Start Location: Holiday Inn Express Woburn 315 Mishawun Road, Woburn, MA
Start Time: 04:00 (both distances)
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), West End Neighborhood in Portland (ME), Cumberland Farm in Rollinsford (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 [Final as of 6/15/2022]
200 (and 400k Outbound Route) [Final as of 6/6/2022]
2022 Event Information: The route and details are very similar as 2016 to 2021 editions. This is one of our more popular events and is a great “tourist” ride. The Portland 400k is notable in that it has the least elevation gain per mile of any NER ride at approximately 35ft/mile for roughly 8800ft of total elevation gain. For comparison, this is only slightly more climbing then on the Boston 200k to New Boston, MA. That said, 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 near the ride start if you need a way back. (Bike spots are limited on the train so book early.)
2022 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. 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.
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.
Parking: If parking in the the newly-reconfigured mall across the street, park as far away from stores in use as possible. If you would like a stronger guarantee against any possible issue with overnight parking, the Anderson-Woburn Transportation center (1 mile north of the start) and the Hill Street Parking Lot (at Montvale Ave and 93 (1.5 miles south of the start) are also available.
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 (Pre-rides are navigated with the cue) but riders with a GPS that shows a track might feel more comfortable.
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
With the ride being held on the longest daylight Saturday of the year, riders won’t have much time in the dark. 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. 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.
Hampton Beach Sand Castle Competition is on the ride weekend so expect minor detour or dismount walking a block to see the amazing sand sculpture. New Hampshire riding would be a breeze and before you know it you are entering Maine.
The Kitterypoint festival will be starting as rider ride through the area, small detour may be needed. After Kittery, the riders will leave coast for a bit on minor roads for about 20 miles before returning to the water at the Long Sands Beach (Note: Small change in 2022 to minimize time on road next to the beach).
When riders reach Long Sands Beach they might encounter the worse auto congestion of the brevet. Take the lane 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 has bathrooms and water.
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. 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. (I too took a photo, see below.) 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 Portland, Maine
At 25 miles this is the shortest leg of the brevet. Riders will traverse in Biddeford differently this year to stay away the traffic back up in Saco to reach the backroads parallel of I-95N. In Scarborough you’ll join the Eastern Trail Rail Trail for 3 miles to transverse a unique tidal marsh. This section of trail is unpaved but the surface is crushed stone and is easy riding on any type of bike. Please be mindful of families enjoying the popular path.
After leaving the trail it’s a quick ride though South Portland and over the Casco Bay bridge into Portland. The control is at the Harbourview Park in the West end shortly over the bridge. Ohno Cafe 2 blocks up provide delicious sandwich if you get to Portland before 2PM and you order ahead over the phone or internet and the Smalls cafe adjacent to the park has excellent caffeinated beverage among other smaller item. Try to keep your stop short. The remaining 124miles are hillier and will take longer to complete.
Leg 4: Portland, Maine to Rollinsford, New Hampshire
Riders will leave Portland the same way they came as they head back to the rail trail.
After passing though downtown Saco (and up a short, steep climb) you’ll go back to riding on smaller roads. There’s another short section of the Eastern Trail to pass over I-95 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 this section riders will be on the well marked East Coast Greenway / US Bike Route #1. The control is just over the ME/NH border at a well stocked Cumberland Farms in Rollinsford, NH. Stock up here — there are not many services on the upcoming sections.
Leg 5: Rollinsford, NH to Woburn, MA.
The last section is classic NER terrain: Rural roads, moderate climbing, and lots of scenic pastures and forests. This section is quite but gorgeous. Gone are the touristy beaches and small cities. The roads are twisty and small — quintessential New Hampshire.
Dover marks the last chance to buy supplies potentially til the end of the ride so stop there if you think you’ll want something later. The gas stations in Exeter may or may not open even though they mark as 24 hour control. 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 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 shortly after 8pm.
For the last ~15 miles you’ll be using the same roads as the outbound section, climbing gently back out of the 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.
Jesse Morrow’s report from the Portland one-way 200k in 2017
Photos from the Pre-Rides: