If only Patrick Dempsey had time to ride.
He stopped his work in Hollywood and paused before a flight to Europe Wednesday to talk about his upcoming charity ride in Maine and his hopes for the event.
In its inaugural year, the Dempsey Challenge will be staged in Lewiston near the actor's hometown of Buckfield, bringing in riders and runners from 32 states and Canada, including at least four pro riders.
A cycling enthusiast, Dempsey hopes to ride the hilly 50-mile route off the little training he has had time for this summer. Mostly, he is looking forward to meeting Mainers from bike clubs and cyclists from around the state who have helped organize the event, which will raise funds for The Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope and Healing in Lewiston.
"The cyclists in Maine, I wanted to do something challenging for them and unite these different groups. I am a huge fan of cycling," Dempsey said in a phone interview from Los Angeles.
As big as the Dempsey Challenge will be with hilly 10-, 20-, 50- and 100-mile rides along with a festival beside the Androscoggin River, Dempsey wants to make the event even bigger in years to come. He hopes to turn it into a multi-day event with a cycle race, mountain bike trail rides and road rides along the coast.
"I want it to be big; that's why Medalist Sports came into it," Dempsey said of the Atlanta company that stages Lance Armstrong's charity rides that are held around the country.
"I'd like it to become quite an event," he said. "I have been talking to a lot of people who are big into cycling, and I'll be continuing to work with them I also want to get a lot of feedback from the Maine cycling clubs and see what we can do to improve upon this."
First and foremost, Dempsey said, the challenge will be a fundraiser for cancer patients and families, and, it is hoped, a gathering that inspires all people to live healthier.
"It's a great way to stay in shape," Dempsey said. "There is a big problem with obesity. People should get on a bike, and exercise, get into group riding, the socializing aspect of it, and the spirit of the thing.
"The cycling community, once you get into it, is a wonderful community. That's why I'm excited to meet all the people who are supporting us."
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: