11th annual event gains national noteriety; more than 1,000 participants expected
By Mark Haskell | Jul 16, 2012
Rockland — Bicyclists from near and far will congregate at Oceanside High School on Saturday, July 21 to take part in not only one of the most notable rides in Maine — but, as it turns out, the country.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will host the 11th annual Maine Lobster Ride, which will begin Saturday, July 21 at 8 a.m. The event raises money for the coalition.
Registration for the event begins at 7 a.m. The price is $95 for a non-Bicycle Coalition of Maine member or $85 for members. There also no age limit for the event.
The ride has four different lengths for different levels of riders. It features a 16-, 30-, 50- and 100-mile trek, spanning both Knox and Waldo counties.
The 100-mile ride also has gained nationwide notoriety, being named by Bicycling Magazine as the one of the Top Ten Century Rides in the United States, earning the No. 2 spot behind the Tour de Corn in East Prairie, Missouri.
“This is a tremendous honor,” said Joel Fishman of Rockland, Maine Lobster Ride founder. “Every time I think about it I get goose bumps.”
The 16- and 30-mile routes will encompass much of Rockland and Owls Head, while the 50- and 100-mile routes will have two sections.
The first section called the “Northern 50” will go through scenic spots in the Midcoast through Rockport, Camden, Lincolnville and into Belmont and then loops back to the school.
The second section called the “Southern 50” will go through Owls Head and South Thomaston to Port Clyde to the Marshall Point Lighthouse before circling back to the school.
The Marshall Point Lighthouse, of course, was famously displayed in the 1994 Academy Award-winning movie Forrest Gump, which puts the signature stamp on one of the picturesque views bicyclists will see along their routes.
“Of all the lighthouses they could have chosen in the [entire] United States, they chose this one because they felt it was perfect for their movie,” said Fishman. “Well, we felt it was perfect for our ride.”
The 100-mile and the “Northern 50” rides begin at 8 a.m.; the “Southern 50” at 8:30 a.m.; the 30-milers at 9 a.m.; and the 16-milers at 9:30 a.m.
Fishman said the event is sometimes referred to as the Maine Lobster Ride and Roll in an effort to promote lobster rolls, which each participant will receive once they finish the ride.
Fishman also pointed out the event is a ride, not a race.
“There are no ribbons or trophies given to who comes in first,” he said. “That really is irrelevant. Our goal is safety. We want everyone coming back safe and sound. That’s our major concern and our major emphasis.”
Fishman estimated there will be roughly 150 volunteers working the event. Many will be at designated rest areas along the routes with cold drinks, fruit, salty snacks and other foods for the riders.
There also will be first-aid personnel and bike technicians, in addition to volunteers on walkie-talkies and cell phones, along all four routes. The Rockland Police Department also will escort the bicyclists to the town line.
The event also features SAG wagons, which are there to pick up for various reasons, such as exhaustion for the riders, a mechanical problem or someone who “would just appreciate a lift to the next station.”
“Some people will just put their bike in the back of the truck and say: ‘Take me to the next rest area,’ ” Fishman said. ” ‘I need a cold drink and then I’ll ride the rest of the way.’ It’s all-inclusive. We want everyone to participate, not just the elite bike riders.”
The first ride started in 2001 with only 42 people and has swelled each year. With the national notoriety, Fishman is “absolutely certain” there will be more than 1,000 in attendance at this year’s event.
Since the ride is advertised in Bicycling Magazine, Fishman said the event has gotten riders in recent years from as far as Quebec, New Zealand, England and Hawaii, among other locales.
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is an advocacy organization based in Augusta and works with different governmental organizations, including the Department of Transportation. The funds collected by the coalition go to improving bicycling conditions and infrastructure throughout the state, which includes arranging to have roads swept, working to get bike lanes on roads and create bike paths, such as the one created a few years ago along Route 1 in Brunswick.
“Much of what we do is in the background,” said Fishman. “We do behind-the-scenes work and bicyclists all over the state of Maine enjoy the fruits of our labor and don’t know that we’re responsible or partially responsible.”
Fishman has not participated in the ride in recent years as it has become more and more of an undertaking. Now, the 65-year-old flags traffic at different routes along the way.
Fishman has taken part in many rides over the years for varying causes, including taking part in the Trek Across Maine for the past 15 years.
The veteran biker describes his hometown event as “a great experience.”
“Everyone goes home with a smile on their face at the end of the day,” he said. “And people come back. And people recommend it to their friends. That’s how we know it’s successful.”
For more information on the event, click here.
Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.