A big Thank You to all my Pan Mass Challenge sponsors who have contributed over $7000 this year and $200,000 over the last 29 years to the Jimmy Fund to support the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The real “challenge” in the PMC is the fundraising, and you all make it easy. Well, not “easy”, but certainly very doable. Many of you donated before I even sent out my spring letter. The actual 200 mile bike ride felt like a reward for bringing so many people together to support a great cause.
First of all, my friend Jim is doing much better after surgery. The doctors removed a large mass from his cancer in his abdomen that had been pressing on his digestive track. The operation was successful in the short term, but the cancer will eventually come back again. He is grateful for getting another 6 months to a year with his family. They just went to the Maine coast for his birthday weekend. I hope he gets to visit there again in 2018.
Here is a quick recap of the 2017 weekend. I am on Team Lick Cancer, 167 riders who support the PMC. On Friday Aug 4, we headed down to Sturbridge Host Hotel to join thousands of cyclists all on the same mission. Even the bike parking was amazing! The organizers gave everyone a plastic seat cover to keep it dry overnight.
There is a saying that no one loses weight on the PMC weekend, as you are constantly carbo loading. More pasta, more cake, and even a few veggies. What better way to dine than with the sounds of a steel band riffing on Cold Play.
The Team Lick Cancer logo is the lips logo from Mick and the boys, and it makes a fine tattoo. For a buck you can get one on your calf, to flash riders as you pass, or get passed. See how many you can spot in these photos. Just another way for TLC to reach their million dollar goal.
We all turned in early as breakfast starts at 4am. Volunteers stayed up all night laying out bagels, bananas, cereal, muffins, OJ, milk, and about a swimming pool of coffee. The best part – it was all donated! We lined up for the 5:30am start. Everyone was a bit nervous when it started to sprinkle, then we rolled out of the parking lot, greeted by the Sturbridge High cheerleaders.
Why so early? Because 3000 cyclists on Rt. 20 could lead to a huge traffic jam. Luckily we have the support of the Mass Police Chiefs Association, plus apparently a few fire fighters too. The road was damp, and some corners a little tight. I saw several riders crash when they bumped into each other.
The ride itself seems to go quickly, as I constantly joined up with other riders, then lost them at the rest stops every 20 miles. Here I am with Mike who is a member of Team Lick. He is a throwback who prefers to be a cheerleader than a rider – to each his own! You have to admire a guy who spends his weekend bringing smiles to others, and posing with his home-made Flintstones car. All the water stops are staffed by dozens of volunteers who work long hours to make sure we are well fed and hydrated. Behind the scenes are hundreds more who are working with the state police to ensure our safety.
The “lunch” stop was in Dighton, 60 miles into the ride. (This is one of many south shore towns that I have only seen while on a bike, never in a car.) At 9:30am I was chowing down on a turkey wrap with extra mustard and a moist brownie. Here is a shot of the peanut butter and jelly crew assembling sandwiches, one loaf at a time. In the back is my friend Hans who is my oldest friend from working at Digital Equipment.
I was in a rush as I reserved a massage for 1pm and didn’t want to be late, so I skipped the last water stop that was less than 10 miles before the finish. Bad choice – my wife and daughter were there to surprise me. Sorry!
I reached the Mass Maritime Academy a little past noon after 110 miles. Therapists from all over New England volunteer to help us recover – as we are only halfway! Afterwards I hung out and connected with friends including our team leader, Dave Christmas, here with another rider, Shayla.
The PMC is not a race, but it is always fun to see how fast I can go. On Sunday morning I hit the road by 4:45am with Jeff, a team member who is in great shape. In the pre-dawn darkness we rode over the Bourne Bridge, where one lane was blocked off just for cyclists. (Now you know why the PMC starts so early – we want to avoid blocking the Cape Cod roads, during the busiest time of the year.) Along the Cape Cod Canal bike path, Jeff and I passed a line of cyclists all in black. They had a total of 3 lights, not much for 8 riders! They stuck with us for 10 miles, then the first gradual climb. I dropped off immediately as I knew what pace I could keep for the 70 remaining miles, and Jeff was hammering! He soon disappeared with the line of riders behind him. When I got to the corner, there was the team in black, all off their bikes. As I passed by, one said, “What the heck were we thinking?” I never caught up with Jeff, and never saw that team again. Here is Jeff at the finish line.
One of the great thrills on Sunday is the Cape Cod Sea Camp where the kids stand along “Da Hedge” to cheer us as we ride by. Their energy is the perfect boost when you still have 40 miles to go. You would never think kids could scream so loud before 7am on a weekend! Here you can see our team jersey, though I wear a short-sleeve version.
I’ve been to Provincetown many times, and always look forward to the first time you can see the Monument as you come around the bend in Truro on Rt. 6. It is there in the middle of the picture, all that is missing is the smell of the salt marshes and the howl of the wind. The last 10 miles felt like an endless climb as we rode in to a mid-morning blast out of the west.
We had a short break when we turned out to Race Point, then back into the wind. The finish at the Provincetown Inn was very welcome with more volunteers, friends and family cheering us at the end, and more food! Here is our team photo on the breakwater. I am 23rd from the left, 3rd row.
Laura drove us home and I dreamed of the weekend, legs still sore, tattoo in place. It has been a great season of training, fund raising, and enjoying the annual visit to the very tip of Cape Cod. Many of you have sent your thoughts and prayers to Jim and his family and they are very appreciative.
Thank you all for supporting my 2017 ride of the Pan Mass Challenge! 100% of all your donations go to the DFCI and Jimmy Fund, supporting research and treatment. The PMC has a goal of $48 million this year, and I expect they will easily surpass it.