PORTLAND — The route for the second-annual BikeMaine was announced Tuesday and organizers are aiming to increase awareness about bicycling in rural Maine towns.

There are more than a dozen towns along the 350-mile route, but the event – launched by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine last year – is not yet well known in these areas.

Forest Carver at Bath Cycle and Ski said he hadn’t heard about it, and wasn’t certain how well it would raise bike awareness.

“We generally target schools and rec centers to raise bike awareness. But we’re more of a mountain bike shop anyway,” said Carver, co-owner of the bike shop in Woolwich.

All-Speed Bicycle shop owner Chris Carleton in Portland had not heard of the tour either, but thought the awareness it would bring by sending 350 road cyclists through rural towns would help boost the love of cycling that already exists in Maine.

“In general, there has been an increase in bike tourism, especially in the greater Portland area,” Carleton said. “We get a lot of emails and calls from out of state about it. I think something like this will generate interest. I think a lot of towns that are kind of classified as rural areas don’t necessarily embrace the sport of cycling.”

The ride is intended to bring eco-tourism through Maine rural towns at a time of year – mid-September – when tourism is slower. Plus it aims to increase interest and advocacy for cycling in Maine.

Ride Director Kim True said the second BikeMaine tour highlights Maine communities that have bicycle-pedestrian pathways, as well as the beauty of rural and coastal Maine.

“The towns we have this year have a commitment to establish bike/pedestrian programs,” True said. “We wanted to be able to showcase the communities that already have multi-use paths, where they are right now. To help get to the next level of (bike) infrastructure (in Maine), we wanted to focus on these communities.”

This year’s seven-day, 350-mile bike route tours through the Belgrade Lakes region, the Sebago Lakes region, the western Maine foothills around Norway and South Paris, and up the coast from Cumberland to Bath and Boothbay Harbor. The ride will take place Sept. 6-13 and it will be limited to 350 riders.

Last year’s ride brought 251 riders from 36 states and provinces for a seven-day, 400-mile bike trek through the farmland around Dover-Foxcroft, along the coast near Belfast and down around Mt. Desert Island.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be reached at 791-6452 or at: dfleming@pressherald.comTwitter: FlemingPph