Portland, ME – BikeMaine, a seven-day, 400 mile bicycle ride celebrating people, places, and culture of Maine will be rolling through local communities between September 7 and 14. Along the route, cyclists will camp in the host communities of Orono, Dover-Foxcroft, Belfast, Castine, Bar Harbor (2 nights), and Camp Jordan (Ellsworth) and will pass through many other communities during the daily rides. (A complete itinerary is in a separate posting). The event will include 260 riders in the first year, but is expected to grow to 2,000 in the coming years, offering a significant economic boost to host communities and those along the route.
Each day, riders will experience almost seventy miles of Maine countryside, complete with its history, culture, and people. Each evening, cyclists will camp in the BikeMaine Village, erected in a park or common area of each host community, eating meals prepared by community organizations serving seasonal, locally sourced foods. Wherever possible, support services, provisions, entertainment, and meals are being procured from host and route communities to benefit the local economy.
Belle Ryder, the community coordinator for Orono is looking forward to hosting the BikeMaine Village twice, at both the beginning and end of the ride. Ryder said, “We couldn’t be more excited to host the inaugural BikeMaine ride! This event has been a catalyst for us, allowing us to bring together townspeople and students to celebrate what makes this community great.”
Large week-long, supported, cycling events are well established and very successful in other parts of the United States, with some generating more than $5 million annually in economic benefit for the host state. Once BikeMaine attains profitability after the initial startup years, 60% of BikeMaine net proceeds will be invested back into host communities supporting local cycling and pedestrian infrastructure projects.
Safety, education and the protection of cyclist’s rights are intrinsic goals of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, the producer of the event. With increased cyclist traffic on the BikeMaine route between September 7 and 14, all those who use these roads are encouraged to be patient, alert, and mindful that Maine law requires a minimum of three feet clearance whenever a motorist is passing a bike. BikeMaine will also include educational events in communities along the route promoting safe, legal and courteous cycling.
Nancy Grant, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, has been working with the volunteer Ride Committee since day one. She said, “It’s amazing to see the culmination of two years of hard work. In addition to furthering the safety, advocacy and education goals of the Coalition, this ride will help put the state of Maine on the map for bike tourism.”
BikeMaine is proud to have the enthusiastic support of founding sponsors L.L.Bean and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine.
BikeMaine is the latest and most ambitious undertaking of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. In addition to promoting and celebrating safe cycling events and pedestrian initiatives, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine acts as the statewide voice of cyclists and a repository of bike-related information. Since 1992, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has led the effort to make Maine better for bicycling by protecting the rights and safety of cyclists through education, advocacy, legislation and encouragement. The Coalition supports biking for health, transportation, recreation and fun.