WATERVILLE — Cory Lathrop of Sidney sat down to a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza and chocolate milk Saturday afternoon after completing the second 60-mile leg of the Trek Across Maine bicycle ride.
The 49-year-old said the weather was perfect for a four- to five-hour bike ride from the University of Maine at Farmington to the Alfond Athletic Center at Colby College.
So, Cory, how was the ride?
“Excruciating,” he said. “I haven’t trained much this year, and I’m paying for it.”
Lathrop, riding for Charlie’s Family of Dealerships, a presenting sponsor this year, is one of the top fundraisers for the American Lung Association and its annual event from the mountains to the sea. More than 1,200 bicyclists and 600 volunteers are participate.
Lathrop said he and his two teammates ride for fun and fundraising; it’s not about competing to see who finishes first.
“It’s a lot more fun than a marathon because you’re not really racing anybody,” he said under one of the many colorful tents at the finish line. “Most of these people you see every year, so that makes it kind of fun.”
Lathrop said raising money for the American Lung Association for research, advocacy and education about lung disease is the primary reason for the 180-mile ride, in which he has participated for the past 13 years.
He said this year he has raised a little over $5,000, but over the years, with cycling team fundraising, his group has raised more than $300,000. Personally, he has raised close to $100,000.
“When you have been doing this as long as we have, each year you pick up a fundraiser and you keep them on board, so it’s more like a cumulative relationship fundraising than anything,” Lathrop said.
“Whether you partner with a business, or you have friends or people who have had someone die from some type of lung disease and have a reason to fund-raise, you just keep them on board every year,” he said. “The longer you do it, the easier it becomes.”
This year’s fundraiser is the 34th annual Trek Across Maine.
“We are the largest fundraising event in the country for the American Lung Association, and we average $1.3 million each year,” said Kim Chamard of Augusta, a staffer for the trek. “We’ve raised over $24 million in the past 34 years of this event.”
On Friday, cyclists started at Sunday River in Newry and rode the first 60-mile section to the University of Maine at Farmington, where riders bedded down for the night. At 7 a.m. Saturday, they got up, had breakfast and headed out for the second leg — another 60 miles to Waterville, where they were greeted at the finish line by volunteers clapping and cheering, balloons and blasting music.
At about noon Saturday, the digital DJ was playing “The Final Countdown” by the band Europe.
From Waterville, trek cyclists will mount their bikes again Sunday morning for the final leg to Belfast. Chamard said there are rest stops all along the various routes leading to the last mile on the waterfront.
Chamard said the gender breakdown for trek riders is about evenly split — about 52 percent men and 48 percent women — as evidenced by a couple of female riders from Colby College.
“We are the Colby Biker Chicks,” said Kim-Lie Heng, 47, a custodian at the Mayflower Hill campus in Waterville, who finished her first trek with Carol Hurney, 54, the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Colby.
“Everybody’s out to do the same thing,” Hurney said. “It’s all body sizes, all ages, all genders. Everybody’s just doing what they can. Everybody’s job is just trying to finish, or do what they can for that day. That’s really the goal.
A group of riders pedal down Waterville Road in Norridgewock and head toward Colby College during the Trek Across Maine ride Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
A biker climbs the steep hill leaving Oakland on Smithfield Road during the Trek Across Maine ride Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
A rider thanks Norridgewock resident Susan Turgeon for the water spray on Waterville Road in Norridgewock during the Trek Across Maine ride Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
A Somerset County deputy holds traffic for a massive group of bikers in Norridgewock during the Trek Across Maine ride Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)
Doug Curtis of Rockland cruises over a bridge in Smithfield during the Trek Across Maine ride Saturday. (Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel)