The 2004 PMC took place the weekend of August 7th and 8th.
This was my sixteenth 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 extended version.
Highlights and some stats (ie. The short version):
Some 2003 PMC Statistics
|19 (3 overnight stays)
Hope you enjoyed the short version of the 2004 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, interoffice or US, mail. Thank you again for letting me ride on your behalf.
- Bill -
US Mail Address:
90 Bald Hill Rd.
Holliston, Ma. 01746
(Long version starts here...)
The 2004 PMC took place on the weekend of August 7th & 8th. This was the 25th Pan Mass Challenge and my 16th year riding. Yes, those of you paying attention realize that I now have a 16 year old son. Wow, time sure flies as I rode my first Pan Mass on Eric's 1st birthday. He got hit driver's permit on his birthday (the 19th) and we're both learning.
The weekend started as usual for me on Friday. I drove out to Sturbridge with my friends Dave and Mark. It was a beautiful sunny day which was a nice change from many of the years. However, we all know how weather has been known to change for the PMC so I was still keeping my fingers crossed that we would luck out this year and have good weather. More on this later. We arrived in Sturbridge in the early afternoon, checked into our hotels, grabbed some lunch, and checked in at the registration desk to receive our PMC goodies.
As usual, we spent the afternoon catching up with old friends. It's an amazing group of people that comprise the PMC family of riders (over 4000 this year) and volunteers (close to 2000 this year). It's sad I only get to see some of these people once a year but it's great at the same time as it's sort of like a homecoming for me. You get to know a few people after being involved in the event as long as I have been so this is a great reunion weekend for me.
Our team car, yes, the yellow hearse, arrived by mid afternoon, parked in its usual spot right in front of the main hotel, and the weekend was officially started. The beer was flowing from the taps on the side of the car, tattoos were being applied, and fun was had by all that stopped by. A lot of people look forward to our car being setup. It's a staple of the event. There are also a few that don't quite appreciate the car or the team but lucky for us they're in the minority. We consider them the "people that just don't quite get it" and we try not to offend them but somehow we always manage to. Oh well, you can't please everyone. We figure if the police, Mike Andrews (67 Red Sox and Jimmy Fund director), and hundreds of PMC'ers and their family members stop by to visit and hang out with us and thank us for riding then we're doing ok.
The opening ceremonies were inspirational as usual. NECN did a great job with their coverage. (NOTE: If any of you are interested in seeing the opening and closing ceremonies let me know. I'll make a DVD available to you if you like.) The evening came to a close around 9:00 where most people headed off to bed so they were ready when the 4:15am wakeup call came in. I was too keyed up to sleep so I went to the hotel bar with some friends. It's nice to know that there are still a contingent at the PMC ready to party and enjoy. Let's put it in perspective though. We did leave the bar by 10:30 so we could get some sleep as we had 112 miles ahead of us in the morning. Morning came very fast. We put our bikes at the starting line by 5am, grabbed some breakfast, and prepared to ride. The scene at the Sturbridge start is amazing. The following pictures don't do it justice but I hope it conveys a bit of what we see and experience.
(Sturbridge Start. Bill, Wayne. and Dave at the start)
(Sturbridge Start. Bill, Wayne. and Dave are on the right side of this picture)
The ride started at 6am. It was an absolutely gorgeous day which was quite a nice change from the downpour the year before. The first 40 miles passed by in a flash. These are the toughest miles as they are very hilly. To my surprise we were averaging over 21 mph which is very fast for me. Nancy, Nicole, and my cousins Len and Elaine were working at the 40 mile water stop in Franklin. That was really nice to see. I've said this in years past and I can't emphasize it enough but the volunteers are what help to make this ride so easy for us riders. They are always surprised at the "thank yous" that all the riders give them. It's funny and an interesting perspective hearing it as a rider from the volunteers. We couldn't do what we do without them. The fact that there's all this food, drinks, medical staff, etc there for us is so incredible. Anyone that has done a "regular long distance ride" knows what a different experience the PMC is compared to that. We have so much support that it's hard not to ride well. Ok, the training is important and I could not do the ride without being properly trained. I also could not do it as well as I do without the support of these volunteers. Having family out there working the event makes it even more special and personal to me.
(Nancy and Nicole working in Franklin. That's Tony taking the picture of me taking this picture)
(My cousins Elaine and Len working in Franklin)
We left Franklin and headed off to our third water stop in Dighton. We arrived there around 10:00. This is the 70 mile mark. Lunch at 10 might seem odd but after getting up at 4 and riding 70 miles, we're ready to eat. The food at the lunch stop is a mix of sandwiches, energy drinks, and fruit and is consumed as quickly as possible so we don't stay too long and have our legs stiffen up. It's important as we still have another 42 miles left before we can call it a day.
Our group got back on the road after being at the stop for about 40 minutes. Well, this was a little (ok, a lot) longer than we wanted to be there but we ended up staying to wait for some other friends that caught up with us there. It took a little while to get our legs loosened up again after stopping that long but we managed to do it and did it well. Our core group is the same group I've been riding with the past few years. Wayne Johnson, Tony Espy, Marc Mann, David Winthrop, and Eric Hedman comprise my core PMC riding group. We manage to keep together for most of the ride. It's great and we all help each other out. It's truly a team effort.
The last 42 miles passed quickly and we arrived at the Mass Maritime Academy around 1:30.
(Marc, Tony, Dave, and Bill after arriving at MMA on day 1)
We were greeted by David's dad upon arrival at MMA. He works there every year checking riders in when they show up. This year we had a special treat, bicycle valets. David's wife Claire and her cousin Karen were our valets and parked our bikes upon arrival.
The weather was perfect for hanging out on the quad by the ocean at MMA. It was a fun afternoon of eating, drinking, and swapping stories with friends about the day's ride. There was one sad part to the afternoon. It happened when I went up to the massage tent and noticed a woman sitting there surrounded by friends. She looked familiar but I guess I didn't notice who she was as she had an oxygen mask on. When I left the massage area a friend of mine came up to me and said, "did you see Beth by the massage tent"? I replied, "no, was she in line for a massage?" "No, she was the one hooked up to the oxygen tank. She's battling end stage cancer." It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had no idea. Beth Kavanaugh was a rider that was part of a group of cyclists I have known over the years. She had been riding the PMC a year longer than I have. She was a very pleasant person and dedicated PMC rider and fund raiser.
Being associated with the PMC you get to see and hear your share of cancer stories. It's always tough and occasionally has a happy ending due to a cure or breakthrough. It's really tough when it hits one of the riders you've come to know over the years and it brings it even closer to the point of, this can happen to me. It doesn't matter how old, what kind of shape you're in, cancer just doesn't discriminate. There were a group of us that wore bracelets that weekend that said "Beth Strong", a play on the "Livestrong" bracelets the Lance Armstrong Foundation had been selling to raise money for cancer research. This was our way of supporting her in her time of need.
Ok, back to the day. We wrapped Saturday up with a fantastic dinner at the Beechmoor restaurant in Bourne as we do every year. As usual, we're greeted like royalty. The owner had our banquet table setup, our special foods brought in and prepared, and we had a meal second to none we have all year long. This year she made special golf towels for our team saying "Beastmoor", a play on our team name and the restaurant name. It's pretty nice of her to do just for the dozen of us on the team.
(The Bestmoor golf towel)
We wrapped up dinner at 8:00 and headed back for a good night's sleep as we would be up by 4:00am and riding by 5:30/6:00.
Sunday morning came quick and it was looking like another beautiful day was in store for us. This was heaven to have 2 back to back great days of cycling. We were on the road by 6 AM and on our way to P-Town. The ride over the Bourne bridge was a bit shaky with all those riders crammed into one lane. However, the incredible sunrise made it all worth it. The miles just seemed to fly by. Our core crew of Dave, Wayne, Eric, and Tony started out together but we ended up dropping Dave again unfortunately. The rest of us just felt so good that we really pushed it at a very quick pace all day. Just about 40 miles into Sunday's ride we head into Brewster and the signs start to appear for "Da Hedge". "Da Hedge" is like it sounds, a very long hedge in front of the "Cape Cod Sea Camp". The signs start around 10 miles before telling us just how far to "Da Hedge". Those not familiar with this wonder what the heck this is all about. The rest of us know it means an entire camp full of cheering kids and staff will be out there screaming and cheering as you go by. It's incredible. The cheering is so uplifting it nearly picks you up off your saddle as you go by. We have people out along the course both days cheering us on but this is by far the largest group and definitely the most colorful and loudest we see during the two day ride. The second water stop is a couple miles past "Da Hedge" and we basically fly there after being cheered on.
(Sunrise on the Bourne Bridge)
(Bill and Wayne riding through the dunes in P-Town)
The rest of the miles passed quickly after the second stop. It's incredible to think of an 85 mile ride as a short, easy ride. Especially since, contrary to popular belief, the Cape is NOT flat. The miles do go by quick for us veterans and we crossed the finish line in Provincetown at just before 11:00.
(Bill, Eric, and Tony after arriving in P-Town)
The riding was done and it was time to relax and enjoy. Warm showers were waiting for us and once we were cleaned up we put our luggage and bikes on trucks and it was time to eat, drink and relax. This is a common theme for the weekend. The difference with Sunday is we didn't have to be to concerned with getting up and riding again on Monday :-) It was a great day in P-Town. We left the Inn and headed into town for a stop at our usual watering hole, the Governor Bradford, for a pop with friends before boarding the Ferry for the party back to Boston. P-Town is always an interesting experience. After a couple drinks, it's time to board the Ferry. The band was on the top deck tuning up and ready to play for the ride back. The same band we've had for years, the "12 Oh One Blues Band", was there and ready to rock. As usual, there you have the 1000 plus cyclists that opt for the party boat back. You'd think ths crew would be tired but they're up there dancing and partying all the way back to Boston for the 3 hour tour... We arrive in Boston around 7 PM to the Boston Fire Boat Greeting and the crowds of cheering family members. It's a little sad as this is the end of our weekend. For most of us we won't see each other till the following year. We say our goodbyes, head off to our rides, and another ride has come to an end.
(Fireboat greeting in Boston Harbor)
Thank you again for letting me ride on your behalf. It was truly an honor. I'm sorry it took so long for me to get my trip report out this year. Things got very busy for me after the ride. A dose of reality came to a lot of us 2 weeks after the ride when Beth, the woman I mentioned earlier in this letter, lost her battle and passed away. We learned the end was near on a Sunday morning when we were heading out for a ride. We dedicated the ride to her and when we got home we learned that she had passed. Beth was an inspiration to many of us and she will be missed. We will all continue to ride and hopefully one day we can say that cancer has been beaten and maybe our kids kids will know of it only by reading about it in history books. That's my dream anyway.
Till next year,