Sunday, October 20, 2013

Montague Corporation, and Staring Down the Sun

This last week started off by getting a late start. I took forever to finish my last blog update, then when I went to load up my bike, found I had a flat tire. I was afraid I had more holes than patches at one point, but I ended up randomly selecting the only hole that was actually leaking, and so was able to make a good early start Tuesday, the next morning.

But I did have to make it to one last hardy Howe breakfast first..
Inside pictures of the cabin I stayed in.



After 3000 miles it was about time to replace my tires. Portland, Maine is the only city I will ride my bike through twice, and so it was a perfect opportunity to order in and replace my tires. I went with the same tires I'd had before, but being brand new, the rolling surface is noticeably reduced, improving my average speed a little.
The Bowdoin College campus - a highly selective (15% acceptance rate) liberal arts institution.
And, while I was at it, I put on new rear brakes, noticing that one pad had worn through and was putting a grove into my rim.
New England businesses seem to particularly like puns.

Low tide

I did get off as quickly as I could...
After not sleeping outside in nearly two weeks, I made it as far as I could on Wednesday, then found a church along my route where I might be able to camp out inconspicuously. It looked a little large, but I didn't expect that to be a problem. About half an hour away, I realized that it was Wednesday night, meaning there probably would be be people present. Arriving at 6:30, I was amazed at the traffic volume flowing in, and out, of the parking lot. After taking some time to summon my courage, being somewhat intimidated by the number of people present, I finally rode into the parking lot and went inside, to see if I could sleep outside that night. I think that's the most full parking lot I've ever seen on a Wednesday night..

On making it inside, I was quickly put in touch with Scott, who showed me around, and pointed out a place I could camp out of the way, giving me a card in case the police on driving through saw me and wondered what I was doing. That wouldn't be a problem, though, as I found a place out of sight enough no one could have seen me without really looking.

That night it was lightly overcast, with a full moon, and with the reflection off the nearby towns/factories/whatever it was, it was almost too bright for me to sleep. 
Vibrant colors in southern New England.
Having almost reversed my direction has taken some time to adjust. For some reason it doesn't seem right to have the ocean to my left, and I'm feeling much more disoriented than when my direction of travel was always on average east. That, and I really didn't mind having the sun at my back in the late afternoon...
The Gibbs Quadski - a $40,000 BMW powered ATV, capable of speeds up to 45 mph on ground or water.

Massachusetts. 
So I'm taking this cross country bike trip, not on a highly refined road bike, or a tough and simple purpose built road bike, but rather a folding mountain bike, outfitted with road tires, racks, fenders, a leather seat, and cool handlebars. I actually still use the more traditionally mountain bike grip shifters even. Having a folding bike has been a great asset, as I've managed to come up with so many reasons so far for sticking my bike into various people's cars along the way.

At any rate, the people at Montague Corporation, the makers of my bike, on hearing about my trip, and realizing that I really was serious and was going to follow through with my plan, told me if I made it to the Boston area I should definitely stop by on my way through. So I did. I arrived at their headquarters - a 3 room suite in a two story office building complex that used to be a shoe factory - at about 4:00, and they came out to meet me, took a few pictures, and took me in to the office to work on my bike. 
Arriving at Montague. The first picture of me actually riding my bike.
Me and Dave Montague, the inventor of my bike's folding mechanism, and founder of the ensuing company. 
Montague is not a huge company, having only about half a dozen employees, of which I met the majority - manufacturing being outsourced. On working on my bike, they said they were surprised how good of shape it was in, spending most of their time either tinkering with new bikes, or dealing with warranty issues on heavily abused bikes. 

While I was there, they replaced the bottom bracket (where the peddles turn), gave me a new brake pad, adjusted the brakes, fixed my shifter, and put on new peddles and grips. As I was about to leave, Dave handed me $200, in case I needed to do something further down the line.

As we were getting ready to leave - by the time they were done with my bike it was time to go home - I mentioned that I'd not yet managed to find a place to spend the night. Ryan, the guy who did most of the work on my bike, offered his couch for me to sleep on, in the house he shared with 3 other guys, so I followed him home. Of course, I, pushing 120 pounds, did have a little difficulty keeping up with him on a light commuter bike.

We went out for pizza and watched the Red Socks playoff with a house mate, then after doing a lot of not much, some of the guys started watching a movie about midnight, in the room where I'd have been sleeping, so I asked if there was a quieter place, ending up on the floor in Ryan's room.

Well, after putting 5 days of riding into 4 days, I was getting pretty tired. After getting a short ride the last bit on Friday, I stayed the night with Claire, before going to the church on Sabbath. 
The church interior. The organ seldom gets played, being rather loud..
 The Adventist church was originally a Methodist church, and so has a grand stone exterior, and wood interior. As it turned out, I happened to there for the pastor's last sermon before leaving his district of 14 years. In the course of things, I somehow became part of special music, playing my harmonica with a violin, keyboard, and another harmonica, and singing my first ever public solo, which I was slightly nervous about, having not actually rehearsed beforehand. 
With Charley, the other harmonica player. 
Being the last Sabbath, everyone had to give their farewell words, and it was clear that this pastor was well loved in his district.. 
The pastor and wife in the middle, flanked by a deaf couple, two ASL interpreters, and other church members.