from a variety of Maine breweries.

8. Toad&Co Freeport Store

Quality goods and even better company awaits at the Toad&Co Freeport store.

Between the ales and the trails, one can surely get worn out when exploring Maine. Pop into Toad&Co Freeport for a rejuvenating mix of classic Toad&Co products and other quality goods. Mingle with locals, get trail advice from our staff, and gear up for more exploration in the beautiful Pine Tree State.

Originally written by RootsRated for Maine’s Midcoast & Islands.

Featured image provided by Monhegan Brewery, Paul Edney

The Ultimate Trail to Tavern 3-Day Weekend in Portland, Maine

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Known for lobster, miles of coastline, and landscapes that have inspired artists for centuries, Portland may be our coziest Trail to Tavern® city yet. Once the capital of Maine and still the largest city in the state, this industrial town has turned into a true foodie destination with about 200 restaurants and more than 20 breweries (and that number grows each year). Pair that with more than 70 miles of urban trails, and you’ve got a full weekend ahead.

But with so many options, how do you make the most out of three days in Portland? Even just walking, eating, and drinking your way across the Forest City would be considered a major accomplishment. But we’re going to get you off the peninsula, too, and pack as much as possible into the three days you have here.

Day One

The Eastern Promenade is easily accessible from downtown, and is a popular spot for locals.The Eastern Promenade is easily accessible from downtown, and is a popular spot for locals. murphman61

Start your first day at sunrise (trust us, it’s worth it!) on Munjoy Hill. The spot is located in the Eastern Promenade, and you’ll have the best vantage point for breathtaking views of Casco Bay, Fort Gorges out on Hog Island Ledge, and other nearby islands. The “Eastern Prom” offers a 2.1-mile paved and stone trail along the water that is perfect for running or biking, and also connects to the 3.6-mile Back Cove Loop if you want to add in more mileage.

After finishing your run back at the Eastern Prom, take a dip in the ocean at East End Beach, or bring your kayak or canoe and launch right off the beach or the boat ramp. (You can also rent a kayak or stand-up paddle board at the promenade.) Paddle around the bay, or go under Tukey’s Bridge to the calm Back Cove.

By now, everyone else will probably be awake, so make your way down the hill for coffee at Coffee by Design on India Street with some of the friendly locals. Committed to the environment, their partners in South America, and the community, the micro roaster offers up perfectly brewed flavored coffees (and single origin black coffee, too!) and tasty pastries like handmade donuts from The Holy Donut.

After a little breakfast, head over to the Casco Bay Lines’ terminal for a 20-minute ferry ride out to the biggest nearby island, Peaks Island. The first boat leaves at 5:45 am, and then every hour after that until the last boat at 11:30 pm. The schedule may vary, so check the ferry website.

You’ll need fuel for your upcoming adventure, so stock your backpack full of bread, cheese, meat, and delicious spreads from Rosemont Market or Standard Baking Co. before boarding the boat.

Once you do get out to the island, beeline it to Brad’s Island Bike Rentals & Repairs. Making your way around the island via pedal power is the best way to take in all in. You’ll find birds to watch, beaches to explore (check out the back shore), and Battery Steele, a fortification from World War Two. The Umbrella Cover Museum is a quirky little place featuring (you guessed it!) umbrella covers, and with a motto of “Celebrate the Mundane!”

Of course, paddling is almost always an option when you’re on an island, and the Maine Island Kayak Company is the place for rentals or guided tours. There are half-day and full-day options that are suitable for beginners or those with a little more experience, and your guide will take you out to “secret” areas that are tough to find on your own (think a lighthouse, a lagoon with starfish and lobsters, and more). If you have self-survival skills, they will rent you a kayak in the warmer months of July and August, but the tours are worth checking out.

It’s 100% okay to bring a boat beer for the ride back, so stop by Hannigan’s Island Market (about a three-minute walk from the ferry) for a wide selection of local brews. Sometimes you can even snag a seasonal beer that is sold out on the mainland!

Once you get back on the mainland, head over towards the Back Cove to the family-owned Rising Tide Brewing Company. Making small-batch beers with an “aim to create well-balanced beers that are inspired by old world traditions but with modern twists,” they offer tours and tastings throughout the week. You’ll also find a food truck there most days.

If you didn’t find something to snack on at Rising Tide, wrap up your day with dinner at The Thirsty Pig, serving up house-made sausages and local beer. With options ranging from a pork sausage with Thai chili sauce to a Lithuanian Kielbasa, this place is a must stop for good beer and food. You can even get vegan chili and vegan hot dogs for the non-meat eaters in your crew.

Where to Stay

Portland has several chain hotels, but for an authentic experience, look into a bed and breakfast. There are several in town, each with their own character. The Danforth Inn is just south of downtown, near the Casco Bridge, and is housed in the renovated Old Port Mansion. A few blocks away, the Inn at Park Spring is a little smaller with just five rooms in an old brick house dating back to 1835. A third option is the Inn at St. John, which is a little closer to a hotel than a B&B. With 39 rooms, it’s the oldest continuously operating Victorian inn (built in 1897).

Day Two

Founded in 1995, Allagash Brewing Company focuses on Belgian beers.Founded in 1995, Allagash Brewing Company focuses on Belgian beers. Allagash Brewing Company

After filling your first day around and on the water, we’re heading inland for day two. Before leaving the peninsula, though, fuel up at Tandem Coffee Roasters on Congress Street in the West End. The cafe is known for espresso and drip coffee, as well as muffins and mouth-watering cinnamon rolls.

A 30-minute drive from Tandem will get you to Pownal’s Bradbury Mountain State Park. The park is home to nine trails ranging from flat and easy to steep with sharp turns, all converging at Bradbury’s summit, with views of Casco Bay and Portland’s skyline on a clear day. The trails are short (the longest is 1.5 miles), but it’s easy to link them up for more mileage. All of them are open to foot traffic, but a few are open to mountain biking and horseback riding, so be aware of who might be coming up behind you.

After working up an appetite, drive just a half-mile back to Pownal Center to Edna and Lucy’s, a locally-owned cafe serving up a menu of quick bites like sandwiches, wraps, salads, and soups. The options change daily, but make sure that you save room for dessert—they have some of the best old-fashioned German donuts in the state!

Pownal is very rural compared to Portland, but it’s a mere five miles from downtown Freeport. This former sleepy village is now a busy retail outlet town, so Main Street offers all kinds of shopping for clothing, jewelry, and outdoor apparel. Turn off Main onto Bow Street and see what’s new in the local Toad&Co store while you’re in town.

After leaving downtown Freeport, point your GPS south towards Maine Beer Company on your way out of town. While Maine Beer Co. is all about their beer, they’re also a brewer with a conscience, committed to reducing, reusing, and recycling. Knowing that you’re supporting a company who cares about the environment might just make their Lunch IPA or Maine Peeper taste even better than they already do!

If you want to grab one more drink on your way back to Portland, stop by Allagash Brewing Company right off the Maine Turnpike. Allagash focuses on Belgian-inspired beers and is known for their flagship Belgian white. They offer 10 beers year-round, plus some limited editions, and a few brewed with spontaneous fermentation, a traditional Belgian method of cooling hot, unfermented wort overnight with outside air. They offer free tours and tastings daily (by reservation), just get there before they close at 6 pm!

Right across the street from Allagash is Foundation Brewing Company, with a core line of more traditional beers (an American IPA, a brown ale, etc.), but also unique flavors like the cherry Magnus and an apricot sour ale.

Once you get back to town, meander over to the other side of the city for pad thai or drunken noodles at Boda, then watch the sun set over the Western Promenade.

Day Three

There’s plenty to discover when hiking the trails in Portland. Terry CockburnThere’s plenty to discover when hiking the trails in Portland. Terry Cockburn

Spend your last day in Maine hitting the trails in Portland. Portland Trails, a nonprofit urban land trust, maintains the 70 miles devoted to hiking, walking, and mountain biking throughout Greater Portland. Visit the Presumpscot River Preserve, a 48-acre public preserve, for a tough 2.5-mile route through a ravine and wooded areas to the Presumpscot River. Another solid option is taking Andrews Avenue out to Mackworth Island, a legislated bird sanctuary. The 1.25-mile loop on Mackworth is relatively flat and follows the perimeter of the island. There are fantastic views of Casco Bay, and also a few side trails that lead down the steep slopes to the beach.

What better way to wrap up a Trail to Tavern weekend than with a trip on the environmentally friendly Maine Brew Bus? Rarely does a month pass without word that yet another brewery has opened, so the easiest way to hit some of the best spots is to hop aboard the bus and leave everything in the capable hands of your tour director and bus driver.

The company offers several different tour options, from the Southern Crawl through southern Portland to Breaking Brews (exploring the newest breweries) to the Curling and Brew Tour that throws in a trip to the Portland Ice Arena for some friendly competition before heading to two local breweries.

Before you leave town, we highly recommend taking your time to enjoy a family-style meal at Empire Chinese Kitchen in the heart of the city’s art district. Known for their dim sum (tasty Chinese dumplings filled with things like mushrooms, pork, and lobster), their extensive menu offers something for everyone, including vegetarians and vegans.

Right about now, you’ll begin to wonder how the last three days have flown by—and there’s still so much to see! The good news is that the friendly locals will welcome you back to the Portland of the East whenever you’re ready, but you’ll be planning your next trip in no time.

Originally written by RootsRated for Toad&Co.

Featured image provided by Allagash Brewing Company

Trek Across Maine

 

There’s a reason our tagline is “Keep Good Company.” Everything is a little bit better when you’ve got someone to share it with. Or hundreds of people. That’s how our gal Courtney Edmands felt when she completed Trek Across Maine, a 180 mile bike ride to benefit the American Lung Association. Courtney is one of the Toads at our Freeport, ME store. She’s equal parts heart and spunk, and someone whom we feel pretty darn lucky to keep company with. Here’s a snapshot into her Trek Across Maine. Ride on, Courtney!

 
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180 miles wound through rural towns of Downeast Maine, amongst stunning golden meadows and mountain views, over bridges and alongside rivers. From Sunday River in Bethel, ME to the Atlantic coast in Belfast, sleepy vistas jolted awake as 2,000 cyclists put petal to pavement for the Trek Across Maine event over Father’s Day weekend. With clear, sunny skies and a steady stream of like minded folks by my side, the road was my ultimate happy place (even during mile 101).

In it’s 32nd year, Trek Across Maine is a 3 day ride from mountains to the sea that benefits the American Lung Association. It’s an event that we Mainers look forward to every year. Participants from outdoor sporting companies, bike vendors, local hospitals and individuals from across the state come together to bike for a cause. view

Taking a leap out of my comfort zone, I signed up for the life changing experience. It was inspiring to see the collaboration efforts amongst all the different communities. Dedicated staff and volunteers created a stunning, well laid out course with all the necessities we needed along the way. Crowds came out to cheer us on as we rode through little towns. And friends and family heard our call to donate, no matter how much, to the cause that we were supporting. It really does take a village. That and some well-greased gears.

Over the 3 days I pushed my physical and mental limits. When the horn was blown at Sunday River on Day 1, all 2,000 of us started down the path together. Motivating music and encouraging cheers faded into sounds of wild wind, clicking gears and calls of “On your left!” Hours of road signs, kitschy local advertising and wide open spaces gave way to mind games of endurance. And every so often I was confronted with the true danger of the road: holding a long breath while zipping past a hefty cow farm!

But boy, did we celebrate at the end of the day! After 60 or so miles each day, we’d roll into the final stop with sore feet and happy hearts. Exhausted but never too tired for a cold beer, we would find our way to the local live bar. At the end of Day 1, we made our way to The Dugout in Farmington, ME where we enjCourtneyEoyed perhaps the most refreshing beer to date (but after 60 miles on a bike, just about all refreshments have new meaning). Over local Allagash White and Frye’s Leap IPA from Sebago Brewing, we reminisced on the great landscapes we’d just rolled through. Folks swam in the river, cheersed in the beer tent and spent some time tuning up their trusty steeds. It wasn’t completely rugged, but there’s certainty in remembering 60 miles are ahead the next morning…

So we woke up, legs bound to bicycle, and the only option was to keep cranking chain. Ten miles turned into child’s play, being “just around the corner” from the next check point. We’d hear hoots and hollers up ahead when riders at the top of the hill had made it, encouraging us to keep on keepin’ on. After hours on the road, you realize you might be on the same path as everyone else, but the adventure has become your own.

Three days later, the aches and pains gave way to gratitude. I was proud of myself and proud of everyone for making the trek across Maine, and I was proud to support such a great cause. Knowing that we made an impact on The American Lung Association made that last ride across the finish line that much sweeter.

And in case you were curious, why yes I DID bike in a skirt! I will say the Toad&Co Whirlwind Skirt was, and continues to be, one of the best “bike to beer” pieces I’ve ever owned. To be able to wear it over cycling shorts and transition comfortably to a more dressy dinner piece in one swift motion… incredible! I receive compliments to this day when I wear it (which is embarrassingly often). If it’s good enough for the bike path, it’s good enough for me!

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