WATERVILLE — Cory Lathrop, of Sidney, sat down to a couple slices of pepperoni pizza and a chocolate milk Saturday afternoon after completing the second 60-mile leg of the Trek Across Maine bicycle ride.

The 49-year-old said the weather was perfect for a 4- or 5-hour bike ride from the University of Maine at Farmington to the Alfond Athletic Center at Colby College.

So, Cory, how was the ride?

“Excruciating,” he said. “I haven’t trained much this year, and I’m paying for it.”

Lathrop, riding for Charlie’s Family of Dealerships, a presenting sponsor this year, is one of the top fundraisers for the American Lung Association and its annual event from the mountains to the sea.

Lathrop said he and his two teammates ride for fun and fundraising; it’s not about competing to see who finishes first.

“It’s a lot more fun than a marathon because you’re not really racing anybody,” he said under one of the many colorful tents at the finish line. “Most of these people you see every year, so that makes it kind of fun.”

Lathrop said raising money for the American Lung Association for research, advocacy and education about lung disease is the primary reason for the 180-mile ride, in which he has participated for the past 13 years.

He said this year he has raised a little over $5,000, but over the years, with cycling team fundraising, his group has raised more than $300,000. Personally, he has raised close to $100,000.

“When you have been doing this as long as we have, each year you pick up a fundraiser and you keep them on board, so it’s more like a cumulative relationship fundraising than anything,” Lathrop said. “Whether you partner with a business, or you have friends or people who have had someone die from some type of lung disease and have a reason to fund-raise, you just keep them on board every year. The longer you do it, the easier it becomes.”

Kim Chamard, of Augusta, staff member of the Trek fundraiser, said this year’s event, held on Father’s Day weekend, is the 34th annual Trek Across Maine.

“We are the largest fundraising event in the country for the American Lung Association, and we average $1.3 million each year,” Chamard said. “We’ve raised over $24 million in the past 34 years of this event.”

This year’s Trek Across Maine, which began Friday, is a three-day, 180-mile cycling event from Sunday River to Colby College to Belfast. More than 1,200 bicyclists and 600 volunteers participate.

On Friday, cyclists started at Sunday River in Newry and rode the first 60-mile section to the University of Maine at Farmington, where riders bedded down for the night. Then at 7 a.m. Saturday, they all got up, had breakfast and headed out for the second leg — another 60 miles, to Waterville, where they were greeted at the finish line by volunteers clapping, cheering, balloons and blasting music.

About noon Saturday, the digital DJ was playing “The Final Countdown” by the band Europe.

From Waterville, Trek cyclists mount their bikes again Sunday morning for the final leg to Belfast. Chamard said there are rest stops all along the various routes leading to the last mile on the waterfront in Belfast, completing the 180-mile Trek Across Maine.

Chamard said the gender breakdown for Trek riders is about evenly split — about 52 percent men and 48 percent women — as evidenced by a couple of women riders from Colby College.

“We are the Colby Biker Chicks,” said Kim-Lie Heng, 47, a custodian at the Mayflower Hill campus in Waterville, who finished her first Trek with Carol Hurney, 54, the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Colby.

“Everybody’s out to do the same thing. It’s all body sizes, all ages, all genders. Everybody’s just doing what they can,” Hurney said. “Everybody’s job is just trying to finish, or do what they can for that day. That’s really the goal.

“It’s not meant to be exclusive. It’s meant to be inclusive. For me this was a very special ride, because I was riding with a new friend and it’s celebrating my 20th year — 20 years ago I started a cross-country ride for the American Lung Association in Seattle to Washington, D.C.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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