Bicycle Coalition of Maine launches "BikeMaine," a major new ride | Events

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Bicycle Coalition of Maine launches "BikeMaine," a major new ride
Bicycle Coalition of Maine launches "BikeMaine," a major new ride

On its twentieth anniversary, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (BCM) is launching a major new 7-day bicycle event that will showcase Maine as a premier cycling destination on the East Coast. BCM is Maine’s leading voice for bicyclists with programs on safety, improved infrastructure and advocacy both in Augusta and Washington. As a result of BCM’s efforts, Maine has consistently ranked in the top ten bicycle-friendly states and as high as number two last year.

The new ride, called "BikeMaine," will be a weeklong rolling exploration of Maine with each year’s route taking place in a different part of the state. Bicyclists will camp in designated host communities each evening and eat community-prepared meals using Maine ingredients. Each year’s ride will cover approximately four hundred miles and is designed for experienced cyclists looking for the challenge and adventure of a seven-day bike ride and camping trip.

The inaugural ride will take place September 7-14 next year (2013). First year ridership will be limited to approximately 350 cyclists and the event is expected to grow to over 1,000 cyclists within four years and ultimately reach 2,000 cyclists.

"As one of the premier bicycling states in the U.S., we wanted to create a signature ride that showcases the best of Maine – from lobster and landscapes to small towns and great people – in a weeklong rolling adventure," said BikeMaine ride committee chair Mark Ishkanian. Ishkanian noted that Maine has a number of successful bicycle rides – the three-day Trek Across Maine, the two-day MS 150 and the one-day Dempsey Challenge and BCM’s own Lobster Ride and Women’s Ride but no weeklong mass ride exists in Maine or New England.

The ride will be modeled after weeklong rides in a dozen other states, most notably CycleOregon – celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia in its 32nd year and Quebec’s Le Grand Tour Desjardins, in its 19th year. These statewide rides have shown a significant positive economic impact along each years’ route.

Initial start up fundraising for BikeMaine is well underway with grants from the Betterment Fund, Horizon Foundation and Elmina B. Sewall Foundation and a special marketing grant from the Maine Office of Tourism.

The route of the inaugural ride is currently being researched and will be announced next winter. Online registration will occur soon after the route is announced. The registration fee (which is still under development) will cover meals, rest stops, baggage transport, on route SAG support, entertainment and camping each night in host communities. Participants will supply their own tent and related camping equipment.

"Our new bicycle ride will compliment the other great Maine rides of shorter duration and allow BCM to spread its message about bicycling and bike safety throughout Maine each year as the route rotates around the state," said Nancy Grant, BCM executive director.

She noted that a key aspect of BikeMaine will be giving back to the local host communities through a community grant program supporting local bicycle infrastructure, as well as the purchase of local food and services along each year’s route.

More information will be posted on the website as information becomes available.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been working since 1992 to make Maine a better place to bicycle. The coalition advocates for Maine cyclists at the Legislature and in Washington, D.C., teaches bicycle safety to thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, partners with state agencies on a Share the Road media campaign and serves as a resource on local bicycling issues.

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