Creating the Maine Tour
Maine’s outdoors is calling. Do you hear it? I can, all the way from S.E. Asia.
A year ago when the idea of creating tours in North America was first being discussed, Maine quickly topped my list. Where else to begin designing a bike tour than with my pal Norman Patry (pictured at right). His story — pure Maine.
~Steve Grace, Grasshopper Brand Ambassador
“I was 29, working for an investment firm in Boston. I hated my job, my relationship just ended and I decided I needed a break. So … I decided to bike across America.”
Normans cross-country trip included sites like the gorgeous Sawtooth Range of Idaho
A foot of snow was the backdrop for my Zoom conversation last week with Norman, the colleague I turned to for help designing our new Maine tour. His story and his love for adventure always brings a smile.
“Not only did I not own a bike but I had probably not ridden a bike since I was 14. This of course all made no sense and yet at the same time, perfect sense.”
The cross-country journey opened Norman’s eyes not only to the wonders of long-distance cycling but also to the opportunity of designing tours in the place he called home, Maine. He went back to work for three years but then took the plunge to start a small cycling business.
Normans cycling business in various spots around Maine
“I woke up one day and decided I want to ride my bike for a living. Twenty one years later here I am, still at it.”
What makes for a classic Maine adventure?
“I want guests to experience Maine like a local. That applies to the routes we design, the out of the way places we stop to eat and explore, and the people we’ll introduce you to.”
People like Aaron Lincoln, the owner of Schooner Olaf, the captain of our sunset Penobscot Bay cruise on Day 4.
Norman met Aaron 20 years ago when they were each starting their businesses. They have been friends since that day. Aaron, an accomplished mariner, has logged more than 100,000 miles sailing Penobscot Bay.
Aaron Lincoln and Schooner Olaf’s Tiberwind Schooner
“Makes all the difference, when we bring a group to his boat, that we’re friends. He’s a wonderfully crazy ‘Mainer’ with a wacky beard that he hasn’t trimmed in years and an amazing captain who can tell stories about every structure, ship and sailor on the Bay.”
It also doesn’t hurt that Norman and his team have cycled every country road and most of the marked and unmarked trails. Even after all these years, the feeling of wanting to share Maine’s “wow” moments is always there.
Acadia National Park’s bike trail in Autumn
“Take Acadia National Park. It is so underappreciated when people talk about America’s natural beauty. Just by itself, it’s stunning. The cycling in and around the park leaves people blown away by its beauty. There is a reason we save it for the end of the trip. It’s a one-of-a-kind day.”
Before reaching Acadia, don’t despair, Maine is overflowing with scenic rides and small towns that may cause you to stop your bike more often than planned for photos and friendly hellos. Take Camden, for example.
View of Camden Harbor from Mount Battie
“If you close your eyes and imagine an idyllic, charming New England coastal village, what you’re picturing is Camden. The place is beyond beautiful — the harbor full of sailboats, the perfectly manicured yards, artists shops and amazing restaurants for a town its size. People want to move there the moment they get off their bikes”
Food is central to all our Grasshopper adventures and Maine fits right in, a state considered one of America’s top ‘foodie’ destinations.
Photo credit: Fore Street Restaurant / Jen Dean Photography
With an abundance of seafood and access to fresh locally grown food, Maine has never looked back. Food plays a major role in all of Norman’s tours and it’s not only the starred restaurants.
“The day we go kayaking we have to push off early from the hotel. No worries. The aroma from one of my favorite bakeries on our way to the start point will have guests pushing to get out of the van and to the front of the queue.”
Sea Kayaking, Acadia National Park
My hour call with Norman went by quickly as he was heading off with his family for a morning of skiing. My final question was a general one about ‘Mainers.’ How would he describe his fellow citizens?
“Maine is a state full of independent, honest and hardworking people. The old joke is that everyone here has three jobs because they want a certain lifestyle that allows them to be outdoors.”
Norman’s three jobs?
“Ha! I work morning, noon, and night, and have come to expect that everyone who works with me or guides with me does the same.”
Our Coastal Bike & Kayak Adventure promises an amazing active vacation, delicious food, and a chance to meet lots of good folks… the Normans’ of this incredible place called Maine.