Last lap for bicycle coalition’s Freeport, Camden rides

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FREEPORT — It’s been a good ride, but it’s coming to an end.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will hold its 17th and final Maine Women’s Ride on Sunday, June 10.

The ride, which aims to offer a friendly, supportive atmosphere geared toward girls and women of all ages and bicycling abilities, will begin at 7 a.m. at L.L. Bean’s Discovery Park, 95 Main St.

Communications Director Frank Gallagher said after much consideration, the coalition decided to discontinue the ride, along with the Lobster Ride on July 22 in Camden, because of the abundance of coordinated bike rides that are now offered in Maine every week.

“When we started this ride 17 years ago, organized road rides were few and far between,” Gallagher said. “That is no longer the case.”

Gallagher started working for the coalition in 2016. He said both rides have grown tremendously since they began. However, now on any given weekend during the summer, bicyclists can take their pick from four or five bike rides, which makes attracting participants competitive.

This is a good thing in the coalition’s eyes.

“From the perspective of making Maine better for bicycling, which is our mission, we’d call that a win,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said in recent years, the number of riders has been “stagnant,” and has plateaued at around 600 per Women’s Ride and 1,000 per Lobster Ride. He noted that each ride is on track to meet that average this year.

Organizing each ride also requires a considerable amount of staff time and resources. In lieu of the Women’s and Lobster ride, Gallagher said the coalition would like to focus on how they might be able to better serve the entire state.

“A day-long event doesn’t derive the biggest bang for the buck for many people,” he said.

Gallagher said the coalition would be happy to “pass the torch” off to another organization if one is interested in continuing either or both of the rides.

“We’d be more than happy to work with someone for this ride to continue,” he said.

According to its website, the coalition will have a presence at many other events statewide and will continue to hold their “signature event,” BikeMaine.

Because the coalition recognizes there are still few “women-centric” rides, they’ll look for other ways to promote riding for women and children. Gallagher said the coalition is open to ideas for how to do just that.

“We’re hoping people will reach out to us with their ideas,” he said. “It’d be great to hear from our members and people who live and work in areas of the state that may be underserved.”

Registration for the Women’s Ride is still open at mainewomensride.com and costs $65 for adults, $35 for children ages 12-17 and $60 for riders 60 years and over, veterans and active service members.

For those who’d like to get involved without getting on a bike, volunteer registration is still open at mainewomensride.com/volunteer/. The coalition is looking for volunteers to help with pre-event setup, route setting, support vehicle driving, ride leaders and rest stop attendants.

Jocelyn Van Saun can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 183 or jvansaun@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @JocelynVanSaun.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will hold its 17th and final Women’s Ride in Freeport on Sunday, June 10.

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