June 8th, 2024 – Woburn to South Portland 400k & 200k

Ride Information
Start Location: Holiday Inn Express Woburn 315 Mishawum Road, Woburn, MA
Start Time: 04:00 (both distances), please aim to be at the start around 3:30-3:40 for cards and bike check
Length: 400k / 250mi (One-way 200km)
Time Limit: 27 Hours (400k) or 13.5 hours (200k)
Ride Leader: Tsun Au Yeung
Controls: Nubble Lighthouse, York (ME), The Landing Store at Kennebunkport (ME), Knightville Neighborhood in South Portland (ME), Wiggin Cemetery in Epping (NH)
Sanctioning: ACP for the 400k, RUSA-only for the 200k
Cue Sheet: See GPS tracks below (Use “Print Map and Cue PDF” link to customize cue printout if desired)
RWGPS Links (Map + GPS + Cue):
400k Full Route
400k Inbound Route from S Portland
200k (and 400k Outbound Route from Woburn)

Cue sheet generated from eBrevet App

Registration:  BikeReg

2024 Event Information: The route and details are identical to 2023 editions. This is one of our more popular events and is a great “tourist” ride.  A control change on the inbound leg back from Maine is possible by volunteer.  Participants for these two events can use the e-Brevet app to check in in intermediate controls.  The South Portland 400k is notable in that it has the least elevation gain per mile of any NER ride at approximately 35ft/mile for roughly less than 9000ft of total elevation gain.  That said, large parts, including almost the entire return of the 400k is constant short rollers so be prepared to always be climbing or descending — this is not a flat or easy ride.

For those considering the one-way 200k, Amtrak allows passengers with bikes to depart at Anderson/Woburn which is about a mile and a half from the ride start if you need a way back. (Bike spots are limited on the train so book early, and you will be instructed by the conductor to remove your front wheel for the bike spot) If you are driving to the start, we recommend parking at the train station and riding to the start, as the road in between the start and the station can be busy during the day but is very quiet at 4am.  Day parking at Anderson/Woburn (100 Atlantic Ave, Woburn MA) is $4.  For those who commute to the start by bicycle, in addition to Amtrak Downeaster, Concord Coaches departing from the same Portland Transportation Center has more frequency than Amtrak but they service South Station, not North Station in Boston; and from experience there’s never been a problem to store a bike in the undercarriage capacity wise. Concord Coachline Portland to Boston schedule

2024 Hotel Information: Note the Holiday Inn Express is not affiliated with the ride beyond graciously allowing us to use their breakfast room on Saturday night. Riders interested in accommodations before/after the ride or in Portland should book their own room independently.   There are also several other nearby hotels if the Holiday Inn Express fills up or does not meet your needs.  Hotel rooms may be limited or more expensive as the ride date nears so it’s best to not wait to book. Tip: Looking for a roommate to save cost? Post your request to the Google Group and you’ll likely find a taker.

NER will have a room at the hotel from Friday night to Sunday morning that registered 400km riders are allowed to leave items like a change of clothing or towel for storage during the ride.  An after ride shower and a space to power nap will be available to riders in the NER room if needed.

2024 Parking Information: Do not park at the newly renovated Woburn Village shopping mall across the street.  The parking lot are now being patrolled overnight by private security.  NER will not be responsible if vehicles are being removed from the Woburn Village shopping mall lot during the ride.  If you are staying at the Holiday Inn Express or the nearby hotel the night before, ask to get parking there for the duration of the ride.  Overnight parking is also available at Anderson/Woburn (100 Atlantic Ave, Woburn MA) for $7.  Please note that the overnight parking is at the gated lot and it is different from the day parking lot.

The ride will leave from the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express in Woburn. (315 Mishawum Rd, Woburn, MA). The hotel has been kind to us in previous years but they are not officially involved with the event.  Do not park in the hotel lot if you are not staying at the hotel.

The ride will start outside the hotel near the Dunkin Donuts which will be closed at 4am. When riders finish they should come into the hotel. NER volunteers will be in the Breakfast room adjacent to the lobby or in the room indicated on the Brevet card.

Know before you go: This route has about the same number of turns as many other NER rides (which is to say it’s complex). Navigation with the cue sheet is possible but riders with a GPS that shows a track might feel more comfortable.  The GPS track files will be distributed to riders in 2 segments, North bound and South Bound, since there are multiple overlapping segments and the magnitudes of turns this route has have historically confused more GPS devices then average.

The outbound (coastal) section passes through many touristy spots and as a result riders should expect some weekend traffic. An effort was made to stay off the main roads whenever possible but some short congested sections are unavoidable when near the coast.

The routes uses 3 sections of hardpacked dirt bike paths for roughly 15 miles in total. This is not an “off-road” ride; the dirt sections are pancake flat and ridable on any type of bike. All path section will be ridden in daytime. However, riders should start the ride knowing 3% of the course is unpaved. There is also a small section (0.5mi) of flat, very well-maintained dirt road at around mile 190.

Detailed Route Overview

Leg 1: Woburn, MA to Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine

This first section will start in the dark, but dawn isn’t too far away.  That’s a good thing as this first 30 mile section is one of the nicest, particularly so early when few drivers will be on the road. It’s about 10 miles to leave the Reading suburbs and then you’re in North Boxford, Andover, and Georgetown.

Going through Harold Parker State park will be one of the highlights. The roads have improved and the dense forest and lakes are as picturesque as they come. The very well lit Harold Parker State Park Ranger Station is on both the inbound and outbound leg. It has a well maintained chemical toilet.  This leg marks one of the more rolling sections of the outbound portion of the ride but with fresh legs most should make good time.

A little while after the park, you’ll be on your first rail trail of the ride, just before and just after passing through Newburyport.  You’ll cross the border into New Hampshire soon after leaving it, and zip up through the southeast corner of the state along the seaside.  Before you know it you’ll turn inland just a bit to cross the bridge into Maine and getting to Kittery Point.

After Kittery, the riders will leave the coast for a bit on minor roads for about 15 miles before returning to the water at the Long Sands Beach (Note:  Small change to the traditional route starting in 2022 to minimize time on the beach road in York, which can get congested).  Take the lane on beach road in York and don’t ride too close to the parked cars — the traffic will likely be moving at bike speed anyway. You’ll be in the shadow of the Nubble Lighthouse which you might recognize from the Maine state quarter.  Pass the beach and take a right to head up a small hill and directly to the lighthouse for an informational control. It’s almost impossible to take a bad photo of the lighthouse. The visitors center at the lighthouse has bathrooms and water. The gift shop hour varies so please do not plan on picking up your ME souvenir here.

Leg 2: York, Maine to Kennebunkport, Maine

After leaving the lighthouse you’ll pass another touristy beach and then join the rolling and twisty Shore Road which has surprisingly little traffic. Riders will cut though Ogunquit Maine which is another dense but short tourist spot, and can also get crowded. You’ll soon be headed inland on some low traffic, well paved, rural roads in the mountain foothills. While the hills aren’t too steep this section is rolling and could be hot if it’s a warm day. This sort of climbing is similar to what you’ll encounter on the Portland to Woburn return.

Riders will be Rt. 9A for about 4 miles before entering Kennebunkport Maine. It will be hard to miss the “Wedding Cake House” — the most photographed house in Maine. (Jake took a photo, see below. Ride leader Tsun lost interest of taking picture of the Wedding Cake House when he learns that the cake part is not edible.) Kennebunkport is one of my favorite sections of the ride as it’s surprisingly rural with lots of farms on mostly flat roads. The leg ends at the general store on Rt 35 before the turn toward Biddeford.

Leg 3: Kennebunkport, Maine to South Portland, Maine

At 25 miles this is the shortest leg of the brevet. Some slight tweaks were made in 2022 (and will be kept in 2024) to avoid potential traffic back up in Saco to reach the backroads that parallel I-95N. In Scarborough you’ll join the Eastern Trail Rail Trail for 3 miles to transverse a unique tidal marsh. The initial tidal marsh section of the trail suffered from washout and it is not fully repaired yet. Warning of washboard condition and Gravel on Loose Sand Pit is posted on the sign on traffic cones.
Advice to walk bicycle for 0.2 miles in that area.  Please be mindful of families enjoying the popular path.

After leaving the trail it’s a quick ride though South Portland and we are just going to wave at the Casco Bay bridge from the South Portland side this year. The Casco Bay bridge may “wave back” to let the ships pass into the bay but rider don’t have to worry about that this year.  The control will be at a volunteer’s house in the Knightville neighborhood in South Portland and very conveniently adjacent to Otto Pizza, Red’s Ice Cream and Mast Landing Brewery Tasting room and Whoopie pie bakery.

200k riders, congratulations!  Your ride is complete.  The Portland Amtrak and bus station is a couple miles to the west.  Or if someone is picking you up, street parking in the area is not difficult to find.

For 400k riders — try to keep your stop short. The remaining 124 miles are hillier and will take longer to complete.

Leg 4: South Portland, Maine to Exeter, NH (Note: In lieu of a define control at border of ME/NH at the Salmon River Cumberland Gas Station at mile 175 due to shortening business hour, a list of service is available below for your planning.)

Riders will leave South Portland the same way they came as they head back to the rail trail. (Same caution of washboard condition applies.). On the return trip there will be more rail trail and don’t miss the Water Fountain station at Saco on the rail trail (Mile 139.5, see photo below).  It is free and refreshing!

Water bottle Refill Station in Saco on Eastern Trail, Mile 139.5
Water bottle Refill Station in Saco on Eastern Trail, Mile 139.5

After passing though downtown Saco/Biddeford (and up a short, steep climb) you’ll go back to riding on smaller roads. There’s another short section of the Eastern Trail, at which point the trail sections are over for the remainder of the brevet. You’ll encounter non-stop rollers, not unlike what one finds on PBP. None of these hills are steep but they will seem increasingly hard as the miles add up and the sun begins to set. For most of the ME section, riders will be on the well marked East Coast Greenway / US Bike Route #1.

Service are very intermittent during the stretch from Biddeford ME to Berwick, ME and none between Dover and Exeter.  Here is a list of business/service that the ride leader has scouted after leaving Downtown Biddeford

Mile 147:  Biddeford Walmart Super Center Complex on your right after turning onto Mountain Rd.

Mile 157.5: 0.5 mile detour south to continue on Rt 9A instead to turn at Meetinghouse Rd to get to Spiller Farm’s Store that closes at 7PM.

Mile 173:  Kaden’s Store (Closes at 8PM)/Aggie Sport Field(Portable Toilets)/Aggie’s Ice Cream (Closes at 9:30PM), South Berwick, ME

Mile 174:  Downtown South Berwick (Most Stores/Restaurants closes by 9PM, Asia Cafe-Chinese Food close at 10PM)

Mile 174.5: 0.1 mile Left Turn Detour to ME 236 to South Berwick Cumberland Farms that open til 11PM.

Mile 175: Rollingsford NH Cumberland Farms open til 10PM.

Mile 179.5:  Papa Jay’s Pizzeria in Dover open til 11PM.

Mile 180: Hong’s Noodle Cafe in Dover open til 10:30PM. Central Ave Dover DD open til 8PM.  Do not patronize the 24 hour 7-11 in Dover unless you absolutely have to.  No public bathroom!

Mile 193: Little River Park, Lee, NH-Portable Bathroom

Epping control is at mile 196.

Leg 5: Epping NH to Woburn, MA.

24 Hour Gas Station are available on Rt 27 in Exeter (Mile 203 to 205)

Most of this section stays off numbered roads so the scenery is top notch with little traffic.  However, remember that you’ll need some way of viewing your cue sheet/GPS device so a small helmet light is recommended along with a bright headlight. Also keep in mind that in accordance with RUSA guidelines riders must be wearing full reflective gear (vest/sash + ankle bands + front/tail light, etc) by the time the sun sets.

Once you get to the Merrimack River, it can be misty as well; good practice for the mist that can collect in the valleys of PBP.

For the last ~15 miles you’ll be using the same roads as the outbound section, climbing gently back out of the Merrimack river valley.

You’ll again pass though part of Harold Parker State Forest and then into the suburbs of Reading and Woburn. The finish control is inside the Holiday Inn Express where we’ll have snacks and riders can take a shower before leaving if they haven’t reserved a room for the night.

Ride Reports

Jesse Morrow’s report from the Portland one-way 200k in 2017

Photos from the Pre-Rides:

Calm Waters of Boxford, MA
Calm Waters of Boxford, MA
Great Rail Trail in Salisbury, MA
Great Rail Trail in Salisbury, MA
Early Morning Beach
Early Morning Beach
Molly Stark visits Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Molly Stark visits Hampton Beach, New Hampshire
Crossing into Maine on the Memorial bridge out of Portsmouth
Crossing into Maine on the Memorial bridge out of Portsmouth
You can't take a bad photo of the Nubble lighthouse!
You can’t take a bad photo of the Nubble lighthouse!
But for REAL fun try Card-O-Matic
But for REAL fun try Card-O-Matic
The Wedding Cake House - Supposedly the most photographed house in Maine.
The Wedding Cake House – Supposedly the most photographed house in Maine.
Pamela Blalock on the Tidal Marsh section of the Eastern Trail during a 400k Pre-Ride
Pamela Blalock on the Tidal Marsh section of the Eastern Trail during a 400k Pre-Ride
Picking up speed on the Eastern Trail
Picking up speed on the Eastern Trail
Some cows on the 400k are overdressed.
Some cows on the 400k are overdressed.
Scenic backgrounds of Eastern New Hampshire
Scenic backgrounds of Eastern New Hampshire
Lee, New Hampshire
Lee, New Hampshire
Free electrolytes curiosity of NHDOT!
Free electrolytes courtesy of NHDOT!
Tsun's Dart Team used a portion of the 400k route in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Tsun’s Dart Team used a portion of the 400k route in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Quiet Roads of New Hampshire
Quiet Roads of New Hampshire
Cascading Waterfall. (400k Riders will see only via moonlight.)
Cascading Waterfall. (400k Riders will see only via moonlight.)