Friday, June 21, 2024

Trek Across Maine cyclists stop overnight at Saint Joseph’s College

By Ed Pierce

Participants in the 40th Trek Across Maine fundraiser enjoyed perfect weather in accomplishing their goal of completing 180 miles by bicycle last weekend peddling through some of the most scenic terrain in the Pine Tree State.

Riders in the Trek Across Maine reach the finish line of the
second segment of the 180-mile event at Saint Joseph's
College in Standish on Saturday, June 15. More than 600
riders departed the following morning to ride to Brunswick
to complete the journey which raises money from pledges
for the American Lung Association in Maine.
Starting on Friday, June 14 in Brunswick and then riding to Lewiston before spending the night there at Bates College, Trek Across Maine riders arrived Saturday, morning June 15 and into the afternoon in the Lakes Region, staying overnight at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish. On Sunday, June 16, riders completed the event by peddling back to Thomas Point Beach in Brunswick for a total of 180 miles.

The Trek Across Maine event is the primary annual fundraiser for the American Lung Association in Maine and participants once again were able to collect more than $1 million in pledges for riders completing the trek.

George Eastman of Pittston rode in his 25th consecutive Trek Across Maine this year and is the events’ logistics coordinator.

He said the most difficult aspect of the event for him each year is always finding enough time to get the miles in training.

“Riding for a cause is near and dear to my heart,” Eastman said. "When you can't breathe, nothing else matters. It seems that every year I always have friends or family to ride for, or in memory of, and I don't want the ‘in memory of’ list to grow so fast. There will always be someone to ride for until we can get people to understand that breathing clean air is important and inhaling poison by smoking will kill you sooner or later.”

Eastman says what is poignant year after year for him in participating in the Trek Across Maine is that there are too many people that have lung disease be it lung cancer, COPD, asthma, and breathing is something that most healthy people take for granted. By doing this ride and volunteering, he feels that he is making a difference and giving back to those that have a hard time breathing for whatever reason.

According to Eastman, over the years, he and his wife have lost six family members to lung cancer or other types of lung disease, so it is personal to them, but they ride in the event for anyone with lung issues.

Something that he’s learned about the American Lung Association that he did not know before he started doing the Trek Across Maine is what the organization does for lung health.

“They’re fighting for clean air, they have made it so there is no smoking allowed in many public places, they have research teams working on how to treat lung diseases, programs to keep kids from starting to smoke and the list goes on,” Eastman said.

The American Lung Association’s mission to research, educate, and advocate to prevent lung disease and promote lung health and funds raised during the Trek Across Maine each year support laws protecting clean air, and asthma and COPD research, lung education, education, advocacy, and research to help prevent and treat lung-related afflictions.

What stands out the most to him is that he can ride 180 miles on a bicycle and still do at the age of 73 and that he has been able to raise over $1,000 and most times more every year since he’s started riding in the event.

“Over the 25 years I've raised over $30,000 to help people breathe easier,” Eastman said. “My wife has said she thinks I may be the oldest trekker someday...we will see. I do really enjoy it.”

He rode in this year's Trek Across Maine on a Trek 1000C bicycle.

“As long as one doesn't have too many flat tires it's not too hard. I didn't have any this year,” he said. “I try to do most of my own maintenance, but I do take it to a shop once a year before the Trek and have it inspected which is required by the American Lung Association before I ride, and at that time if there is anything that needs work I have them do it.”

From riding for 25 years every year in the Trek Across Maine, Eastman has also learned something he never knew previously about himself.

“I’ve learned that if you set your goals and your mind to it and work for them one can do anything,” he said. “I never thought I could ride a bicycle 10 miles let alone 180 over three days or raise as much money as I have.” <

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