The CE Express led by Ken Smith (far right), president of Custom Electronics Inc., Falmouth, Maine, roars up to the Denver Convention Center to kick off the CEDIA convention.


The CE Express cross-country bicycle team roared up to the Denver Convention Center as scheduled, Sunday, Sept. 10, in its quest to raise money for cancer research.

The 2,212.4-mile odyssey that began Aug. 19 in Augusta, Maine, climaxed at the convention center where the exposition of the Custom Electronic Design Installation Association (CEDIA), was opening in Denver.

Led by Ken Smith, president of Custom Electronics Inc., Falmouth, Maine, and CEDIA’s new president, the team weathered the near one-month-long ride with help from its friends and was joined by another team of bicyclists from California that had pedaled through western Colorado to meet them in Denver.

Smith recounted several occasions on the trip when people spontaneously donated to the cause. “We were just finishing for the day in Kansas when one guy who had a beater of a car came up and said, ‘Who do I donate to?’” Smith recalled. “He opened up his wallet and took out everything in there, $7, and handed it to me.” Smith said the man’s mother had cancer and he felt compelled to donate to the cause.

Another donor wanted Smith to meet with his son who had cancer, but their scheduling prevented it. They were able to telephone him, however, Smith said.

Smith was backstage at a Peter, Paul and Mary concert during his trip near Chicago, where a song about bicycling was dedicated to Smith’s effort to raise funds.

Smith’s employee, Jon Inman, accompanied him on most of the trip and remembers being chased by two huge Great Dane dogs who, after they gave up the chase, were replaced by a tiny dachshund.

“It was a great opportunity to see parts of the country you’ll never see any other way,” Inman said of the trip. He and Smith marveled that as they biked through Kansas and Nebraska, the elevation increased from 300 feet above sea level to the mile-high city in gradual daily increments of only 300 feet to 400 feet so the change was practically unnoticeable.

Ken Smith (center), president of Custom Electronics Inc., and Jon Inman (left), also of Custom Electronics, accept one of the many spontaneous donations for cancer research from Darryl Wright, one of the people they encountered during their cross-country bicycle odyssey.
A few accidents occurred along the way and some equipment breakdowns, but mostly it was a lot of flat tires, Smith reported.

“The opportunity to do it again is huge,” Smith said of doing a ride again next year to the CEDIA Expo. However, doing it as more of a relay so no one has to bike the entire distance and take that much time off work is being considered.

Joining Smith along parts of the race were president Frank Stearns of Niles Audio Corp. and Speakercraft president Jeremy Burkhart, who sponsored the trip.

Meeting Smith and Inman in Denver from western Colorado were Mark Hoffenberg, president of AudioVisions, Bob Schuppe, Thurlow Rogers, Bob Walpert and Paul Self. Rogers and Hoffenberg are world-class cyclists, said Smith.

A kiosk at the CEDIA Expo was staffed to raise funds for the ride. “It’s a devastating disease of epidemic proportions and it needs to be stopped,” Smith asserted.

Contributions can still be made even though the ride is completed. Proceeds from the CE Express bike tour will be donated equally to the Lance Armstrong Foundation and the Harold Alfond Center for Cancer Care in Maine.

More information about the CE Express is available by visiting www.weallknowsomeone.org or www.ce-express.com, where a blog is located.

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