SKOWHEGAN — The nonprofit Main Street Skowhegan is one of two area groups awarded trail grants announced this week by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

The Skowhegan group will receive $10,000 as part of this year’s BikeMaine grants for trail work in a loop around the downtown Kennebec River Gorge the future site of the Run of River Whitewater Recreation Area.

Kingfield Trail Builders, in Franklin County, plans to use the $3,025 in grant money to improve nonmotorized trails and trail connections, install shared bike-lane markings and add bike racks in key locations around Kingfield.

Mahoosuc Pathways, based in Bethel, will receive $3,250 and apply the funding to the improvement of mountain bike trails at the Crescent Park School.

The grants are funded by the proceeds from the organization’s annual cycling tour, BikeMaine.

Skowhegan and Kingfield were host communities for last year’s BikeMaine event and Mahoosuc Pathways was a BikeMaine host community for the 2015 BikeMaine event.

“BikeMaine was conceived as an event that would use cycling as an economic benefit tool for local communities,” BikeMaine Ride Director MaryBeth Luce said in a news release. “The BikeMaine grants will directly support these organizations’ efforts to make their communities more bike and pedestrian friendly.”

Main Street Skowhegan will use the funding to expand a 5-kilometer loop in the Run of River Whitewater Recreation Area so it can accommodate cyclists as well as pedestrians and become suitable for four-season use. Main Street Skowhegan Executive Director Kristina Cannon said the newly expanded loop eventually will incorporate a “robust network” of single-track, off-road trails for mountain bikers, as well.

“Trail development is a major part of the proposed Run of River Recreation Area, and our intention is to grow our downtown trail system to 300 acres, an effort that will complement the future whitewater park in the Kennebec gorge,” Cannon said.

In Kingfield, the Trail Builders group will use the funding to improve the trails in that area.

“Kingfield Trail Builders is thrilled to receive this grant from the Bicycle Coalition of Maine,” spokesperson Polly MacMichael said. “We are excited to partner with the Kingfield community as we work toward our goal to make Kingfield a safe and fun place for bicyclists and pedestrians alike.”

Skowhegan and Kingfield were selected as the host communities for the fifth annual BikeMaine ride in September sponsored by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine.

The ride, “Pathway to the Peaks,” started and ended at the Skowhegan State Fairgrounds.

The estimated 355-mile ride was limited to 400 riders, and all the spots were filled.

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

Of those riders, Cannon said in September, 133 were from 37 other states and three other countries. The total economic effect of the event grew to an estimated $1.7 million, with $626,000 directly affecting host towns,

Participation also included 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.

The 2018 awards represent the third year of BikeMaine grant funding.

BikeMaine is a weeklong celebration of Maine’s people, places, culture, and food, and moves to a different region of the state each year, according to the Bicycle Coalition. The city of Gardiner received the inaugural BikeMaine grant, in the amount of $12,300, to fund the extension of the Cobbossee Trail, which connects the Kennebec River Trail to the town’s historic Cobbossee Corridor.

The Washington County Council of Governments and the city of Bath received last year’s grants, which helped to fund bike repair kiosks along the Bold Coast Bikeway and a pump-track for Bath students, respectively.

BikeMaine 2018 is scheduled for Sept. 8-15. Dubbed “Acadia In the St. John Valley — La Terre Entre Deux,” this year’s event begins and ends in Presque Isle, with overnight stops in Caribou, Madawaska for two nights, Fort Kent for two nights, and St. Agatha.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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