SKOWHEGAN — The town of Skowhegan has been selected as the host community for the fifth annual BikeMaine ride in September sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. This year’s ride, “Pathway to the Peaks,” will start and end at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds.

The estimated 355-mile ride will be held Sept. 9-16. Participation is limited to 400 riders and all the spots are filled.

The trip will take riders from Skowhegan through Pittsfield, Kingfield and to Rangeley where there will be a one-day layover. From Rangeley it’s on to Camp Wekeela, in Hartford, to Farmington and back to Skowhegan.

Last year’s BikeMaine ride brought 400 cyclists to Downeast Maine, said the town coordinator for this year’s event, Kristina Cannon, executive director of Main Street Skowhegan, a nonprofit organization focused on the revitalization of Skowhegan. Of those riders, she said, 133 were from 37 other states and three countries. The total economic impact of the event grew to an estimated $1.7 million, with $626,000 directly impacting host towns, Cannon said in promotional material on the group’s website.

“It’s great for the town to have BikeMaine riders not only start in Skowhegan, but also to end in Skowhegan,” Cannon said in an interview this week. “They’ll be in town twice — that’s 400 people riders, plus additional people on top of that who will be coming into Skowhegan, getting to see what our town is all about. They’ll be spending money at our businesses and then hopefully they decide that they want to come back.”

The seven-day event includes three meals each day, 18 meals total. Participation includes a traditional lobster bake with fresh Maine lobster, clams, and just harvested corn-on-the-cob, rest stops for recharging and refueling, course support that includes maps, a signed route, SAG vans, mechanical and medical assistance if needed, and luggage transport.


Participation also includes full use of the BikeMaine Village, a portable tent city that springs up wherever the tour stops for the night, hot showers, restrooms, daily entertainment, bike mechanics, and medical and information tents.

Zach Schmesser, events director for the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said he remembers Skowhegan years ago when he first came to Maine as being kind of like “the wild, wild west,” but now with the Somerset Grist Mill, the proposed Run of River white water park and last year’s brew fest, he’s seeing the area as being an attraction.

“We’ve really tried to make BikeMaine a celebration of Maine’s people, places, culture and food,” Schmesser said. “As we started to study towns in the regions we were looking to go to, Skowhegan really stood out for us with some of their efforts to revitalize the downtown and all the cultural and historical significance of Skowhegan. It kind of made a perfect fit for us.”

Cannon said on the first night of the ride in Skowhegan, the Rotary Club will be serving the riders a lobster dinner to be followed by some sort of live entertainment. The next morning, Main Street Skowhegan “will be whipping them up a maple breakfast,” Cannon said of a meal similar to the one served during Maple Fest, celebrating Somerset County as the top maple syrup producing county in the country.

The riders will then take off for the next week of cycling central Maine and will be welcomed back to Skowhegan at the end of the ride on Sept. 16. The Maine Grain Alliance, with their wood-fired pizza oven, will be on hand at the fairgrounds to close out the final day.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367


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