PMC 2018 – the return of Rosie Ruiz

A big THANK YOU to all my Pan Mass Challenge donors who have contributed over $6000 this year to the Jimmy Fund, which supports the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). The real challenge to the PMC is all the fundraising, and I appreciate everyone who has chipped in for this great cause. After months of asking, the actual weekend feels like a reward. You can still make a donation – not too late!

For the second year, my ride is for my friend Jim. He is doing OK after the latest  surgery for the cancer growth in his abdomen, however at some point the doctors can only remove so much of his digestive tract. He finds it hard to keep up with his middle-school kids, or even the day-to-day routine, but keeps trying. Recently, his son helped with the Jeep’s oil change, learning new skills from his dad.

Back to the PMC – my 30th year of riding for this cause. I started my training in January with Zwift, an online game played by indoor cyclists, watching their virtual selves pedal on streets and mountains with thousands of other riders. Speaking of mountains, March was Bike Camp in South Carolina, trying to keep up with a dozen racers. No surprise, I didn’t, but only had to get in the van once, still suffering from jet lag as I was in Shanghai the previous week.

My feet have been a real source of pain for the last decade, caused by a neuroma, like  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, down under. I couldn’t ride for more than 3 hours / 50 miles at a time, which was not going to work for the PMC, which is 200 miles over 2 days. So I switched to a shorter route (80 miles each day) and picked up a new set of insoles from the doctor (not Scholl’s). The double rainbow after my cycling team’s dinner was a sign that this year’s ride was going to be great!

Double rainbow before the 2018 PMC ride

The shorter ride starts Saturday morning from Babson College in Wellesley and heads to the Mass Maritime Academy (MMA) in Bourne. My friend Jon Gordon has been riding the PMC for over 20 years and gave me a room Friday night. Here we are bright and early the next morning.

Jon and Chris – destination Bourne!

When you start this early, the “lunch” stop comes at 9am. Mike (below) is a big supporter of the PMC and has chosen this orange cheerleader costume. In the background you can see the vehicle than he “pedals” around. I always give a loud, “WILMA” whenever I spot him.

Chris and “Fred” at the Sat water stop of the 2018 PMC

Before the next waterstop is a quarter mile of photos of “Pedal Partners”, the patients at the DFCI who have been adopted by PMC teams. I ride with one of the largest, Team Lick Cancer, with over 100 members, who have several partners, including Hailey.

Hailey – the reason Team Lick Cancer rides the PMC

Speaking of getting in the van… I made it 70 miles to Wareham where Laura was waiting at the last waterstop. My feet were throbbing, and my tank was empty – time for a break. She drove me 8 miles to the last corner before the finish. I hopped back on my bike and rode in, not mentioning to the check-in crew than I used a “cheat-code” to get in before noon, aka. Rosie Ruiz. Jon rode in a few minutes later and we stuffed ourselves for a few hours at the MMA where giant tents were filled with recovering cyclists. (Recovering from the ride – they were not recovering from their addiction!) The skies opened up, with not only rain and lightning, but a few tornados. Laura rescued us, taking Jon and me to our lake house in Wareham.

On Sunday Jon and I got up hours before sunrise to start the journey to Provincetown. The PMC organizers want the 3-4000 cyclists off the Cape Cod roads as early as possible, which are clogged enough with summer traffic. I was feeling much better, passing dozens of team members. Here are a few at the “lunch” stop, 8am at Nickerson Park in Brewster.

Fellow Team Lick Cancer riders at Sunday lunch stop in Brewster

Cape Cod is flat – everyone knows that, right? Except when it isn’t, starting in Wellfleet at the Beachcomber and continuing in Truro at Corn Hill, which looks like a wall after you get used to level bike paths. Then come the rolling hills of Rt. 6. I always look for that one corner where Provincetown suddenly peeks out from behind a hill, the Pilgrim Monument standing tall, marking the finish. For the first time in recent memory we did NOT have a headwind slamming us as we rode into the dunes.

Jon and I rode through the Provincelands, by Race Point, and into the Provincetown Inn finish line.

Jon & Chris at the Sunday finish

Jon Gordon and Chris Spear at the Sunday PMC 2018 finish at the Provincetown Inn

This is the classic finish line, with no parking. So we then cycled to the “Family Finish” at the Monument where Laura and our dog Snickers waited for us with a change of clothes. It was great to see her, bringing the ride to an end. But first, a quick bite. I picked an Alaskan lunch, salmon burger and mousse (chocolate). Maybe not what you would have picked, but I thought it was just the right combination of protein and sugar to recover from 150 miles on the bike.

Another shoutout to my donors! See you in 2019 for my 31st ride, all part my the Best Year on a Bike. Even with foot issues, bonking, and months of fundraising, It is all worth it, to help Jim, Hailey, and others who are battling cancer.

Chris Spear