Trek Across Maine Celebrates 35 Years

A new route and more options for riders

On Friday, June 14, nearly 2,000 cyclists will put their feet to the pedals for the 35th annual Trek Across Maine, a bike ride that combines a great time with a great cause, to raise funds for the American Lung Association (ALA). To mark the anniversary, this year’s Trek features a new route, starting and finishing—on Father’s Day, June 16—at Brunswick Landing in Brunswick. In between, it will travel through Augusta, Auburn, Bath, Belgrade, and Freeport, with overnight stops at Bates College in Lewiston, and Colby College in Waterville. Riders can choose the one, two, or three day option.

The largest fundraising event of its kind in the country for the ALA, the Trek has raised more than $24 million over its 34-year history. Jeff Seyler, chief division officer for ALA’s Eastern Division, has been with the organization for 24 of those years. “The ALA is grateful for the Trek because of the money it raises for our mission, which includes research for lung diseases such as emphysema and COPD, as well as education and clean air advocacy efforts,” says Seyler. “And from a personal standpoint, I love that it’s become such a community-centric, family-oriented event. It hits all the marks.”

When the Trek began in 1985, organized bike rides were not as common as they are today, Seyler points out. “One of the cool things about the event is that it seems as if a large part of Maine’s population has either been on the Trek themselves or knows someone who rides in it,” he says. “Seventy-seven percent of participants are returning riders. That speaks to the strong community support, which is what makes such impressive fundraising possible.”

The 2019 route of 180 miles was created after surveying participants and the Trek’s leadership—draws new communities into the fold. “It gives us the opportunity to experience some new terrain and more of Maine, including multiple lakes,” says Seyler. “And by bringing it to more populated locations on the coast, we hope it will attract new families with kids, and make it easier for them to participate.” He also touts the single-day ride (about 60 miles) as a good option for first-time riders—especially families whose children are still in school—and reassures potential participants who might be daunted by the fundraising requirement. “We have tools to help folks raise the money online; once they get started, they realize it’s not so scary.”

Seyler is especially thankful for the nearly 700 volunteers who pitch in to make the Trek possible each year. “We don’t contract with an event management company; we’re proud that it’s grassroots and sweat equity,” he says. “I think that makes the Trek Across Make really strong because everybody involved takes pride and ownership of the event.”

Who rides in the Trek Across Maine…

South Portland | Fourth year

What or who inspired you to ride in Trek Across Maine?
Ben’s great-grandfather died of lung cancer. We all know someone that has been affected by some sort of cancer. The Trek not only supports a cause close to our hearts, but it’s full of joy and camaraderie.

What was a memorable moment from a ride?
Every year brings so many belly laughs, it’s hard to choose just one. But, two years ago we met an older gentleman named Jack. He had ridden the Trek every year and was still going strong into his eighties. His perspective on the Trek, and life in general, inspired us to live life to the fullest and savor every moment.

What would you tell someone who might be considering riding for the first time?
Young, old, big, or small, this is a ride for everyone. The organization and volunteers make the event so simple and stress free. You will get to meet some of the most amazing like-minded people, and you’ll make life-long friends along the way. The Trek is an adventure that always makes our annual highlight reel.

What are you most looking forward to on the ride in 2019?
We’re excited to experience the new route, and happy that we still get to stop at Colby on the second day. Tent City is one of our favorite days with live music, lawn games, and beer, and the food is always a treat.

Caribou | Fifth year

What or who inspired you to ride in Trek Across Maine?
I had taken a few years off but when my dear friend, Melanie Stewart Ring, was diagnosed with stage-four colorectal cancer and had spots found in her lungs, I knew it was time to jump back in, rally the troops, and ride for Mel. My co-captain Brent Jepson, who is also from Caribou, has ridden the Trek for 13 years!

What was a memorable moment from a ride?
Last year was an epic ride with a team that just kept growing for days leading into the Trek. The most memorable moment was having Mel arrive at Colby to see everyone come in from riding. It was great to see so many people from years past that had ridden with Mel show up and show their support at Team Tent City.

What would you tell someone who might be considering riding for the first time?
The thing that I would say to new riders is, even if you feel inspired to go by yourself, do it. I went alone my first Trek and I didn’t know a soul. I just felt inspired to ride. I ended up meeting some of my closest friends on that ride—including Mel.

What are you most looking forward to on the ride in 2019?
The thing I’m most excited about is that Mel has come out of this whole experience and is planning to ride this year. So I’m really excited that my friend who survived cancer is now able to get back into life. We’ve ridden hundreds of miles together, raised thousands of dollars, and had many laughs and experiences but, to see her ride her bike after all this just gives me goosebumps.

Pownal | Matt’s ninth year, Maisy’s fifth year, Rosie’s third year

What or who inspired you to ride in Trek Across Maine?
We really don’t have any heart-wrenching story that dragged us out to do this. I did the Trek a handful of times in my 20’s because it seemed like a fun thing to do for a great cause. Then I got really busy with raising little kids and took 15 years off. When Maisy was in the fourth grade, the idea to give it a whirl struck us on the way home from a ski trip. We borrowed a two-up tandem bike and away we went. Maisy and I did the Trek for two years, and on the third year, I stumbled across a tandem triplet on Craigslist and had to have it.

What was a memorable moment from a ride?
The first year with Maisy, arriving at University of Maine Farmington in the freezing cold rain, the field where we usually camp was flooded so we had to stay in the field house on the floor. That was fun, I think. The following year Maisy was not sure if she wanted to do the ride. I took the back seat as a parent and gave her the license to decide for herself, even though I really wanted to do it again. For strategic measure, when we were on a ski trip to Sunday River and we arrived at the mountain, I drove to Southridge Lodge, parked the truck where the Trek’s start corral is, shut off the engine, and waited a few long moments before asking if she had any thoughts about the Trek. She waited a few long moments and said she wanted to do the Trek with me again.

What would you tell someone who might be considering riding for the first time?
Do plenty of training, and ride often. Take a five-mile spin to get an ice cream, and some 20- or 30-mile rides if you choose. The physical work of pedaling all day is really quite easy. It’s not a race, you’ve got all day. The rest stops are well stocked and plentiful. But, be sure your behind is enjoying the ride as well. Also shoot for the winner’s circle with fund raising. Don’t ask grandma for ten bucks out of her fixed-income checkbook. Go find a local business and make them feel good about a two-hundred or five-hundred dollar donation. Chances are pretty good they will hop right onto your cause and, before you know it, you get an extra bag of swag and a faster check in.

What are you most looking forward to on the ride in 2019?
I’m sure the new route will be fun. The girls keep getting bigger and stronger. I feel better at 45 than I did at 25, so physically, these rides are not so challenging. But we really enjoy seeing a lot of faces that we only see at the Trek. We stand out like a sore thumb because the bike is big and odd.

To register, or for more information about the Trek Across Maine, visit

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