I’ve been riding the Pan Mass Challenge for 28 years, usually biking from Sturbridge to Provincetown MA, about 200 miles in two days. Some years I am unable to join in on that first week in August so I do a “virtual PMC” where I still raise money for the Jimmy Fund, and ride from Stow to Provincetown, take the ferry to Boston, then ride home, all in a day.
My goal for 2016 is to raise $9000 from all my wonderful sponsors, which would bring the total you all have donated to $200,000 for all my rides. You are the best! If you want to donate, head over to my corner of the PMC web site.
This year my Boy Scout troop picked the last week of July and first week of August for our High Adventure trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. That is the same time as the PMC, so I had to go virtual. Glacier NP is home of the legendary Going to the Sun Road, built in the 1930s so I had my route picked out.
There was a catch. About 10 days before the trip, I smacked into a post while on a training ride with fellow Team Lick Cancer members. Sprained both wrists and a rib, but luckily no injuries from when a buddy ran over my legs. So I went into this trip with no training and a sore back.
I flew to Kalispell with my Ritchey Breakaway travel bike, a full backpack for the back country, and an oversize suitcase for this 2 ½ week trip. My back was not happy schelping all this into my little rental car. In my West Glacier hotel I assembled the bike, and early on Sunday July 24, headed into the park, navigating the lower roads.
My first stop is Logan Pass, about 20 flat miles followed up by about 10 miles up. Not the steepest road I’ve been on, but it starts at 3000 feet, higher than most anything back home. The right side has many steep drop-offs with just low granite walls providing protection, state of the art 1932. On the picture below you can see the road on the right, clinging to the edge of the mountain.
Made it to the top of Logan Pass in just a few hours. Here I am posing in front of someone else’s bike. Mine is the one without all the bags.
My real destination was St. Mary’s, another 20 miles east, and 2000 feet downhill. My sprained left wrist made it hard to shift into the big ring, but this trip only had two climbs and two descents, each 10-20 miles long, so it was tolerable. (Odd thing, my back hurt when I shifted with my fingers. Guess everything is connected.)
I noticed that even on the flat sections of road I was going 20-25mph, which is bad. This meant I had a strong tailwind now, on the same road I was planning on riding back to the start.
On the eastern end of Glacier is the Park Café and some great pies. I had the Grizzly berry with a smoked salmon wrap as a starter, which I would later regret.
The flags were blowing in the stiff breeze when I turned around to head back into the park.
The entrance was just a mile away, with trees swaying in the breeze.
The road goes for a few miles by St. Mary Lake. Around one corner was a traffic backup, commonly known in the park as a “Bear Jam”.
Can you see the little guy? Probably not.
All the people in their big trucks and SUVs kept telling me how cool it was to see the bear. Yeah, right. I’m pedaling into a headwind on a 25 pound bike and have salmon breath. Get me out of here!
At the end of St. Mary Lake was a big burn from a few years ago, then the road turned up, up, up, back up to Logan Pass.
The only shelter from the wind and sun was in this one tunnel, where I got vertigo from the darkness and cold air. Not so much a crash as unplanned dismount.
I was almost back to Logan Pass where the wildlife apparently was very studious. Maybe the mountain goats were taking Geology? (BTW – I didn’t grow side burns – those black things on the side of my head are to reduce wind noise, and help me practice for my Elvis impersonation.)
Here is the start of the final descent. Too bad most drivers kept it below 25mph and it would have been rude (and unsafe) to pass. Several times I grew frustrated at the line of cars in front of me and just stopped until the next chain almost caught up. Then bang, downhill at 40MPH to the line of SUVs and motorcycles.
Back at the Vista Hotel I checked my stats for the day. On the right you can see I rode 104 miles while the altimeter on the left shows the two “hills” on the top at my 3360 starting altitude. In all, I climbed about 7500 feet, maybe a mile and a half straight up.
A little hillbilly laundry and my day was done!
The real PMC ends on the second day in Provincetown. For my second day I hiked 10 miles up to Iceberg Lake and back. No lettuce, but lots of the white stuff.
Thank you to all my sponsors, both this year and over the last three decades. I appreciate all your support of the Pan Mass Challenge / Jimmy Fund, even when I’m not biking in Mass.