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Old 07-12-06, 02:07 PM   #1
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Question for my 50+ Friends!

My wife and I are planning a trip to see the fall foliage in Vermont, NH, Maine, etc., around the end of September.

Our current plans are to fly to Boston, rent a car and do a motel tour. We looked at the bus tours, but don't think we would like to be cooped up with 40 other folks for 10 days or so. In fact, I think I would be looney after that, but maybe not? However, the route that we will go will likely emulate to some degree the route of the bus in the brochure.

So, we would also like to bicycle, and are considering purchasing a couple of WalMart bikes with a bike carrier on the back of the rental car. We would just give away or dump the bikes after our about 2 week tour.

Anyone ever get a rack with a car rental?

The kind of riding we would be doing would be very modest. Perhaps 10 miles around a lake or down a back road or exploring a small town or something similar. No 30 milers nor speed contests nor anything like that.

So, some questions:

1. Anyone here from the New England States who could comment on the possibility of bicycling in the rural areas of NE? Somewhere I heard that either Vermont or NH is bicycling friendly (bike lane and road shoulder-wise) and the other is not.

2. Anyone have any other suggestions for us in any dimension on this issue?

This is all new to us. I have never been to New England, and the wife has only been to Maine once for a funeral.

Your ideas will be greatly appreciated.
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Old 07-12-06, 02:26 PM   #2
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Well, I'm one of those New England folks. There are lots of possibilities. There are good parts of both New Hampshire and Vermont (as well as Mass and Maine), so I wouldn't rule anything out except probably the more urban areas. Vermont is picture-postcard-like if that's what you want (it's my preference), but NH also has the White Mountains area which is nice (take a look at Jackson, NH).

A couple years ago when my wife and I first got into biking, we hooked up with these folks and did a 3-4 day tour in Vermont. They provided the maps, routes, etc. and shuttled luggage between the inns. It's typically more than 10 miles, but they can probably accomodate anything. Around Lake Champlain was nice (and not too hilly)

Another idea is just go hang out in one place and pedal around town. We did this one foliage season and it was really nice. We were at an inn in the "Northeast kingdom" area of Vermont. Spectacular foliage although I'm glad I had low gears on the bike! This sounds like it might be the ticket for you.

One thing to bear in mind is that "foliage season" progresses from north to south. It can be 2-3 weeks or more for the "peak" to progress from Canadian border to Boston area, so try and time it accordingly. Weather can be, unfortunately, hit or miss -- we've had foliage seasons that are more spectacular than you can imagine, and others that are cold and rainy.

Feel free to ask questions or PM me if you have questions.
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Old 07-12-06, 02:26 PM   #3
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Way back when, I use to spend a week of my summer vacation going on different bike tours in Vermont with Vermont Bike Tours and I can safely say that Vermont is extremely bicycle friendly. The roads are in great shape and they have very wide shoulders. Motorists have become use to seeing all the cyclists and they are very accommadating. My only experience with NH was the western part and they were also great for cycling.
All that being said, I've only done one weekend tour during the foliage season, and I can imagine that between all the cars and cyclists it could get a little crowded.
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Old 07-12-06, 02:34 PM   #4
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Dnvrfox:

I'm sure PastorBob or CapeJohn will have much better information that I do. However, my wife is from the Easton/Bridgewater area and we have been in and out of Boston many times.

I don't see anything wrong with the plan to buy a couple of Wal Mart bikes for the brief touring you plan. Its actually a really good plan. When I used to do a lot of oil field work away from home I did the same thing a couple of times (Calgary, Williston,), and then just gave the bike away.

You might think about renting a minivan and then both bikes will fit inside the van. With four boys, our family always looked like Wringling Bros, Barnum and Bailey when we traveled so the van worked good for us.

I've never toured up there, but have been up into NH and Vermont (two sisters live up there) often, as well as Maine. Beautiful country. It's easy to understand why the Pilgrims settled in Massachusetts rather than southTexas.
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Old 07-12-06, 02:37 PM   #5
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Here's a pretty good guide to the peak foliage seasons:

http://www.yankeemagazine.com/foliage/findcolor.php

I used to live in Vermont. I think you're gonna love it. I'll put on my thinking cap about particular places.
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Old 07-12-06, 03:00 PM   #6
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Dnvr, get yourself a couple of Bike Friday Pocket Tourists and you've got well-made, well-fitted bikes you can travel with for years to come. They fold to fit easily in a trunk or back seat. They fold further and fit in a checkable suitcase. No extra airline charge. And you've got nice bikes you can travel with in the future, not just this upcoming trip.

I don't work for BF; I bought one last year and have ridden it a lot and traveled with it. Very nice bike that does what they say it will do. The Pocket Tourist is their stock bike that costs less. There are other nice folders on the market, too: Birdy, Brompton, Dahon, Breezer, and others.

Just a suggestion. Check out the Folding Bike Forum, or the company websites. It seems a shame to buy a couple of cheap bikes and chuck 'em after two weeks.
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Old 07-12-06, 03:10 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Hwy 40 Blue
Dnvr, get yourself a couple of Bike Friday Pocket Tourists
Thanks.

One of our major concerns in traveling by air is luggage. My wife can't carry much of anything due to her back and bad knees. Last year, we got bamboozled in the San Francisco airport where we learned, to our chagrin, that they have red caps by prior request only, and there are tremendously long distance between the rental place and other parts of the airport. It practically killed me lugging all the stuff that we had related to my heart procedure in Marin county. And i was in no medical position to carry stuff. Fortunately, we had shipped 2 suitcases back by UPS, but it was still a big hassle.

Also, that would mean we would have to rent a larger car at higher expense to carry the additional luggage, right?
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Old 07-12-06, 03:18 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Monoborracho
Dnvrfox:

You might think about renting a minivan and then both bikes will fit inside the van.
Thanks.

Sadly, the cost to rent a minivan is about 1.6 times that of a mid-size car - and extra $350 or so that I would like to avoid if possible.
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Old 07-12-06, 05:38 PM   #9
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DF,

Another NE'er checking in. One of the nice areas of VT is the Woodstock area. The little village of Quechee has a really nice bed and breakfast, the Woodstock Inn is great but a little pricey. The village of Woodstock itself is full of quaint NE shops and art galleries. Plenty of hilly roads to ride.

If you have never been to NE before you really should reserve the last couple days for exploring the coast. You could spend your last couple nights on Cape Cod and because it is the end of the tourist season it will not be so crowded. The Cape Cod Rail Trail goes for 28 miles from Dennis to Wellfleet through some classic Cape Cod landscape including cranberry bogs. There is also a 7 mile trail along the Cape Cod canal. There is a LBS about a mile from the start in Harwich that rents decent bikes (The Bike Depot). Both these trails are flat. You are still only a little over an hour from Logan for the flight home.

If you really want to get adventerous, visit Newport RI for the last couple days. Great seaside town with alot of history and great bike rides around Ocean Drive. It's about 1.5-2.0 hours from Logan.
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Old 07-12-06, 05:48 PM   #10
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DF,

Another NE'er checking in. One of the nice areas of VT is the Woodstock area. The little village of Quechee has a really nice bed and breakfast, the Woodstock Inn is great but a little pricey. The village of Woodstock itself is full of quaint NE shops and art galleries. Plenty of hilly roads to ride.

If you have never been to NE before you really should reserve the last couple days for exploring the coast. You could spend your last couple nights on Cape Cod and because it is the end of the tourist season it will not be so crowded. The Cape Cod Rail Trail goes for 28 miles from Dennis to Wellfleet through some classic Cape Cod landscape including cranberry bogs. There is also a 7 mile trail along the Cape Cod canal. There is a LBS about a mile from the start in Harwich that rents decent bikes (The Bike Depot). Both these trails are flat. You are still only a little over an hour from Logan for the flight home.

If you really want to get adventerous, visit Newport RI for the last couple days. Great seaside town with alot of history and great bike rides around Ocean Drive. It's about 1.5-2.0 hours from Logan.
Thanks. We did the Cape a few years back - didn't bike, but saw Wellfleet (in fact, we stayed there) all the way out to Provincetown, etc. Even did Martha's Vineyard - HEAVY rain the whole time.

We really have our eye on Maine, Vermont and NH. Right now, we plan on leaving Boston and heading up to Portsmouth. Then going up to Bar Harbor to see Acadia NP, and perhaps take the CAT from Bar Harbor to Nova Scotia.

One of my problems is that I know nothing about traveling times in this area. The map is a bit misleading, because I am used to western scaling, while eastern scaling is much different. I know nothing about traffic loads out of Boston going north, but assume it is crowded like every place else! I guess I will have to do some mapquests. We are also working with a AAA travel consultant.

Thanks so much for your input!
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Old 07-12-06, 06:11 PM   #11
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DF,

That's a good plan. Travel time to Portmouth from Logan is approx. 1.5-2.0 hrs. Traffic load depends greatly on the time of day. You definately do not want to be on 128/95 North during the evening rush, 4:00PM-7:00PM. Bar Harbor and Arcadia are great. I think it took me about 7 hrs from Boston to get there. It's worth it. Make sure you take the boat trip out to the island to see the Puffins. I've never taken the Cat to Nova Scotia so can't comment. Although my wife and I keep saying we have to. Once you are north of Portmouth the traffic should not be a problem. There is a bike shop in Bar Harbor and I'm pretty sure they rent. I used them when we were there because a bike fell of the rack and got the front rim pretty much destoyed. You haven't lived until you see you bike bouncing down the road in your rear view. Just keep asking the questions, we will do our best to answer them..
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Old 07-12-06, 06:17 PM   #12
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DF,

That's a good plan. Travel time to Portmouth from Logan is approx. 1.5-2.0 hrs. Traffic load depends greatly on the time of day. You definately do not want to be on 128/95 North during the evening rush, 4:00PM-7:00PM. Bar Harbor and Arcadia are great. I think it took me about 7 hrs from Boston to get there. It's worth it. Make sure you take the boat trip out to the island to see the Puffins. I've never taken the Cat to Nova Scotia so can't comment. Although my wife and I keep saying we have to. Once you are north of Portmouth the traffic should not be a problem. There is a bike shop in Bar Harbor and I'm pretty sure they rent. I used them when we were there because a bike fell of the rack and got the front rim pretty much destoyed. You haven't lived until you see you bike bouncing down the road in your rear view. Just keep asking the questions, we will do our best to answer them..
Thanks.

Just called Hertz. They don't offer bike racks, and if you use your own, then you must pay for any scratches (of course). I have a cheapie bike rack that sort of folds up - I may have to take it with us - but I don't feel real comfortable with it.

I noticed numerous and interesting bicycling trails in Acadia NP, and located a fairly reasonable rental shop there. Perhaps that might be best.
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Old 07-12-06, 06:20 PM   #13
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Thanks.

I noticed numerous and interesting bicycling trails in Acadia NP, and located a fairly reasonable rental shop there. Perhaps that might be best.
The trails are interesting, we spent a whole week riding them. If you want a good climb, try Cadillac Mountain. Then let me know how it was. I drove up
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Old 07-12-06, 06:43 PM   #14
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Another thing to consider if you haven't already is to make your motel reservations as far in advance as possible. I know that in Vermont a lot of the motels and B&B's are booked well in advance for the foliage season. It would be nice to just drive around until you see an area you would like to stay in, but you might not be able to find a room available.
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Old 07-12-06, 06:55 PM   #15
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Current thought is to find about 3 bases and spend 3-4 days at each, as we do not enjoy packing and unpacking every day.

Rent bikes at each location as appropriate.

Bar Harbor sounds great as do the carriage trails. Lots to do there.

Conway is on the bus tour, so it must be ok.

Middlebury?

Others?

Yes, we will make the reservations ASAP. We are not fans of B&B's, but enjoy Comfort Inns and related. As of today, they still had rooms available. ChoiceHotels (Comfort, Sleep, Rodeway, etc.) has great 60+ rates (cheaper than the senior rates, but not always available, and you must book through their 800 number, not on the internet.)
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Old 07-12-06, 07:15 PM   #16
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If you are not going to spend time in the Boston area, I would suggest looking at flying into Manchester NH (airport code MHT). I haven't flown in there myself, but I hear it is great for anyone whose destination is north of Boston.

It is a small airport, that has apparently grown over the past several years to the point where you can get in there pretty reasonably (price and scchedule).
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Old 07-12-06, 07:21 PM   #17
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If you are not going to spend time in the Boston area, I would suggest looking at flying into Manchester NH (airport code MHT). I haven't flown in there myself, but I hear it is great for anyone whose destination is north of Boston.

It is a small airport, that has apparently grown over the past several years to the point where you can get in there pretty reasonably (price and scchedule).
Due to my wife's knee problem (she can't walk very far, but bikes like crazy), we need a non-stop from Denver.

Thanks.
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Old 07-12-06, 07:25 PM   #18
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Any thoughts on Montpelier or Burlington as a base for a few days?

Current thinking

Bar Harbor - 4 days

Conway area 3-4 days

Somewhere in VT
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Old 07-12-06, 08:23 PM   #19
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Back here on the folding question. The Bike Friday suitcase is a rollabag on wheels, with a retractable handle. It's a pretty big Samsonite, but still fits easily in a trunk or back seat. Unless you're maybe also lugging a whole bunch of other stuff!
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Old 07-12-06, 08:33 PM   #20
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Back here on the folding question. The Bike Friday suitcase is a rollabag on wheels, with a retractable handle. It's a pretty big Samsonite, but still fits easily in a trunk or back seat. Unless you're maybe also lugging a whole bunch of other stuff!
Yes, we don't travel light. Lots of meds and some other stuff.
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Old 07-13-06, 02:33 AM   #21
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Denver, When I visited your area, I rented a bike from your LBS. Have you considered renting on your trip.
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Old 07-13-06, 05:05 AM   #22
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Thanks.

Just called Hertz. They don't offer bike racks, and if you use your own, then you must pay for any scratches (of course). I have a cheapie bike rack that sort of folds up - I may have to take it with us - but I don't feel real comfortable with it.

I noticed numerous and interesting bicycling trails in Acadia NP, and located a fairly reasonable rental shop there. Perhaps that might be best.
Dnvr,

Let me make you an offer you can't refuse: Look into flights in and out of Manchester, NH (about 50 miles north of Logan). Southwest has lots of flights to Manchester that are very affordable. Ship your bike rack to me ahead of time. Drive to my house (50 minutes from Manchester) and I will loan you the two MTBs (one has slick tires, both could) I picked up at the Church Yard Sale in May. Go on your tour (Acadia is about 6 hours from here and I love to ride the Carriage Trails. Portland is about 2 hours and is a neat little city. I'd stay away from Conway, unless you enjoy big crowds, cheesey tourist stuff, and outlet shopping). Finish your trip back here the night before your flight leaves from Manchester to drop off the bikes. I will mail/ship your rack back to you (or I can see about borrowing a rack from a friend). Let me know. And BTW,you could bring your own saddles!
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Old 07-13-06, 05:22 AM   #23
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Dnvr,

Let me make you an offer you can't refuse: Look into flights in and out of Manchester, NH (about 50 miles north of Logan). Southwest has lots of flights to Manchester that are very affordable. Ship your bike rack to me ahead of time. Drive to my house (50 minutes from Manchester) and I will loan you the two MTBs (one has slick tires, both could) I picked up at the Church Yard Sale in May. Go on your tour (Acadia is about 6 hours from here and I love to ride the Carriage Trails. Portland is about 2 hours and is a neat little city). Finish your trip back here the night before your flight leaves from Manchester to drop off the bikes. I will mail/ship your rack back to you (or I can see about borrowing a rack from a friend). Let me know.
Thanks for the great offer.

Due to my wife's knee problem, etc., we need a non-stop. I have already checked, and there are no non-stops to Manchester, including Southwest.

However, I do notice that Manchester is only about 60 miles from Boston. What size are those bikes and is either a "ladies" (step-through) bike - my wife needs a step through for her bad knee.
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Old 07-13-06, 06:05 AM   #24
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Thanks for the great offer.

Due to my wife's knee problem, etc., we need a non-stop. I have already checked, and there are no non-stops to Manchester, including Southwest.

However, I do notice that Manchester is only about 60 miles from Boston. What size are those bikes and is either a "ladies" (step-through) bike - my wife needs a step through for her bad knee.
Dnvr,

I'm 100 miles from Logan, about 2+ hours and into the heart of pretty New England countryside and less than 30 miles to Vermont. The women's is a step through which my 13 year old daughter uses (she is 5' 4"). The men's is about a 60cm. Both were custom built and are very light cromolly steel (no shocks). The women's now has the smooth tires. The men's still needs a cleaning and I could swap the pedals for SPDs if you have those type of shoes.

If you can connect in Baltimore, Southwest's hub there is nicely laid out with a minimum of walking. And some of their flights say "connecting" but you actually stay on the same plane. Also you could request a wheel chair for the transfer. Manchester has a minimun of walking to luggage and rental car checkin. At Logan you can walk forever. It's worth a call to Southwest.
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Old 07-13-06, 06:11 AM   #25
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Dnvr,

I'm 100 miles from Logan, about 2+ hours and into the heart of pretty New England countryside and less than 30 miles to Vermont. The women's is a step through which my 13 year old daughter uses (she is 5' 4"). The men's is about a 60cm. Both were custom built and are very light cromolly steel (no shocks). The women's now has the smooth tires. The men's still needs a cleaning and I could swap the pedals for SPDs if you have those type of shoes.
OK, I am confused by the 60cm. I guess what I need to know is what is the stand over height? Platforms/toe clips are just fine.

This might just work. Thanks.
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