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Ready for a Challenge

Jon atop Cadillac Mountain in Maine in 2020 ... before the rain.

With the race of speed out of the way, my focus has pivoted toward a ride of endurance. And I'll need plenty of physical stamina for this Sunday's 100-mile Cadillac Challenge.

This will be my third time participating in this particular century, although I've actually signed up for it on five occasions. One no-show was due to severe weather conditions, while I missed last year's event because of my big crash in the Northwoods Gravel Grind.

My first Challenge occurred in 2013 — a ride I did with Alan and Jon. A federal government shutdown that October barred us from entering Acadia National Park, so our total distance was only 82 miles, which we accomplished in five hours and 49 minutes. I remember it being very cold temperature-wise and, to this day, we still thank Alan for bringing enough booties for all three of us. Frigid feet averted.

Number two was certainly a challenge. It took place in 2020, with Jon once again joining the fun. The day started out dry and comfortable, but at about mile 35 the skies opened up. The heavy rain, which never appeared in that day's forecast, and temps in the mid-50s finally convinced us to stop pedaling after 83 miles. It was no longer fun.

Hopefully, I can achieve the entire 100 miles this time around.

This is actually the 31st running of the annual Cadillac Challenge. The one hundred participants begin the hours-long journey in Bar Harbor, then follow road markings throughout Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park. The big enchilada comes when we ascend — and then descend — Cadillac Mountain, a little hill at 1,527 feet, near the end of the trek. The two times I have ridden a bicycle up Cadillac, it took me a half hour.

The mountain is the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S. People have enjoyed the spectacular views from Cadillac Mountain — formerly Green Mountain — for thousands of years, as the area was the homeland of the Wabanaki people. European settlement on Mount Desert Island began in the 1600s and, soon after, the summit was used for mapping the coastline.

It is, indeed, the most picturesque century I've ever done. And the hardest, with its nearly 7,000 feet in elevation gain. And, unfortunately, I'll be doing it without any of my buds. But cyclists are a friendly lot, so I'm sure I won't be alone.

Just like the Maine Senior Games, I will be using my 2017 Trek Domane road bike, with its 11-32 cassette — which is awesome for those wishing to pedal upward. Leading up to the affair, I have been putting in plenty of 30-to-45-mile rides. This will be my 26th century, having done my first one at age 49. I'll let you know what happens. Stay safe!

Editor's note: So sorry for my friend Jeff in Texas for the recent passing of his mom. On a couple of occasions, Kay took the whole gang out for dinner and she took care of me in Austin when I got sick during the Lance Armstrong Ride for the Roses weekend in 2003. She was a grand lady!

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