Dennis Richardson will leave Turner at 5 a.m. on June 8 for a 200-mile bike ride to raise money to buy bicycles for children who are underprivileged or have special needs.

What a difference four years has made.

Richardson, now 52, had a two-pack-a-day smoking habit before receiving the telephone call that changed his lifestyle.

Longtime friend Mary Dempsey called to say,”Pat is worried about you because you look like hell.”

Richardson had just attended the funeral of Amanda Dempsey, the mother of Mary and Patrick Dempsey, on March 29, 2014.

Patrick challenged Richardson on the day of his mother’s funeral to quit smoking and to ride his bike 50 miles alongside him during the upcoming Dempsey Challenge.


“I said no,” Richardson said.

But six months later, Richardson rode the 50 miles alongside Patrick Dempsey during the Dempsey Challenge, an annual ride created to raise money that provides free services for people affected by cancer.

During a grueling climb on that 50-mile ride, Richardson took off from the pack. Another rider, Freddie Rodriguez, chased Richardson down and asked what he was doing.

“Suffering in silence. Who the hell are you?” Richardson asked.

“I’m a pro cyclist,” answered Rodriguez, who offered Richardson some riding tips as the day progressed.

Rodriguez and Richardson kept in touch and the four-time National Road Race champion and Tour de France competitor returned to Maine to work with Richardson.


“(Rodriguez) took me on a 47-mile ride through Pownal to teach me how to do it right without having a heart attack,” Richardson said.

Richardson and Rodriguez have ridden together in every Dempsey Challenge since and have begun a new adventure of their own.

Dennis & Freddie’s Excellent Adventure and Global Bike Relay will kick off June 8 to raise money for underprivileged children who don’t have bikes.

“We have at least eight people signed up for Friday’s 200-mile ride,” Richardson said.

Saturday’s rides are broken down into 25-mile, 50-mile and 100-mile events. A post-ride celebration will begin at 2 p.m. at Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner. Mary Dempsey will serve as the master of ceremonies.

Richardson said he had hoped the adventure ride would raise $10,000 for the Fast Freddie Foundation Bikes for Tots program.


He has topped $15,000 and set a new goal of $20,000. “We far exceeded what we hoped to raise,” he said.

Money raised will buy bicycles and helmets for selected children at Minot Consolidated, Leeds Central and the Guy E. Rowe School in Norway.

Rodriguez and Richardson will hold bike safety and healthy lifestyles assemblies at each school before surprising some students with new bikes.

Richardson raised $5,000 in 2017, allowing him and Rodriguez to give 24 new bicycles and bike helmets to students at the Renaissance School, an intensive Auburn program for children who struggle in traditional classrooms. “Watching the children’s reactions was life-changing for me,” Richardson said.

To raise that $5,000, Richardson rode 300 miles by himself with his wife, Lori, driving behind him for support.

Friends talked Richardson into letting others help raise the money and that is how Dennis & Freddie’s Excellent Adventure and Global Bike Relay came to be.


Richardson said riders from Belgium, Germany and Italy have signed up. They will ride the designated miles and then share pictures via social media with organizers in Turner. The pictures will be displayed during the day’s events at Ricker Hill Orchards.

Others are coming from out of state to ride the Maine routes, Richardson said.

Following the 200-mile day June 8, Richardson said, he and Rodriguez will ride Saturday, but he was not sure how far.

“It will not be the 100,” Richardson said. “We have to be able to function. I did not ride for a month after riding 300 miles.”

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