November 25th, 2002 09:01 PM
Feedback on Back Country Excursions (of Maine)?
I noticed in another thread a reference to Back Country Excursions (of Maine), and was quite surprised to see any positive feedback regarding this operation. Has anyone else been there? All I have to relate are horror stories, and that’s all I’ve heard from others until now.
I’ll confirm that Cliff does have access to excellent terrain, and he’s built a neat little skills development terrain park (“Rock-N-Log Palace/Technical Terrain Park”) plus transformed what would simply be an awesome dh singletrack up above his house into an outrageous north store-style descent (“Back Country Expressway Trail”). But that is pretty much where I run out of anything positive to say.
The enticing description of our trip can be found at:
...and scroll down to:
“Availablity upon request and limitied to small groups, families, minimum four. - Land and Sea Mountain Biking Weekends: Enjoy the best of land and sea within the same weekend adventure; a full day of relaxed, off-road mountain biking on picturesque Great Chebeague Island and a full day of exciting trail exploration at BCE, in the beautiful foothills of the White Mountains. Costs: (include 2 nights accommodations, Sat. breakfast and Sun. breakfast & lunch, ferry ride and garage parking, guided rides, all amenities at BCE) Camping $145, Yurt (bunkhouse) $165, private room $185.”
The reality was different. Our small (barely bigger than the bed) room was private only if you didn’t count all the exotic bugs (which I’ve never seen before or since). The bathroom was a mess since it was shared by everyone in the tents and yurt.
Saturday morning we carpooled for a high-speed, loosely organized drive to Portland, where we caught a ferry. The terrain was about as interesting as your backyard, except that it actually always was someone’s backyard, which come to think of it did make things interesting when that someone was not on vacation and was instead there, telling us politely (though apparently not clearly enough for Cliff) to turn around and leave. (Made riding the orange trail in the Fells feel like being a nice responsible NEMBA-card-carrying goodie-two-shoes.)
After breakfast Sunday morning (forgot another positive thing: his blueberry waffles are very good), we goofed around in his terrain park while he bickered with his girlfriend Ruth about some unknown matter. By the time they were ready to go, it was past 11:00, and we were almost ready for lunch.
Cliff displayed a shockingly cavalier attitude toward the safety of the novice readers. We then split off into an advanced group, leaving us to feel very sorry for the novice riders, since Ruth was clearly not capable of being a mtn bike guide. Then again, she wasn’t that much worse than Cliff, who overall is only a marginally competent guide - I’m not comparing him to the professional licensed ski mountaineering guides we’ve hired in Chamonix & North Conway, but rather just to various NEMBA volunteer ride leaders (e.g., Triple Basin Blast), and even the RAGE Belmont night ride I went on a few weeks ago.
Finally, as we were ready to leave, Cliff decreed that we had not spent as much time as the other guests cleaning up the kitchen after meals, and that therefore we must clean up the guest bathroom. He then retired to the hot tub with his girlfriend. (After which we fled back to Boston in terror.)