ACADIA NATIONAL PARK — The 28th annual Cadillac Challenge, a 68-mile and 100-mile bicycle ride in Acadia, is set for Sunday, Oct. 6.
The event, an “anti-fundraising,” “show up and ride” affair with no pre-registration and no fees aside from the park entrance fee, was the brainchild of Hampden residents Tony and Anne Mourkus. They organized the first Cadillac Challenge 28 years ago, according to current organizer Dean Read.
“Rest stops were sparse and support was limited to Tony riding around in his VW bus, and Anne and children staffing a couple of rest stops,” Read said.
“Over the years the ride grew up. The organization became too much for Tony and Anne alone, and we [Dean and Penny Read] started helping.”
A decade ago, the Mourkuses retired and the Reads took over the entire operation.
The routes start together at the MDI High School but split at the Town Hill Store where the 100 mile route goes right and around the back side of MDI. The 68 mile route turns left and heads down to the Somesville traffic light where the two routes come back together. Both routes go around Sargeant Drive and Northeast Harbor on their way to Bar Harbor. The riders then ride around the Park Loop Road and up Cadillac Mountain before heading back to the high school to finish the ride. Rest stops are at the Tremont Community School (100 mile riders only), Northeast Harbor Marina, Fabbri Picnic Area (new last year) and finally at the top of Cadillac Mountain. The NEH rest stop is the biggest rest stop featuring chicken salad wraps in addition to standard rest stop fare.
The ride has a dedicated group of volunteers. Voluntary contributions from riders are accepted to cover costs.
When money is left over after covering direct expenses, funds are donated to organizations that support the ride, like the YMCA that loans tables and water coolers, the YWCA that provides tables, Rotary that provides tents and staffs the NEH rest stop and the MDI High School Eco Team that staffs the Fabbri rest stop.
“This is a ride for the riders, and a showcase of MDI with its early fall colors,” Read said. “If you see groups of riders Oct. 6, give them a waive and some encouragement.”