Maine bicyclists, this writer included, often dream of living in a state or country that allows year-round bicycling without cold and snow from December though March.

However, Maine’s winter break makes the new spring season feel special. We may never tire of bicycling and also pedal a little in winter, but three months of limited or no bicycling does rejuvenate the soul each spring.

Last month, record-setting temperatures influenced this state’s bicyclists to get out often, and for the first time in Maine, I pedaled on many March days, while wearing a short-sleeve shirt, bicycling shorts, thin polypropylene socks under biking shoes and no cap under my helmet. Wearing one layer proved such a joy because it took a minute rather than several minutes to dress for each bike trip.

Bicyclists will remember March 2012 because the season started early with several days of 70- and 80-degree temperatures. Some folks were saying something to this effect to me, “If this is global warming, I like it.”

When bicycling in March, brutal cold often forces me to wear winter-rated tights, three or four clothing layers on my torso, winter fleece cap under a helmet and long-fingered gloves. This attire might also be the choice in April when weather stays nasty. I’ve even bundled up in early May.

During April in the bottom third of Maine, colorfully clothed pedalers spring up on popular bicycling roads, usually byways with breakdown lanes that keep bicyclists out of direct traffic flow. When I travel these popular biking routes, I see singles, pairs and peletons from now through early fall.

These predictable crowds emphatically illustrate the popularity of Maine bicycling. In fact, I swear this state has more bicycle stores than sports shops these days, and most bicycling businesses have a wicked full inventory compared to many places catering to hunters and anglers.

On roads with heavy vehicular traffic, rushing air from passing motorists quickly blows sand and debris off pavement, often within days after a late storm gets sanding trucks out. Pedalers know this, which leads to the array of bicycles on certain roads in early season.

In central Maine, Route 17, 3, 27 and 2, just to name a few, attract bicyclists just as surely as early season fishing holes draw anglers. While pedaling on a 14-mile stretch of Route 27 between Belgrade Lakes village and Barnes & Noble in Augusta, I have counted 15 to 25 bicyclists on a typical Saturday — and occasionally more.

Except at junctions, less-traveled rural roads also get “air-washed,” but it’s a slower process. Riders on side roads must be extra careful, particularly pedalers with narrow-tired bicycles.

Many years ago, while rounding a sharp curve, I even dumped a wide-tired hybrid model after hitting a sand windrow.

Maine winters damage pavement, so pedalers on roads for the first time each spring shouldn’t rocket down a hill without checking for cracks, potholes and sand windrows and duly note each problem for future trips.

Recently, on a road paved last fall, I stupidly broke that rule by flying down a 2 1/4-mile drop. Sun was shining into my eyes, so I didn’t see a sand windrow until it was too late. My bicycle lurched wildly, and I did everything but dump it — a close one.

I mentioned that bicyclists liked Route 27 between Augusta’s Civic Center Drive and Belgrade Lakes village. A popular option begins on the Augusta end just north of Interstate 95 at the Northgate parking lot.

Pedalers head north on Route 27 to Belgrade village on the south end of Messalonskee Lake. The trip begins with mild climbs out of Augusta before hitting long flats that continue to the north end of that village at the Route 8/11 junction. From there, the trip on Route 27 to lovely Belgrade Lakes village requires more minor climbing — but nothing tough.

The return trip offers two interesting hills. The first one rises out of Belgrade Lakes village, and newcomers with limited climbing experience may gasp when staring up from the bottom of it. However, it’s a much easier pedal than it looks.

The second hill lies just north of the Route 23 junction in Sidney and also intimidates bicycling newcomers. This one also takes less effort than pedalers might think, but it’s more difficult climbing than the other hill.

Both hills flatten out part way up, explaining why they feel much easier than they look on the initial approach.

Roads in the regions radiating out from Augusta-Hallowell, Winthrop-Wayne, Belgrade Lakes, New Sharon-Farmington and Windsor-China offer bicyclists a piece of heaven because of the lakes and ponds, mountain backgrounds and quaint country roads that look a little like Europe.

No matter where we live in Maine, though, bicycling has begun in earnest, and the pedaling feels mighty good after a winter on a trainer in the living room.

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