My bike has been hanging in my shed, neglected, for far too long. It wasn’t just over this winter that it’s been collecting cobwebs – last year I only made it out for a couple rides early in the spring.

The recent summery weather gave me a perfect opportunity to awaken those cycling muscles and get out on the road. It was only a couple short excursions down Route 88 in Yarmouth and Route 130 in Damariscotta, but it got my head (and my heart) back on the bike.

It was also a reminder that despite a childhood spent biking around Maine’s midcoast, my knowledge of Maine bike tours was extremely limited.

Thus inspired, I dove into guides for exploring the state by bike.

The best free resource for exploring Maine’s cycling routes comes via the Maine DOT. Their Explore Maine website (exploremaine.org) lists 33 bike loop tours, with a wide range of lengths and difficulties. Each tour has multiple loops for bikers of different skill levels, and the one-sheet guides include special features (landmarks and such), as well as suggested starting points and helpful pointers on road conditions and traffic. Unlike most commercial cycling guides, which focus on routes on Maine’s coast and biggest cities, the Maine DOT’s guide includes a number of tours in northern and central parts of the state. The well-designed guide is free online.

Another great resource for cyclists, both aspiring and established, is the Bicycle Coalition of Maine (bikemaine.org). Founded in 1992, the Coalition is one of the most effective bike advocacy groups in the country. Lots of what the group does to help cyclists is behind the scenes – working to expand biking, improve bike safety and pass bike-friendly laws, among other things – but they also are a great resource for planning cycling trips.

Their website lists helpful links for bikers, including a number of guides, listing of bike events and clubs, and contact information for local trails organizations.

If you’d prefer a guide for your cycling adventures in Maine, there are a number of companies that lead tours, largely along the Maine coast and in Acadia. These tours are significantly pricier than going it on your own, but come with the benefit of leaving someone else to worry about all the planning. For all three, reservations are highly recommended.

Portland-based Summer Feet Cycling (www.summerfeet.net) offers a variety of guided bicycle tours along the Maine coast, ranging from short day trips in the Portland area to weekend and week-long tours. While the company is based in Portland, the trips range from downeast to Kennebunk and Maine’s southern beaches. The focus of the trips is on the cycling, but they’re packed with extracurricular activities, from sailboat rides to brewery tours. Summer Feet even plans self-guided tours for independent travelers – while you get to bike on your own (and at your own pace), they arrange your lodging and even cart your luggage from place to place. Prices range from $59 for shorter day tours to $3,000 for all-inclusive weeklong events.

Backroads (www.backroads.com), which bills itself as the “World’s #1 Active Travel Company,” offers hundreds of cycling itineraries around the world, including one in Maine. The Maine Bike Tour, coming in at $3,000-plus, is the Cadillac of bike trips. It’s fully bought into the tourist’s version of Maine, starting in Bar Harbor with two days on Mount Desert Island before proceeding along Penobscot Bay to Rockland and Camden. Every breakfast, four lunches and three dinners are included (including dinner with a “real Maine lobsterman at Primo,” along with shuttles, attraction entry fees, and transit to and from Portland to start and end the journey. Lodging includes two days at the West Street Hotel in Bar Harbor and two at the Camden Harbour Inn.

Similar to the Backroads Maine Bike Tour, Discovery Bicycle Tours (discoverybicycletours.com) has a six-day itinerary in Acadia National Park. Their “Coast of Maine Bike Tour” explores MDI from tip to tail, and includes excursions like a ferry ride to Swan’s Island, touring the Asticou Azalea Gardens and kayaking in Pretty Marsh Harbor. Like the Backroads tour, Discovery includes lodging (at the Claremont Hotel and Bar Harbor Inn and Spa) and dinner (at Beal’s, MacKay’s and Cafe This Way). Shuttles run from the airport in Bangor. At $2,500, it fits right between the other two companies in terms of price.

From expensive, all-inclusive tours to going it on your own, there’s a way to make cycling Maine’s roads work for pretty much any budget. The important thing is getting out there and exploring.

Josh Christie is a freelance writer and lifetime outdoors enthusiast. He shares column space in Outdoors with his brother, Jake Christie. Josh can be contacted at:

[email protected]


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