Wednesday, August 13, 2008

PMC 2008 Recap

We ride bicycles for many reasons; we commute to work and school, we ride to the beach, we ride for exercise, we run errands, go to the bank, get a haircut, and stop by the farmer's market. But for two days earlier this month nearly 5,500 people rode their bikes 200 miles to help raise money to fight cancer. The Pan-Mass Challenge, now in it's 28th year, will raise in upwards of $34 million this year, which will go to aid research and treatment at Boston's Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Many people beat cancer, little Luca De Lisi did not, and if you ask me, that just sucks. If you don't know about Luca, click here. I chose to join Team Luca because I wanted to honor Luca, and help out in my own small way. I am so very lucky, I have a great family, and a simple, fulfilling life. I am able to ride my bike to work most days, and I get my summers off to play with my kids. Life is good for me. Life isn't so easy for someone fighting cancer. I have known a few people who have had cancer, and it isn't an easy road. This became very clear to me while riding the PMC. First off, I have to say that the ride is the icing on the cake. I felt lucky, and at times guilty, to ride with such a great group of people. The ride itself was amazing, though it almost became secondary to the inspiring stories from the people we met along the way. As we passed through town after town, many families and people stood alongside the road, holding signs thanking us for riding and raising money. Nobody said congratulations when we passed, instead we heard "thank you" over and over, and they meant it. One sign that stuck with me for many miles was held by a young kid, standing alone, and it simply read, "I turned 12 this year because of the PMC". It doesn't get any more real than that.

As far as the ride itself, we rode 111 miles on Sunday, and 85 miles on Sunday. It wasn't a race, but any time you get that many people together, all on bikes, it becomes a race. I love passing $6,000 plastic bikes on my steel SOMA. I am not that competitive, but I found myself pushing myself to ride fast and keep a good pace. Day one provided the most varied terrain, the first 50 miles consisted mostly of long climbs, before dropping down the last 60 miles into Bourne. Day two, though the mileage was less, was probably more challenging. The last 2o miles, from Wellfleet to Provincetown, were a constant uphill, with a steady headwind, so it was necessary to draft off other riders, and to let others draft you. At this point I had dropped back from the two guys I had been riding with for most of the day, and I hooked up with four other cyclists who were also looking forward to the finish line. We spent close to an hour taking turns drafting along the final stretch of Route 6, each of us taking turns upfront. Once we got close to P-town, I reconnected with some other teammates, and we waited for the rest of the team to catch up, so that we could cross the finish line as a team. We crossed the finish line around noon, then quickly split up, meeting family that had gathered to greet us. The day ended with the team reconvening at Race Point Beach for some food and much needed rest.

With a couple of weeks to reflect on the ride, I can say that it was inspiring in so many ways. It's no secret that I love bikes in a big way. The long training rides I did this spring have turned me on to long-distance riding and possibly some touring in the future. I am riding a century next month with the Charles River Wheelmen, and am considering entering a cross race this fall. But more importantly, the ride made me look at my own life in a new light. I am pretty damn lucky, and I need to remember that. Later this month, the PMC will present Dana-Farber with a check for $34 million, I am proud that Team Luca raised close to $75,000. We rode to honor a little boy that I never met, yet I feel he was with us the entire ride. Luca would have loved bikes, that I am sure.

Listening to: The National- Boxer

1 comment:

Rambling Canuck said...

Excellent post, amigo. Thank you.