BRUNSWICK — The Trek Across Maine is getting a new route in 2019 that is expected to bring thousands of bicyclists to Brunswick.
The 35th edition of the annual ride will start and finish at the former Brunswick Naval Air Station in town.
The popular event raises money for the American Lung Association.
Organizers unveiled a preliminary map for the new route Tuesday at Bowdoin College. It will start and finish at Brunswick Landing, site of the former base, and take cyclists through Augusta, Auburn, Bath, Belgrade, Freeport and Lewiston. The ride will include overnight stops at Bates College in Lewiston and Colby College in Waterville.
Organizers changed the route after hearing that many riders were seeking a change of scenery.
“I just can’t tell you how thrilled we are that you’ve chosen Brunswick to start and finish the 2019 Trek Across Maine,” Town Manager John Eldridge told Trek organizers. “Brunswick was one of the first, if not the first, communities in Maine to be certified as bicycle-friendly.”
On any given day, he said, one can find hundreds of cyclists on the town’s bicycle paths.
With thousands expected to converge on Brunswick, Police Cmdr. Mark Waltz said officers will meet with Trek planners months before the event and work out a safety plan for any potential traffic issues.
“We also get to explore new parts of Maine and grow awareness of the Trek in the southern part of the state,” said Matt Sturgis, a longtime Trekker and American Lung Association of Maine board member. “We can garner a positive economic boon for the region.”
The Trek has averaged nearly 1,800 riders for a number of years. For the 2019 version, organizers plan to increase ridership to more than 2,000 cyclists. Bringing the ride to a more-populated part of Maine is expected to draw more first-time riders and generate more funds for the American Lung Association.
Since 1985, the Trek has raised more than $24 million for the American Lung Association, growing from 106 riders to nearly 1,800.
According to Sturgis, the new, 180-mile route “provides the opportunity for new relationships and fundraising opportunities that will build on the mission of the American Lung Association and impact more people.”
“It’s important to remember that the goal is to ensure the highest amount of funds are raised,” Sturgis said.
“The new route will lower the cost of expenses and provide more cost-effective options for families and professionals, ultimately raising awareness to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease.”
“Lung cancer is the number-one cancer killer in the U.S. and the world,” said Jeff Seyler of the American Lung Association. “More must be done to raise awareness and to research funding to defeat lung cancer once and for all.”
Trek Across Maine organizers expect many cyclists this year will be excited next month to ride the longtime route one last time. Participants can still sign up for the three-day, 180-mile ride from Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry to Belfast, set for June 15-17.
Riders can register for the 2018 Trek Across Maine until May 30 at www.biketreknewengland.org.
For more information, visit www.TrekAcrossMaine.org.
Some of the more than 2,000 bicyclists make their way over the Androscoggin River in Canton on Friday morning on the first leg of the Trek Across Maine. The fundraiser for the American Lung Association is a three-day, 180-mile bike ride from the mountains of Sunday River in Newry to the sea in Belfast. (Sun Journal file photo)