The first of nearly 4,000 bicyclists taking part in the Dempsey Challenge started to arrive at the finish line well before 9 this morning, but the actor and founder of the annual fundraising event wasn’t expected to appear until early afternoon after he finishes his ride.

Patrick Dempsey set off from the start line in downtown Lewiston shortly after 7:30 a.m. surrounded by elite cyclists and thousands of others opting to ride 10, 25, 50, 70 or 100 miles.

Early arrivals at the finish line at Simard-Payne Police Memorial Park were met by groups of well-wishers who rang cowbells, clapped and cheered.

The fundraiser, which includes a festival featuring health and wellness exhibits, children’s activities and live entertainment, will feature a closing ceremony with the Grey’s Anatomy star at 3:30 p.m.

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