OLD TOWN, Maine — After seeing steady increases in total bikers over its five previous runs, Saturday’s sixth annual Brenda Sibley Memorial Ride managed only about half of last year’s record turnout.
Dark skies and steady rain greeted the 40 bikers who gathered at the Stillwater Avenue McDonald’s, but the weather failed to wash out the annual 100-mile trip up Route 2 to Howland that proceeds to LaGrange, Milo and Dover-Foxcroft down Route 15 back to Old Town.
“It has grown quite a bit, although today wasn’t like last year when we had such a nice day and had 80 riders,” said John Sibley, whose wife Brenda died of breast cancer six years ago. “I think if this had been a nice day, it would’ve been over 100, but we never put a rain date on this. We ride it regardless.”
It has come a long way since the inaugural run in 2006, when 16 bikers drove the 100-mile circuit in relative anonymity.
“My wife and I used to ride all the time. After she died, there were three or four of us sitting at Dunkin’ Donuts one day talking about doing a benefit, and my wife’s name was brought up,” explained Sibley, who drove his sixth ride on a 2007 Harley-Davidson fatboy. “We’ve been doing it ever since.”
Now, the event raises money for cancer research and care through ride pledges ($10 per ride or more), raffles, silent auctions for items donated by local businesses, and a 50-50 drawing.
“We’ve raised over $30,000 over the last five years,” said Sibley.
Lois Madden, who is Brenda Sibley’s sister, is also the event’s primary organizer. Despite the lower turnout, she was able to raise $2,712 through Sunday with some donations still coming in. She will also sponsor a bench bearing Sibley’s name on it at the garden outside the CancerCare of Maine facility in Brewer.
“Brenda used to do toy runs and volunteer with all kinds of benefits. She just was always there for people so it’s kind of nice to return the favor to her,” said Madden. “My ultimate goal is to help us find a cure in our lifetime. Everybody you talk to has a story about someone they know dealing with cancer. It hits home with so many people.”
Donations may be made to CancerCare of Maine Healthcare Charities, P.O. Box 931, Bangor 04402-0931, with “Brenda Sibley ride” in the memo line of any checks.