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December 13, 2018

BikeMaine six-year economic benefit tops $3 million

Photo / Maureen Milliken
Photo / Maureen Milliken
BikeMaine Village at Manson Park in Pittsfield in September, one of the host communities of 2017's event. The 10-day yearly bike trek has added $3 million to the state's economy since 2013, organizers said. The 2019 tour will visit midcoast and central Maine.

The 2018 BikeMaine event, which toured the St. John Valley in Aroostook County, infused $742,000 into the state's economy, a 17% increase over 2017, according to organizer Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

The event, which brings riders to a different region of the state for a week-long tour every September, has generated more than $3 million in economic benefit to Maine in its six-year history.

In 2017, it generated $660,000, the organization said, with a five-year total of more than $2.3 million, the organization said.

The organization spends money on food, lodging, community relations, fees, local purchases, vehicle rentals, mobile showers, fuel and other rider support. Rider expenditures included lodging, food/beverage, transportation, retail shopping and recreation. At each stopover, local vendors and artists are also invited to sell their wares.

The 2018 tour began in Presque Isle and ended in Fort Kent, with stops in Caribou, Madawaska and St. Agatha. It had the largest number of bicyclists since it began in 2013 — 450 from 37 states and four countries. It also had 80 volunteers.

New in 2018, the tour also partnered with Scarborough food-waste-to-energy business Agri-Cycle to divert more than three tons of waste the tour generated from the waste stream through extensive composting and recycling efforts.

The 2019 tour will visit central and midcoast Maine from Sept. 7 to Sept. 14, with a 350-mile route that will focus on the Kennebec River Valley. Specifics of the route will be announced Feb. 9 at United Farmers Market in Belfast. Fewer than 45 spots remain, the quickest the event has ever filled up.

"We are seeing unprecedented demand for our 2019 tour," MaryBeth Luce, BikeMaine ride director, told MaineBiz Wednesday. "Not only are we close to selling out, but more than 75% of participants have registered from outside of Maine, which shows how excited people are to visit our coastal communities. We are thrilled to showcase the best Maine has to offer and highlight the close connections we make with Maine's farmers, fishermen, and producers."

The first BikeMaine tour, in 2013, was in Washington County, and had 251 riders with an estimated $235,000 impact.

For the past three years, the tour has also issued grants to previous locations of the tour. In 2018, they were:

  • $10,000 to Main Street Skowhegan to build a 5k bike/pedestrian loop as part of the planned Run of River Whitewater Recreation Area.
  • $3,250 to Mahoosuc Pathways in Bethel to connect Crescent Park Elementary School to a network of mountain biking trails.
  • $3,025 to Kingfield Trail Builders to strengthen bike safety measures through the downtown corridor.

Skowhegan and Kingfield were both host towns on the 2017 tour and Bethel was a 2016 host town.

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