300-plus bike fans converge on Sunday River

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NEWRY – Posing for a Marilyn Monroe-esque photograph while astride her shiny blue 2007 BMW F800ST motorcycle, Stephanie Lane flashed a big smile and a passion for cycles.

“This is the finest piece of engineering that I’ve ever sat on, a really super bike,” said the 53-year old owner of Avatar Massage and Fitness of Portsmouth, N.H., early Saturday afternoon at the eighth annual Maine European Motorcycle Meet.

This weekend was her fourth year attending the three-day event, which attracts hundreds of riders of British and European motorcycles to the Jordan Grand Hotel at Sunday River Ski Resort.

“I thought my Ducati Monster was the (best), but now, getting back on it after this, it’s like an old Ironhead. It’s primitive. This BMW has a parallel twin engine that runs just like an electric shaver, a toaster, or your Waring blender. It’s almost no vibration,” she said.

Lane, who said she has more than 38 years’ experience riding motorcycles, continued to rave about the bike she bought this past April with part of her retirement money.

“Hey, what are you going to do when you get old, sit in a rocking chair or ride a motorcycle and have some fun? Oh, yeah, I understand what fine machinery can do for the body. That’s why I ride. You feel like you’re one with the elements and what our ancient forefathers tried to teach us,” Lane said.

That passion is what many riders bring to the Friday-through-Sunday event each year, according to organizer Mike Stackhouse of West Bethel.

“It’s just a great bunch of people,” he said of the event which started eight years ago as a one-day barbecue. It has grown from just 35 people to more than 300, attracting motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the U.S. and Canada.

“Last year, we had folks here from Pennsylvania. This year, they brought more people with them. This just keeps snowballing. It grows every year and; each year, I try to add something different,” Stackhouse said.

So did Mother Nature – catastrophic flooding on the night of July 11 and early morning of July 12, which washed out a bridge on Route 113 and covered the road in places with landslides.

Some of the event’s self-guided tours through Western Maine and New Hampshire use the scenic route through Evans Notch, but not this year. Stackhouse continually warned riders about road closures and potential hazards still lingering from the storm.

Each meet raises money for designated benefits. This year, due to flooding that destroyed Bethel’s water supply, and Angevine Park and its children’s swimming pond, donations were being taken to help restore the popular park.

Also, new this year is the large trailer filled with gear and a display of vintage bikes, brought by The Motorcycle Shop of Freeport, which helped host the event.

In addition to the gear and display, The Motorcycle Shop also provided live entertainment, including an appearance today by the Portland rockabilly band King Memphis from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the European and British Motorcycle Show. A traditional barbecue is also scheduled for today, ending at 2 p.m.

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