With the promise of a freshly made lobster roll lunch and beautiful scenic routes, more than 700 bicyclists headed out from Rockland District High School on a wet July 24 morning to participate in the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s ninth annual Maine Lobster Ride & Roll.

The ride, which had cyclists pedal different routes and distances throughout the Midcoast, had a strong turnout of riders despite the drizzle. Allison Vogt, executive director for the coalition, said that there were riders from 20 states and a few Canadian Provinces who came for the ride.

“It shows success in making Maine a better place to bike,” said Vogt. Maine has been ranked the third best state to bicycle.

“It’s around the same [as last year],” Vogt said about the number of registered riders. “There’s a lot of repeat riders.”

The ride also draws first-time riders. Curtis Bentley of Readfield used the ride as a training method for the Ironman triathlon. Bentley said he had been training 20 hours a week and thought the 100-mile, known as the Century Ride, would be a positive training tool.

The ride is fully supported, with maps, rest stops and support vehicles. A freshly made lobster roll lunch was served at the end.

Vogt said that it takes a lot to put on the event. More than 50 volunteers were on hand throughout the day to help riders either at traffic stops, registration helpers or helping direct cars through the parking lot at RDHS.

The Rockland Police Department, as a police escort of sorts, helped each group move from the RDHS starting point of the ride and across Broadway safely.

Along with the damp and drizzly weather, riders had last-minute route changes. A storm that hit the area a few days before the ride caused washouts and damage to some of the roads that were originally on the ride’s mapped routes. Before each group started, Vogt informed the riders to watch for the route changes as they went.

Cyclists could choose from four distance options of 16, 30, 50 or 100 miles. Starting times for each group were staggered so to avoid congestion on the roads. All of the routes started and ended at RDHS.

The Maine Lobster Ride & Roll is the Bicycle Coalition of Maine’s largest fundraising event. Proceeds from the ride support the coalition’s work to improve bicycling in Maine.

Major sponsors of the ninth annual Maine Lobster Ride & Roll are VBT Bicycling Vacations, Go Maine, L.L. Bean and the Maine Lobster Festival.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine has been working since 1992 to make Maine a better place to bicycle. The coalition advocates for Maine cyclists at the Legislature and in Washington, D.C., teaches bicycle safety to thousands of Maine schoolchildren each year, partners with state agencies on a Share the Road media campaign and serves as a resource on local bicycling issues.

VillageSoup Sports Assistant Holly Vanorse can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at hvanorse@villagesoup.com.