Friday, March 7, 2014
Recreation options weren't always this great for people with adaptive needs. Thanks to the work of several great Maine organizations, those with physical disabilities and visual impairments can now participate in many of the same sports and activities - cycling, skiing, golf and more - that the able-bodied do.
On Saturday, local cyclists can get into the act to help make the options even more abundant by participating in the NEVI Fest/Pine Tree Camp First Annual Bike Ride starting at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester.
The ride benefits Pine Tree Camp and the New England Blind/Visually Impaired Ski Festival. Registration fee is just $45 (which includes lunch and a T-shirt) and starts at 7:30 p.m. You can also register online at nevifest.org.
The inaugural BikeMaine event is set to roll out of Orono Sept. 8 with 260 riders.
When the participants pedal away from the BikeMaine Village set up under the direction of Orono community coordinator Belle Ryder it will mark the culmination of two years of planning, coordinating, marketing and promoting. These types of week-long rides have become great tourism draws in other states and the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, which runs BikeMaine, expects this ride to do the same.
"In addition to furthering the safety, advocacy and education goals of the Coalition, this ride will help put the state of Maine on the map for bike tourism," said Nancy Grant, BCM executive director.
After several bike-related accidents this cycling season, including a fatal one at the Trek Across Maine, safety will be an issue. Riders will be urged to ride with caution and vehicle drivers in the areas where the BikeMaine riders will be traveling should be on alert.
Most of the group fundraising rides in Maine went by earlier in the season, but there's still a great ride coming up Saturday. Unfortunately, it's sold out.
Having ridden in the 2012 Maine Lighthouse Ride hosted by the Eastern Trail Alliance I 'm not surprised that the event hit its limit of 1,000 participants.
The 40-mile ride starts at Southern Maine Community College at 8 a.m. and includes eight lighthouses. That's the route I'd suggest but you can also choose a century ride (7 a.m.; 9 lighthouses), 62-mile ride (7:30 a.m.; 8 lighthouses) or a 25-mile ride (8:30 a.m.; 7 lighthouses).
Travel with care this weekend if you're driving in and around Biddeford as the roadways will be busy with cyclists participating in the 29th annual Bike MS: Great Maine Getaway.
This is the first year the MS ride has used Biddeford's University of New England as its home base and the move from its previous inland location allows riders in the two-day event to pedal along southern Maine's coastline, including a route past Walkers Point, the summer home of the presidential Bush family.
Riders were required to fundraise a minimum of $250 for the MS Society's Greater New England Chapter and can choose from distances of 25, 50, 75 and 100 miles on Saturday, followed by 25-, 50- or 75-miles rides on Sunday.
It's a great time of year to visit some of the islands that dot Casco Bay, and when doing so there's no reason to leave your bike at home.
Several easy-to-access islands offer biking options that come with little auto traffic and great views. Here are a few to check out:
Holly Bowling walks her dog, Nandi, while riding her bike under flag adorned untility poles on Chebeague island. Press Herald file photo