Record participation of about 1,000 bicyclists make popular event a success
The Midcoast was abuzz with activity July 21 as bicyclists from across the country swarmed area roads for the 11th annual Maine Lobster Ride. With clear, sunny summer skies, the rides, which started and ended at Oceanside High School on Broadway, went off without a hitch and saw record registration numbers of about 1,000.
The ride, hosted by The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, was a little different this year. The 50-mile ride was split into North and South sections. It also was the first year cyclists could participate in teams.
Members of the Yellow Jersey Club led each group of riders for the different 100-, 50-, 30- and 16-mile rides. Each distance set off from the Oceanside West campus at different times to avoid congestion on the roads.
Austin Watts of Bowdoin, part of the Yellow Jersey Club, has ridden in all 11 of the lobster rides. Saturday’s event marked the ninth time he did the century trek. “I’m one of three or four that has done all of them,” Watts said of the rides. When asked why he rides the 100-mile route, his answer was only: “It’s what I do.”
Watts also said that route also goes by where he grew up in St. George. He added that there was nothing like seeing the bike odometer turn up to 100. Watts is an avid cyclist. Before heading off on Saturday morning, he already had logged 2,000 bicycle miles this summer.
Before 9 a.m., Jim Tasse, coalition education director, said the event’s registration numbers topped 800. At that time, people were still pouring into the parking lot of Oceanside and the upper parking lot at J.C. Penney was starting to fill with riders as well.
Single cyclists, groups, pairs and families turned out for the event. A walk through the school parking lot showed cars from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Georgia, Alabama and even as far away as Arizona and California. The most distance riders made a more than 4,500-mile trek from Alaska. A few riders from the Ontario area of Canada came out for the ride.
Part of this year’s popularity in the ride can be attributed to the nationwide notoriety that the 100-mile ride gained after being named as one of the Top Ten Century Rides in the United States by Bicycling Magazine. The ride earned the No. 2 spot behind the Tour de Corn in East Prairie, Missouri.
The Maine Lobster Ride, founded in 2001 by Joel Fishman of Rockland, has seen its popularity grow over the years. The Maine Lobster Ride raises money for the bicycle coalition, a statewide organization that teaches bicycle safety and works to improve bicycling conditions. The bicycle coalition has helped Maine become the second most bicycle-friendly state in the country, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Maine also has won national recognition for its Safe Routes to School program, run by the Bicycle Coalition and Maine Department of Transportation.
Courier Publications editorial assistant Holly Vanorse Spicer can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401 or by email at email@example.com.