BikeMaine gears up for 2019 ride

Tour crosses Kennebec, Lincoln, Waldo and Knox counties
By Fran Gonzalez | Aug 14, 2019

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will host its seventh annual week-long bicycle tour, BikeMaine 2019: Coastal Connections, Sept. 7-14, covering 329 miles and rolling through 35 towns.

Founded in 2012, BikeMaine is a seven-day cycling event organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, an advocacy group promoting cycling as an economic development tool for local communities.

The group is working to expand biking in Maine, improve bike safety, pass bike-friendly laws and spread a love of cycling to children and adults. Each year the tour takes a different course through scenic areas along the Maine coast and inland.

This year's tour will start in Waterville on Sunday, Sept. 8, crossing the Kennebec River via the historic Two Cent Bridge into Winslow, before swinging southeast into the rolling hills of Kennebec and Waldo counties.

Riders will skirt the north shore of China Lake on the first day of the tour, then crisscross past several smaller ponds as they ride through the town of Palermo. The route continues through South Liberty and its surrounding farmland before crossing into Knox County and the town of Union. The day finishes in Hope, at Alford Lake Camp.

Day two, Monday, Sept. 9, will see the tour head west to Jefferson, before turning south to pedal along the eastern edges of Damariscotta Lake and Pemaquid Pond, and onto the Pemaquid Peninsula. At New Harbor, the tour will turn back north and ride into Damariscotta for the night.

On days three and four, Tuesday and Wednesday, Sept. 10 and 11, riders will wind north through Nobleboro before turning southeast and running parallel to a train line through Waldoboro. From there, the tour zigzags its way to the coast and on to Warren. The tour next rides through Thomaston and then on to Rockland’s Snow Marine Park. Riders will have the opportunity to rest and recuperate as they spend a layover day in Rockland.

Day five, Thursday, Sept. 12, begins with a 5-mile climb out of Rockland east through Beech Hill Preserve to Rockport. The route stays coastal for a stretch before swinging northeast in Camden, following roads along Megunticook Lake. From there the route zigzags towards Lincolnville, then northwest through Belmont and finally descends on Belfast, where the tour will lay over for two nights.

On day six, Friday, Sept. 13, a loop ride out of Belfast heads north around Swan Lake. From there, bicyclists will tackle rolling hills through Jackson and Monroe, connecting back to the coast in Searsport, then take a short jaunt back to Belfast.

On day seven, Saturday,  Sept. 14, the tour leaves Belfast and climbs westward through Morrill, Montville, Freedom, Albion and finally back to Waterville.

Proceeds from the tour go to support bicycle advocacy in Maine. BikeMaine awarded its first grant in support of biking infrastructure to the city of Gardner in 2016.

Gardiner is using the $12,300 grant to attract matching funds to complete a connector trail from its downtown area to the Kennebec River Trail. The second round of grants was awarded in 2017: $2,705 to Bath and $4,000 to Washington County Council of Governments.

The 2019 event is sold out, with 450 riders taking part in the tour. Anyone wishing to be added to the wait list is encouraged to send name, email address and phone number to ride@bikemaine.org.

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