Ken Smith, president of Custom Electronics Inc., Falmouth, Maine, was pumped to raise funds for cancer research before leading bicyclists on a 2,200-mile trek from this bank in Augusta, Maine, to the CEDIA Expo in Denver.

“Over the past few years, I’ve had a number of really close friends who either had [cancer] themselves and in a couple of cases actually died, and in other cases they’ve had it and are survivors,” related Ken Smith, president of Custom Electronics Inc., Falmouth, Maine, and vice president of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA), Indianapolis.

“I got to thinking about it — I can’t cure cancer, but I was tired of sitting by and watching helplessly as people I care about are hurting and dying,” Smith emphasized. “I decided that all I can really do is help get the resources to the right people to help them cure this disease, and that’s better than sitting by and waiting and watching. It’s at least something I can do.”

At press time, Smith is leading a team of consumer electronics industry cyclists calling themselves the CE Express, across the United States from Augusta, Maine, to the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) Expo 2006 in Denver with a goal of raising $1 million for cancer research.

“We have an audacious goal of $1 million,” Smith toldSDMin an exclusive interview at the start of the journey. “The chances of raising that are pretty crazy unless we get some national attention. But if we can attract the attention of national television shows, then we have a good chance of making it. Otherwise, we’ll just make a lot of money.”

Smith’s epiphany to raise funds for cancer research occurred last year while cycling and thinking about cancer survivor Lance Armstrong’s seventh and final victory in the Tour de France bicycle race. It occurred to him that he could take advantage of the wave of popularity about bicycling to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation by cycling to the CEDIA Expo that was being held last year in Indianapolis.

Smith averaged 100 miles per day on his solitary trek last year to the Indianapolis expo. “I felt better and better through the whole ride,” he maintained. On a memorable ride around Lake Erie on last year’s trip, Smith battled a 25-mph headwind for 10 hours.

“That was the normal wind off the lake,” he stressed. “I’m going that same route so I expect it again.”

Last year, he also rode through rain in upstate New York that originated with Hurricane Katrina. “It rained and was a little windy — no big deal in terms of a hurricane, but the rain was pretty fierce, so I laid up one day in Niagara Falls,” he recounted. “The rain doesn’t bother me, but it really raises havoc with the equipment, and so when possible, I stay out of it. A bike race goes on rain or shine.”

This year’s estimated 2,200-mile journey began Aug. 19 in Augusta, Maine, and ends with a grand finale celebration Sept. 10 at the CEDIA Expo. Along the way, sponsored riders from around the country will join the tour.

The 22-day ride is sponsored by CE companies Niles Audio Corp. and Speakercraft. Niles Audio president Frank Sterns and Speakercraft president Jeremy Burkhart will join portions of the tour.

A CE Express send-off party and parade was held for the ride’s kick-off. Special guest Maine Gov. John Baldacci joined the team for the first few miles of the trek.

Smith will be accompanied by two other riders for the whole trip and will be joined by another who will leave from New York. Two more riders are scheduled to join him in Kansas and a sponsored team of four from California will bike for five days through the Rocky Mountains to meet him in Denver. The team funneled their donations through the CE Express.

The average mileage per day will be 111 miles with a daily range from 90 miles to 140 miles, Smith calculated.

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. Contributions can be made after the ride is completed.

More information about the CE Express is available by