“This is gorgeous. It really is. I wanted to see Maine. And this is beautiful,” said David Schlobach, 54, of Brick, New Jersey, as he looked out on Sebago Lake – and talked about his two epic cross-country rides.
PORTLAND — The second annual BikeMaine seven-day bicycle ride contributed an estimated $395,000 in direct economic benefits to the communities along its route.
The ride, produced by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, attracted 258 participants from more than 38 states, provinces and countries. Cyclists pedaled 350 miles from September 7 to 13 and stayed overnight in the communities of Westbrook, Norway, Winthrop, Gardiner, Boothbay Harbor and Bath before returning to finish with a farewell luncheon on the IDEXX campus in Westbrook.
“Having 300 BikeMaine riders and volunteers in town provided a tremendous financial boost to our shops, restaurants and inns during what’s normally a quiet weekday in September,” said Boothbay Harbor’s town manager, Tom Woodin. “The event provided numerous opportunities for Boothbay Harbor’s merchants. Local service organizations were able to raise much needed funds as well. It was a big win for the community.”
After completing each day’s ride, cyclists camped in a mobile BikeMaine village, erected in community parks or athletic fields, and enjoyed meals featuring local foods provided by area service organizations.
Entertainment was provided each evening, featuring some of Maine’s best bands and comedy performers. Whenever possible, ride organizers bought food from Maine farms and lobstermen, highlighted Maine products, and secured local services.
In addition to the products and services procured by BikeMaine in each community, participants spent, on average, more than $1,000 per rider during the week on food, lodging, shopping and transportation. More than 63 percent of riders were from out of state.
The ride also generated funds for local nonprofit organizations. Riders and volunteers contributed over $2,500 to benefit groups like the Westbrook Community Center, the YMCA Camp of Maine, and The Nature Conservancy, and BikeMaine donated unused food supplies to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
“Our goal this year was to build on the incredible success of our inaugural ride,” said Nancy Grant, Bicycle Coalition executive director. “Through BikeMaine, we give back to local communities, bringing bicycle tourism to parts of the state that don’t often see many cyclists.”
Along with the 258 riders, 48 weeklong volunteers, more than 250 local community day volunteers, and seven Bicycle Coalition of Maine staff members participated in the event.
Planning for the 2015 BikeMaine ride, which is slated for September 12-19, is already underway. The 2015 route will be announced on Feb. 4. Registration for BikeMaine 2015 is open at ride.bikemaine.org.