Guest blogger and musician Ben Sollee is contributing a series of articles from the road about his Ditch the Van tour. He's traveling by bike, unsupported, throughout New England.
Day 6: Portsmouth, NH to Portland, ME (62 Miles)
The final 60 miles of this year’s Ditch the Van tour were filled with wonderful moments of repose between bursts of high traffic tourist spots. We did about a third of the ride on the Eastern Trail -- old tracks converted to a serene recreational highway. It allowed us to let down our guard for a bit and chat with each other while riding.
We all agree that it’s a tremendous amount of physical effort to ride our bikes to shows. All of us still have questions about how financially sustainable it is to spend more time playing fewer, smaller shows. But, the rewards, we all agreed, are in the personal satisfaction of delivering yourself and your goods somewhere completely under your own power. And, like all the other tours by bike, that task seems to invite good people in to our lives.
In Marshfield we stayed with a family that opened their home to us and taught us how to shuck and eat oysters. Then the creative folks with the Boston Cyclists Union put together a memorable group ride to a show in Jamaica Plain. Riding up the coast towards Portsmouth, NH we were received by a generous family that let us stay in their home and eat their food. All these encounters were because we chose to ride our bikes.
You can’t roll up the windows on your bicycle or ignore the world around you. You make yourself vulnerable to the elements, other people, and your own physical limitations. When outsiders see us making that choice with our business they are at very least curious, but often feel compelled to help. It is this humanitarian action that keeps me on my bicycle. They are the building blocks of community and, more than ever, it is paramount to develop a healthy relationship with one’s community.
Follow the whole series here.