September 22: Amesbury to Ayer, MA 50.3 miles,
With such a "short mileage" day the decision to start a little later seemed to win the vote from everyone. 8 AMish seemed reasonable. The weather was clear, but there was a definite chill to the air. The temperature reading was hovering around 40 degrees, so the need for warm clothing was a must. Layer, layer, layer, that is the norm of fall riding.
Today is one of those days in touring where the route isn't scenic, the traffic fierce, the road potholed, and the facilities (i.e. restaurants, latte shops, bike shops, etc.) are few and far between. We are needing to get from the northeast corner of Massachusetts and around Boston without riding anywhere near, and start our push toward Sturbridge. The area that we rode through at the turn of the century was the hub of the textiles mills of the US. Mile after mile the remnants of these massive factories and warehouses stand as a reminder of what was. Now with little to no federal funds to help bring life back to these towns and villages, the local tax dollar is trying to convert and restore. Many store fronts stand empty, homes look in desperate need of a good coat of paint, but there are signs of possible life after industrial crash.
We started on the John Greenleaf Whittier Highway. John was a famous poet in the early 1800's. For more information, if you are interested go to www.kimspress.com/biograph.htm
We had no clue who he was -- only that rush hour in Amesbury on the JGW Highway is not fun. In this part of the world they love their rotaries, which make a lot of sense for moving traffic in a safe and steady motion. However, if one is on a bike and trying to navigate around the circle while keeping on eye on entering traffic as well as planning the exit, it is not fun!
The towns of Merrimac, Highlandville, Marston Corners, Methuen, Kenwood, all lead the way to Lowell, a busy city lodged along side the river with its rows of warehouses from the past. Lunch was in order, but first the need to fight traffic was the biggest obstacle. Traffic jams are not sympathetic to bikers!!! For some reason they think they own the road and that every bicyclist should get lost, or at least that was the general feeling we were getting from the expressions on some of the driver's faces.
In any case, we found a small, but cute diner and ordered hamburgers and French fries in abundance! Peg, who had said originally that she just doesn't eat much ordered the special!!!!
Stomachs full it was back out into traffic. Dump trucks seem to have found the same road. Hang on and hope that they don't turn right!!
Finally, around the bend appeared our home for the night: Ayers Motor Inn. It is evening as I write and so far we are the only ones here!!! Oh well, it is a clean bed and warm shower!!
Peg: "I don't eat much!!"