2012-05-18 / Front Page

Alliance to celebrate spring with a 31-mile event

By Adam Chabot Staff Writer

A 31-mile biking event, hosted by the Eastern Trail Alliance, will begin in Kennebunk at noon May 18. Above, a section of the Eastern Trail near Clark Preserve in Kennebunk. (Dan King photo) A 31-mile biking event, hosted by the Eastern Trail Alliance, will begin in Kennebunk at noon May 18. Above, a section of the Eastern Trail near Clark Preserve in Kennebunk. (Dan King photo) The Eastern Trail Alliance will host an event called Spring on the Trail May 18 as part of an initiative to showcase over 10 miles of new off-road sections of trail and two bridges completed over the past 18 months.

Spring on the Trail is a 31-mile bicycle trek from Kennebunk Elementary School to Bug Light Park in South Portland. At about 2 p.m. riders will stop at Thornton Academy for lunch before continuing their ride back to South Portland. Advance registration is required in order to participate.

“This is the first time we’ve done a one-way (event) like this, that showcases the off-road sections,” said Carole Brush, executive director of the Eastern Trail Alliance.

Approximately 80 bicyclists have signed up for the allday event.

Riders and their bikes will meet at Bug Light Park in South Portland be loaded onto buses and trucks at 10:30 a.m. on Friday and will be transported to the elementary school in Kennebunk, where the event will begin at noon right after a group photo of all participants at the turnpike bridge.

“The initial background as to why we’re doing it, is that it’s being done in conjunction with the East Coast Greenway Alliance and the Eastern Trail is part of the southern Maine portion of the East Coast Greenway,” said Scott Marcoux, communication coordinator for the Eastern Trail Alliance.

The East Coast Greenway Alliance is a nonprofit organization based in Durham, N.C. that promotes connecting local trails into one continuous route, among other things. The alliance is heading the East Coast Greenway, which is a developing a 2,900-mile trail stretching from Calais, Maine to Key West, Fla.

The Eastern Trail is one part of the expansive trail system. The Eastern Trail has not yet been fully completed, but the final goal is to connect Bug Light in South Portland to Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, N.H.

At the end of the 31-mile bike ride, the East Coast GreenwayAlliance will host a celebration at 4 p.m., where Greenway officials and South Portland Mayor Patti Smith will be in attendance. Brush and Marcoux said there will be other events and proceedings throughout the event, but not everything has been finalized.

Brush and Marcoux hope the event will increase membership and awareness about the Eastern Trail and the East Coast Greenway.

“It probably will help to spread some information about (the trail),” Marcoux said. “We get questions all the time about the trail, about parking, where it is and where it runs through. This will certainly educate people.”

Marcoux said the Spring on the Trail event coincides with National Bike to Work Day, when riders can meet at Monument Square in Portland from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. for coffee, snacks and bicycle safety tips. Bike to Work Day festivities will continue with the celebration at Bug Light in South Portland that will include pizza, snacks and giveaways.

Officials from the East Coast Greenway Alliance will be holding a “meet and greet” on May 19 at the Portland Company Complex on Fore Street in Portland at 9 a.m. Representatives from many other groups who have their own version of the Eastern Trail will also be in Portland to network and meet with other advocates of the East Coast Greenway.

Deborah Apps, president and CEO of the TransCanada Trail, will be the keynote speaker at the event, which is free to the public.

The Eastern Trail will remain open to the public during the event.

Brush said there is a chance Spring on the Trail will be held next year as a fundraiser, but isn’t ready to make any commitments.

The next Eastern Trail fundraiser will be the Snowy Egret 5-kilomether run/walk on May 28, with proceeds to benefit the Scarborough Marsh. Registration for this event will be accepted through May 27, and anyone interested can call Chiropractic Family Wellness Center at 883-5549 or go online to www.active.com.

Staff Writer Adam Chabot can be reached at 282-4337

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