LESLIE DIXON, Staff Writer
Oxford Hills | Sunday, September 14, 2014 at 10:32 pm
NORWAY — More than a week after 350 cyclists spent 24 hours in the downtown, local business owners say BikeMaine was a success economically.
On Sunday, Sept. 7, 350 cyclists and 25 corporate sponsors cycled into town as part of a weeklong, 340-mile trek. The event, hosted by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, offered a chance for riders to explore Maine’s people, places, cultures and foods.
Riders pedaled about 50 miles each day to visit six host communities in Maine, staying overnight in each town. In addition to Norway, the towns of Westbrook, Winthrop, Gardiner, Boothbay Harbor and Bath also hosted this second annual event.
“This was an exceptional event bringing people from all over the world to Norway,” said Andrea Burns, president of Norway Downtown. “These visitors were impressed by the exceptional hospitality of our community.”
“They fell in love with the community. We had great reviews,” said Angela Harvey, who was hired by Norway Downtown to be the local coordinator of the event.
Harvey, who co-owns the Green Machine Bike Shop, said cyclists were in the stores downtown buying everything from artwork to cupcakes. Others went to activities at the library and even a special fundraiser for a downtown businesswoman. Many were impressed to see a high-end bike shop in town, she said.
Many of the stores opened for the cyclists Sunday.
Some owners of shops, such as Rough & Tumble, whose flagship luxury handbag store and production facility moved to a space in the renovated Norway Opera House last year, said they were pleased with the day and glad they opened their doors Sunday.
“We had some business. It was worth opening up,” said Monique Payne of Rough & Tumble.
A lot of cyclists stopped in at the newly opened Jennicakes Bake Shop for a cup of coffee, a cupcake or other sweets on the menu.
“It was fantastic. Lots of bikers dropped in, “ owner Jenn Billings said.
“Many Mainers who didn’t even know Norway was here want to come back with their families,” Harvey said.
She said the success of BikeMaine may open the door to similar events coming to Norway.
BikeMaine ride director Kim True said it will be another month before she is able to assess the true economic impact of the 2014 ride, but last year the figure was about $235,000 in the communities BikeMaine passed through.
A survey conducted after the ride indicated, on average, riders spent about $575 per person. Local organizers say the average annual salary of the riders is $150,000. Each paid an $875 fee to participate.