FREEPORT — The eighth annual, all-women bike ride to promote heart health is scheduled to start on Sunday, May 31, at 9 a.m.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will sponsor the event, and it will begin at L.L. Bean’s Casco Conference Center on Casco Street in Freeport.

Debora Ladner, education and membership coordinator at BCM, said the event is open to women of all ages, fitness levels and biking experience.

“It is inspiring to see so many participants,” she said. “The event has grown each year, and we strive to keep costs low so all can attend.”

When the event started in 2001, Ladner said about 50 people participated. Each year the venue is moved, and more people join. This year Ladner said 250 people have already registered, and she expects nearly 400 people to show up.

There are three bike routes: a five-, 10- or 25-mile ride. Ladner said the 25-mile ride will loop toward Brunswick, the 10-mile will go toward Winslow Park, and the five-mile is a short, but fun loop.

Central Maine Heart & Vascular Institute and Parkview Adventist Medical Center are also sponsoring the event, and will have representatives on hand to provide comprehensive, free health screenings to the attendees.

“So many people are uninsured or under-insured,” Lerner said. “Every participant is welcome and we hope they can take advantage of the medical tests.”

Sheryl McWilliams, vice president of Parkview Adventist Medical Center, said nurses and laboratory technicians will offer blood pressure screenings and body composition evaluations. She said there will be a station to analyze sun damage and a bone density screening station to detect osteoporosis. McWilliams also said there will be a station to test hydration levels. She said most humans are dehydrated, and by simply drinking more water, stroke and cardiovascular disease can be reduced up to 50 percent.

In addition there will be health information, light refreshments, massage therapy, and free yoga available to participants.

“I want this to be a pampering day for these women,” Ladner said. “So often we are the caregivers, the providers of support and love, that we forget to take care of ourselves. This afternoon is about health and pampering, and what better way to do that than to relax with a massage and yoga.”

She said she wanted to keep the event, the services, and the amenities local, so with the help of area massage therapists, yoga instructors, bike shops and food vendors, the eighth annual Ride for Heart Health will highlight the merchants who donate their services and time.

To participate, women can pre-register at, call 623-4511, or sign up the day of the event. The entry fee is $25 for BCM members and $35 for non-members, which includes a first-time BCM membership for 2009. All proceeds benefit the BCM education programs that teach bike safety to children.

“This is a lot of work to organize, as any event is,” Ladner said. “But to see the women gathered together, and hear their testimony and to provide information that will help with early detection is so important.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected].

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