The Thrill of Bicycling in the White Mountains
and Other New England Adventures
By Ann Nelson

 

 

My fifty-fifth  birthday was just around the corner and my husband and I wanted to celebrate with “a big physical challenge”. Five months ago we signed up for the “Bike the Whites” trip in New Hampshire, and have been planning to get into shape ever since. The plane is leaving in less than one week now…. and that is the amount of time we have left to get into shape.

I’ve never felt so tentative or unprepared about taking a vacation. We ended up spending the majority of the summer in Yuma, Arizona. Yuma is not a place conducive to strenuous exercise when it is 115 degrees outside. To make a long story short, we really didn’t feel we were ready to ride our bikes for 26 miles a day for three days, but we were determined to make the best of it. Neither of us was expecting to pedal with the ease and flair of Lance Armstrong, but we didn’t want to make fools  of ourselves either.

Since it was too hot to exercise outside, I spent plenty of hours pouring over literature in regards to the fabulous inns where we would be staying. I memorized the gourmet menus, and award-winning wine lists. This important trip preparation of course, took place while sitting in an air-conditioned room in my over-stuffed chair. By now I am thinking, I may need to consider buying extra large bike shorts for the trip.

On September 16th, we flew to Boston and spent less than an hour driving to our first night destination, Gloster, MA. This small, authentic fishing village, established in 1623, is where “The Perfect Storm” was filmed. We stayed at The Julietta House, a salt-of- the-earth 16-room Georgian-style Inn built in 1905. There is nothing really fancy or touristy about Gloucester, and that is why we chose it. We figured it would be a place to relax, unwind and mentally get ready for our bike trip. That is just what we did. We also found an incredible seafood restaurant. The locals recommended The Passport Restaurant. Excellent recommendation!

Our next stop was about a two-hour drive from Boston. We arrived at the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire for our Bike The Whites adventure. Bike the Whites is truly one of the best vacations I have ever been on. The award-winning food and accommodations at three premier inns are included in an all-inclusive price. Prices vary, depending on what time of year you go.

Except for a few strenuous hills (which gave us the thrill of accomplishment afterwards), there was excitement and fun around every corner. The leaves were just starting to turn, and the mountain air felt like magic. We felt free and alive. I jumped off my bike everyday for a quick swim in the lakes we were riding around. The White Mountain National Forest is breathtaking. It is also an exciting place to be. The highest wind velocity ever recorded occurred here in April 1934. The wind speed was 231 mph.

You may be wondering about the logistics of the trip. Actually it was quite simple. The trip consists of staying at three inns about 26 miles apart. You may choose an easy, direct route or a longer, more challenging route of 40 miles or more. Each day starts with a hearty breakfast, and a highlighted route map that also points out places to stop along the way. In case you need help, you call the inn. Your luggage is transferred from inn to inn, and waiting for you when you arrive after your day of biking. If you don’t bring your own bike, you may rent one for $70.00.

The evenings at the inns are fabulous and well deserved. Our first night was spent at The Tamworth Inn, situated on the banks of the Swift River in the historic town of Tamworth. Over the years the inn has been showered with numerous glowing awards including a AAA 3-star rating for dining and lodging. The 16-room inn was selected by Yankee Magazine as an Editor’s Pick, featured on the Food Network and on TV Diner, The dining room is cozy; the food exquisite.

Our second night was spent at The 1785 Inn in North Conway. A New England cable network, featurin a “TV Diner” show, has given them the highly-coveted “Platinum Plate Award”. The show noted the inn as having “the ultimate in romantic elegance and serving up incredible decadent desert masterpieces.” Wine Spectator, a leading wine magazine, has chosen the restaurant for an “Award of Excellence” for the 25th consecutive year.

Our last night was spent at The Snowvillage Inn, off the beaten path in the tiny village of Snowville. The views of Mt. Washington are stunning. Gary and I walked our bikes up the last hill to the elegant, turn-of-the-century 18-room hilltop inn. The rooms were newly remodeled and beautifully decorated. We sat in the library by the fireplace for an hour after dinner just taking in the beauty of this place, and imagining what it must have been like to live here 100 years ago. Yankee Magazine has simply summed up this inn and said “Snowvillage Inn is as perfect as an inn gets.”

Wrapping up our trip to the White Mountains wasn’t easy. But it was time to say goodbye, and go back to the city.

We planned our trip so that we would have a little time to spend in Boston before we left. We stayed at The Charlesmark Hotel; a delightful old row-house building built in 1886, and recently remodeled. Actually the boutique hotel with a European flair and understated elegance is located just across the street from the Boston Public Library. The rooms are appointed with everything you will need, but on a smaller scale — thus the bargain price.

After settling into our room, we had a few drinks in the bar, took a quiet walk around Boston Common and some of the old landmarks. Boston is the perfect town for walking, and this lovely, crisp evening was no exception.

 

CONTACT INFORMATION AND PRICES

Bike the Whites Tour: (800) 421-1785, or www.bikethewhites.com  
Prices per person in May are $279, in June - $329, July through
September 15th - $379, September 19th- October 31st - $429.

The Tamworth Inn – (800) NH2-RELAX (price inc. with package)

The 1785 Inn – (800) 421-1785 (price inc. with package)

Snowvillage Inn – (800) 447-4345 (price inc. with package)

The Julietta House, Gloucester, MA  (978) 282-4647  $100-$199/night

The Charlesmark Hotel, Boston, MA (617) 247-1212  $179-$249/night

 

Ann Nelson is a freelance writer, presently residing in San Diego, CA
 


Return to the November/December Index page