When we arrived at Babson College at 5:30 am for the start of the PMC, Susan and I were a wreck. After splitting a muffin and 5 or 6 trips to the bathroom we took our place in the crowd at the start line with 1000 other riders. The crowd was an issue with Susan since she had never even done a 5k race and was not used to being in such a large number of people at the beginning. It took us a while to get moving as we inched our way to the end of the driveway and out onto the street. Even then it was slow going for the first 10 miles. We witnessed our first accident before even leaving the campus as someone fell off their bike in the crowd of starters, probably trying to actually get on the bike too soon.
Although we promised to stay together I immediately lost Susan in the crowd. As I assumed she was ahead of me so I was cranking up my speed trying to push past the crowds on the uphills. She was actually a little behind me and finally caught up around mile 17. What I didn’t know is that Susan was so nervous she never put her foot into the clips on her pedals until about mile 12. We were happy to see the first water stop where I had some of the best cut up peaches in my life and it was here I decided to start putting ice into my sock to quell the burning pain in my Achilles heel. This turned out to be a very smart move as my ankle was kept cold throughout the ride and barely bothered me after that.Onward to our second stop which would be lunch in Rehobeth — a town I have never been in–after we merged with the Sturbridge riders on a huge uphill. The only thing that got me up that hill was the sound of the bagpipes being played at the top –perfect placement.
I had always heard about the people on the side of the roads and how uplifting they were but it is truly hard to explain the feeling of riding by people on their lawns with signs of loved one’s lost or yelling that they are survivors and Thank you! There were kids and parents with their hands out to high five you as you passed. They sprayed water pistols and hoses (one got me right in the gut), offered water and oranges, played music and dressed up as leprechauns and cheerleaders. I get choked up now as I write this, thinking about how amazing this event is. One man sat alone in Walpole blowing a whistle with a lifesize poster of his wife who had died in 2007. That was a tough one to get by, as well as all the pictures of the children along the fence at one of the stops. The thought that I too, am here, because of a drug called Herceptin which was experimental at one point and funded by events like the PMC — well, it’s hard to ride and cry so I tried not to think about that too much.
My sisters Karen and Maureen met us at the lunch stop in Rehobeth/Dighton– where I had the best tuna sandwich of my life. We had arrived earlier than expected as the crowds of bikers made us ride faster than usual. We almost missed Karen and Moe but got to see them right before we pulled out again. My family met us at the 2nd to last stop in Wareham for a quick visit. We were anxious to get on our way as this stop is only 7 miles from the end.
Our arrival into Bourne was exhilarating. We weaved through traffic of vacationers trying desperately to get to their cottages. Some less than pleased to be waylaid by a bunch of sweaty bikers. Others gave us the ‘thumbs-up’ from their overly stuffed cars. The campus at Mass Maritime was beautiful. We racked our bike among the 5000 bikes, found our tiny tent, grabbed a shower in the shower-truck (a first for Susan and I) and looked for the Harpoon tent. After food and beer and our free 15 minute massage (heaven) it seemed everyone was winding down. But we were not tired. So we walked a few miles to the store to get Sourpatch and realized when we walked back on campus –everyone was asleep. But it was only 8:30!
After a fitful sleep, we heard people starting to rise at 4 am and we knew then why everyone was asleep so early. Not realizing that we had to drag our luggage to the far end of campus by the canal or that many people didn’t bother to break down their tents as we did, Susan and I found ourselves 20 minutes late to the start, missing breakfast and riding the first 25 miles through the cranberry bogs of Carver alone. It was a little creepy for me, although I believe Susan was relieved to be out of the riding crowds of bikers and traffic. At the first water stop 27 miles in, we finally caught up to some riders. The 2nd day was far quieter than the first. A few people were outside to cheer us but not as many as day 1, and I believe if we had continued to P-Town instead of heading back to Wellesley, it would have been more festive. Next time we will do the P-Town leg.
The last 10 miles to Wellesley were tough. Long arduous uphills that were lovely down-hills the day before. We were pushing it, anxious to get done. Susan and my families were waiting at the end and getting a little nervous because it took us a little longer than expected.
During the long training days, some in the rain,some in pain, I swore to myself that this would be the one and only time I did the Pan Mass Challenge. It amazed me that everyone I met over the summer who was riding the PMC had already done it numerous times, over and over again. Well, as Susan and I peddled our way across the state we discussed the things we would do differently next time…the next time we do the PMC. It wasn’t a question of ‘if’ we would do it, just ‘when. You see this was an incredibly fun and uplifting experience for us. It would be painful for me NOT to do it again. I totally understand now how people fight for their contributions, throw parties and golf tournaments all in the name of raising money for this incredibly well organized and beautiful event. Thank you to all of you who contributed to my ride both financially and spiritually…this would not have been possible without all of you, and you should all feel proud to now be a part of the cure.
Here is the outline Susan wrote which I thought was awesome!
Here are some hi-lights from our PMC Adventure:
Wellesley, Needham, Dover, Medfield, Norfolk, Wrentham, Foxborough, Mansfield, Norton, Rehoboth, Dighton, Berkley, Freetown, Lakeville, Rochester, Wareham, Bourne, Carver, Middleborough, Bridgewater, West Bridgewater, Easton, Mansfield, Sharon, Walpole, Westwood, Dover, Needham
(Who even knew that some of these towns existed?)
Cyclists: approx. 5000
Cyclists who shouldn’t be wearing tight cycling shorts: about 2500; number that we are glad that they did: about 100
Cyclists Texting: 1
Cyclists w/Music attached to their helmets: 2
Cyclists w/”obscene” objects attached to their helmets: about 5
One-Legged Cyclist: 1 Jothy Rosenberg – 2 time cancer survivor
Volunteer Cyclist Ratio: .6 to 1 (doctors, nurses, cycling technicians, photographers, policemen, cooks, massage therapists ….)
Massage Therapists: 90
Port-a-Potties Visited: approx 20 each; Clean Port-a-Potties: 1
Hours of Sleep Friday: 4
Hours of Sleep Saturday: 4 – 5; in a teenie weenie tent
(The Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne was a Ghost Town by 7:30 pm; Cyclists were in bed; we went in search of Sour Patch Kids)
Mile Point when Susan engaged clips: – 12; Mile Point when Fran engaged clips: -1/4
Supporters “tagged” by Fran while cycling: at least 20; Supporters “tagged” by Susan while cycling: 0; too afraid she would take them down
Falls by Fran & Susan: 0; unbelievable
Falls Witnessed by Fran & Susan w/in the first 1/16 of a mile: 1
Falls Witnessed by Kolenik’s & Coccoluto’s w/in the last 1/16 mile: 4
Flat Tires by Fran & Susan: 0; we were the lucky ones; there were too many to count
Last Water on Campus found by Susan
Safety shouts by Susan: approx 1000
Safety shouts by Fran: maybe 8
Riders Passed: about 50%
Supporters en route: 1000’s
Supporters en route in PJs: too many to count
Women in Teenie Weenie Bathrobes – 1
Bagpipe Players: 3
Horses: approx 10
Dogs: approx. 75-100; Bulldogs: 1 – SumoJ
Patient Drivers: 100’s; In-Patient Drivers: 100’s
Supporters w/Hoses to cool us off: approx. 25; Supporters who got Fran hard in the belly: 1
Susan’s 1st time successfully drinking watered down Gatorade
Beers Consumed: 2 each; tent closed @ 630 – what’s w/that?
Massages by Man w/Ponytail: 1
Bags of Ice that Fran sat on – 1; Susan – 0
Cyclists who laundered their shirts in the shower – 2
Cyclists up past 8:30 pm: maybe 10
Cyclists taking a “late” night walk to downtown Bourne – 2
Cyclists consuming Sour Patch Kids – 2
Cyclists late for Sunday start due to “logistic” challenges – 2
Loving Husband’s Giving Flowers to Wives: 1 out of approx. 2500 women; Hint: it wasn’t Frank
Cyclists’ w/Tears: 5000; Supporters w/Tears: everyone
PMC Virgins: minus 2
Fears conquered: @ least 10
Dreams Fulfilled: @ least 2
PMC ’09 $ Raised passes $20 million and growing (2/3 of goal)
Future members of the “PMC Living Proof Club” …………… TBD
Thanks again…you all rock! Susan Rocks! Cancer Sucks!