Dear Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) sponsors and friends,
As many of you know, the Pan Mass Challenge was this past weekend – 192 miles cycling from Sturbridge, Mass. to Provincetown to raise money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). As those who live in New England know, it was a cold and rainy weekend.
Three words come to mind in describing the 2014 ride – grind, WET, exhilaration and WET. It was the coldest ride in the 35-year history of the PMC. And I was concerned about the heat?! After all, it was 104 degrees two years ago. Not this year: I just learned there were 60 cases of hypothermia. New England weather…sheesh!
Spirits high, fellow riders Steve Galligan, Jonathan Oski and I started out at 5:30 a.m. from the Sturbridge Inn in a light rain with roughly 3,000 fellow riders (another 2,800 left from Wellesley). The rain continued for most of the first half although we were periodically seduced by brightening skies and disappointingly brief dry spells until we got water stop 4 in Lakeville – about 30 miles from the Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne where we would put up for the night. There, the skies opened up and the heavy rain did not quit until the end of the first day’s ride. Riders just had to power through it. I was doing great until I got a flat five miles from Bourne. Not to worry: the sag wagon was there in a minute and I was up and running again in 10 minutes. That was also 10 minutes I got to stand out of the rain under the tailgate of a Toyota Sienna.
Weather the second day for the Cape ride was more civilized with occasional light rain and overcast skies, which are ideal for cycling. We saw one accident, were part of a second but escape falling and came upon a cyclist lying motionless in the road with a police officer tending to her. Fortunately, all involved this year’s dozen or so accidents escaped serious injury.
Why do I ride and commit to raising all this money ($29,000 over the four years I’ve ridden in the PMC)? Like 300 other riders, I am “Living Proof” that the research your Pan Mass donations pays for improves and extend lives. Steve Galligan can make the same claim. That said, I know many people not as fortunate as Steve and I.
Riders deeply appreciated the PMC fans who cheered us on along the route. There were steel drums, bagpipers, rock bands and countless cowbell ringers (More cowbell!) – people standing in the rain holding pictures of cancer survivors and those who cancer has claimed. Entire neighborhoods and church groups turned out cheering us on and yelling “thank you” and “you are the reason I am still here.” Gulp.
Despite exhaustion, aches and discomfort, riders never lost sight of the mission to raise money for DCFI – not for DCFI per se, but to improve and save lives. The value of DCFI to cancer’s victims and their families is inestimable. After all, we all more or less live in the shadow of cancer. We’re in this fight together and together, we will eventually win the war against cancer just as we have conquered other diseases.
The Lakeville stop on day one is especially poignant. Lining the road on the way in for about a half mile are large pictures every 15 feet of children who have cancer. It’s not right. It’s downright cruel, but cancer in children is the sad and crushing reality. The PMC turns that sadness into hope that connects us all.
Thanks again. If you have not donated to my ride, please consider it. The link is http://www2.pmc.org/
Your donations are being well spent.