Trek Across Maine: 3 Days of Father/Daughter Bonding

Sunday River welcome sign for Trek Across Maine cyclists
Sunday River welcome sign for Trek Across Maine cyclists

The title of this entry probably makes my Trek Across Maine sound a lot more dire than it was. (That must be my flair for the dramatic.) I decided to participate in this 180 mile bike ride across Maine as part of my 2013 goals, one of which was to travel more.

Admittedly, my Dad begged me for years to join him but the idea really came to life when i forced myself to write down a few simple goals for the year. Although i grew up in Maine, there are a lot of places i never saw or even rode a bike through. This always sounds funny to people outside of New England. It’s a big state, people! Maybe not Texas big but it’s big and spread out.

Now that you’ve been acquainted to Maine geography, let me also add a few fundamentals that are important to know about this adventure.

  1. The Trek Across Maine (Trek), starts in Bethel, Maine and goes across the state to Belfast, Maine. The ride is 180 miles over about 2.5/3 days (depending on how fast you cycle).
  2. It’s a ride not a race. This is according to my Dad.
  3. The Trek is a fundraiser for the American Lung Association’s NorthEast Chapter. You have to raise a minimum of $500 to participate.
  4. I hate asking people for money.
  5. Days typically start between 6:00-7:00 a.m. And I was on vacation.
  6. Depending on what lodging you selected, after riding you are camping out or sleeping in a dorm room.
  7. The first day of the ride is longest; the day of the ride is all hills.
  8. If my Father ever says “it’s all down hill from here” to me again, i will probably clobber him.

I threw number six in to make sure nobody thought we were staying at the Four Seasons. I enjoy hiking and have certainly “roughed it” during other adventures so the concept of the Trek and camping/dorming did not bother me. The one thing that probably bothered me was how over-the-top, Gung-ho my Dad was about this.

Since you don’t know my Dad, let me tell you he takes being passionate about something to an entirely new level. The man is not just passionate about cycling, he has multiple bikes hanging up in the basement for different types of terrain and cycling distances. (I am confident his bike collection is worth more than my shoe collection.) He lobby’s for cyclists rights, he teaches people safe cycling habits and techniques. And he likes to ride fast.

And this is where we get to what bothered me. At one point during my training, my Dad let it slip/joked/stated in a matter of fact way, that he would meet me at the finish line since he was confident i couldn’t keep up with him*. After nearly reaching through the phone to throttle him, i calmed down. And then i got competitive. Like, nobody-puts-baby-in-the-corner competitive. Picture me: “oh really, i can’t keep up with you? i’ll show you.” Looking back on my childhood and this conversation, i’ve come to realize this is my Dad’s way of supporting and motivating me.

And that actually did motivate me. I repeated that exchange before every spin class and distance ride for four months. And i did it right up until the last six weeks before the ride when i was traveling non-stop for work and got violently ill the week before i had to ride. Oops.

Despite needing some major meds, i did the ride and i did okay. Yeah, yeah, my goal was pretty low: don’t walk up any hills and cross the finish line before or ahead of my Dad.

I’m undecided if i’ll do it again next year but not because i didn’t enjoy hanging out with my Dad and seeing him in his glory. The training just takes so much time. As a trekker with asthma, i actually should have trained a lot more than i did. If i had put in some longer rides, i bet my lungs would have been a lot happier with me. The thing is, i just don’t know how you balance working full-time, a house/chores and needing to ride a minimum of five hours every weekend. Also, it’s a looooooong haul from DC to Bethel, Maine. In fact, at one point i jokingly asked my Dad if we were going to do any cycling since all i had done for two days was sit in a car.

And yet, when i look at this picture of me and my Dad, i realize its probably predetermined that i’ll be back next year. My Dad is a pretty happy guy, but i can’t remember the last time i saw him smile this much (even after he witnessed just how bad i am in the morning)!

Me and Dad at the Trek Across Maine staging area, two miles before the finish line.
Me and Dad at the Trek Across Maine staging area, two miles before the finish line.

*writers note: i am confident that at some point my Dad will read my blog and this post. Therefore, i acknowledge this is not his quote verbatim. This is what i heard from our conversation.