Riders cross the Two Cent Bridge from Winslow as they make it to Head of Falls in Waterville to finish the BikeMaine 2019 tour. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

For the second consecutive year, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine has canceled BikeMaine because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The nonprofit organization, which advocates for bicycle and pedestrian safety around the state, announced the cancellation Wednesday. The annual weeklong ride, which explores a different region of the state each year, was to have explored the “Katahdin Frontier” in September, stopping in Old Town, Lincoln, Patten, Millinocket and Dover-Foxcroft. The route was originally planned for last year, but was canceled because of the pandemic.

More than 400 riders sign up for the event each year, riding 50 to 70 miles each day, eating local food, visiting museums and breweries, holding dances and camping in big, friendly groups and getting to know members of the host communities that the ride passes through. Add to that, the roughly 70 organizers and volunteers, and social distancing would have been virtually impossible.

“In the six months since we made that announcement (to cancel BikeMaine 2020), we have been weighing many different scenarios and contingencies for BikeMaine 2021, and keeping a close eye on vaccine and treatment progression,” Event Director Will Elting said in a press release. “Though we are encouraged by the vaccine rollout currently underway, there is still a long road ahead before gathering with hundreds of people from across the world in rural Maine communities feels safe again.”

The coalition said it was a difficult decision, and added that they fully intend to bring back BikeMaine “when it is safe to do so.” The organization is planning a number of smaller, safer rides for this summer.

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