Category Archives: Life

PMC 2013 Recap

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?”

“Matt”

“I’m Larry”

“So, I can brag to my friends, how old are you?”

“34”

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.”

“Thanks Matt!”

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.

Larry

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:

Click here to make $25 donation

Click here to make a $50 donation

Click here to make a $100 donation

Click here to make a $250 donation

Click here to make a $500 donation

Click here to make a $1,000 donation

Click here to make a donation of any other amount

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Courage – “Time to Saddle Up”

Saddle

Many, many of us have faced those life situations or questions  in which the outlook, or answer, looks dim and your gut is screaming for yesterday.

The situations may be as perilous as being off the trail in the woods and darkness is starting to cloak everything around you, or you are in the middle of a race (pick your sport) you are pushing as hard as you can, so hard in fact that you fear your heart will explode any second, or how about that request from your boss to meet later that day, and you know sales are not good and the company is struggling, and you think here it comes.

What do you do?

“Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway” – John Wayne

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Review: “Ultra High”

60 hours in 1 hour 10 minutes!
UltraHigh2

Compliments to directors and film teams that can take epic, many hour, or many days event and deliver a compelling and engaging story within 1-2 hours. In this case, I recently watched a feature length documentary film, “Ultra High“, about a 137-mile mountain marathon in the Himalayas of India and it delivered a 60+ hours in 1 hour 10 minutes!

As an adrenaline junkie, pain purveyor and event director/manager, I was engaged from the first scene to the next and the time flew by, for me, that is. Watching the film I pondered how these athletes, during this competition, had competed for hours, many, many, many hours (they had to finish under 60 hours!). And! They were crossing mountain passes and  peaks up to 18,300 feet! C’mon!

UltraHigh3Six runners toed the starting line for the challenge. Supported by their crews, they put one foot in front of the other and faced HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema), hypothermia, exhaustion and ‘traffic’, (yes, there were vehicles on the crazy rock-strewn, partially paved roads).

I thought this would be a film about survival, which it was, but the director, Barry Walton, also delivers a race film story. From the starting line, Ray Sanchez looking to breakUltraHigh the course record, moves out well ahead of the other competitors. As the story develops, trailing behind is Sharon Gayner, an asthmatic,who has sites on first place. I will leave the finish for your viewing pleasure.

Being someone who has managed and been a race director, each event presents many details to be prepared for, or respond to. “Ultra High” captured the logistical challenges that all managers/directors face, such as communications, safety, and traffic.; all above 10,000 feet. Barry Walton does not place the spotlight or emphasize these challenges however to those who have managed events they will recognize selective scenes.

If you like watching epic events like the Tour de France, or Hawaiian World Championship Ironman Triathlon, then you will enjoy this film.

 

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Pat the Patriot sat in the corner

PatPatriot

With the 2018 AFC Championship Game to be played tomorrow, Sunday, January 21, thought it was time I finished this post from last year. Hopefully, “Pat” can stay on my head tomorrow.

 

I was on the edge of my seat, I paced the room, I jumped, I yelled, I took deep breaths and I did all of this multiple times during Super Bowl LI. It was not a pretty picture. The New England Patriots were well behind, some would say, “…they were getting crushed”.

Another dropped pass, I shouted, “Can anyone catch the f&cking ball?!”

I grabbed my hat off my head and threw it at the wall!PatPatriotHat

According to some voodoo algorithm, the Patriots, at this point in the game, the odds were 99.8% that they would lose.

Lying on the floor, Pat the Patriot (old logo) on the front of my hat faced the corner of the room. I stood and took one step to retrieve my head gear. Something just happened. A pass completion to Amendola, followed by a 15-yard scramble by Brady and then a 5-yard TD pass to James White. But, Gostkowski boofs the extra-point and gets called for penalty on an onside attempt; take a breath, stand up, pace. But, something really did just happened.

Pat the Patriot remained in the corner the rest of the game.

Holding penalty by the Falcons, Matt Ryan sacked, and they are out of field goal range. Patriots get ball and the game goes into 4th quarter and the score is 28-9; can they come back? Gostkowski gets redemption hitting a 33-yard field goal. Two scores (16 points) to tie. But, that is two touchdowns and “two-two point conversions”. Time is running out, but something is happening.

Edge of seat, hands run across face, stand up, breath, breath.

Injury to Falcons offensive lineman, replacement comes in, Pats D take full advantage and a sack of Ryan and fumble. The “Yeah!” chorus goes up! But, Brady is sacked on the next play. A muffled, depressing “c’mon” from the Patriots nation drowns out the “yeahs”.

Fingers work feverishly on my phone as I am communicated with friends across town and across the country.

Six minutes left in the game, score is 28-12. Breath. Breath. Breath.

Brady hits Amendola for TD!!

Scream, shout, pump fist. Something real is happening. But, hold on.

Julio Jones, aside from the season’s MVP Matt Ryan, he is a Falcons weapon that must be accounted for. Despite absolute blanket coverage, Jones makes an absurd catch and the Falcons are within field goal range.

Less than 4 minutes to go. Rub head, stare at screen, look at hat in corner. Pick it up?

The next series of plays; a Ryan sack, a holding penalty and an incomplete pass and the ball is now on Patriots 43-yard line – out of field goal range.

Two-and-half minutes left. Slap seat, rub head, sigh, gasp, edge of seat.

The “Edelman Catch”! Unbelievable! Three Falcon defensive players, pirouetting bodies, and a bobbling ball inches (probably 1-2 at most) from the ground.

A couple of plays later, a minute to go – touchdown run by White!!

Pump fist, shout, scream, high-fives, flurry of text messages. Two-point conversion. The game will go into overtime.

Patriots win the toss. The two best under-pressure quarterbacks in the NFL are Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. Patriots Nation feels confident. Four plays later, the New England Patriots are World Champions!

I did not pick up my hat till the next morning.

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/Barnwellx170206/anatomy-miracle-how-patriots-came-back-dead-super-bowl-li

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This is living

snowflake

Finished shoveling snow for the third time,

placed my bright yellow snow removal tool (the shovel) on a hook (ready for the next time),

I step back onto the moist, lightly covered blacktop,

soft lights from warm windows pierce the darkness and create inviting shadows,

silent and snow laden trees watch as I tilt my head back,

light whispers of wind and a finishing tranquil falling snow kisses my face and massages my soul – this is living!

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God is…

Faith and Passion

Stay away from politics and religion, they say, when in social settings.

While at a recent event, the chatter of topic discussions ranged impressively amongst the guests, I overheard the legality of marijuana, the weather (as is typical when more than two people gather), travel to foreign countries, and then, a vibrant and intellectual woman looked at me and asked, “What and who is God?” She knew I love conversation, and depending on who is in attendance will quickly enjoy a debate. This woman posed one of the taboo topics directly at me.

I paused and let a short silence reflect my desire to collect my thoughts prior to responding. Was I stepping into a trap? How was I going to answer this? There were many, many thoughts on how to answer this, but I wanted to be succinct.

Looking directly at her and with much confidence,
my answer to her was, “faith and passion“.

 

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“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”

Friends,

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.

tears_of_sadnessYesterday, 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.

You can go online at: www.pmc.org/egifts/LG0036.

I ride with passion for many!

Larry

 

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“Do you know these people?”

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?

IMG_4161He’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! Craig

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!

IMG_4164Then 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. Hank

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!

Live Life with Passion!

Larry

 

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PMC Piccola Night 2016

PMC poster 2016Would you like a night full of great food, smiles, friends milling and chatting about, some laughs here and there, raffles and more? Then, you really want to consider joining me for my 2nd PMC Piccola Night. For those in the greater Manchester area, you already know, or should know about Piccola Italia as being the best Italian restaurant. Giovanni Paolini, owner for Piccola, has a goal to have each customer feel like family and I can guarantee this is the experience you will have.

Many years ago, upon entering Piccola Italia, at the hostess station I saw a photo of this runner at the Boston Marathon. Next to the photo was a fish bowl with money in it. Below the photo was a short description of “Johnny” who was raising money in support of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. “A brother!” I exclaimed to my wife and our friends. “I have to meet this guy!” I asked the hostess about the photo and asked if I could meet him. She replied that he was the owner and he is busy cooking. I told her I HAD TO meet him and I would only take a moment of his time. (She was probably thinking, that she had a customer in front of her and she better at least try.) Johnny came out from the kitchen and I introduced myself and my ride with the PMC. His passion and energy beamed forward as we talked about our mutual efforts. I knew we were “brothers” in the fight against cancer.

One night two years ago, my wife and I were at Piccola for dinner when Johnny stopped by to say hello. We chatted and then his passion came forth when he asked if there was something more he could do beyond making a donation to my ride. Last year was a great night, and so here we are again.

Again, great food and fun all in one night. So, come “home” and help me fight the fight against cancer.

See you there!

Larry

 

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“Marcel’s Hill”

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.

marcelEach 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.

 

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