Today was the Dempsey Challenge, a 100, 50, 25 or 10 mile bike ride with also a 5k run/walk in Lewiston, Maine. It was a large fundraiser for the The Patrick Dempsey Center at Central Maine Medical Center that “provides free support, education and wellness services to cancer patients and caregivers”.
I had heard about it on a local news program during the off season and my friend encouraged me to sign up when the registration opened so I did. Good thing because they capped registration at 3500 participants and actually filled it weeks before the event!
This summer the call had gone out to the club I race for, PVC, looking for ride ambassadors. I figured since I was going to be there I might as well ride as an ambassador so I volunteered. Luckily I was selected as an ambassador for the 50-mile ride. Whew! The century that I originally registered for, I found out later, was extremely hilly. I was thankful to be required to ride the shorter route.
Duties as a ride ambassador include chatting with people to make them feel good about the ride, especially if it was raining, helping with any mechanicals, and calling for a SAG wagon if needed. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with people throughout the ride, asking everyone stopped along the road if they were okay or needed assistance, and changing one flat tire.
It also gave me an opportunity to chat with local cyclist, OA/Cyclemania and PVC member, and fellow ambassador, Bob Baiguy. Super nice guy and I enjoyed riding with him for a few miles.
The weather was predicting rain all week. As we got closer to the weekend it started looking up a bit with only showers in the forecast, instead of heavy rains. I’m happy to report there was no rain whatsoever. Just some wet roads that dried by mid-day, and only some heavy fog to contend with on one descent.
Before the start of the ride I had seen George Hincapie and Ted King go by me towards the start line. I had a couple friends hold my bike as I made my way through the ever growing crowd to snap some pictures of them. Since they were standing around with no one with them, I asked if I could have my photo taken with them. They were gracious enough to oblige:
Ted King, me, and George Hincapie. I felt like I had won the lottery!
Unfortunately I missed seeing Dave Zabriskie but managed to snap a photo as he was leaving and I was settling in for a lobster after the ride. (Yup, you ride the Dempsey Challenge and they give you a lobster dinner at the end of the event.)
Photo by my friend, Spencer Reed.
I was questioning my fitness going into the event and spent a couple days on the trainer to loosen the legs a bit prior to the ride. Even though I didn’t ride the loop fast, due to my duties, I felt pretty good and didn’t struggle over the climbs like I thought I might. I did, however, start to cramp after 45 miles, despite a Cliff Shot and some margarita shot bloks, Accelerade and water. I also experienced a bit of intestinal discomfort a few miles from the finish. I probably should have taken an almond butter & jelly sandwich with me for some “real” food.
It was nice to be on the Scott again. I know I’ve said it before, but this bike rocks! The Scott has my climbing cassette (12/27) on it so it was the one I wanted for the hills.
The course was a nice one, winding through great country roads in central Maine during foliage season. The sun would have made the foliage a bit more vibrant but it was a relatively mild day for this time of year.
I think the event was probably successful enough that it will become an annual event. You might add it to your cycling event calendar in the future!