Riders on the first day of last year’s Trek Across Maine. This is the first year the ride will involve Brunswick, where it will start and finish. (Courtesy of the American Lung Association of Maine)

BRUNSWICK — George and Lynette Eastman have been spray painting route markers for the Trek Across Maine for the better part of two weeks, as they and other volunteers work to make sure everything is in order before riders kick up their kickstands and head out for the annual 180-mile bike ride.

The Trek Across Maine is the American Lung Association’s largest fundraiser, bringing in about $1.5 million each year.

George Eastman, a long-time volunteer with the Trek Across Maine spray paints a trek logo to mark the route outside the library in Bath, where cyclists will pass on their way back to Brunswick Landing on Sunday. (Hannah LaClaire / The Times Record)

George Eastman has been volunteering for and riding in the trek for 20 years, and his wife Lynette has been volunteering for 19. This year, for the first time ever, the Pittston couple will not have to travel quite as far, as the route starts and ends in Brunswick. The new loop also will ease some logistical challenges compared to the previous route, which started at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry and ended in Belfast.

The ride will start at Brunswick landing at 7 a.m. Friday and riders will depart via Route 24 South, take Mountain Road and head toward Freeport, taking Mere Point Road and then Maquoit Road to Main Street in Freeport, where there will be a rest stop at L.L. Bean on the first day. Riders will then go through Lewiston, Waterville, Augusta and Bath among other Maine towns, with overnight stops at Bates College and Colby College.

No Brunswick roads will be closed, and the route will not take riders through downtown. On their way back to Brunswick Landing on Sunday, riders will skirt downtown, taking the Androscoggin River Bicycle and Pedestrian Path to Water Street, Federal Street and Sills Drive past Bowdoin College. Police will be patrolling along the route. Detailed route information is available on the Trek Across Maine website.

Eastman said he is looking forward to the new route, though he expects there will be some grumblings about a hillier second day than usual.

Lynette Eastman lost her mother to lung cancer last month, which George said will make this year’s ride all the more meaningful. He has not been able to train much this spring, but is excited to get moving.

Nearly 1,700 people registered for this year’s trek, over 100 more than last year, according Kim Chamard, trek development manager. She largely attributes the increase to Brunswick’s “more centralized location.”

“We were hoping it would attract new and more cyclists,” she said Monday.

“We are thrilled to get a chance to showcase what we think is a great community,” Brunswick Town Manager John Eldridge said at an informational forum this spring, adding that he hopes people will explore local shops, restaurants and hotels while they are in town.

Trek personnel are encouraging people to consider camping at Thomas Point Beach or checking into one of the local hotels, some of which may be offering block Trek rates. This year there will not be a spot for people to keep their bikes on-site overnight, Chamard said at the forum.

So far, $1.08 million of the targeted $1.5 million has been raised, according to Trek Across Maine’s online tracker. The organization is still accepting donations and volunteers, especially Brunswick-based helpers with availability on Sunday, Chamard said.

Vehicle traffic will be heaviest around the landing on Thursday afternoon through Friday morning as people arrive (there will be parking on site) and then Sunday evening as they leave, probably around 4 or 5 p.m., she said.

Bicycle traffic will be heaviest between 7 and 10 a.m. on Friday morning, as riders start in waves, and then between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. as they return on Sunday.

Coinciding with Trek Across Maine will be the Coastal Summer Challenge, a three-division youth soccer tournament for boys and girls. Now in its 33rd year, the tournament will take place on Saturday and Sunday at Bowdoin College and the surrounding fields, according to the event’s website. The event is organized by Seacoast United Soccer Club and is expected to bring an additional several thousand people to town, further ensnaring traffic over the weekend.

The Androscoggin Bicycle Path will also have a soccer field in use, so Chamard suggests that cyclists should ride single file. “Be courteous and cautious,” she said, “Our goal is to get everyone in and out safely.” Officers will also be on hand to help manage the path.

Trek staff will be at L.L. Bean Tuesday from 4 to 7 p.m. offering early check-ins to meet the demand and volume of riders, according to organizers.

More Trek staff will arrive at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Brunswick Rec Center to unload gear to prepare for check-in on Thursday night from 3-8 p.m.

There is a pre-event dinner at Flight Deck Brewing on Thursday night and a post-event Lobster bake on Sunday.

People interested in volunteering can contact Erica Fredrick-Rock at [email protected] or call (207) 624-0310.

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