Unrestrained Bike Tour Photos and Story!

A couple of weeks ago I joined up with the hardcore band Unrestrained on their  Band/Bike Tour through New England. The band loaded up their bikes in Burlington, Vermont and rode through Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts. They played shows along the way, donating what they earned to Oxfam International.

I joined Unrestrained in Franklin, New Hampshire, a former mill town that had been doing poorly for a long time. I got there in the early afternoon after riding the sixty-some miles from my grandparent’s house in southern New Hampshire.

I assumed that I would get there before them since they were a group of five laden with guitars, band merchandise, clothes, and other necessities, but when I finally reached Derek by phone they sounded a long way off. They had followed GPS directions which took them on an unmaintained dirt road up and down two hills, finally ending abruptly in what they described as “a field of poison ivy and black flies.”  Their mistake added around 25 miles to their day so they didn’t roll into town until late that night.

By that time I had read in the town library for hours and eaten at the  out-of-place Thai restaurant on the main street. They rolled in looking haggard and made a beeline to the pizza place, the only open business in town. All but one of the group are vegan so ordering became a mess of questions, label-studying, and one dare to eat cheese.After everyone was fed, we got directions to a free camping spot and went to sleep.

The next morning I woke up really early and headed off toward town for some coffee. I happened to find a real live donut shop, of all places, and fulfilled my cravings. The lady working the counter and the three old guys sitting over cups of coffee looked almost startled to see me, weird vibes all around.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

I made it back to the campsite, where everyone was rallying, breaking down tents and eating from the bike trailer full of food ‘donated’ by a grocery store. Draw your own conclusions about the quotation marks.

Tye, one of the guitarists for the band, had hurt his knee at a show back in Burlington, so he was forced to hitchhike to each day’s destination. He told us about the day before when he couldn’t get a ride until he found a cardboard box that someone had made into a Spongebob costume. Naturally he started wearing it while thumbing for rides and immediately got picked up.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

It made a good table too.

So we all finally got tents down, got fed, and stuffed all of our junk into the various bags and bike trailers. We took off from Franklin and soon starting working our way up and down massive rolling hills that taxed everyone’s strength. Since my load was lighter than most of the other guys, I could climb hills and get my camera ready in time to get action shots of everyone grinding up the hills.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

Phil working his way up. Note the floor pump on the back of his bike.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

Tom piloting the Xtracycle with a cargo of four guitars.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

A better shot of the cargo- the rider in front is Jeff, a friend of the band, who was towing a trailer with band merchandise.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

This doesn’t look right- Derek with a hefty load, singer Ryan ended up without anything to carry. To be fair, Ryan isn’t a cyclist at all, and that day’s ride was by far the longest he’s ever done.

Gradually the terrain flattened out, and we crossed into Maine. The pace of the ride was slow but steady, and as it got later there was more and more talk of making the push all the way to Portland. After a restorative stop at Taco Bell for countless units of vaguely mexican-style food, we decided to go for it.

It got dark, and we pushed on, rotating trailer duty from person to person, trying to keep momentum and not stop too much. At around midnight we made it to Portland and where we met up with Bryan, a former guitarist for the band. Our ride ended up being around 98 miles, but Ryan rode an extra two miles to say he’d ridden a hundred miles in a day. We promptly invaded his house, sleeping wherever there was room.

The next day we lounged, went to a good comfort-food place called Silly’s, which featured all sorts of crazy milkshakes, including one with bacon. That evening we all biked over to the show venue, which was the basement of a duplex house in a quiet neighborhood. Everyone treated us really well, most seemed pretty impressed about the tour. There was a whole bunch of Moxie on hand, which was funny. Maine loves the stuff.

Bryan’s band Born Under a Bad Sign played first. They were good, mostly hardcore but sometimes slowing to sludge-metal tempos.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

When they were done, Unrestrained set up, borrowing amps and drums from the last band. They got right into it, delivering some fast, heavy songs before telling everyone about the tour more in depth.

They then continued to rock. People were really positive about the band and the purpose of the tour, and they collected some money for Oxfam.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010
From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

After the show, Derek and Ryan were feeling a little hungry so they got these crazy ‘Cocoa-doodle-doo’ things from Silly’s- basically a wad of vegan cake and ice cream rolled in a tortilla and deep-fried. Brutal.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

The next morning we got all of our stuff together and headed out of Portland toward Portsmouth, NH where I would leave the band. We casually rode along on a pretty un-scenic road for a while until we took a turn toward the shore around Wells Beach.

It was only May, and being Maine, the water was something like 50 degrees or so, but Tom and I jumped in the water anyway. According to Derek we looked ‘really cool’ cowering from the cold. Whatever, it was so worth it.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

We got to Portsmouth before too long, and I left the band eating a bunch of food outside a grocery store in the middle of town. Overall, I would rank the experience as ‘awesome,’ it was real cool to hang out with all those guys and see what they’re about. Unrestrained are a bunch of cool guys, easy to get along with, constantly making stupid jokes and getting on each other’s nerves. Hanging out with a vegan straightedge band doesn’t necessarily sound like a good time, but these guys are rock solid, lots of fun.

From Unrestrained Bike/Band Tour May 2010

True to form, Unrestrained is soon going to take off once again, this time to Europe. No, not on bikes- after the New England tour I think they earned the ‘luxury’ of cramped vans, airlines, visa hassles, and bad food. Again, check out the Unrestrained Myspace page for the loooong list of European tour dates as well as some good tour diaries from Derek.  They also just finished a new, 17 minute ‘full-length’ album so listen and order one!

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