BikeMaine brings tourists and good times to Rockland

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ROCKLAND, Maine (WABI) - Rockland was hustlin' and bustlin' Wednesday with nearly 500 extra people.

That's because BikeMaine was in town.

"Bike Maine is a seven day tour celebrating Maine's people, places, culture, and food," said BikeMaine Ride Director Will Elting. "And it's really hard to get any better than the Midcoast for all of those things."

The tour is 350 miles and fully supported, meaning they will transport peoples' luggage from town to town, allowing riders to not have to worry about anything besides biking and enjoying the trip.

"Biking gives you a whole different feel for the area that you're in, and you get to see much more I believe on your bicycle, and you get to appreciate the area much more because you have much more of an opportunity to experience and to see it, and to feel it," said biker Mark Dana.

Mike Verhamme is a volunteer from Michigan who says that after going on the trip three years ago, he enjoyed it so much he's come back every year since.

"Well up until this point I had been to every state except Maine three years ago, and when we came to Maine, we didn't know what to expect," said Verhamme. "And we instantly fell in love with Maine. It was just awesome."

Tourism is a huge part of BikeMaine. We're told this year, 74% of riders are from out of state, and the estimated economic impact on local communities over the past seven years tops $3 million.

"That's part of the reason that we move the ride from region to region every year is to spread out our impact as much as we can," said Elting. "Our riders are not just here to ride their bikes. They're here to soak in the culture and go to local museums and restaurants and meet people, and really sort of embed themselves in the community."

Organizers say that they will announce the region of Maine for next year's trip at the end of the week.