Over the years (now in 2011, my 13th), I have been asked questions about the PMC, so for inquiring minds, here are the answers.
“Why do you ride the PMC?”
In no particular order, here are some of my reasons.
- The “I’ve done a good thing” feel,
- I lost my father to cancer,
- I lost my mother to cancer,
- Guilt-free, beer consumption,
- The spandex shorts make me look “hot” according to my wife and her friends,
- I know people who have cancer,
- The PMC weekend is the “ Woodstock ” of caring,
- I like to exercise “a little”,
- Shaved legs are cool,
- I need an outlet after watching the Tour de France in July.
“What is it like to ride a bike 192–miles?”
Every year I hope it is painless and fun. Depending on what happens between late-April and the event weekend in August, best determines the answer to this question. Beginning with the early season rides in cool (cold) rainy weather and carrying the extra winter hibernation coat (i.e. fat), then moving through steamy, humid New England weather days and long rides in June and July, my joy for having my butt on a small leather seat for about 5-6 hours for two consecutive days in August is “exhilarating” – because it’s the PMC! See next question for more.
“Does it hurt to ride a bike 192–miles?”
Someone once said, “its not about the bike.” There will be times during the two days that we, as a group of riders, will be screaming down the road at 25 and 30 mph, keeping pace, the lungs scream for air and the legs beg to stop. Or, there is “Purgatory Hill” and my favorite, “Marcel’s Hill” where it feels like trying to run away from a bear while you are in knee deep mud. Does it hurt? You ask. Whether it’s the speed, the climb or the distance, I look down at my top tube and see the names of family and friends who are no longer with us because of cancer. Does it hurt? You ask. Only my heart hurts, but I know someday it won’t.
“Is a cure for cancer really ever going to be found?”
Yes! You only need to look at the cure rates which continue to rise each year. In 1980 when the PMC started the cure rate for some cancers was 20 percent, today it is 80 percent! Being the eternal optimist that I am, I believe because, not believing is no fun and means giving up. Everything is possible, look at the 2004 Red Sox winning the World Championship. The PMC and the Dana Farber Institute is a great team that will continue until we win our championship – the cure for cancer.
“How do I know that the money I give to the PMC every year is being used properly?”
Good question! Charitable organizations must pay their expenses and most likely you have heard some of the negative stories about funds being used for personal gain. Not the PMC! Because almost all of the goods and services needed to run the PMC are donated or underwritten by generous corporate partners, the PMC is able to give at least 95% of donated funds directly to the Dana Farber for cancer research and treatment. For the past number of years, the PMC has contributed 100% to the Dana Farber Institute!
“I can’t donate money this year, should I feel badly about not being able to support the PMC?”
Absolutely not! Do not even begin to put some guilt on your sleeve! I truly understand that the PMC might not always be in the budget, or, you may have other charities, which are near and dear to you. I understand. I will continue to ride the PMC until a cure is found, or until legs can’t make it. There will be other opportunities to give. I will continue to send you a flyer anyway to keep you in the loop (unless you don’t want to receive my flyer – let me know). If you can’t make a donation this year, I always appreciate a kind word on a note card or an email. You are a member of my team and even I need the motivational lift once in awhile.
“What kind of bike do you ride?”
It’s a good bike, it has wheels and a seat and pedals and it takes me through the many training miles. For the gear heads, it’s a Specialized Roubaix Comp with Shimano 105 components.
“How much should I give?”
”A lot!” is what my head thinks, but the answer I have given to those who have asked this question is that each and every dollar counts and I am extremely grateful. Whether you donate $5 or $1000 my gratitude is sincere and heartfelt.
“Is it fun?”
Yes! There is the camaraderie of the fellow riders and volunteers. There are the mast amounts of food consumption and the guilt-free beer drinking (I think I said that before. Don’t worry I don’t have a problem). There are Bud’s ditties along the way. There is the lying in the sun on an August day at the Mass Maritime Academy recapping day one’s 112 miles. There is the pride in knowing I have made another deposit into that “do a good thing” bank. Yea, I have fun.
“How did you start to ride in the PMC?”
Bud Dodge, he’s the man! Bud has been riding in the PMC for many years (2011 marks his 20th!). Before my entry into this great event, each year, I would relish reading Bud’s passionate words in requesting financial support to the PMC/Jimmy Fund. Then there was the colorful event recap thank you note. This guy was having fun and “making a difference!” What a combination I thought. Then in March of 1998 I lost my dad to esophageal cancer and I remember picking up the phone and with tears in my eyes saying, “I’m in!” So, here I am today proud to be a domestique to Bud our TOGWIGFITWAM Team Captain.
“What does TOGWIGFITWAM stand for?”
It’s an acronym which means, “The Old Guys Who Invariably Get Fat In The Winter And Meg”. Meg is Bud’s cousin’s 5’1″, 110lb dynamite wife. The rest of the team consists old guys who invariably get fat in the winter.
“Do you ride with other people you know?”
Yea, there are approximately 5,000 people who I have this close PMC connection. Within this group there is the TOGWIGFITWAM Team (see the question above) and then there are a few friends who I have “persuaded” to join me on this marvelous Massachusetts tour in August.
“Does your wife ride with you?”
To date, my wife has not had the pleasure of two days, nearly two-hundred miles of saddle time with me and my other 5,000+ friends. Besides every team has to have those who work very hard behind the scenes supporting the cause – thanks Kath!
“What does the Dana Farber Institute do?”
I will let you pick the right answer:
- Compassionate care to children and adults with cancer
- Advances the understanding, diagnosis, treatment, cure and prevention of cancer and related diseases
- Principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School
- Federally designated Center for AIDS research
- Federally designated comprehensive cancer center
- Conducts community-based programs in cancer prevention, detection, and control throughout New England
- Maintains joint programs with other Boston institutions including Brigham & Women’s Hospital and the Children’s Hospital
- Click here for more on the great work of the Dana Farber Institute.
“How much money do you have to raise?”
Enough money to cure cancer should be the correct answer, however I will share with you that there is a minimum amount of money which each rider must raise, this year (2011) the amount is $4,200. In addition to the minimum, each rider must pay a registration fee and other optional fees to participate (this year I will pay $250). My (our) numbers have been successful each of my previous years in raising the minimum. The minimum is acceptable but I would like to do much better and maybe one of these years join the “Heavy Hitter’s Club”.
“What do you get for participating in the PMC?”
A great feeling of accomplishment! Along with the good feeling, I get a cycling jersey, food and beverage, outstanding volunteer support, a massage on Saturday, a good time with friends and sore legs and tired body.
“How do you get ready?”
Ride my bike, ride my bike and ride my bike. I try to get as many training miles as possible beginning in mid to late April. The struggle is finding the time between family time, home chores and job challenges. I do keep track of my miles and over an approximate 15-week period leading to that first weekend in August, I manage to get enough riding done. The key to being ready is to increase my long rides (50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100 miles). If I get a century (100 miles) ride in before the event then I know I am ready.
“How fast do you go?”
I would be lying if I said that speed is not part of the event. We do not race, but there are many times over the two days that a pace line or group will develop and we may reach consistent efforts of traveling at 25-30mph plus. It’s fun!
“Is my donation tax deductible?”
The PMC’s tax ID or EIN number is 04-2746912. According to the IRS, a copy of a cancelled check suffices as proof of donation for gifts under $250.
“Where do you ride?”
There are six different routes available to riders ranging from a 1-day 89-miles ride to the original 2-day, 192-mile route of Sturbridge to Provincetown. I have ridden in the Sturbridge to P-Town route every year. In addition to the event, there have been years in which I have added a “day zero” to the weekend.
“What is ‘day zero’?”
In 2004, in recognition of the event’s 25th anniversary, I rode the original course from the New York border to Provincetown on the Friday before the Saturday/Sunday event. Over the past few years I have continued to add this approximately 100 mile “warm up”. This is part of my psyche to do “battle” against cancer. Read more.
Please sponsor my 2011 Pan Mass Challenge Ride to benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.