Friday, as promised, I biked the Maine Solar System Model, from Pluto at the Visitor Information Center in Houlton, around the Sun at the Northern Maine Museum of Science at the University of Maine at Presque Isle, and back out to Pluto again; an 80 mile roundtrip. Given that the scaled speed of light is seven miles per hour, I was in hyperspace while on the bike, breaking the comet metaphor.
The gas giants are striking and hard to miss, while the inner planets, being so small, are not easy to see, but not hard to find, since they are all within a mile and a half of the Sun and their locations are well described in the guide (Earth: mostly harmless). Pluto and Charon are inside the Visitor Center, in the corridor between the restrooms and the information area.
I was pleased that this turned out to be a good ride. U.S. Route 1 rolls over the gradual hills of Aroostook County - always going up or down, never severely, though enough that there are climbing lanes on many of the uphill sides - with the crests from about one to three miles apart, and with an insignificant elevation gain from Houlton to Presque Isle. Since this is farm country, open views of the surrounding fields and hills abound. The rode is generally very good with full-lane, well paved shoulders for the southern 25 miles, except where there are climbing lanes, and three foot paved shoulders elsewhere, allowing plenty of clearance between bicyclist and traffic, which while light has a large fraction of trucks roaring by at a good clip in the 55 mph speed limit that prevails for all but the middle of a few towns.
At present, there is road construction, covering about a mile just north of the center of Mars Hill. You might wish that you had your mountain bike for this nasty section as the whole thing is wet, and dirt except for one part that is one lane and covered with fist size crushed rock, where I felt as though I was in the Paris-Roubaix, but with loose, sharp pavé. If not for the fact that this comes between Saturn and Uranus - a long way from Mars, in spite of the town’s name - this might be considered the asteroid belt that’s missing from the model.
posted @ 02:59 PM EDT