ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY! We did it! The 2022 PMC (my 24th) was held and completed the first weekend in August. Two days of unprecedented heat and humidity did not deter 6,400+ riders and 1,800+ volunteers from carrying out their mission (and passion) in their cancer-fighting activities.
My conditioning was acceptable but not at the previous year’s levels, so Mother Nature’s blanket of warmth took a significant toll. This year’s “Ride for the Hoses” 98 degrees on Saturday and 96 on Sunday made this my most challenging PMC experience. I don’t think I could have done anything more to prepare for this oven venture. Nevertheless, we had a job to do, and we collectively got it done!
This was the first “in-person” ride in 3 years and still, we had thousands of riders and volunteers all come together to pull the wagon in the same direction! The route was still lined with fans and survivors from start to finish, inspiring us all to keep going. In short, it still had its PMC MOJO!
Here is a “shortened” recap; I am actually writing up a longer version and want to include photos – stay tuned.
Returning to in-person riding after two pandemic years was the good news and I started with the passion that accompanies every year. I had a plan – be patient, and take all the time I needed to survive the heat and humidity.
Did I ever feel strong? No! Was I going to accept the offer at mile 69 (the lunch stop) to get a ride to MMA (Mass Maritime Academy) – ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY NOT!
The bad news is that when everything went south, I still had many miles to go. As the thermometer rose, my speed and my reserves dropped – and dropped – and dropped. I feel that the saving grace on this day (aside from the absolute angels who lined the route armed with hoses/water/ice) is that leading to the finish at mile 110, there are additional PMC rest stops located shorter distances between each and there was the opportunity to regroup. At each stop, riders scrambled for any semblance of shade; under a tree, up against a building, or in the crowded volunteer tents. God bless all the volunteers who worked their shifts during the day!! My objective was to make it from one stop to the next. Finally pulling into the finish at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, I thought, “Oh, I am so glad that’s over (for today that is) and now I have to go into pain relief and recovery mode in order to get ready for tomorrow and do it again”. I ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY was not going to quit on this day, and I will not quit tomorrow, … but I really could have used a whole lot less of the pain!
Truth be told, yesterday’s post-ride attempts to recover … food, drink, and a solid night’s sleep (7:45pm bedtime) allowed me a minimal recovery… and today was only 80 miles in the same heat and humidity! A 5:15am start and a “cooling” (80+ degrees and quickly climbing) Cape Cod breeze might serve to mitigate the weekend blast furnace-like conditions. Well … that was the case a little bit … I guess. The damage inflicted by Saturday’s efforts became evident shortly after our trek along the canal. The elevation gain up to the Service Road led to a sluggish and depleted feeling. It was going to be an ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY long day. Stay focused, take my time, and DO NOT quit! Despite the well-positioned PMC stops, I needed to add a couple of extra ones over the last 20 miles in order to continue.
Crossing the finish line at the end of the PMC has always been an emotional moment for me. It is at that moment when I am overwhelmed by all my reasons for riding; my parents and all those on my helmet. This year those emotions were present but so too was the pain and my desire to get off my bike.
A medical person approached and asked if I was okay, my guy response, “Yeah, I’ll be okay.”
“Are you sure?” She responded.
My wife chimed in quickly, “You are as white as a ghost!”
Medical person, “Why don’t I bring you to the medical area?”
“I’ll be okay.”
Wife, “Larry, you need to rest.”
Larry’s brain, “I better accept this support.”
Onto a wheelchair and into an AC area. Well, I am here writing this, so I survived.
Alright! No more whining. I felt compelled to chronicle the misery and passion of my PMC 2022 weekend for you because it might constitute a good story … I hope that you enjoyed it … but that’s enough of that!
What I really need to write about is your ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY extraordinary support of the PMC. Your commitment continues to forge scientific breakthroughs that translate into new, promising therapies for patients and families around the world. I need to remind you that your willingness to open your wallet – in many cases, year after year – truly represents the best of human nature. The simple act of combining amazingly generous people with a guy on a bike brings us closer by the mile towards a future that is cancer-free, or quite manageable.
I really hope that you experience that warm and tingly feeling in your chest that is earned every time we do something exceptionally meaningful – it is an ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY amazing feeling!
Never too late, if you would like to help make a difference, go to my PMC Profile page.
On behalf of all the patients, families, survivors, and volunteers who shared their individual stories THANK YOU!
All the planning was done, the anxiousness had risen and settled in along my many training days in contemplating this year’s challenge and the psyching-up was happening…
This is my usual lead-up to my PMC weekend and this year was no different, but what was different was the challenge I was going to take on. For 2021, I would accept the “Reimagined” option provided by PMC and thus I created a “TransNH” ride; go from Brattleboro, VT to Hampton, NH (Approximately 120 miles and 6,000 feet of elevation riding!). From my keyboard to your eyes, here is my post-ride report.
On Thursday, August 5th, I traveled to Brattleboro, VT with David and Pat. Along with the conversation about tomorrow’s ride and driving over the Temple Mountain and the Pack Monadnock areas in a car my excitement (and anxious thoughts) of the challenge of climbing grew. Yes, I knew this was a ride and not a race, but I am who I am and the physical challenge both excited me and was a zen/karma thing about participating in my 23rd Pan Mass Challenge.
We checked into a “well-worn” franchise motel, where it was obvious they rented by the day, for a lifetime or by the hour. We were only going to be there for less than 10 hours so I went with the cheap option for this logistical detail.
After getting unpacked into our rooms, we went over tomorrow’s details again. I am such a planner, guess it goes with my project management experience.
There is always something; either you forget something or something changes, etc. For David it was that his Garmin unit was out of battery life. He thought he had charged it but turned out – no. These days we so strongly rely on the information coming from our cyclometers. So, on our way to the restaurant, we would stop for him to secure a charging cable.
Another planning detail, pre-ride sustenance. I wanted to eat local to fuel up on carbs and to enjoy a couple of local brewery beers. I found and selected Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza for the variety of their menu. Their offering was not to be compared to the amazing food and beverage provided by the PMC host hotel, the Sturbridge Inn, but looked promising and it was!
Our other riders for tomorrow’s ride, Mark and Mark (let me help with differentiating between the Marks by now referring to them as “TLA” and “Mad Dog”) would arrive later. They were transported by Bob (another PMC brotha, who unfortunately would not be riding) joined us later as the TLA needed to complete a full workday. Bob graciously supported this effort by transporting the two of them to Brattleboro. He returned to Manchester afterward.
After consuming a good amount of calories (food and a couple of beers) we were back at our temporary lodging and again reviewed logistics and details. The best-laid plans do lead to success.
Wheels rolls at 6am. Outside our rooms we took an obligatory “start” photo in the parking lot, however, the real start would be at the VT/NH state line; an easy 4-mile ride from where we were.
The climbing begins right away.
For me the day would be successful by the following 3 goals; #1. Be Safe, #2. Be Healthy and #3. Ride Solidly. Safe meant no mechanicals, or injuries, Healthy meant arriving in Hampton not feeling crushed and being able to socialize with friends (riders, supporters, and their significant others), and Ride Solidly meant staying within myself, no matter how slow I go, stay aerobic, control my ride and push if I can. Read on for the outcome.
The day started slightly overcast with temps in the low 60’s and projected to get into the mid-80s, another reason to be controlled and hydrate. It will be a long day. I repeated that to myself several times and to our team.
From the state line, right away, 0-10 miles goes from 259’ to 1,087’ with grades between 5-8% and most of the climbing for the day will be within the first 38-40 miles; three times we will approach 1,300-1,500 elevations coming from significant declines.
When you look at the elevation map, it is easy to see the first big climb within the first miles, what is not as evident are the 2nd and 3rd climbs, most noticeably up Temple Mountain coming out of Peterborough.
Success of any kind is not an individual activity; it takes a team. We had our team of riders TLA, Mad Dog, David and myself, and we were supported by “Coach” Pat. We could not have done what we accomplished without his support. He gave up his day to be our sag wagon and meet us at predetermined (and some not) stops to provide snacks and fluids. By the way, you might ask, is Pat a coach? That is another story for another time, for me, he exemplifies what a coach is and does, he brings out the best in the people he encounters.
Leading up to this TransNH challenge it was amazing for me to think that both Marks longest rides may have been a couple rides of 50-60 miles, while David and I trained throughout the summer with rides over 60 and several in the 70s range. Mad Dog was only planning to ride to Bedford and we were to pick up the “Commander” at David’s car dealership in Milford. The Commander is our riding group’s leader in a number of ways (another story). TLA convinced “Mad Dog” otherwise; amazing accomplishment given his training level to this date. Impressive that both TLA and Mad Dog would both go the distance given their similar training base.
Speaking of the Commander, he was terribly inconvenienced by “mechanicals” and did not make the ride (bike locked on top of car, changing of pedals, and a flat). He would later meet us out at the beach to enjoy the post-ride activities.
As stated, the first approximately 40 miles would have the challenging climbs. I was very focused and anxious about managing these. This first “climbing” section, I maintained my focus and my goal to be healthy. Keeping this focus and a few selected mantras/reminders, and having conducive weather enabled me to land at David’s dealership, Contemporary Chrysler, ready for lunch and the second half of the day.
A few of my mantras for the day included; “Stay Aerobic”, “Stay Within”, “It will be a long day” and “Tyler!”. Let me bring a tear to your eye and tell you about Tyler. For my many years participating in the PMC, I have been blessed to be a recipient of many life experiences expressed by friends and family who have dealt with the challenges of either going through cancer or caring for the loved ones. This year, I received a donation from Melissa. Almost always I know who they are, or how they came to be one of my PMC supporters. With Melissa, it was not immediately known to me, but I found out. Great, I think another supporter. Then, a couple of weeks later I sent another fundraising email to my list and now that Melissa was in my database, she too received this email. I get a response from Melissa in response to that email saying thank you very much for all I was doing and the difference being made. This is typical for some of the content I get in supporter’s emails, and I am extremely thankful for their words. However! Here is what fired up my passion for this year’s ride and brought tears to my eyes and got my heart thumping.
Have you ever had a house pass you? You have driven or ridden past houses, but I suspect not have a house pass you on the road. Happened to us. Coming out and down out of Wilton, the road narrows, less shoulder to work with, and became winding. Then, one of those lead cars with flashing lights and the sign saying “Oversized Load” passed us. I knew what was next and definitely had some concerns as I know it was either a trailer with a large earth-moving piece of construction equipment or a house. It’s a house! If I could have identified the car and truck driver afterwards I would have contacted them or their company and complimented them on the very noticeable adjustment they made to keep us safe. The car moved into the middle of the road, which meant blocking oncoming traffic and the tractor trailer pulling the house did the same. We had plenty of room as the swoosh of wind contributed to our downhill ride.
Lunchtime! A big welcome by the Contemporary Chrysler team of employees waving signs and shouts as we entered the road to the dealership. Additionally, members of the Milford Rotary came out to extend their support. This was uplifting and reminded me of riding into break spots along PMC routes.
David’s wife, Audrey, did an amazing job of providing us with a smorgasbord of sustenance; pasta salads, lunch meats, fruit, desserts and more – recharging was easy, and I think I might have needed it. At the dealership, Pat asked me for the second time in the day, “How are you feeling?” I felt okay, however, I asked him, “Why?” He said I looked pale. If so, definitely a result of the work done so far. The recharge will bring me back I thought.
The sun is out, we are recharged and back onto the road.
Shortly after leaving Milford, our first mechanical was experienced; the inner spring loaded ring on David’s Speedplay broke. He could clip towards the front of the pedal but not the entire pedal. We talked about options and there were none. He faced the challenge and we rode on. I knew that was going to be a challenge for him.
We easily followed the course I had set in Strava and made it to Merrimack, across the Merrimack River, circled the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport and then we were onto the Londonderry Rail Trail for some shade. The route would take us north of Derry, Londonderry and into Hampstead, Danville, Kingston, and into Exeter. Once into Kingston, I felt like I was in my backyard given that I ride a lot from the seacoast.
At lunch we recalibrated on the number of stops and where we would meet Pat. The next stop would be the Red Arrow Diner in Londonderry, it looked like that would be close to when we came off the Londonderry Rail Trail and would be convenient. But, when we came off the trail I realized it would be difficult to communicate to Pat to where we were. We connected with him via phone and said we would stop at a next store for fluids and he could meet us in downtown Exeter for last stop before the coast.
The course north of Derry and Londonderry was a first time for me in this area and I thought (despite narrow roads) it was very nice; some rollers, not excessive traffic, suburban with a few developments and farms.
We found a convenience store in the Derry/Hampstead area, loaded up on water and Gatorade. The heat was now at the height of the day, but again, I felt like I was going to be entering my backyard, so I had a confidence circling within me.
My energy level was solid, however even though I knew there were no major climbs I still wanted to control my output. No need to beat myself up now.
Superheroes. We were in Kingston or Kensington at the time when we came across a large van that was painted with DC Superheroes all over it. Being a comic book fan, I said, “Very cool! We need to stop for photos.” Phone batteries were very low or gone on most of our phones (my phone was with Pat charging in the vehicle) but we stopped to take pictures anyway. Then, we rode on.
My riding continued to get stronger as I could sense the final 30 or so miles. At this point, I could tell that David and Mad Dog’s strength might be starting to wain, or I was truly getting stronger. TLA continued to be the lead dog and I was sitting on his wheel instead of pulling up the rear.
Just outside of Exeter, the TLA had to stop for a nature break. I rode on knowing he would catch up, however, I also knew there were a couple of town lines that were coming, mine, mine, mine! That felt good and added to my confidence.
I set a steady pace as we headed into Exeter. For those who enjoy two-wheels (bicycles, that is), you know when you are in the groove, everything clicking, head is into the speed, legs pumping, breathing is controlled, etc. This was my 3rd goal coming true. We arrived in the downtown area and stopped at the gazebo wondering where Pat was. He said he was on 10 Water Street, but we did not see him. We opted to head west out a little way to try and find him. Not finding him we turned around only to find him right in front of Town Hall, we had missed him when we rode by. We were ready for the last section.
We headed out of Exeter and my solid riding continued. I was loving it! Taking a left on route 111, I knew there were town lines ahead, I wondered if TLA knew. He did, and nabbed both of them. That’s why he is the TLA (Town Line Assassin).
Crossing route 1, we were less than 5 miles away! This was going to be a great day, but believe it or not I did not want to let up until the very end.
Coming onto route 1A and heading south, I knew there was the final town line of the day shortly after the Beach Plum. I figured if the traffic in front of the Beach Plum would be in its typical state of craziness and there would be a need to slow down, then I could accelerate right after. I jumped and only peered over my shoulder as I neared the line. TLA was closing the gap but I had this one. “Yes!!” I shouted.
Less than a mile and time for well-deserved rest, relaxation and good food and beer.
Riding onto Beach Plum Way towards our destination was a relaxing and rewarding experience. We were greeted by our brides and our other supporters.
Thanks to my bride, Kathy, she coordinated and decorated the outdoor patio for this special moment of our day; almost like the P-Town Inn, except for not having thousands of riders and volunteers, or army shower tents, or loud music.
The day was a challenge. It was long. It got hot. But, it was successful on all levels (remember my 3 goals)!
During my years participating in the PMC, I have recognized many individuals who have suffered (or lost their battles) with cancer by listing their names on my bike’s handlebar stem, then listing them on the top tube… and now these individuals will get a better view from atop my helmet.
The list you see below are those who have dealt with or are dealing with cancer.
This list is “my motivation!”
Marcel & Doris Gagnon
Elizabeth Ann Millus
Ron “Bumpa” Brown
Terri “Babci” Tishkevich
Joseph J. & Helen E. Renda
Randy & Kathy Mithoefer
Lou & Vi Hopkins
Dorothy M. Gilday
Roger Larochelle Sr.
David S. MacLean
I have more helmet space to add names. I would be very proud to ride in honor and memory of your family or friends. Sendme their names
Hey fellow cyclists, do you come to complete stops at intersections with stop signs? I am going to guess that most of you do not, and that this is the predominant road behavior.
On October 1, 2020, the state of Washington passed a “safety stop” law that allows cyclist to roll through an intersection basically making it a yield sign. Can this work in your state? Here are my thoughts and questions on this topic.
Allowing for this acceptable road riding behavior would appear to make bike riding less safe, which is contrary to many regional and national associations; and safety should be a primary priority for any changes.
Makes complete sense for rural geographies.
Cyclists have much more visibility of the roadway thus they can manage a ‘yield’.
This will absolutely further “disturb” some motorists.
Would there be some intersections that such a law would not apply? If so, what are those details? The geography or traffic layout conditions of our urban, suburban and rural roads might make it difficult to clearly differentiate.
The article addressed one of my questions, “What constitutes an acceptable yield?” “Cyclists must slow down to a speed that would let them stop if necessary, but the law also lets them keep momentum if the intersection is clear.”
A “safety stop” law would need to include eBikes.
We often see or hear about stories on encounters between bikes and cars, what about bikes and pedestrians? The article states, “…if the intersection is clear…”, what happens when there is a pedestrian? A law would need to protect the pedestrian first and thus, by definition the intersection is not clear and the cyclist must stop.
What about turns? The law would need to address whether yield includes left turns and straight through. Given some road layouts, such as a ‘T’ section; two lanes entering, one for left, one for right. If intersection is clear, can the cyclist occupy the left lane and roll through with a left turn?
To make this legislation many questions, would have to be addressed (we all know about our political process). All points and questions aside, if other states are doing it and it is being done informally anyway, why not go ahead and make it law? Begin by leveraging other states’ language as a template to see how concerns and issues such as those raised above could be addressed.
Let’s not yield or stop and continue to advocate for cycling and pedestrianism in all states.
There are many times in which one might pray for someone in pain. During one long and arduous training ride over several sections of road between New Hampshire and Massachusetts in preparation for the annual Pan Mass Challenge – my prayer was my pain.
“Pain is Prayer” has become one of my mantras while pushing hard.
I recognize that many people suffer from the ravages of cancer, or other life challenges, either directly or indirectly. In the case of cancer patients they endure and battle through multiple chemo therapy and radiation sessions and the consequences of these body altering activities. Then, there are the family members and/or supporters who live with the stress of watching their loved ones.
On this day, my internal voice screamed, “I care; I care a lot!” My spirit goes out to every person and their families. I was pushing myself very hard and I thought; this is for Jack, this is for Helen and Joe, this is for “Bumpa” and everyone else on my “helmet“. Then, on the PMC weekend and I would push harder. I hold this belief that my exertion has a, call it a “cosmic connection” to helping others. It is a spiritual connection. I feel that the energy I give is an energy that can be used to help others.
When I prepare for the PMC I have several “prayer” moments.
The entire weekend was blur and one of the best I have had with the PMC. Its always hard to call something the best, so I might rephrase and just say it was one to remember. This being my 15th year I truly wanted it to be memorable and it was. I had the best training preparation than any other year. I was ready to ride hard and with passion. Passion is something I have lots of, each and every year.
Day Zero – Friday
Starting on Friday, Bob Fortin, fellow FOTCR (Fellowship of the Chain Ring) member, started from my house in Bedford and made our way to Sturbridge; depending on route would be about an 80-100 mile “warm up” to the PMC weekend. After 5 years of doing this ‘Day Zero‘ ride, you would think I know my way, but each year seems to have one or two slight “variations”. The bottom line, we made it and achieved our objective of riding safely, while preserving energy for the upcoming two days. We arrived at Sturbridge and everything becomes routine from that point. Get bike checked (for another time there is short story here about a “toasted rear cassette and chain”), register and get wrist band, go through the swag shop, shower, rest and then begin preparation for the next day by consuming large quantities of food and beverage (my favorite being one of our prime sponsors, Harpoon Brewery’s IPA). From here, I am to bed early because tomorrow’s 5:30am start comes quickly, and I make it quicker by the following.
Day One – Saturday
For the past handful of years I like to get myself positioned as close to the front of the ‘Fast’ corral (there are 3, fast, medium, slow to manage the thousands of riders). This year, I arose at 3:30am, walked outside, I retrieved my bike and proceeded to the corral. By the way, yes, people are up and getting everything prepared for the day. As I walk to the corral, it is empty, I pause, I wonder if I should put my bike there. I continue. There at the very front was another bike. I was the second bike there and would be in the front row! I wonder how early the other guy got there. I walked back to our room but stopped in the large expo hall where food would be. I picked up a coffee, a muffin, a banana and a yogurt and returned to the room. My friends were still in bed, so I quietly sat myself down in the darkened room and reflected on the upcoming day and the reasons I was there. This would be one of the first times that I silently said to myself, this ride is for Tom Chew and Hank (my friend with esophageal cancer), along with a couple of others from my list of 95 “reasons”. My slumbering friends stir and begin to rise and begin our prep routines and get ready to go. I am ready!
By now the fast corral is filled and the medium one is half filled. The activity is in full swing. The energy is amazing in this pre-sunrise gathering. I make it to my “front row” space. I meet “rider #1” along with the other crazy people who arose early to have some real estate at the front of the hoards. A few words from Billy Starr (PMC founder, organizer, leader), followed by a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and we are off. People settle in pretty quickly and I do mean quickly. Given I am not riding with any of my friends (including Bob, Dave, Bud, Jim, Meg) I am looking to the pace and rhythm of others to settle in and I do connect and the pace is strong right away (probably in the low 20mphs). We turn and encounter the first substantial climb, no problem for me. This thins out the groups a little. Then an amazing downhill. I shout out, “On your left, on your left!” as I go screaming by. I go into the first rest area, quickly connect with volunteer, top off water bottles (doing good hydration), and off again. I connect with a good size group and now we are cruising (high 20’s, low 30mphs). The remainder of the day and the total 109 miles were solid and strong. I was good on the hills, maintained well in the groups, rode strong when solo and cruised into our host overnight location, the Mass Maritime Academy (MMA) in Bourne, in about 5:47 averaging 18.7mph – good day!
The remainder of Saturday is also routine; park bike, sign up for 15 minute massage, make it to dorm room, shower, rest a little and then begin to consume large amounts of food and beverage (and yes Harpoon IPAs are one of the beverages). Nice being strong as the amount of riders coming into MMA is minimal initially, but changes quickly as the masses arrive. My friends all show up and they perform the similar routine. We have a usual spot near the very, very large food tent, next to an open area where several music bands will entertain us for the remainder of the day. A few more tasks, then back to the room early for Day Two, Sunday and the 80 miles to Provincetown.
Day Two – Sunday
We start at 5:30am again. This is not a mass start. Riders can leave when desired. Up and over the Bourne Bridge; quite a beautiful view as the sun is coming up over the canal and the horizon. We circle around then onto the Canal Trail and it is “pedal to the metal” time. The section of the trail we are on covers about 5 miles and we push – I love it! Myself and one of my friends, Jim, pull the entire way, usually in the 22-24mph range. After the trail, we are on a roller coaster road that if you are strong enough can speed down one-side and make it over the next rise. The first segment goes by quickly. The next segment goes fast as well. Jim and I are riding together swapping off a strong pace. At the next break, Jim indicates that he is not going to keep this pace all day and he will await our other friends. I push on; my goal is to cover the distance in under 4 hours, I’ve got work to do.
My pace continues to be solid, however, during this leg, I am primarily riding alone. This was one of the short-comings of starting up front. If you are not solidly connected with a group then you are riding alone and having to be the best engine you can be, or want to be. We arrive to the last stop. I top off my water bottles and grab a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (my typical nutrition along with peanut butter and bananas during this event). I know the upcoming stretch through the dunes is open and usually involves headwinds followed by a couple more dune climbs. I assess, I am on target, but feel marginally about it. As I prepare to depart I recognize a large team that appears to be leaving soon. I think, if I connect with them this will help. I overhear them talking about being ready to go. I wait a moment, then I realize that they are a large group so they will catch me in no time so I leave.
I am now on the openness of Route 6. I am doing fine, except I am alone. “where are they?” I ride on. A quick side road (which is a rough road), then back onto Route 6, “where are they?” Route 6 is more open. Water on the left and headwinds. I am getting tired. I am starting to do more and more self-talk. “Don’t leave anything Larry! This is for Hank and Tom. Stay steady. I ride for many”
“Will I make my goal?” I push on. I am low on energy, but still staying steady with mechanics. A pace line shows up (not that team). I hope that I can grab on. There pace is not over-the-top and I am able to easily get into the 3rd position, oh that helps. After about another 2 miles, we take a right off of Route 6 and the group breaks apart. This is a normal spot for many riders to regroup with their teams and friends to ride the remaining miles to the finish. The lead rider continues and I follow. He is a good 100 yards ahead and I tell myself to keep him within range. Energy is OK, but I am running low. The rider ahead looks over his shoulder; most likely to check the condition of the group. I push forward in a short time I join him. This final stretch has a couple of short hills. At this point in the day, these small mounds feel like big hills. I am able to rotate with this guy in a red jersey. I am confident I will make my timed goal, but I do not want to let up.
“What’s your name?”
“So, I can brag to my friends, how old are you?”
I feel real good to know I am riding with a young one, and holding my own.
“I’m 55. I am glad you came along. I was slowing down. The headwinds and solo riding were getting to me.”
“Yea, I could tell that the group had some older riders, so I figured if I help today, maybe some day in the future someone will help me.”
We ride on. Rounding the bend there is the finish. The family and friends gathered on the side of the road cheer and offer congratulations. I check my time. I am going to easily make it. I am feeling great. I cruise to the finish and as I have done for my previous PMC finishes, I do the sign of the cross and blow a kiss to the sky. This is for you dad and mom. This is for you Hank, Tom and all the others on my helmet.
A volunteer scans the bar code on my wristband. I am done. My time 3:47 – yea! Volunteers offer cold water. More congrats from volunteers and rider supporters. A volunteer asks if I want my picture taken, sure!
I feel like cancer got its ass kicked this weekend. My soul is cleansed.
I’ve made a personal commitment to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge and raise $5,000 in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
Please donate to my PMC ride at one of the following links:
You’ve received my first PMC email, my flyer in the mail and I’m back with 17 days to go till my 18th Pan Mass Challenge. Please consider this.
Yesterday, today and tomorrow, you thought, or will think, about the loved ones who are fighting, or have lost their fight with cancer. I know I have, I do and I will, yesterday, today and tomorrow. These memories and thoughts drive me to train hard to be ready for three days of riding the PMC during the first weekend in August. This is what drives me to raise funds so the men and women at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute can continue with their great work.
Please remember those thoughts and feelings that you have had and will have, and consider a donation in their memory.
My 18th year participating in the Pan Mass Challenge is here. I have shared stories of many friends who have won and lost their battles against cancer. Friends, just like yours.
Do you know these people?
He’s the father, grandfather, or good friend who rides a Harley, likes his “Captain Morgan”, is strong in his political views, a real independent spirit. Family is very important to him and he takes his familial position seriously – don’t mess with his family!
How about the friend who is always smiling, perpetually upbeat, and willing to assist friends in need? He enjoys family and the simple pleasures in life. You definitely want this person around when there is a gathering!
Then there is the friend who is a warrior.The one who, in the midst of adversity, does not falter. Despite the external façade of sternness, he has a passion for life, family, friends and this great country.
Finally, there is the friend who is mild-manner and quick-witted with a dry sense of humor.A person with a multitude of talents, and a huge heart, who is always willing to help out with any project. This friend may be quiet, but he is the thread of love running through a circle of friends.
I know all these people. They are Norm, Craig, Kirk, and Hank. Craig and Kirk are currently fighting cancer.While Hank is now delivering his quiet, simple jokes in God’s great ocean of love, AND, Norm, who is now taking his beloved wife Rose, for a ride on his Harley around heaven’s paradise.
I know that you also know these people for you have family and friends like these in your lives. These people are dear to you so keep them close to your hearts and be thankful for their good health.
Help me make this year a special one by remembering all our friends who are fighting, or have fought, this battle against cancer.Please help me reach my goal of $10,000. I ride for your family and friends!
“Here it is!“, Bud said as we took a left-hand turn on Ocean View Drive in Wellfleet, and faced a steep hill.
This was the hill that Bud had ridden hard in 1998 in honor of my father, Marcel. I remember him telling me the details of this moment in the Pan Mass Challenge and my eyes watered in response. Dad died in March of 1998 and the pain of losing him was still very fresh in my heart and mind.
It was now 1999 and I was facing this steep hill, I was tired from one-and-half days of riding but I responded with a lightning bolt surge of emotional energy. I jumped out of my saddle and tore up this incline separating myself from the riders around me. This was for dad! Halfway up the hill, my legs flooded with blood and lactic acid, and screamed for mercy. My breathing blew in and out like motorized bellows while my lungs expanded to their maximum capacity. Legs and lungs pushing as hard as I could go. A brief thought of stopping this surge entered my head only to hear myself scream inside, “Go harder!” I love my dad and this effort was for him. I made it to the top of the hill breathing excessively hard and slumping slightly over my handlebars. We were more than halfway done our second day of riding and this expenditure brought me to the edge. “Thanks Bud!” I uttered between breaths.
Each year after my introduction to “Marcel’s Hill” I charge this incline with a ravenous hunger to celebrate my father’s life with an outpouring of physical exertion. One or two years later, I had forgotten where the hill was and we came upon this memorable part of the course just after I had been pulling a group of riders for quite some time on the Cape Cod Rail Trail. I had just dropped back to rest and here was the hill. My fatigue got out of my way as I once again jumped on my pedals and screamed up the incline. Again, my legs protested as I pounded each rotation into the road. “This is for you dad!” my heart yelled.
Another August weekend will soon be here. The miles across Massachusetts will present their challenges, but in a small residential neighborhood on “Marcel’s Hill” I will celebrate my love for my dad.
17 years ago, I began with the PMC and I was on a mission….
Trust involves a person being clearly aware of another person’s position on something and recognizing that they will stand by their convictions.
Do you trust me?
Every year, I am very clear on what my mission is with the PMC – to find a cure for cancer in our lifetime by supporting the great people and work of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
I have put all my trust in their work and I believe they will find the answer.
Do you trust me?
Harsh weather conditions, training challenges of long miles and mountains, equipment malfunctions, like flats and gear problems, you name it; nothing will stop me from this ride!
Do you trust me, or do you need the facts?
Founded in 1980, the PMC is in its 36th year!
The PMC has raised over $455,000,000!
Cyclists come from 38 states and 5 countries.
Over 300 are cancer survivors or current patients.
100% Every dollar raised goes directly to the PMC!
Do you trust me, or do you need more? PMC’s Impact with Dana-Farber
360,000 patient visits
4,000 women seen in Mammography van
6,000 tumors genetically sequenced
54 cancer specialists named “Top Doctors”
Do you trust me?
All of your donations fuel my commitment and let you take the ride with me. Hear I am 17 years later and still on “our” mission.
Trust me and support the PMC!
You can either:
Make a check payable to: ‘PMC’ and mail to: Larry Gagnon, 2 Line Road, Bedford, NH 03110