This year we decided to vacation without our bikes. And three days into the vacation, I’m convinced that it was a good decision. My husband just came off of a tough race (and a resulting injury) and my century training has led to some pretty intense hours in the saddle. So with bare roof racks, we decided to head to Portland, Maine. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with Portland. The place is full of breweries, bike shops and beaches. Throw in a lobster—or three—and that’s my idea of paradise.
With rested legs and a bellies full of delicious sea creatures, we took a few leisurely strolls on the beach.
Portland has a couple of larger bike concept stores with slick displays of mass-produced carbon fiber and hip commuters. These stores have their place, but we were enamored by the artful offerings at Portland Velocipede. It’s the mark of a perfectly executed shop when it can capture the interest of two roadies and pull them into the commuting scene. This year-old shop seems like the perfect addition to the city.
For something completely different, we headed north to Bath to drop in on Bikeman, a place we’ve been ordering parts from for years, but had no clue that you could visit the shop. The store is like nothing we’d ever seen. At first it seemed like a disorganized mess of cluttered parts stacked in an old house. But, as they encouraged us to dig through loose parts bins (large rooms full), walls of tires, cables, forks, shoes and handlebars, it suddenly morphed into the coolest garage ever. I needed brake pads and they had at least six choices for road bike alone. If anyone is hunting for vintage parts or bikes, Bikeman should be your first stop. And the prices can’t be beat.
The first night we found The Great Lost Bear and their 69 beer taps. Wait, let me say that again. That’s sixty-nine freshly tapped microbrews from Maine and the Northeast. If that wasn’t enough, they were featuring drink specials and had samplings available. And the food alone was worth the trip.
We took a day to tour three local breweries (there are several), deciding on Allagash, which brews in the Belgian Style, Geary’s and Shipyard, which brew in an English style. At Geary’s, we were treated to a small tour led by one of the brewmasters. With beer in hand, he led us up the catwalk for an intimate view of their open fermentation tanks.
They say Maine is “the way life should be.” With sand in our shoes, beer and seafood in our stomachs and new bike gear waiting for our road bikes, I couldn’t agree more.