• Patrick Gabrion

Definitely a Challenge

"If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes." ― Mark Twain


Needless to say, I liked the weather just fine on Sunday while participating in the 100-mile Cadillac Challenge in Bar Harbor. It was a crisp 37 degrees, with cloudy skies, for the 8 a.m. start. The day's forecast called for dry conditions, with a high temperature of 58.


Well, Twain's quote ended up coming into play. And although the wait was a few hours — instead of a few minutes — the desired effect was anything but pleasurable. Simply put, nearing the 35-mile mark it started to rain ... and it never really stopped.


Yes, a challenging bicycle ride became an even bigger challenge. Wet falling from the sky, wet being sprayed by passing vehicles, wet cycling clothes, wet bike, wet food; you get the picture. When it was over, I was just plain soaking wet — and cold; it never got "hotter" than 54 degrees.


The smile quickly disappeared when the rain started.

The brutal conditions, which included going up and down so many hills I lost count, also put a damper on what I consider to be one of the most scenic rides anywhere in the nation. The beautiful views along the Maine coast on this particular day would never make the front of a picture postcard, unless you like depicting an image of raw, gray ugliness.


One bright moment was when I chatted with a fellow Michigander who was playing tourist in Acadia National Park. We ran into him during one of our rest stops. He was from Belmont, just outside of Grand Rapids, and he and his wife were thoroughly enjoying their visit to the Pine Tree State.


Anyway, there were a total of 102 cyclists participating in the Cadillac Challenge. Jon and I turned out to be two very old wise men as it turned out. Because of Sunday's unexpected baptism of bicyclists, we called it quits after 83 miles. But, having arrived the day before, we did a 14-mile jaunt to loosen up the legs, which included going up to the summit of Cadillac Mountain. So we did a century in two days; actually three miles short of 100, but close enough as far as I'm concerned.


We had a nice evening on Saturday with a good meal, despite the town of Bar Harbor being wall-to-wall with people; mostly out-of-staters as evidenced by the license plates. Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to do next year's event, the 30th edition and, unfortunately, possibly the final one. Just as long as it's not raining.


While Sunday's ride could be categorized as not very pleasant, I experienced something far worse this past Wednesday. I lost my mom to cancer. Along with her countless wonderful qualities, she was my SAG wagon lady during my 2002 North Carolina-to-Texas bike ride; a successful trip only made possible by her presence. Thank you for everything mom and I love you.

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