Over 400 Cyclists Will Explore Hancock and Washington Counties Between September 10 and 17

 BikeMaine, a seven-day, 350-mile cycling adventure that celebrates the people, places, culture and food of Maine, will take riders through Hancock and Washington counties between September 10 and 17. Produced by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, the event will host over 400 cyclists who will experience authentic Downeast Maine as they "Discover the Bold Coast."

 The fourth annual BikeMaine event will bring riders from 37 states and provinces. The 2016 route will begin and end in Winter Harbor, and will include the following host communities: Jonesport, Machias, Eastport (two nights), Lubec and Milbridge. During the seven-day event, riders will experience spectacular, untouched natural beauty and the freshest and tastiest food Maine has to offer. The small towns that will host the riders for lunches and overnight stays will have the opportunity to highlight their special communities while earning money for local service organizations and businesses.

 For over a year, the Coalition has been working host communities to coordinate ride logistics, entertainment, safety, and how to best take advantage of the riders' presence in each town. The reaction to the ride from the region and host communities has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Meg Keay, an Eastport shop owner and local liaison with BikeMaine, said, "It's a pleasure to share our small community's way of life, our galleries, museums, shops and restaurants, and to mingle and chat during our numerous special activities. The 2016 BikeMaine event has brought people from all walks of life to work together, and I believe every organization in Eastport is involved in one way or another." 

This year's event will feature activities aimed at bringing together townspeople and riders to share in local entertainment, bicycle education and Maine made beer and food. Programming open to the public will include four nights of local music, a film screening, presentations by the National Park Service, Northern Forest Center, Maine Wild Blueberry Commission and Nature Conservancy, a "Made In Maine" Craft Fair, and beer gardens in four communities.

Zach Schmesser, BikeMaine Event Director said, "We are incredibly excited to take BikeMaine riders Downeast this year." He continued, "Over the past year, we've been fortunate to work with some really special people and communities, to organize a truly authentic Maine experience for our riders, highlighting what makes these places and the region so incredibly special."

 Each year, BikeMaine chooses a different route and a new part of the state to explore. The first three BikeMaine rides generated a total of over $1 million in direct economic impact to different regions of the state through rider spending as well as the sourcing of local products and services for the ride.

 Given that this year's BikeMaine event sold out in record time, the Coalition is collaborating with Washington County Council of Governments and Bold Coast communities to turn BikeMaine 2016 into a sustainable, permanent bike route after this year's event is over. The Coalition also conducted a "Bicycles WelcoME" training in Washington County, featuring an interactive presentation that offered insight into what sets bicycle riders apart from other market segments and how local businesses can tap into cyclists' enthusiasm for the sport to attract and hold their business.

 Other cold-weather parts of the country benefit from bicycle tourism. It's estimated in Iowa, that bicycle tourism has an economic impact of $1 million per day. The Coalition believes that Maine is primed to become a bicycle tourism destination and bicyclists will be attracted to Hancock and Washington County's unique and rugged offerings. The BikeMaine event provides a preview of what it could mean to have bicycle tourism flourishing in the region.

 

 BikeMaine is proud to have the enthusiastic support of presenting sponsor Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Maine.