Gearing up to beat back Lyme

MANCHESTER - A long time organizer and volunteer of the Gear Up For Lyme bike race - now in its 10th year - will be participating in the event for the first time on Saturday, Aug. 3.

Manchester resident Dave Quesnel, 67, will be making the challenging 3,200 foot, 5.4 mile up-hill climb to the summit of Mt. Equinox.

"I think Andy (Holzman, the organizer of the event) planted a seed in my mind once we got started and I could see what was going on. He said, 'I want to get you up that mountain. I'm going to get you up that mountain.'" Quesnel said.

In previous years Quesnel said he did not feel as though he was in good enough physical shape to participate in the race. About a year ago though, Quesnel began a more strenuous exercise regimen. The routine not only greatly strengthened his abdomen, but helped him to lose somewhere between 25 and 30 pounds.

"When I got on my bike this spring all of sudden I said 'Wow, I'm feeling pretty good. That hill wasn't so steep. This isn't that hard.' I'm a lot stronger and healthier than I've ever been," Quesnel said.

Quesnel will be one of likely more than 100 bikers participating in the event next Saturday.

Last year, there were 160 registrations for the race. So far, that number is down by about 25 percent. However, Holzman believes that will change by race day.

"In the last week we get the lion's share of our registrations. So, we're about nine days away right now from the end of our registration. We do take race day, or day of, registrations on Saturday morning and Friday afternoon," said Holzman. "So, frankly I still think there's a very good chance we're going to be even with where we were last year. I do think we'll see a lot of last minute registrations this year; more so than normal."

Holzman said that people may also register on the day of the race from 6-7 a.m. prior to the start of the race at 8 a.m.

Amy Verner of Battenkill Sports - one of the sponsors of the event - will also be participating in the race. Verner began competing in the race last year to support the cause.

"It is for Lyme Disease and I am trying to encourage local people to ride it and not use it necessarily as a race," Verner said. "It's part of the BUMPS series so it seems every year there are lots of riders riding it, but you know they're almost pro status and they're using it as a training exercise and I was just trying to get local people to have fun and try to do it."

BUMPS is a series of races that takes place from May 11 to Oct. 6 with races taking place at Wachusett, Whiteface, Okemo, Ascutney, Equinox, Burke, Greylock, Mt. Kearsage, Allen Clark and twice at Mt. Washington.

Ken Cestone of Bennington - who has competed in almost every race and holds the record for the 60-69 age group - is looking forward to competing in the 10th anniversary of the event for a couple of reasons.

"It's the first race that I ever participated in," said Cestone. "It's also the first mountain that I got a record. I established a record for my age group. So, yeah for those reasons."

Proceeds from the race are split 50/50 between the Lyme Disease Association and the other charities of the Manchester Rotary Club, which include academic scholarships for graduating seniors.

While Holzman said he is unsure of what to expect in terms of revenue, he said the race


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