Posted by: Ian | September 2, 2012

Acadia’s Carriage Roads

It wouldn’t be right to leave Acadia without making some mention of its Carriage Roads. This is a network of trail roads through the National Park that was established by the Rockefeller’s to expedite horse riding around the Island. Yesterday I hired a mountain bike for the morning and took Zoe and Heidi for a 13.5 mile ride on them. I could have taken my road bike but the chances of getting a puncture would be reasonably high and I was even more concerned about trashing my Fulcrum wheels. Also, the surface of the carriage roads is loose gravel over hard rock so there’s every chance of losing traction on my skinny 23mm tyres, even though the cycling is extremely gentle.

It’s fun and easy riding; Heidi and Zoe preferred it to the road rides they’ve done here. For the more enthusiastic cyclist, and certainly for the hardcore mountain biker, it might be a bit limited but it’s an exceptional resource and very pleasant. Since cycling on the roads of Mount Desert Island is generally unchallenging, a cyclocross bike with robust tyres or even a 29er might be the ideal choice for a vacation here.

Navigating around the carriage roads couldn’t be easier. The Park Service provides a free “User’s Map” that is easily adequate, especially since at every intersection there’s a large navigation post giving directions, and each of these posts is numbered for cross-referencing on the map. At the Visitor’s Center one of the staff tried to encourage me to buy a larger $5 colour map, which was not doubt excellent but is not necessary and looked a bit less handy for stuffing in my pocket.

As I’ve come to expect in Acadia, there are fantastic sea and lake views all over the place and the forested covering makes the riding perfect on a sunny day. There are far fewer people out than I would expect, although when you’re close to one of the major car parks there’s a dispersion of people ambling around on foot. Although they’re certainly allowed, we didn’t see a single horse.

We’ll be leaving the Island in a couple of hours and my Astraeus is in the bike bag. A while ago I bought a frame spacer, which is simply a skewer with a sprocket on it that slips into the rear dropouts to hold the chain in place. They don’t cost much and I’d certainly recommend getting one as a supplement to the bike bag. Although the websites I’ve looked at all recommend removing the rear derailleur when you pack the bike, I find that with a frame spacer it works better if you don’t.

Finally, here’s a link to a few snaps I’ve taken while we’ve been here.



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