Tents are set up Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park in Old Orchard Beach, housing BikeMaine cyclists for the night.

Tents are set up Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park in Old Orchard Beach, housing BikeMaine cyclists for the night.

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Veterans Memorial Park was temporarily transformed Sunday to a small village to accommodate the hundreds of bicyclists who came into town with BikeMaine.

About 360 bicyclists were touring the state with BikeMaine, an annual bicycle tour founded in 2012 – with the first ride in 2013 – by the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, said BikeMaine Ride Director Karen True.

This year, Old Orchard Beach was a host town for the ride, which began Sept. 12 and runs through Sept. 19.

Hundreds of tents dotted the park Sunday night into Monday morning, temporary housing for cyclists and ride officials.

BikeMaine cyclists camped overnight Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park.

BikeMaine cyclists camped overnight Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park.

Volunteers began 7:30 Sunday morning to set up “the village,” said True, which was complete with phone charging station, information booths, a bicycle repair station, a mobile shower trailer and an outdoor handwashing station. Bicyclists started coming in around 1 p.m., and were staying until Monday morning.

True said about 275 cyclists were camping in the park. Others had previously booked hotel rooms, and more decided that damp Sunday to stay at a local hotel instead of camp.

The ride began Saturday in Kittery. Cyclists came to Old Orchard Beach Sunday, leaving Monday morning to go to Bridgton, then two nights in Bethel, then Sweden and finally Kennebunk.

A support truck was on hand to cart tents and other gear to each location. True said some cyclists pitched their own tents, while others paid an extra fee to have a tent and two camp chairs set up and waiting for them when they arrived to each location.

True said about 100 of the cyclists on the ride were from Maine, and the rest were from 35 other states as well as New Zealand, Japan and Canada.

“It’s a different view” traveling on a bicycle rather than in a car, said True.

Cyclists are given route digests ahead of time so they can get an idea of places they’d like to stop along the trek, said True.

“We take them on all the back roads,” she said. “We don’t script the trip so they can do their own thing.”

Bruce Brandt of Harpswell was pitching his tent Sunday evening. Brandt, an avid cyclist, was volunteering for the ride as support crew. “I’m having a great time,” he said. “It’s a beautiful area.”

BikeMaine participant Monica Moukalif of Atlanta, Georgia said she’d been to Maine before, and found out about the ride while doing an Internet search about Maine. She said she was enjoying riding through the “beautiful countryside” and it was fun meeting all the other cyclists.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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