The nonprofit Bicycle Coalition of Maine has canceled its signature event, BikeMaine, a seven-day bicycle trip in which riders from around the country and the world, including many Mainers, bike some 375 miles around the state.

Each September, riders camp out in communities they cycle through, living and eating (and even brushing their teeth) communally, which the bicycle coalition sees as a way to show the potential of bicycle tourism to various regions of the state.

The news release announcing the cancellation cited “the safety of riders, volunteers, host communities and staff during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.”

The ride shifts routes every year. This year, the Katahdin Frontier ride was scheduled to visit Old Town, Lincoln, Patten, Millinocket and Dover-Foxcroft; that ride has been postponed to 2021.

Coalition staff spend as much as a year working with the communities to plan the route; select camping sites; handle the logistics of feeding more than 500 riders, staff and volunteers three meals a day (often local food); introduce the Maine communities to the visitors through music, museums, lectures and more; and ensure that the riders are safe from logging trucks and other traffic.

In an email, spokesman Matt Sulem said the staff was “heartbroken” after making the difficult decision to postpone the event. It would have been the ride’s eighth year.

“After carefully considering all options and contingencies, consulting with leaders in our host communities, and referring to Gov. Janet Mills’ guidelines for hosting events in Maine in the coming months, it is clear that we cannot operate a ride that is up to our standards while also safeguarding the health and well-being of all participants,” BikeMaine Ride Director Will Elting wrote in an email distributed by the coalition.

Riders who had registered – the ride always sells out – have the option of riding next year, contributing the roughly $1,000 cost to the nonprofit or getting a refund.

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