Three cyclists participating in the second annual BikeMaine pedal from Norway to Winthrop on Sept. 8, 2014, on the second day of the weeklong bike tour, organized by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine. Credit: Courtesy of Jeff Scher and BikeM

It’s a familiar conundrum for bicycling enthusiasts — the desire to explore new roads or trails on two wheels competing with the fear of encountering monster hills, heavy vehicular traffic or simply getting lost on unfamiliar routes.

Now, thanks to a new website launched last week by The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, much of that guess work is eliminated.

“Where to Ride” — — lets riders use a series of drop down menus to select from among 150 bicycling routes from Kittery to Fort Kent based on distance, terrain and level of difficulty.

“One of the things we get asked the most about here at the [Bicycle Coalition of Maine] is ‘where is a good place to ride?’” said Frank Gallagher, coalition spokesman. “In fact, our web page that lists rides around the state gets the most traffic on our site.”

But that page, he said, simply lists locations of suggested rides, with minimal information about the routes.

“Where to Ride,” on the other hand, is a completely interactive site that includes information about the routes supplied by people who have actually ridden them.

“Our original list of rides was filled with general information and links to other bicycle clubs in Maine,” said MaryBeth Luce, Where to Ride project manager. “But people really seemed to hanker for actual ride locations and we as an organization are fielding questions from riders all season from now until October.”

Credit: Courtesy of Bicycle Coalition of Maine

So to help riders in Maine, Luce said the coalition came up with the idea to build on the ride list using GIS mapping technology.

“We combined that technology with handpicked rides selected by coalition staff and partners close to us that we have vetted,” Luce said. “So we know these are good routes that are scenic and worth taking.”

Where to Ride is free to use and doesn’t require registration.

Once on the site, cyclists can use drop down menus to pinpoint the location, distance, terrain and other ride specifications of their dreams.

So far, it’s proving to be popular.

“We launched on May 1,” Gallagher said. “We had almost 1,000 hits that first day alone [and] we were blown away.”

Gallagher said the site is aimed at the state’s growing bicycle tourism sector and helping newcomers and longtime Maine cyclists.

“Maine is a fantastic place to ride,” he said. “These routes are not tied to any specific event — if you want to ride in Maine, this site will help you find exactly what you want.’

The site is compatible with all mobile devices and riders can download routes so they are accessible in areas where there is no internet access.

Luce and Gallagher say more rides will be added to the site and encourage riders to submit routes to the coalition for consideration.

“We want user feedback,” Luce said. “There is a comment section for each ride — there is no way I can go ride all 150 routes so we are relying on people to actually ride them and let us know what they think.”

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Julia Bayly

Julia Bayly is a reporter at the Bangor Daily News with a regular bi-weekly column. Julia has been a freelance travel writer/photographer since 2000.