In its inaugural year, BikeMaine, the week-long event hosted by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, took its 251 riders on a tour of parts of northern and Downeast Maine. Sights included renowned Bar Harbor, Castine, the oceanside views of Belfast and Orono, home to the state’s largest university.
This year drivers, pedestrians and homeowners in central and midcoast Maine should be on the lookout for packs of riders from Sept. 6-13 as the second version of BikeMaine takes riders on a tour from Westbrook, through Winthrop and Gardiner, to Boothbay Harbor and back to Westbrook by way of Bath.
Here’s what riders can expect:
Day 1: Westbrook to Norway
Riders will immediately understand why this ride has been given the tagline “Pedaling the Waterways.” Not only with the second annual event begin on the banks of the Presumpscot River, it will also cruise around the shores of beautiful Sebago Lake, pass by Parker Pond and Pleasant Lake and finish up near Pennesseewassee Lake. And that’s all in the first 73.9 miles. Norway epitomizes small-town Maine with quaint shops and restaurants and buildings that date to the early 1900s.
Day 2: Norway to Winthrop
The compass points east for riders on the second down on the roadways with an end-of-the-day destination of Winthrop’s YMCA Camp on the shore of Cobbosseecontee Lake. There’s climbing to be done before day’s end – particularly in the first 10 miles – but the small scenic towns along the way will make the pain of the hills a little easier to take. This day’s output is 68.9 miles but a night at the camp, where there’s swimming, bunkhouses for $15 a person, and an historic dining hall, will be well worth it.
Day 3: Winthrop to Gardiner
The first water sighting of the day will be of Maranacook Lake as riders head toward Readfield, a country town filled with farms and apple orchards. The Belgrade Lakes are next up with Messalonskee Lake to follow. Riders take to the paved Kennebec River Rail Trail in Augusta and make their way to – and through – irresistible Hallowell.
Day 4: Gardiner to Boothbay Harbor
With an elevation gain of 3,774 feet this could be the most difficult pedaling day but it will also be the day when riders first experience the sights and smells of the ocean. Riders will pass plenty of farmland on their way to the tourist destination that is Boothbay, home to a gorgeous harbor, great sea-side restaurants and shops that are all about Maine.
Day 6: Boothbay Harbor to Bath
After a day off the bike seat, riders face another hilly day with elevation gain of 3,768 feet. Cyclists will be leaving the ocean behind them but the views of the Sheepscot River and a stop at Fort Edgecomb will provide scenery not to be missed. Heading towards Bath, Merrymeeting Bay comes into view. The “City of Ships”, the stopping spot for this night, offers plenty for riders to do and see, including Maine Maritime Museum, downtown shops and restaurants, and of course the Bath Iron Works shipyard.
Day 7: Bath to Westbrook
Riders will get off the road and onto a bike path again today as they kick off the final 53 miles by pedaling through Brunswick along the Androscoggin River. Brunswick, home to the Bowdoin College campus, has a main street not to be missed but there’s bigger and better coming with Freeport up next. There will be a stop at L.L. Bean, but the ride bypasses much of busy downtown and heads through Portland’s northern suburbs before winding up back in Westbrook.