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2000-plus trekkers cycle through
NEWRY- More than 2000 cyclists traveled Route 2 from Newry into Rumford on Friday for the annual Trek Across Maine sponsored by the American Lung Association. In the early morning hours, Sunday River employees were manning the storage tents and waiting for anxious riders to pick up their wheels for their 3-day, 180-mile ride from Newry to Belfast.
“We were here late last night getting the bikes tagged and stored,” noted Kate Crooker, a Sunday River employee, who along with her husband, Dan, were checking bikes at one storage location. “And we were back here at 5:30 this morning.”
The storage tent the Crookers were working at was only a drop in the bucket compared to the entire scene. The property was littered with white tents housing thousands of dollars worth of bikes that were ready to go.
At 6:30 that morning, 10-year-old Owen Bohrmann of Yarmouth was readying himself to ride for his fifth consecutive year with his dad, Erich, and 12-year-old brother, Ian, on a tandem tag along bicycle. “It’s really a lot of fun and a good fundraiser.”
Erich stated he and his boys have always like to ride and the trek was a good way for his sons to learn how to do for others.
Their tandem tag along cycle, when fully loaded with riders, weighs in excess of 400 pounds and “just screams down over the hills,” noted Erich. “It’s a pretty wild ride. It’s specially equipped with a drum brake, because we can get going over 40 miles an hour.”
Hoping to be on the road with the 7 a.m. pack of cyclists, the Bohrmann’s had to run off to get in the breakfast line to stay on schedule.
At the storage tent, bikes ranged from the traditional one-, two- and three-person upright styles to the sit-down version for one person. With the bikes ranging in size, shape, and color, so did the ages of those ready to ride for the weekend. There were children as young as nine and adults in their 80’s, all with smiles plastered across their faces.
It was noted that there were 23 states represented in this year’s trek, along with two trekkers who traveled from London and Germany. Teams like Gritty’s, Russell Investments, and L.L. Bean all coming out to show their support of the ALA by raising hundreds of thousands worth of dollars.
Steve and KC Webster of Yarmouth were members of the L.L. Bean team for the second consecutive year, with KC being the team motivator.
“We had an absolute ball last year,” noted KC. “I love getting everyone all fired up.”
“For us it’s a way of giving back,” added Steve. “We also ride the Dempsey Challenge.”
The L.L. Bean team has raised more than $150,000 and “is still going strong,” according to KC. The company encourages someone from each of their departments to participate in the trek, gaining 221 riders for this year.
When asked what makes this ride special for them, Steve noted, “You see all the teams out there and some of them have ‘In Memory’ on their shirts.”
KC added, “They are remembering their loved one in a fantastic way. It’s just a great showing of support.”
Under the beautiful blue of the cloudless sky, another set of cyclists caught this reporter’s eye. Gabe Blodgett and Christian Wincklhofer of Rockport had large packs on their backs and Wincklhofer had a rather interesting ride.
With a flat leather seat and wicker basket attached to the front of his bike, he stated that it was a pretty comfortable seat. The two had camped out the night before and were ready to ride in their first trek.
As the 7 a.m. mass start had come and gone, the Bohrmann’s and their teammates, Shawn and Will Hunter, came from the storage tent with their tandems with smiles abound.
Will, being only 9 years old and having ridden in the trek for the past five years, like his friend and classmate, Owen, stated, “I like riding with my dad and Owen and I do a lot of stuff together. It’s going to be a fun day.”
While the boys couldn’t wait to get started and get to Colby College so they could swim in the pool and take part in movie night, Erich Bohrmann noted, “this is a very emotional day. Last year we saw a support team with about 30 or 40 people on it, riding with this man who had an oxygen tank strapped to the back of his bike and the airline going to his nose. It’s inspiring to see things like that. I always tell my boys that we ride because they can’t. It’s a great memory to have with my sons.”
Erich works at Maine Medical Center in Portland and noted that their small team rides in honor of a co-worker’s son, Joe Wallace, who is currently waiting for a lung transplant.
The teams traveled down over the hill to the parking lot to join the rest of the 7:30 start and off they went with smiles and waves.
The trekkers traveled to Farmington on Friday, where they spent the night and departed for Waterville on Saturday morning, before making their final leg of the ride to Belfast on Sunday.
For more information on the Trek Across Maine, visit www.lung.org.