Profile: Cory Lathrop

Editor's Note: Cory is a friend I met through cycling. Simply put, he just loves riding a bike and I hope that he and I can share the road together more often in the future.

Name: Cory Lathrop

Age: The big 50 on June 12

Residence (town): Sidney, Maine

Occupation: Fixed Operations Director, Charlie's Family of Dealerships

Why do you ride?

The poster on my wall says it best — "I don't ride my bike to win races nor do I ride to get places, I ride to escape this world, I ride to find peace with myself, I ride to feel free and I ride to feel strong."

In my own words, I ride because when I'm finished I feel exhausted and refreshed at the same time. I'm extremely competitive with myself and am always working to become a stronger rider.

Cory at the finish line of the 2017 RAGBRAI standing in the Mississippi River.

Do you remember your first bike? If money was no object, is there a bicycle you would really like to have?

The first bike I rode was my sister's purple Huffy with a banana seat I think. I recall getting pushed down the front lawn and crashing! The first bike I really started getting hooked on riding on the road was a Trek 10-speed that my parents got me from Bath Cycle back in 1983. I kept that until well into my adult years.

When I got back into cycling 14 years ago, I bought an entry-level Trek carbon-fiber chassis from Kennebec Bike and Ski. As my interest and ability increased, I bought a Trek Madone a few years later and am now riding a Project One Trek Emonda with SRAM Red. I'm working on my dream bike now — a Project One Trek Domane SLR disc with SRAM ETAP AXS. I don't skimp on my bikes, as when you weigh 240 pounds and have a bit of power and not much finesse, I can break things, especially when of lower quality.

You are a past participant in RAGBRAI and will be doing it again this July. For those who don’t know, the acronym stands for the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, a non-competitive week-long event. Please describe for us what it’s like. Would you recommend it as a must-do kind of thing? What will you be doing differently this time around having taken part once before?

RAGBRAI is best discussed in person, as the passion it creates in a cyclist is beyond words, but I'll give it a shot. Picture the longest two-lane blacktop road you've ever seen, stretching through farmland. At the end of the road you see a very tall water tower with the next town's name on it, and you think to yourself, "Cool we'll in the next town shortly." Between you and the water tower all you see on the road are bikes; not 10, not 100, not 1,000, but thousands of bikes. Not one bike wide, not two bikes wide, but 10 bikes or more wide — all you see are bikes and people.

As you ride along, each bike has a RAGBRAI license plate on the back with the person's name and where they are from, so when you ride up to somebody you can address them by name — it's so much fun. And the bikes are not just road bikes; there are road bikes, mountain bikes, fat bikes, beach bikes, unicycles, tri-cycles. Bikes towing dogs in trailers, bikes with two people, bikes with three people, Quads, bikes with clothed people, bikes without.

You ride along for the next hour, look up and that water tower — you still see it and it's still hours away. Each town is filled with people selling food, drinks, pies. There are tractor shows, live music, bike expos, dinners at the local churches, schools, fire stations and bikes — did I mention bikes? — there are lots of bikes. It is without comparison the largest bike event in the world.

If you like people and like to cycle, RAGBRAI needs to be a bucket list item, but be prepared — you'll go back! We are going back this year and plan to do things a bit different. We are renting an RV so we can have air conditioning for sleeping and have some family along to enjoy all the towns and activities. I plan to spend a lot more time along the ride visiting the towns and meeting more people.

You have been involved with the Trek Across Maine fundraiser. Do you believe the new route, which begins and finishes in Brunswick, will help refresh this event?

Loaded question! Some of you may or may not know, this new route was a project assigned to me and I immediately asked one of my best friends in the world, Scott Humphrey, to join me on the project. The entire deal came about after the ALA and Trek staff asked for a debrief on RAGBRAI, that I happily provided in person.

We were charged with coming up with a new route and only given a handful of restrictions, but with the number one goal of making the ride more accessible and inviting. Scott and I worked on aligning the ride with the mission of the American Lung Association, adding in items like community involvement, sponsor locations, reducing logistical nightmares and, most of all, do all this while putting it in a location that could increase ridership and fundraising. I won't get into dollars, but the previous Trek had become a very costly event and was not generating usable funds at the level needed nor the level wanted by the leadership board.

The new route takes us through some of the quintessential pieces of Maine. Day 1 is coastal — not so you can kind of see the coast, we ride on the coast! A Day 1 rest stop is at one of the Trek's most faithful sponsors — the L.L. Bean flagship store in Freeport. Nothing is more Maine than the coast and L.L. Bean! Day 2 leaves Bates College in Lewiston and heads upward through the hills of Leeds and then along the lakes of Central Maine — and we are riding just feet off the water for miles and miles. We worked in a rest stop on Day 2 at Hammond Lumber in Belgrade, one of our newest sponsors. Day 3 we ride through downtown Augusta, the state capital, then the farmlands of Dresden, and over the Bath bridge with full view of Bath Iron Works.

The ride starts and stops at Brunswick Landing, the former Brunswick Naval Air Station. The logistics of starting and stopping in one spot have opened up so many options for people from outside the area that we are seeing a major lift in registrations. You can now drive to the start/finish, take a bus to the start/finish, take the train, or you can even fly in your private plane and land feet from the starting line. We have groups working on community involvement and it should grow to become an even greater Trek experience.

Do you think Maine is a bike-friendly state?

From my experiences, yes. I'd like to see us keep working on it with more education, more signage, more two-way respect. I see many cyclists not following the rules of the road and would like to encourage everyone to think first, look second, then react. It's important to put ourselves in the other person's spot and respect everyone's space to travel.

Do you have a favorite route or event ride?

Right now it's RAGBRAI; who knows going forward. But I have a limited experience level.

And finally, any tips for others on bike safety, bike maintenance, etc.?

A clean bike is a happy bike!

Know a cyclist who would be an interesting person to profile? Please drop me an email under the Contact heading or leave a comment and we might make them a blog "star."

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