|PMC 2014 Start.. .it was all a blur! – Photo Credit pmc.org|
Wow… just wow. The 2014 Pan Mass Challenge has come and gone. My rookie year! I thought my recap of this event would be eeeeeeasy to write. I was so wrong. I’ve been mulling over what to write for days now… it is so hard to put an experience of this magnitude into words. And there is NOTHING like experiencing something like this for the first time. So, here goes….
I had NO idea what to expect going into this ride. I knew it would be an inspiring, emotional, and challenging weekend. There are really no words that adequately describe an event of this magnitude. It was nothing short of amazing. AH-MAY-ZING!!! I could write a 100 page thesis on the awesomeness of this event. But I will try not to. Because that would be torture. And no one would read it (except my mom, who might make it to page 75 before tapping out.) Instead, here are some freakin’ awesomely awesome highlights. Forgive the order, it’s a little jumpy but you get the idea.
I was super nervous about evvvvverything to do with this ride. Luckily, I had some fabulous seasoned PMC’ers to help guide me through the process. But even without them (had I read the handbook, of course) this would have been a breeze! The PMC turns into a small city! It is unbelievably organized, with volunteers at every corner to help. Check in was a breeze. And when you check in as a first time rider? They cheer! Ring bells! Celebrate you as if you were a celebrity. I had NO idea! Though in retrospect perhaps I should have questioned why Colby was chasing me around videoing my check in. It was FABULOUS.
|Friday… check in, bike drop, Harpoon IPA, and dinner!|
Saturday dawned glooooomy and dark. Well, we started at 5:30 am so the dark was a given. The weather forecast was iffy and the skies were drizzly and hazy. Despite that, spirits were high and the excitement was palpable. We got there nice and early thanks to a hotel in walking distance (fist bump! woot woot Econo Lodge Sturbridge… see ya next year!). There was a huge breakfast spread courtesy of some of the fantastic sponsors to dig into and fuel up before the ride. We waited in the dark in the corral with our fellow riders, and I was fidgeting with excitement! There were announcements, National Anthem, and then… boom! off we went. Well, more like some walking, and then scooter-styling on the bike, and then away we go! In a huge pack of riders like nothing I have ever experienced! Thousands of bikes heading out together, in our PMC jerseys, all united in our cancer-fightin’ plight. AWESOME.
|breakfast! Thank you to the generous donors|
|morning bike corral – picture http://www.pmc.org|
The Ride (Day One)!
I was definitely nervous coming into the ride. 110 miles the first day, 80 the second. Are ya kidding me?? The longest ride I had ever done before this was 50 miles. The last time I rode 50 miles I stopped and ate a bratwurst and drank a double IPA in the middle (but that is a story for another time. Happy anniversary to us.) Needless to say, I was doubtful about how smooth this would be. I knew I would finish, for sure. But I was a little afraid I would be out there for a verrrrrry long time.
My fears ended up completely unfounded. I had a blast, and felt great! It was as if my bike had wings. The route was beautiful, a nice mix of rolling hills. Saturday the weather was drizzly rain and cool initially, so everyone was pretty cautious, especially on the descents. It was really a nice day to be out on the bike. The weather also seemed to keep the traffic down, which was a plus! There’s always a bright side 🙂
|rolling out after the first 25|
|Little damp, but we’re good!|
|Fluffernutter… .Water stop fuel of champions|
And then…. Somewhere around 85 miles in (no idea what time this actually was) mother nature turned into a real bitch. I mean seriously, what, does she like cancer?? The skies opened up and it POOOOUUUURED. And kept on pouring. Sheets of rain, ponds in the roads. Hoooooly shit. I have never ridden in rain like that for that long before. If Paul Revere was awaiting our arrival, he would have had quite the dilemma on his hands. “One if by land, Two if by sea….. uh oh. Just blink the light 3 times. I don’t know what this is”. It was cold. It was wet. There ain’t enough chamois butter in the world for those conditions. Swimmies would have been helpful. I sat in a port-o-potty for way too long just because it was dry in there. But you now what??? IT AIN’T CHEMO. So we rode on, the rain lightened, and I MADE IT!!!!
|Mile 100. My first century. Freezing and drenched.|
|Day One in the bag!!!!|
The Mass Maritime Academy
Saturday night we stayed at the Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne. What an experience! I am a smart chick… but honestly I didn’t really realize until the week before this where we would be staying. And then it clicked. My room assignment is the “ship”. Waaaaaaait a minute. I don’t think this is the name of a building. Hold up – we are staying on a real, live SHIP. So freaking cool. And a little scary (I don’t want to have to walk those slippery metal steps soaking wet again…. thanks). But mostly, almost all, cool. The rain forced everything under tents, but did not dim the spirits or the party! We ate, drank Crabbie’s ginger beer (holy delicious. review coming) and Harpoon (IPA and their special PMC brew – yum and thanks!!), listened to the bands, and had a fantastic time! Can’t wait to experience this in the sunshine.
|Snug in my bunk. It was chilly!!|
The rest of the ride was uneventful. We packed up and shipped out at 5:30 am Sunday morning. We rode over the Bourne Bridge (very cool…. and nerve wracking…. to do on a bike), onto the bike path, some secondary roads, and up the Cape to Provincetown. The weather thankfully stayed dry on Sunday, avoiding any weather related melt-downs and making for a happy and uneventful day. The legs felt great, spirits even better. Cruising the home stretch into the Provincetown Inn, leading the way as a first timer was so emotional! (cue the choke up again). I was so, so proud to have been able to take part in this event. Proud of myself for riding, for fundraising for this cause, and proud of every single rider, spectator, and volunteer along the way. What a weekend!!!!!
|got quite a few comments on this ensemble.. pink bike, pink shoes, and awesome kit! love!|
|Finish Line complete!!!!!!|
An event of this magnitude requires a small army to pull off. The PMC volunteers are top notch! Organized, cheerful, happy to be there, supportive. They checked us in, helped check our bikes, fed us breakfast, made all of the food for the stops, lunch, etc, directed traffic, manned all of the water stops, fixed broken bikes, responded to crashes on the road. Wow! I can’t thank them enough for all that they did. Hours of making egg sandwiches and pb&j, hours of standing in the rain to make sure we were all ok, hours of driving around fixing flats and other various mechanicals…. You are all absolutely amazing. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I never expected anything like this! The weather was not the best (understatement perhaps?) but there were still people out along the entire route, cheering us on. People standing in the rain for hours. Camped out at the end of their driveways with tents, umbrellas. Ringing bells, clapping, blowing horns. I thanked everyone I saw, and the response I got back every time – “no, thank YOU for riding”. Amazing. A man standing in the pouring rain saluting us. The woman who, when we thanked her for being out, said “No – thank you. I’m a survivor. I wouldn’t be standing here without Dana Farber and you.”. People standing out along the route with signs, in honor of riders, in remembrance of loved ones, celebrating their survivorship. I’m choking up just thinking about it. The show of support was unbelievable. And this was in miserable weather. I can’t even imagine what it is like on a good day. Hopefully I find out next year!
Riding in the PMC this year was one of the best experiences I have ever had. Yes, weather and all. Honestly, I think it was even better because of the conditions. Of course it will be great with the sun shining. But to see the level of love and support out there in the freezing cold, pouring rain just shows how special this event really is, to the riders and to the community. I will most certainly be back. And I will be ok if it is nice weather next time. Really.
I have many, many thanks to give… to all of my donors, family, friends. To Colby for inspiring me to do this, and Colby and Tina for holding my hand and guiding me through my first time. Too many thanks for here… I will be writing a separate post to properly thank everyone, because a mere sidebar at the end just doesn’t cut it. But until then, THANK YOU!!