Where is “down east” anyway? Dedicated riders find out in 2013 when the Pennsylvania Primeter Ride Against Cancer begins in Portland, Maine. Yes, that Portland! This may not be the northernmost departure point, but it certainly is farther east than the 15 preceding Rides. Veteran riders know that mountain air is a vital feature of PPRAC routes. Now a breath of salt air has been added.
Some riders have joked in past years that their training begins during the first few days of the Ride. The mileage on Day One will reach a “century” or more, so being in condition will be a definite requirement! Roads angling southwest from Portland will lead into New Hampshire. Maybe you’ll pass through Wilder’s “Our Town” enroute today (or tomorrow), but Manchester, the Granite State’s largest city, is the destination. Tuesday the route crosses into Massachusetts, searching for a well-deserved rest in small-town Ware or college-town Amherst after another long ride.
As cyclists turn northwest toward Pittsfield the next day, elevation becomes the measure of how challenging it will be to ride amid the Berkshires. Feet, not miles, matter today. And Thursday the Taconic Mountains provide more climbs and descents as the cue sheet leads south toward Poughkeepsie in the scenic and historic Hudson Valley.
Tentative plans for Day Five begin with the probable highlight of the day (with emphasis on high), a crossing of the Hudson River via a former railroad bridge, now the Walkway Over The Hudson. In good weather, riders can look north and south for great views. There may be more mountain air before this day ends as Shawangunk Ridge (“the Gunks”) appears. At the end of the day, crossing the Delaware River into the Matamoras/Milford area will bring riders back to Pennsylvania.
Headin’ home means the next landmark will be Blue Mountain, paralleled, but not climbed, as the route continues south and west. Today mileage is what matters most, miles to welcoming family and friends, and to the satisfaction of facing tough miles and a tougher competitor, cancer.
2013 PPRAC Route (subject to change)