The 2000 PMC took place the weekend of August 5th and 6th.
This was my twelfth year participating. I know that you're all busy so like I've done in years past, I put down the highlights of the ride as I saw them and for those with some extra time, I included the extented version.
Highlights and some stats (ie. the short version):
Hope you enjoyed the short version of the 2000 trip report.
I would just like to say thank you to all my sponsors. To those of you that have already given me your pledges, thank you. To those that have not, you can pay by check (payable to "PMC-Jimmy Fund"), cash, or online using a credit card (See link below). I can pick them up or you can mail them to me, inter-office or US, mail.
Thank you again for letting me ride on your behalf.
- Bill -
Click Here to make your payment electronically
(The long version starts here)
The weekend started Friday afternoon with a drive out to Sturbridge with my friends Tom and Mark. The weather was perfect. We arrived, checked into our hotels, and went to checkin for the ride.
Friday afternoon was spent catching up with old friends. The PMC is really like one big extended family. A better bunch of people you're hard pressed to meet. As usual, the team car showed up late in the afternoon with the weekend supplies of team shirts and tattoos. The team I ride with is a group known as the B-Czar B-Stees, a group well known to most PMC riders. We strive to bring the PMC to new levels every year. Whether it's through our team tattoos, team hearse complete with beer taps and misc food supplies, or just our miscellaneous comic antics. A good weekend was beginning to unfold.
For those not familiar with the tattoos, our team always have tattoos made for the event. The goal is to get as many people on the ride wearing the team tattoo as possible. The more creative the application, the better.
Well, the evening continued with the keynote speech and several videos. This year the featured video was a documentary on my friend Matt White. It was done by ESPN and compared and contrasted Matt to Lance Armstrong. The reason was that Matt also had and defeated testicular cancer. The video showed lots of the similarities between the two and as Matt pointed out, lots of the differences. This video was aired at the conclusion of the Tour de France. The difference was that this video ended with a special message from Lance to Matt. What an amazing moment. The entire auditorium erupted into such cheering you would have thought Lance was in the room himself. We had all hoped that he would have made an appearance but as his message indicated, he was in France training for the fall Olympics.
Then came the guest speaker, Patrick Byrne, CEO of overstock.com, to tell us of his cross country journey to Sturbridge as well as several other stories. For those of you that don't know, Patrick is a 3 time cancer survivor. He was contacted by Billy Starr, director and founder of the PMC, back in April to see if he would be interested in getting involved with the event. Within 30 seconds not only did Patrick want to ride the PMC, he offered to cycle across the country to meet us at Sturbridge for the start of the 21st PMC. Patrick had already ridden this trip three times in his life. This time he made the journey alone with nothing but his bike, riding supplies, and a credit card. Patrick brought national attention to the event while crossing the country with the aid of his PR associates. He made it to NY the Tuesday before the PMC and was on the CBS Early Show with Mark Mceown talking about the event and his final miles to Sturbridge. Patrick left NY and made it as far as Connecticut when he noticed that his heart rate monitor was registering a very high heart rate. He was not feeling well and decided it was best to go get checked out at the local hospital. The doctors informed him that he had worked himself into complete exhaustion and that continuing to ride would be very dangerous to him. But Patrick being a determined individual he was not about to stay put while being about 70 miles from his final destination of Sturbridge Ma. He unplugged his monitors, pulled out his IV and proceeded to leave the hospital. Luckily the doctors caught him as he was attempting to leave and they warned him that they would call the ambulance and have it run over his bike to prevent him from doing something quite that stupid. This message got through to Patrick and he was devastated. He made it to Sturbridge under power of a motor vehicle and was one of the most inspirational speakers of the evening. Patrick does plan to complete his final 70 mile journey next week after he is completely recovered and he will be riding with usin the 22nd PMC next year as long as his health permits. We also have Patrick to thank for raising the PMC Fundraising goal from 9 million to 12 million dollars in 2000. His challenge to us as a group is that he would kick in 1 million of his own if we raised the bar by 2 million. Well, PMC riders are usually up to a challenge and we have met his challenge.
The evening concluded with Cindy Bullens performing live. Cindy lost her 11 year old daughter Jesse to cancer in 1996. This loss inspired her to create her current CD which is dedicated to the memory of her daughter. All proceeds of the CD are going to the Dana Farber Institute. Cindy also was performing in her first PMC in addition to performing for the group.
After the performance it was off to bed. See we had a 4:15am wakeup call to look forward to in order to get us up so we could eat and roll by the 6am start. Those that know me know that this is not exactly my lifestyle. However, we all make sacrafices for the PMC and if getting up and riding that early is a requirement, I can hack it (for a weekend that is).
The wakeup call came as scheduled. It was time to get going as we had a long day ahead of us. We had breakfast, dropped our luggage off and headed to the starting line. Here we go...
We started off with the fast pack right up front. Unlike years past however, I just started with them and immediately dropped my pace after the first few miles. This was necessary if I was going to complete the ride without "bonking" (i.e. hitting the dreaded leg cramp zone I've hit in years past). The slower pace we dropped to was 20mph as opposed to the 25mph pace that the lead pack was doing.
The first 20 miles are very hilly. There's a point in Charlton where you're climbing up this hill, you're in your lowest gear, and thinking at times that you may have to get off and walk it. Right at this point is when your ears pick up on bagpipe music. That's right, bagpipes. There's a cancer survivor that stands at the peak of this hill playing his heart out for us as his way of saying thanks. It's an amazing thing to behold actually. There have been years when the hill is visible through a mist and he looks like an aparician of some sort. It's very surreal.
We made it to the first water stop at the 20 mile mark, regrouped with the crew that we were riding with, filled up the water bottles, downed a juice and off we go for the next 20. The second 20 are actually as hilly, if not worse than the first 20. You have no sooner left the water stop when you're climbing a long gradual hill up "purgatory chasm". The name is fitting as you're cursing like a madman by the time you get to the top. We all made it and the good news is that what comes up, must come down. Down at a blazing 52 miles per hour in a pack of cyclists. It's an incredible adrenaline rush. You know that one good sized pebble in the road could cause a major accident that you may not be able to walk away from.
We pull into the second stop in Franklin around 42 miles into it. My family and some friends come out to greet us here and wish us well. It's tempting to hang out and socialize but we know that we still have at least another 70 miles ahead of us before we can rest. So we got in and out of there in about 10 minutes and it's off to the lunch stop at mile 63. I left this rest stop with an ex-colleague, Eric Hedman, that I had not seen in a while. Eric was supposed to ride the PMC last year but he crashed his bike while on a training ride a few weeks before the event that left him with many broken ribs and other misc injuries. Unlike me, he was smart enough to take the time to heal rather than continue to ride all broken and bruised. We just rolled on for about the next 10 miles talking and catching up. See, the PMC is a ride, not a race. Some of the trip is just about socializing. The miles pass quickly.
Lunch was served at 9:30 and believe me, we're ready for it. The stop is very festive. There's people cheering, music playing, and more food than you need. The lunch stop is also the meeting place for the "Pedal Partners". The "Pedal Partners" are a group of kids from the Dana Farber Institute that teams and individuals sponsor for the ride. Our team sponsored a girl named Mary. She is a 7 year old girl battling cancer. It's not fair. She's a real sweet kid. There are pictures of lofs of the kids from the Dana Farber hanging up all around. They can get to you at times. All these smiling faces really make you realize that all the little troubles you have during your life and the pain you may feel during the ride are unimportant and trivial. It really puts things into perspective. It's sort of the closest I get to a religious experience.
We pull out of lunch as a group and head off. The next stop is around the 80 mile stop. My leg got a minor cramp just before the stop which the fantastic medics took care of with a bit of heat rub and some advil. It seemed that my friends Tom and Ed were at the same point. We sent the rest of the crew on ahead as we knew that the next 30 plus miles may be a bit tough for us. I was lucky and my legs behaved. Only a minor cramp or two and I was able to spin them out. The others had it a bit worse but we all stuck together. If someone had to stop to rub a cramp out, we stopped and waited. I've been out there by myself and it's not fun. This ride is more about being out there with your friends and finishing with them than it is about prize money (which there is none).
We all got into Bourne by 2:00pm. This is about 20 minutes faster then the previous year which was ok considering I trained less this year than any previous year. Total riding time for the 112 miles was 6 hours, 20 minutes (17.7mph for those of you into statistics).
We immediately registered for our massage upon arrival at the Mass Maritime Academy. This is a must as the available slots do fill up fast and you don't want to miss out. Then it's off to the Harpoon man to begin the afternoon of carbo loading :-)
It's actually quite nice. I had not even been off my bike for more than 10 minutes and I already had a massage appointment, a beer in hand, and was beginning to get my heart rate back down to something tolerable :-) I was walking to the showers and ran into my cousin Nancy. She made sure I took along a nice chicken sandwich with my beer. Didn't want me to get drunk on an empty stomach.
Now, to the showers. Ahh, all clean, ice cold beer, beautiful sunny day by the ocean, and plenty of food await. Not all the food is exactly what you would call health food. However, we all just burned about 12,000 calories so what the heck. There was Legal Seafood Clam Chowder (yummy), pizza, grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs, salad, and more. A veritable junk food feast with all the beer you can drink. Now this sounds wonderful but in principle, you don't really want to drink that much beer after this kind of workout. Well, you want to but you can't. I drank more juice and water than anything else (till dinner that is). The massage is one of the highlights of the afternoon. It is very much appreciated. The staff of over 100 therapists can't be thanked enough.
The atmosphere at MMA is very festive. People are setup on the lawn by the shore listening to the live bands and telling war stories of the day's ride.
(Left to right: Tom, Alan)
The afternoon did however have a bit of sadness associated with it. We were informed that one of the riders had strayed off the course and was killed when he was struck by an 18 wheeler. This hit all the riders hard. At first it's total disbelief. Then it sinks in and you really feel for the poor family and friends left behind after such a tragedy. It made the afternoon a bit somber but through it all, everyone still managed to go on and enjoy the day. It may sound cold but you know that this is what you need to do.
My team, the B-Stees, always have a reservation at the Beachmoor restaurant next to the academy. We go there for a team dinner and are greeted like royalty. The staff all know us and they roll out the red carpet for us. The hostess looks forward to her yearly tattoo as do many of the kitchen and wait staff. They send us bottles of wine on the house to go with one of the most fantastic seafod dinners I will have all year. This year the commandant of the Maritime Academy ship joined us. He had heard about our group and wanted to meet us. We all had a great time feasting and telling stories of the day as well as years past. And yes, the commandant left wearing a B-Stee tattoo.
We turned in after dinner. This was around 9pm and there was no trouble getting to sleep. Wakeup call came at 4:15 again. This time it was tougher to get up. I felt great and really looked forward to completing the ride. There was another 80 miles to go. Heck, this is short compared to the day before and my legs felt strong and up to the challenge. A quick breakfast, wipe the bike down and we were off by 6am. We made it about a mile when we came upon our friend Ed fixing a flat on the side of the road. We stopped and helped him out and headed out as a group. We figured it was the least we could do since his fiance was riding with us :-) We got to the Bourne bridge and it was amazing. The sky was clear and the sun was coming up. It was incredible. Once over the bridge we ride 5 miles along the canal. This is a great warmup for the hills that lie ahead.
Yes, hills. Contrary to popular belief, the cape is not flat. It is actually quite hilly. We travel along an access road that parallels route 6. Next time you're driving down route 6 pay attention to the terrain. You'll be surprised. This is actually a very cool ride. Once you hit the hills you can crank them if you get a good rhythm going. Some people psych themselves out after the initial climb. Not me, we fly through this at between 22 to 30 miles an hour the entire 22 miles. Into the first stop, water up and regroup and out on the road.
The second 20 miles are the flattest part of the day. We put a pace line together that consisted of about 40 bicycles. For those that don't know, a pace line is a a single file line of cycles all riding within 6 to 12 inches apart. This is the fastest part of the ride. Even a slow rider can manage to keep a 20+ MPH pace. The people at the front of the line do the work and all the rest benefit from the draft and end up working about 20% less but maintaining the same pace. We covered the 22 miles in just under an hour. This is quick.
We pull into the water stop and are greeted by a huge crowd of cheering supporters and a little boy holding a sign that reads "THANK YOU, I'm 5 because of you!". This little guy is Jack O'rierdon. He is known to most of the riders as his face and sign from last year were all over the newspapers and PMC bruchures. He's a great little guy. Jack had and beat cancer and is looking healthier than ever. It's really inspirational and a major boost to all the riders. One of the groups I ride with found out that his favorite things were matchbox cars and kit-kat bars. They each carried a bag containing a car and a candy bar and handed them to Jack when they pulled into the water stop. You've never seen a happier little boy. It really moved his parents as well.
We blast out of this stop after a quick bite, drink, and refilling the bottles for the next 20. The next 20 takes us from Nickerson State Park along the "rail trail" for a bit in Brewster, though the dunes of along the beach, and into Wellfleet. This is a tough leg but we did it in style.
The last water stop before P-Town is in Wellfleet. It's such a great feeling knowing that we have only about 20 miles left to finish the ride. This final leg is tough. Lots of hills and a stretch of road on route 6 that's about 8 miles with a crosswind. At some points the sand blowing from the dunes is stinging so bad but you just keep going. We made it through the first set of hills with no problem. This brings us to route 6. Seeing route 6 is a great feeling as you know there's not much left before the bike can be put away for the weekend. Our crew lined up with me at the lead position and I started to pull. I guess I was really looking forward to finishing because before I knew it I was pulling a line along at 20-22mph. Before long we came upon our friend Ed. Ed left the last water stop a bit before we did as we were waiting for one of our crew that fell. Ed joined the line and would now finish with us. Good thing as his fiance was still with us. I pulled the line all the way along route 6 till we turned off for the final miles through "race point" in P-Town. Race point consists of several tough hills through the dunes along the coast of P-Town. We are greeted by the bagpipe player at the final hill of the ride. This is a welcome sight as we know that there is less than a mile left to our 192 mile journey.
Race point leads us out onto the final stretch into the P-Town Inn, the finishing line. The road is lined with cheering supporters ranging from family to locals to the press that were out in full force covering the finish. We crossed the finish line at 11:30.
(left to right: Alan, Michael, Ed, Linda, Siobahn, Dave, Bill)
Once in P-Town we all showered up, had a great meal, a few drinks and enjoyed the day. We headed into town to catch the Ferry back to Boston. A group of us stop at a favorite watering hole each year before boarding the ferry for a final toast (ok, several). Then it's on to the ferry for the party of the year.
The ferry is the Provincetown II which is chartered by the PMC and is one of several available options for return transportation. In my opinion, it's the only option. We have what has become our house band, the "12:01 Blues Band", playing on the top deck for our almost 4 hour party. It's definitely a sight to see. You look around and there are approximately 1000 people up dancing and partying like they just went out on the town for an evening of fun. The fact that this crew has just bicycled across the state shows in very few. It's the final chance most us get to see each other till the next year. It's a celebration that just can't be beat.
(Left to right: Tom, Dave, Ed, Linda, Bill, Siobahn)
The Boston Fire Boat greets us as usual as we're pulling into the harbor. They shoot off their water cannons to salute our efforts. It is an amazing tribute. The boat docks at the Black Falcon Terminal and true to form, the band is still playing and the riders are still dancing. The families waiting on the dock are in awe.
(Left to right: Steve, Bill, Ed, Linda)
We disembark, say our final goodbyes, and head back home to our families and our lives. Another great time was had by all.
All in all, the effort I exerted and the pain I faced over the two day ride was nothing compared to what cancer patients face each day in their battle against this deadly disease. For two days people make us riders out to be the heroes. We're not. It's these courageous patients, their families, and the doctors that care for them that are the true heroes. I feel lucky and honored to be able to participate in this event.
I've talked alot about all the fun we have riding and partying all weekend long. This would not be possible if it weren't for the fantastic volunteer staff working the event. They make riding easy and enjoyable. We don't have to worry about anything but pedaling. They make sure we're fed, give us massages, bandage us up when we crash, fix our bikes if there's a problem, get our luggage from place to place, transport our bikes, lug the trash, you name it. They are an amazing crew and I couldn't thank them enough.
Thank you again for letting me ride for you and for sponsoring and supporting me in this event. If you couldn't tell, I had more fun this year than the year before. Until next year...
- Bill Snapper -