BikeMaine riders thankful for support crew volunteers | News

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BikeMaine riders thankful for support crew volunteers
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SWEDEN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - After a rest day Wednesday, the BikeMaine riders hit the road again Thursday. Cyclists started in Bethel and rode to Sweden. They took a 60-mile route, passing through the White Mountains National Forest.

Each day, a few "support and gear," or SAG, vans follow the cyclists as they ride. They help the cyclists who have flat tires or broken chains, and the ones who just can't quite make it up a hill.

"Of course, some of them are your frequent fliers, if you will," Rob Bakker said.

He operates the ham radio while Allan Harville drives. The two have been volunteering in the support vehicles since the ride started three years ago. Over the years, they've become friends.

Allan and Rob are there mostly to lend a hand, but there's something in it for them too. Even though they both live in Maine, they get to explore parts of the state they've never seen before. But when duty calls, they spring into action.

Marina Wheland, a rider from Canada, had a broken spoke. Allan and Rob spotted her, gave her a ride to the another SAG van that was headed toward the BikeMaine mechanic.

"They are the angels of the road," Wheland said. "They are fantastic guys, and it makes every day riding better, knowing that they're there to pick us up if, like my bike just pooched out on me, and I'm not going to be stranded."

For Harville and Bakker, hearing that makes giving up free time and using vacation days worth every minute.

"You know what, I get paid in smiles," Bakker said.

"Knowing that when somebody's in trouble, we're going to be there. We can say that with authority because we are going to be there," Harville said.

For Day 6 of BikeMaine, the riders will head back to the coast. They'll ride 75 miles from Sweden to Kennebunk.


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