LEWISTON — Cyclists in the 40th annual Trek Across Maine took off from Thomas Point Beach and Campground on Friday on the first day of their three-day journey to raise money for the American Lung Association.

Between volunteers and cyclists, there were about 1,000 participants. As of Friday evening, the trek had raised $661,190.88 of its $750,000 goal.

After traveling roughly 60 miles from the campground, cyclists filtered into Underhill Arena at Bates College where they stored their bikes overnight. Walking out of the arena slowly and swigging from their water bottles, some could be heard talking about their sore feet or overall body aches. Technicians were on hand to help with bike issues.

Most cyclists did not seem too worried about possible rain over the weekend, saying they have ridden in rain, thunderstorms and extreme heat. They also said most motorists they encountered were respectful.

Maddie Pacholski stretches Friday at a rest stop in Durham while looking at a map of the route during the 40th annual Trek Across Maine. The University of Maine at Orono sophomore said the trek was going better than expected. “The first 15 miles were tough, but it’s going much better now,” she said. Friday’s leg was 61 miles. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

It was good weather to start the Father’s Day weekend ride, Jason Neal of Enfield said. He is riding for the 26th year in a row with his team Slipping Gears from the Bangor area. Since 1999, the team has raised $260,000.

His weekend was made better by his son joining him after flying from Japan, where he is stationed through the military.


Neal, who owns Slipping Gears Cycling in Bangor, said selling someone a bike is sometimes a life-changing event. He started cycling regularly and participating in the trek in the late 1990s for physical fitness. He thinks everyone should try the trek at least once.

Auburn resident and trek volunteer Meghan Levesque participated one year and decided volunteering was more her speed, she said. She was at the finish line at the college where she and others were ringing bells and shaking clappers encouraging cyclists as they reach their destination for the day.

Map for Trek Across Maine 2024. Staff graphic/Sharon Wood

She said her 8-year-old son cannot wait until he is old enough to cycle in the event. For now, he helps volunteer, along with Levesque’s two young daughters.

As a previous rider and now volunteer, she said she knows how much that encouragement means to the cyclists.

“It’s a huge deal to them,” she said.

Her husband, Jon Levesque, is captain of the Blazin Saddles team and has ridden in the trek for 18 years. When her husband talks about the event he always tells people that the volunteers make the event, she said.


Trek Across Maine participants Linda Poirier, left, John Poirier, middle, and Rick Reardon wear their USA cycling jerseys Friday during the 40th annual Trek Across Maine at Bates College in Lewiston. The cyclists from Bangor have a total of seven riders on their Trek Across Maine team. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

Jonathan Runstadler of Swampscott, Massachusetts, cycled with the L.L. Bean team, which he and many of his family members have done the past three years. Some of his family have been cycling in the trek for many years but many started participating just before his sister was diagnosed with lung cancer.

She died in early 2022, he said. Now, donned with armbands with her name on it, they ride in her honor.

Lynette Eastman of Pittston has volunteered for 24 years. It is a cause that is dear to her and her husband, who is a trek cyclist. Between the two of them, three of their parents died from lung cancer and some of their children have breathing issues.

She volunteers year-round in the office, assisting with event planning, she said. Over the years she has volunteered in many roles, including being a route marshal where she guided cyclists through intersections and around corners.

The cyclists always express a lot of appreciation to her for volunteering, she said.

“It’s a mutual admiration,” she said. “We admire them for riding and they admire us for volunteering.”

Participants will ride from the college to Saint Joseph’s College of Maine in Standish on Saturday, then ride back to Thomas Point Beach and Campground on Sunday.

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