5@50 April 27, 2015

It’s been a while. So, sue me.

I could lie and say I was busy, but I won’t. I’ll tell you the truth: the weather was too darn miserable.

This set of pictures, this whole one-lens-no-cropping-no-Photoshop experiment, requires me to walk around the city. I’m mostly cold-proof but I just couldn’t bring myself to hang around outside. Nobody else was around anyway. They were all scurrying to and fro.

In the future, I’ll try and stick closer to my once-a-week goal.

Anyway, now the weather’s getting better and there’s more to see on the streets of my dear old town. I hope you like what I saw.


Glenburn couple cheers on Kenduskeag racers

GLENBURN, Maine —  For the last 15 years, Bob and Nancy Noyes have been lifting the spirits of many canoe and kayakers just before they hit Six Mile Falls during the annual Kenduskeag Stream Canoe Race.

With various cavalry charge songs coming from Bob’s bugle, and Nancy filling in with the “Charge!” it’s hard to not be in high spirits when passing in front of their waterfront property.

“It’s a long haul from Kenduskeag down to here. They’re pretty tired by the time they get here,” explained Bob. “I’ve been playing [the bugle] since I was a little feller.”

As droves of boats passed in front of the property, some racers yelled out requests.

“Play Taps!” yelled one.

“Play Bugle Boy!” yelled another.

“They seem to enjoy it. The one’s that aren’t real serious about it ask for it. It’s something they expect every year,” said Bob.

As the last few racers made their way past the Noyes’, Bob played his bugle one last time for the racers. As the cheers from the racers died down, one gentleman made sure the Noyes’ knew how much they meant to him.

“You guys inspire me every year,” the racer yelled as he headed down the stream.

Photographing while on skates

Sometimes you have to gear up to get a photo.

That’s what I did to cover the announcement of Great Skates Entertainment Center closing in a year. For the first time in about ten or so years I put on roller skates.

I was a little nervous at first, since falling would undoubtedly result in broken gear. But after awhile I found my groove and became confident I wouldn’t fall.

My main concern was running people over. I have no idea how to stop besides letting friction take over. So I had to carefully time my speed to be able to get close to skaters without getting too close. This also makes it super hard to capture moments that were stationary while moving.

But I made it work the best I could. The video came out pretty cool being able to follow skaters as they made their way around the rink, something I wouldn’t have been able to do without skates on.

Taking chances and risks is part of this job, this time it paid off. Besides, I got paid to go roller skating for 20 minutes.

A year later, the good life

goodlife_ 003.jpg

One year ago today we launched “The Good Life” a project retracing the “Back-to-the-land-movement” during the 60s and 70s in Maine.

The BDN was honored with an Online Journalism Award in 2014 for the project. We had photographers and reporters share the stories of different Mainers who have made this lifestyle, their way of life.

Photographer Troy Bennet recorded a full soundtrack of banjo music we coined “banjournalism.”

Gabor Degre visited the Nearing’s farm, two people who are credited with the surge of people from “away” to Waldo County with their book “The Good Life.”

I travelled to California to see a woman who grew up in Monroe with no running water who now works for biotech company in San Francisco. Finally I was able to spend time with John McIntire and his partner Nancy Rosalie who shared their treasured way of living with me, and allowed me into their home with open arms.

“The Good Life.”

Teams compete in Zimmerman Memorial Fitness Challenge in Orono

ORONO, Maine — Just after noon on Saturday more than 40 teams of four set out to compete in a test that would push them physically and mentally.

The fifth annual 1st Lt. James R. Zimmerman Memorial Fitness Challenge at the University of Maine campus in Orono had teams competing through a six-plus mile course of Marine Corps-like tasks.

Teams first faced a 3-mile team pack run where a weighted pack was passed around throughout the team around 12 laps of the university mall. After completing the run, teams made their way behind the baseball field to complete a variety of combat fitness movements including buddy carries, bear crawls and crab walks. Then it was off into the woods for a 3-mile run with five fitness stations ranging from burpees to team pushups. Once out of the woods, the teams’ upper bodies were tested with pullups, situps, pushups and dips. Once over 700 movements were made, teams made their way back toward the start to crawl through a mud pit toward the finish.

The Zimmerman Memorial Fitness Challenge was established in 2011 to honor and remember 1st Lt. James R. Zimmerman who was killed by small arms fire while leading his Marines in Afghanistan in 2010. Zimmerman, a Houlton native, graduated from UMaine’s Navy ROTC in 2008 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps.

The Marsh and Saudabscook Stream racers get wet and wild

Visuals editor Brian Feulner spent the weekend photographing two canoe races in the Bangor area, the Saudabscook Stream race on Saturday and the Marsh Stream race on Sunday. Racers paddled through miles of white water filled with class two and three rapids where some lost their balance, paddles and boats.  The Kenduskeag Stream Race is scheduled for Saturday, April 25 and brings racers from all over New England and Canada.

View more photos from the Souadabscook Stream Race
View more photos from the Marsh Stream Race

Pushing past your comfort: Running “Bridge the Gap”

Text by Ashley L. Conti
Photos by Nick Sambides, Rachelle Bourgoin and Matthew Moore

Last Sunday morning I woke up a little nervous.


Because in a few hours I was going to be running a 10-mile race. The Bridge the Gap race had runners travel over the Penobscot Narrows Bridge where they encountered an endless supply of hills while traveling around  Verona Island.

I have always been an athletic person. I played soccer my entire life and even played DIII collegiate soccer at Rochester Institute of Technology, but running was never my thing. If you would have asked me a year ago to run a mile, I would have done it but would have felt horrible after. Ten miles never seemed like a distance I would ever be able to run.

But something changed. One day I decided I wanted to get back into soccer shape, so I started running.  A few miles here and there slowly turned into 12 miles a week, which turned into hitting 90 miles last month.

My body started craving longer and longer distances, so I gave in. Two mile runs turned into four miles, four miles turned into six miles, six miles turned into doing 13 miles on my day off because I could.

So Sunday I wasn’t nervous about not finishing, I was nervous about how far I could push myself. How long I could hold my pace. How long I could ignore that little voice in my head telling me to stop.

The weather was perfect, finally a spring day.

At 10 a.m. the race started and a wave of runners started across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge. My running partner and I took off. We were holding about a 7:30/mile pace. Perfect.

At mile five something went wrong.  My running partner was having issues with his leg, it was cramping bad. Not wanting to leave him, I walked with him for about three quarters of a mile. My legs started to get tight from slowing down. I told my partner I was sorry, but I had to go.

I’m competitive and I tried my best to pass all the people who had passed us while we had slowed down. I got my pace back up to just under 8 minutes a mile. But the slow down/walk to speed up weakened my legs and I had to knock my pace to 8:30/mile.

Miles seven through nine were a blur, up and down more hills. So many hills, they seemed endless. My main focus was keeping my legs from stopping. My lungs felt terrific, my legs were feeling heavy. I kept pushing.

With half a mile left, I kicked it up. I felt tired, but not exhausted. I wanted to finish strong.

As I came over the final hill the finish line finally came into sight. I stepped it up again.

About 100 feet from the finish I looked to the sidelines at the spectators cheering everyone on and noticed someone taking photos of me. Why would anyone be taking photos of me?

As I ran closer the person looked more familiar. Then she removed her sunglasses and I was shocked. My friend, whom I hadn’t seen in months while she backpacked through Asia, was standing there. I didn’t even know she was back in the States. I ran over and gave her the biggest hug ever. In shock I sprinted across the finish line, 1:28:10.

Not the best time in the world, not the worst either. But I’m proud of myself.

I ignored my body telling me to stop, that it was too hard, and pushed myself. One step closer to achieving the real reason for running, hitting 30-miles at the World’s Toughest Mudder.

“Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers” showcase Maine’s best skateboarders

Parts in order of appearance:
Alex Winslow 01:14
Tyler Gibbs 02:30
Street Interlude 03:55
Garrett Brooks 04:38
Dave Labbe 05:16
Matt Seavy 06:17
Barroom Interlude: 09:17
Friends Interlude 09:34
Sean Hernandez & Tim Nichols 13:25
Jay Brown 14:44
Mike Gustafson 17:32
Credits 20:24

Filmed by Jimmy Collins and Joe Radano.
Edited by Joe Radano.

Portland skaters and filmmakers Jimmy Collins (left) and Joe Radano recently released a 25-minute video featuring Maine's best skateboarders. The video, released in conjunction with Step Dad magazine, was more than two years in the making. Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Portland skaters and filmmakers Jimmy Collins (left) and Joe Radano recently released a 25-minute video featuring Maine’s best skateboarders. The video, released in conjunction with Step Dad magazine, was more than two years in the making. Troy R. Bennett | BDN

From the time they first got on skateboards in grade school, Joe Radano, now 27, and Jimmy Collins, 29, have been filming their exploits with all the sick tricks — and hard falls — included.

The duo recently released a 25-minute video in conjunction with Step Dad magazine that looks to put Maine on the skating map. It features more than 20 of the state’s best boarders, all of whom are friends, skating in parks, under bridges, at constructions sites and shooting down Portland’s hills.

Filming commenced almost two-and-a-half years ago and, at first, they didn’t have a feature film in mind. They were just shooting their skating pals, as usual.

“It didn’t really start until we had a bunch of footage,” said Collins as he sipped a pint of beer in Portland’s Downtown Lounge.

They split their time behind the camera, often shadowing their subjects on skateboards, swerve-for-swerve, themselves. Then Radano spend the winter editing 30 months worth of footage together.

“It took about five months,” said Radano.

Maine, covered in snow for half the year, is not widely known for its skateboarding terrain. Radano and Collins hope their video will spread the word that Maine has a distinct skating culture and scene from, say, Boston.

“A lot of people don’t know that Maine has sick spots, too,” said Collins, a Bangor native. “People are ripping and killing it, here.”

The pair are already at work on their next project, working with Portland-based skate and apparel shop Recession. They’re not sure how long the next video will take, but they don’t care. It’s a labor of love and they’re not in it for the money.

“It’s hard work, but when you look at it, it’s just hanging with your friends,” said Collins. “So, it’s not that bad.”

Motorcycles on ice, circular track racing on Sebago Lake

Text and Photos by Robert F. Bukaty

RAYMOND, MAINE – Ask a biker why they race motorcycles on ice and you’ll most likely hear something like this: “Because I’m an adrenaline junkie…”

That’s exactly what Jamie-Lynn Worden, 25, of Gorham, said after an exhilarating practice ride on a circular track plowed on Sebago Lake’s Jordan Bay a few weeks ago.

Worden got in several quick laps around the track while her fiancé and nine-month-old son watched  from the edge of the frozen lake.

Ice racers use dirt bikes equipped with studded tires for traction. The tires, which sell for about $500 each, are put on a lathe to grind down the knobs on the right side of the tire. Then studs are put in the remaining knobs, enabling the riders to lean severely into left turns without sliding out.

Vito LaVopa, another rider out that day on Jordan Bay, is also an admitted adrenaline junkie. He says it’s an addiction he had since 1967.  That’s when his father took him out for a short ride on a bike he was fixing.

“He took me down the cul-de-sac on the tank and back,” said Lavopa, 50, a plumber from Windham.

Lavopa says he has always had a bike since age 11. On the ice Lavopa races a Kawasaki 250.

“I ride a high-end booster.  At the rear wheel I’ve got about 180 horsepower, “ he said.   Although he figures he hits about 50 miles per hour on the straightaways, he says the thrill of riding on ice doesn’t just come from the speed.

Anybody can twist the throttle and go fast, ” said Lavopa.  “But the corners are where it’s at.”