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Father, son cyclists ride together from afar

Kevin Mainini, left, and his father, Chris, of Albuquerque, celebrate after completing their bicycle trek across Iowa in 2019. (Courtesy of Kevin Mainini)

Kevin Mainini had a grand plan for Father’s Day 2020.

The 29-year-old Albuquerque resident was set to join his father, Chris, for a dream bicycling vacation. They signed up to ride in the annual Trek Across Maine, a three-day, 180-mile adventure scheduled to conclude Sunday.

The prospect motivated both men to amp up their cardio training amid thoughts of culinary indulgence.

“We were looking forward to seeing Maine,” Kevin said, “and eating lobster every night.”

Unfortunately, this year’s Trek Across Maine is yet another dream rudely interrupted by COVID-19. Pandemic restrictions forced the ride, which averages roughly 2,000 annual participants, to adopt a radically different format.

Like so many other annual races, runs and excursions across the country, the Trek Across Maine has gone virtual for 2020. The American Lung Association fundraiser brought in more than $29 million over the event’s previous 35 years, but with the American economy struggling and no physical ride possible, adjustments were unavoidable.

This year’s fund-raising goal was cut to $637,500 with proceeds directed to COVID-19 research. Riders are asked to complete their 180 miles remotely by June 30 and log them through bike applications or other devices.

For the Maininis, that means rocky coasts, iconic lighthouse scenes and seafood feasts are no longer on the itinerary.

“It’s disappointing,” said Chris, who resides in Knoxville, Tennessee, and looked forward to cycling through Maine with his son. “It’s still a very good cause and we’ll find a way to get the miles in, but I’ll definitely miss the lobster.”

Cycling has long been a source of family fun and adventure for the Maininis. Chris, 63, has transitioned from mountain to road bikes in recent years and rides in various tours with his wife, Ann-Marie.

But since Kevin took a job at Sandia Labs and relocated to Albuquerque five years ago, he and Chris have made challenging bike excursions something of a father-son tradition.

“Actually, I think we’re working on my son’s bucket list,” Chris said with a chuckle. “He gets ideas and I get roped into them.”

Kevin’s most ambitious plan to date was last summer’s RAGBRAI – the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa. Chris admittedly found the prospect of a seven-day, 420-mile excursion was more than a bit daunting.

“It meant training like crazy and then camping out every night of the ride,” Chris said. “I’m not really a camping guy. They also tell you that Iowa’s really flat, but we found out there are lots of long, gradual hills in that state.”

Still, the Maininis completed the ride and celebrated the accomplishment together.

“It was awesome,” Kevin said. “The ride was challenging but it was a great bonding experience for me and my dad.”

Kevin had hoped for a similar experience this week. Riding in the American Lung Association’s fundraiser held extra meaning because his grandfather, Anthony, beat lung cancer several years ago.

With that in mind, Kevin plans to make the most of his virtual Trek Across Maine, even though he’ll be riding more than 2,000 miles from its regular starting line in Brunswick.

“I’ve been training,” Kevin said, “and I still want to do 180 miles in three days. I’m just planning to ride the Bosque Trail. It’s definitely not Maine, but it’s nice.”

Chris expects to log his trek miles around Knoxville but conceded he’s not as gung-ho as Kevin about the virtual event.

“It’s not the same,” he said. “I’ve gotten a little soft with my training, so I’ll just ride on and off and try to meet the soft deadline (June 30).”

Kevin Mainini plans to complete the 2020 Virtual Trek Across Maine on Albuquerque’s Bosque Trail. He and his father had planned to do the ride across Maine together. (Courtesy of Kevin Mainini)

Both Maininis remain hopeful their Father’s Day adventure is merely delayed, not dashed. Despite going virtual, this year’s Trek Across Maine has nearly 2,000 riders registered and had raised more than $470,000 for COVID research as of Friday with many virtual rides still to be logged. Organizers and riders alike hope the event is back on New England’s roadways in 2021.

“Yeah, going to Maine for this trek was kind of the whole point,” Kevin said, “but at least the money’s going to help fight the pandemic. Hopefully next year this will be over and we can do an actual trip to Maine.”

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