So, where was I? Ah, yes, we hate cancer….A lot has happened since Friday night and I haven’t had a chance to update you all, but now I am home and I will try to bring you up to speed.
I must say the weekend went very smoothly for Susan and I. Up at 3:30 Saturday morning, we dragged her VERY LARGE suitcase onto the school bus. This giant red rolling piece of luggage got quite a few stares and whistles from the men who were able to carry only a small backpack and live in the same clothes for 3 days. Unfortunately for Susan, her bag was very cumbersome because she had to stuff a sleeping bag into it along with her clothes and of course a few extra pair of shoes; just in case. I had the luxury of Mark being there as a road crew mechanic to take my blanket with him in the van. The reason Susan even had a sleeping bag was just in case we ended up in the tent again like last year when we got locked out of our room. Unlike me, Susan is always prepared for any situation that might arise. I on the other hand, am not, as was obvious when my own luggage ripped apart in the rain and I was left carrying a garbage bag (brought by the ever-prepared, Susan), looking a little like a homeless person.
The ride on Saturday was uneventful– No flats, no accidents, no physical pain for either of us. No Lance siting, either, although we heard lots of stories at the end of the day regarding whose friend’s friend got to ride with him.We rode the 110 miles on Saturday from Sturbridge, taking in the extra 38 mile difference from the Wellesley start we have done in the past. Susan was a trooper, rolling along with the crowd as I continued to get into ‘race’ mode and zip ahead, attaching myself to groups that passed me. At certain points I would stop and wait for Susan, and then everyone I had just passed, rolled by me. Then I would stay with her for a little, until I got the urge to rush away again. I had a hard time, especially on the up-hills, going slow and steady. My instinct is to race ahead whenever I can and Susan was very understanding of this, knowing that we both have our own riding styles.
The 2nd to last water stop on Saturday was in Lakevillke where the Pedal-Partner’s tent was set up. The pedal-partners are children in treatment at Dana Farber and are sponsored by one of the many teams at the PMC. In order to have a pedal-partner you must have at least 5 members on your team . Since Susan and I are a team of 2, we don’t have a pedal partner. The tent was filled with children of all ages , some bald, some in wheelchairs, some on bikes….and they were all smiling –happy to be a part of the PMC and knowing that our ride and fundraising are part of saving their lives. Susan and I walked a way from that tent a little taller, with reinforcement once again of why we do this every year.
We arrived at Bourne around 2:30, a half hour later than last year, which is pretty good considering the extra hills of Sturbridge, our short night’s sleep, and the fact that it was quite hot. My plan of attack last year once reaching Bourne was in this order :
Because we stopped for beer first last year, our roomates scoffed the lower bunks, leaving Susan and I to the very wobbly upper beds, which in turn led us to trying to steal another room, getting locked out, becoming homeless, and finally crashing in on Mark’s tent. It was all a little too much for Susan so she changed-up the order of things this year. Her plan of attack was as follows:
At first this system seemed to work better as we were the first to arrive in our rooms, pulled the wafer thin mattresses to the floor and avoided the bed in the sky. The problem occurred when we missed the third step altogether–food. After our showers, we immediately met up with my friend Michelle who was a volunteer at the PMC and her younger brother Robbie who I hadn’t seen since High School. This led to many beers and laughs about how Michelle was volunteering in ‘logistics’ and basically the only thing she did all night was to get Susan a water. (I realized the next day that we stood and drank beer with these guys and never sat down. After 110 miles riding, we never sat until we went to bed that night.) You can see here in my picture with Billy Starr that we were feeling little pain at that point. When he asked me who I was I said “I am Fran the Great and you are Billy the Greater, so take a picture with me…” I figured his ego may not be big enough and he might need a little boost from me.
At 6:00 pm, we realized that it was time for my “living proof photo” down by the waterfront and we all ran down for that. This is always a bittersweet moment in the day, as 200 plus riders, all cancer survivors like myself gather for a photo. This year Billy gave a little talk and toast which was very nice. Then we figured we’d better eat, but, unfortunately when we ran back to the food tent, dinner was being cleaned up. We managed to snag some cold, limp hamburgers and a baked potato but that was about it. All I really wanted at this point was a cup of tea–which was to be an impossibility over the weekend even though Dunkin Donuts was a sponsor. Tea drinkers are definitely discriminated against in this country. I think I should move to Ireland.
So off we went to bed in our hot dorm room with empty stomachs and sore legs, once again setting our alarms for 3:30 am.
(To be continued…)
I stumbled on your blog via PMC, as I am a long-distance supporter of another rider. YOU are an inspiration. Congratulations on completing this amazing ride, and even more on continuing the longer ride of being a cancer survivor. And thank you, thank you, thank you for the funds you’ve raised for Dana Farber. I lost my 43-year old dad to cancer back in 1979, and now have two very dear friends with cancer, and almost too many people in my outer circle to count who have fought cancer; some still alive, some not. I love the way you write, and your frank, kick-ass approach to the journey. Keep on!
Thanks Valerie, your comments made me smile–I’ve always wanted to be called kick ass! So sorry about your dad (so young!) and the other’s in your life with this dreaded disease…as long as there are funds to raise and my legs still work I will continue to raise money for all our friends who unfortunately need it. Thanks for the encouragement!
Sorry for your room mixup! I got locked out too, but found the ‘guy’ with the keys :). I also wanted to say the ‘no food’ thing was frustrating. I didn’t go have a beer first, I was just SLOW while riding and I came in to no food. Luckily one of the great volunteers hooked up a grill and made me a burger. (I mean you can’t ride another 80 miles with no protien). That’s one thing I hope they change for next year! They really should keep the food out until all the riders are in (or at least make us a plate)….