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Day 1: Monday, 2nd July. Destination: Motor Inn, Bucksport, Maine
We finally set off in the sunshine at 12:30pm along a scenic high road overlooking the coast of Bar Harbor. It was about then, on the first incline, that the truth of the matter dawned on me: here I was, setting off on the first day of my cycle trip across America and I had no idea if I was fit and strong enough to do it. The unfamiliarity of an elegant new bike with clever gears and pedal cleats, a fully-loaded pair of panniers and handlebar-bag – even a new set of cycle clothes – surely all little more than a costume to disguise the victory of aspiration over common sense. But, as grey clouds gathered and it started to rain I found myself settling down, and from that moment on my instinct was to avoid such thoughts: if I could get through the day without causing myself any physical damage, then I could carry on tomorrow. It wasn’t going to help weighing myself against the enormity of the journey. I had to trust that my training, planning, common-sense and a bit of luck would be sufficient. If not, then I could always jump a freight train for the middle bit, or spend my summer fishing on the banks of a New England river…
We crossed onto the mainland in the rain. Not quite the dazzling starting line I’d imagined - more a succession of island hops over low, grey bridges. After which, the 46 miles through lovely New England farmland to Bucksport seemed to take a long time and we didn’t arrive at our motel till 6pm. The town, on the banks of the Penobscot River, seemed pretty much deserted, but a friendly chap guided us across the bridge to the local diner. We’d made it through our first day without accident, and found food and shelter. All we have to do is the same again tomorrow, right?