AUBURN – Last year’s Dempsey Challenge sent actor Patrick Dempsey and four pros circling the lakes district around Lewiston through a 50-mile course.
Chances are good that when the Dempsey Challenge fundraising ride is held this year, on Oct. 3, Dempsey and his pro cycling posse will repeat the same tour as he delivers his message of healthy living and wellness to his home state.
For locals, that may mean a better shot at seeing and talking with Dempsey.
“Last year the pros hung together, but Dempsey stopped to talk to people. I rode the 100 and caught up to him just before the top of Spiller Hill. He was riding by himself,” said Richard Marchessault, a member of the Maine Cycling Club who designed the course.
Dempsey took the time to stop and meet locals who came out to cheer and others whose families have been touched by cancer. And he said he will do the same this year.
So spectators who line the 50-mile course and those who ride it will stand a good chance of spotting him and the likes of Kevin Living- ston and Levi Leipheimer.
The course has several quiet, lovely stretches of rural road, such as Maguire Hill Road with its sweeping views to Tripp Pond, and along Route 122, the road beside Range Pond State Park in Poland.
While not as grueling as the century course, the 50-miler is tough enough, with half the climbing.
“It’s close to half of what the 100 is, so if it is 6,000 feet then it’s 3,000 feet. The Lighthouse Century that starts (in South Portland) and goes to Kennebunkport and back is nowhere close. It’s 1,000 (feet) over 100 miles, compared to 3,000,” Marchessault said.
Members of the Maine Cycling Club who rode the 50-mile loop three weeks ago described it as challenging with varied terrain, scenic and quiet.
Mostly they just like its flavor.
“I call it buffet style,” said Ray Marchessault, brother of Richard and a seasoned cyclist.
Dave Storey of Lewiston, who is new to the club, said multiple training rides definitely helped prepare him for the Dempsey Challenge. Now he’s eager to circle the rolling roads on Oct. 3.
“Most of the course is on country side roads. There are two big hills, but the rest of the scenery makes it worth it. There are lots of meandering roads with trees overhanging them,” Storey said.
Rod Nadeau of North Yarmouth, a veteran Dempsey Challenge volunteer as well as a century cyclist, has ridden several century courses in New England. He’s also raced up Mount Washington on his road bike.
The Dempsey climbing courses have enough chutzpah for Nadeau’s liking.
“What I like about the route is it’s a challenge. It’s just a wicked decent route,” Nadeau said.
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: