Tuesday was the first time Adam Marden rode a bike in four years.

“Four years ago I had to wait to get a tire and a tube because mine went flat. And that didn’t happen until Tuesday,” Marden said. “So, I went off for one ride last night at four miles. And I clearly should’ve done more because I paid for it today.”

Today, Marden rode 61.3 miles from Thomas Point Beach and campground in Brunswick to Bates College for the Trek Across Maine.

The Trek Across Maine is an annual fundraising event for the American Lung Association (ALA) and their research on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. Participants may stay at Bates College or St. Joseph’s College and enjoy complimentary housing and meals.

The hardest part of the ride for Marden were the hills.

“I went and laid down in the dorm and I was like, ‘Okay, we’re just gonna lay right here.’ Walking up the stairs was really hard,” Marden said.


This was Marden’s 18th year riding in honor of his family members who passed away due to lung related diseases.

“I lost my grandmother and a lot of family members to emphysema or lung cancer and stuff like that. So it really means a lot for me to keep doing that,” Marden said.

Over the next two days, 630 bikers will travel across Maine, riding 51.6 miles to St. Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish and then 56.3 miles back to Thomas Point Beach and Campground in Brunswick. In all, participants will ride just less than 170 miles over the course of three days.

Trekkers were welcomed at Bates’ campus with a baked potato bar, a beer garden as well as showers for themselves and their bikes. Shuttles were available to take trekkers to downtown Lewiston and Auburn.

Jean Zimmer ate lunch on Alumni Walk after making it to the finish line.

“It’s worth riding 60 miles for,” she said, referring to the whoopie pie on her plate.


Zimmer met her husband at an ALA ride across the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. However, this year she is riding solo.

“I’ve met a few people that I cycle with off and on, but I signed up on my own,” Zimmer said. “I’m 60. And it’s not that easy to find people my age who are up to doing a ride of this length.”

Zimmer is from western Massachusetts and says she appreciates finding an older community of bikers here in Maine. This year, the youngest participant was 8 years old and the oldest was 82.

Sarah Brown, Development Manager for the Trek Across Maine, said they describe the Trek as “a big family reunion.”

“We strongly encourage all ability of riders to participate because we like to remind people that it’s not a race,” Brown said. “And, we have parents riding with their children, we have grandparents riding with their grandkids.”

According to Brown, the ALA takes various safety precautions including closing roads, clearly marking the route, having medical personnel present and having volunteers direct the flow of bikers.


Clebson Pereira de Melo, Marilia Sa de Paula and Carlos Milhor traveled from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, to ride in the Trek Across Maine and exchange ideas about how to promote safe biking. They were hosted by Partners of the Americas, a program that facilitates the exchange of ideas and innovation between various countries in Latin America and the US.

Both de Melo and Milhor are heavily involved in advocacy for the use of bikes rather than cars and for biker protection in Brazil. De Melo started biking when he got to college and quickly realized the benefits in his health, the environment and his gas bill.

De Paula learned to bike on a trip to Maine eight years ago. She was staying with a family through the same exchange program that brought her to Maine this year. Her hosts taught her to bike and then bought her a bike back home in Brazil.

From left, Cathy Lee, Carlos Milhor, Barbara Trentacosta, Wendall Milliken, Clemson Pereira de Melo and Marilia Sa de Paula show off their matching jackets for their Trek Across Maine team Friday while taking a rest at Bates College. Milhor, de Melo and de Paula are from Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, and came to Maine through the Partners of the America’s exchange program. Their trip is dedicated to exchanging ideas for improving safe roads for bikers. Ella Beiser/Sun Journal

According to Cathy Lee, who was translating on behalf of de Melo, this experience, “led him to believe that bicycles are a real alternative and so we have to make it possible and reasonable and safe for people to bike as a means of transportation.”

Wendall Millikin was riding with the group and is a member of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine which advocates for bike and pedestrian safety education.

“What people don’t realize is cyclists are our population that are hidden. People see them but they don’t notice them,” Millikin said.


Millikin has been hit three times while biking, all because a car was turning right on red.

“Activism is kind of easy the third time you get hit by a car and say ‘this is stupid,’” Millikin said.

This year was the 39th year the ALA has run the trek. According to Scott Cowger, who rode in the very first trek, the ride was very different back then, with much less support and safety measures for riders.

“There were just about 100 of us,” Cowger said. “We were given a map and they basically said see you at the end. And now, we had three rest stops today, the beautiful food and mechanics, medical health (for those) who needed it.”

This year Cowger raised $5,000 to support the cause.

“I’ve got loyal supporters all over the place which is wonderful. And this year, people just upped their game. I send them all personal emails and let them know why I’m doing this. And a lot of them really kicked in and doubled their contributions from the past,” Cowger said.

Cowger is riding with Dail Martin, who is the only other biker in the trek who also rode 39 years ago. Neither Cowger nor Martin have ever missed a trek and Cowger hopes to continue riding in the future.

“We’re not getting any younger,” Cowger said. “So who knows when something’s gonna break, or give us trouble.”

Bikers may register alone or with a team and have a $550 fundraising minimum. As of Friday, the ALA has raised just $599,329.70 of their one million dollar goal. The largest personal fundraiser is Patti Lane, who has raised $10,892.77 of her $11,0077 goal, and the top fundraising team is L.L. Bean, which has raised $50,745.68, well beyond its $40,000 goal.

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