Dear 2015 Maine Lighthouse Ride Sponsor,
The Eastern Trail Alliance is pleased to convey its thanks— and the thanks of 1,200 bicycling participants— to the partners who co-sponsored the 12th annual Maine Lighthouse Ride. Let us do a little scene-setting for you:
It’s a beautiful, sunny day in southern Maine, the first Saturday after Labor Day. In the early morning, hundreds of vehicles loaded with bicycles converge on Southern Maine Community College’s beautiful seaside campus – the starting point of the MLR. Beginning at 7 a.m., a spectacular Casco Bay sunrise dazzles the cyclists who have chosen the 100-mile ride as they head out for a world-class day of coastal touring. They will follow a pre-determined course as far south as Kennebunkport, enjoying views of no fewer than eight classic Maine lighthouses along the way, their travels enhanced by dozens of volunteers who provide staffed rest stops and, when needed, help with minor repairs. Upon their return to South Portland the cyclists sit down to hot food and salad in an SMCC dining room – or outside under a tent -- overlooking Casco Bay. Life, as they say, is good!
That day happened in September 2014, as it did for the ten years prior to that, in large part thanks to the support of sponsors like you. In turn, the MLR’s success will provide support for the continued development of the Eastern Trail: a 65-mile recreation/ transportation greenway connecting Casco Bay with Memorial Bridge in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and, in an equally true and larger sense, Maine with Florida via the East Coast Greenway. Thousands of users enjoy this “linear park“ for non-motorized commuting and recreational walking & biking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, birding, nature study and many other human-powered, healthy activities. With its newest sections and highly visible bridges crossing Route 1 (Saco) and the Maine Turnpike (Kennebunk), the trail serves as a beacon to all that southern Maine has to offer (“Let’s go see where that bridge leads to, George!”).
“Continued development” is a key phrase here: about 21 miles of the eventual 65 mile trail are complete. An interim on-road ET exists from Kennebunk to Kittery, and those 40+ miles are the current goal. This vision of a completely off-road Eastern Trail will impact our communities in several ways: safer walking and biking for local families and tourists; reduced carbon emissions; increased real estate values; and spending by active outdoor participants.
Thanks again – you help make this all possible. And please consider signing up for continued duty as a Maine Lighthouse Ride sponsor – we’ll be happy to share that news with all our trail users and supporters! Happy Trails! (all photos by Jim Bucar)
Bob Hamblen, ETA President