NEWRY — It was a soggy day for a bike ride, but the rain didn’t deter the almost 1,700 cyclists participating in the American Lung Association’s 33rd annual Trek Across Maine.

The ride began in front of the South Ridge ski lodge at Sunday River, where Jeff Seyler, CEO of the American Lung Association, was there to see riders off. The trek was initiated to raise awareness of lung cancer, the No. 1 cancer killer in the U.S.

“It’s an event that draws all sorts of cyclists and all ages,” Seyler said.

Take Team Slow Riders, for instance. The 11 members each had their own level of cycling experience, and their own reason for riding.

Marlene Scheuchzer, who said she has asthma in her family, is riding for a second time for the challenge, and to support a great cause.

“The rain didn’t stop me at all,” Scheuchzer said. “I just psyched myself up, she said, ‘You’re going to get wet, and tomorrow will be better.’” 

Team Slow Riders included several members of the Rowe family, who were riding for Randi Rowe of Falmouth.

Randi, the late wife of Matthew Rowe, passed away from adenocarcinoma of the lung. “She never smoked,” said Layne Rowe, who was Randi’s close friend.

Now Layne is married to Matthew, and rides alongside her husband and step-daughter, Allie, to remember a wife, mother and friend.

Graham Rowe rode to spend time with family and to continue his community service streak, having just come back from Nicaragua where he built village water systems on behalf of Green Empowerment, which works with local partners around the world to strengthen communities by delivering renewable energy and safe clean water.

The first checkpoint for the riders was at the intersection of Route 2 and South Rumford Road.

Angus Beal could be seen wrapping his shivering son, Ian, in a foil blanket. Another rider walked over and offered Beal some advice: Wrap the blanket around him under his coat so he could be warm while he rode on the back of the tandem bike with his dad.

Despite his shivering and mud-covered face, Ian, 7, who lives in Belfast, was happily munching on a snack while his dad, who said it was Ian’s idea to join the ride, saw to warming him up.

“My dad told me about it and I just got really excited,” Ian said.

Angus, Ian and their companion Dave Miller, left South Ridge lodge at 7:30 in the morning and arrived at the first checkpoint, 18.7 miles later, at 9:30.

The goal this year is to raise $1.5 million, and CEO Seyler said they had already hit $1 million. Riders are required to raise $550 by the day of the race to register but have until Sept. 1 to keep fundraising.

It was Denise Condon’s 11th time riding in the event, and she said she would like to see the fundraising quota decrease a little. When Condon rode her first trek, the minimum amount to raise was $400, and the event attracted over 2,000 riders.

“There seems to be less people every year, and I think the money deters a lot of people,” Condon said.

Even so, Condon intends to keep riding.

“It’s become a girls’ trip for me,” she said.

The first day of the trek ended at the University of Maine at Farmington, 67.4 miles from the start, and volunteers Laurel Leach and Judy Look said the first rider arrived around 9 a.m.

“They started at 5:15,” said Look, who clarified that the intended start time was 7 a.m, but some riders left much earlier to get their ride in the rain over with.

The finish line for Day 1 was a welcome sight for the riders, boasting massage therapists, hot showers and hot food. There was also a place to register for next year’s trek.

Most riders, including Devin Shields, said he wished the sun would appear, are hoping things will be drier next year.

But if not, riders likely will be willing to get wet for a good cause.

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Joe DeBrosky of Rockport and his daughters, Mia, 8, and Izzy, 9, leave South Ridge Lodge at Sunday River to begin their three-day adventure during the Trek Across Maine in Newry on Friday morning. 

Jim Hamilton of Brunswick wore a rubber duck on top of his bike helmet so his wife, Donnalee, could pick him out of the hundreds of cyclists as they rode onto the University of Maine at Farmington campus on Friday. As it turned out, Hamilton said, the duck was appropriate for the wet start to the Trek Across Maine.  

“Nice day for a 68-mile bike ride,” said Dennis Guay of Sanford as he waits for his two friends to begin the Trek Across Maine in Newry on Friday. 

Angus Beal and his 7-year-old son, Ian, of Belfast pull out of the first rest stop in Rumford during the Trek Across Maine on Friday. 

Barbara Jackson of Portland organizes her biking gear after pulling into the first rest stop in Rumford during the Trek Across Maine on Friday. 

Polly Beck of Belfast is in good spirits despite a wet start to the three-day Trek Across Maine.

Dan Rooney of Sanford is in good spirits despite a wet start to the three-day Trek Across Maine.

Alison Plumeau pulls away on her bike to start her three-day Trek Across Maine in Newry on Friday. 


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