2023 PMC Wrap-Up (short version)

August 23rd, 2023
Crossing the finish line in Provincetown

The 2023 Pan Mass Challenge took place on August 5th and 6th. It was truly a weekend to remember. While the 2022 PMC was the hottest ride I’d ever done, the 2023 ride was hands down the best weather in my 35 years riding in this event. Here’s the highlights for me:

  • Driving to Sturbridge with Eric and Meaghan.
  • Having an incredible lunch at BT’s BBQ (best I’ve had in New England)
  • Reconnecting with old friends in Sturbridge
  • The pandemic being a distant memory
  • Riding with Eric and Tony both days the entire way
  • Nancy, Nicole, Meaghan, and Joyce (Meaghan’s mom) volunteering in Franklin
  • Connecting with our pedal partner, Teagan, Day 1 in the PHAT lands en route
  • Eric and Tony both riding incredibly strong both days
  • Eric saving me 95 miles into Day 1 with a hotshot to get rid of a leg cramp
  • Crossing the finish line Day 1 with Eric and Tony
  • Pulling the team paceline along the Cape Cod Canal
  • Flying over the rollers from Sandwich to Barnstable
  • Nickerson State Park water stop with popsicles
  • Da Hedge being kinda back…
  • Wellfleet water stop fluffernutters, a tradition
  • The dunes in Race Point in Provincetown
  • Team PHAT Tuesday staying together Day 2 with almost no wait at Race Point or the final guard rail regroup to finish
  • Crossing the finish line Day 2 with Eric, Tony, and most of Team PHAT Tuesday
  • Dinner in Provincetown with Eric and Meaghan
  • Staying the night in Provincetown in lieu of the ferry back


  • Pre-recorded opening ceremonies
  • 1 mile of scarified road at mile 24 to the first stop
  • Crazy bike traffic where the Wellesley and Sturbridge routes merge
  • Our teammate Jeff crashing due to rider carelessness
  • Food at MMA (theme musta been burnt – pizza, burgers, chicken)
  • Poor rider etiquette on the service road Day 2. Riders all over the road not holding their line or staying to the right

Till next year…

2023 PMC Wrap-up – long version

August 23rd, 2023
Crossing the finish line
Crossing the finish line in Provincetown

The 2023 Pan Mass Challenge took place on August 5th and 6th. It was truly a weekend to remember. While the 2022 PMC was the hottest ride I’d ever done, the 2023 ride was hands down the best weather in my 35 years riding in this event. The following is an account of my PMC weekend.

As usual, we made the trek to Sturbridge with the goal of arriving around 1pm. Why so early? The traffic getting out there just gets worse as the day progresses. We like to get there with time to relax, grab lunch at our favorite BBQ place, check in to the hotel and get our weekend ride registration and jerseys before the crowds arrive. This gives us the chance to get everything ready for the 5:30 rollout Saturday morning. This worked out as Eric was able to try his jersey on and swap it out for one that fit him better.

Traffic getting there was consistent. Very glad we got an early start We got to Sturbridge and dropped our stuff at the hotel as our room was ready. We said goodbye to Meaghan and we walked over to B.T.’s Smokehouse.

The food at B.T.’s was phenomenal as usual. If you find yourself in the Sturbridge area I strongly suggest you give it a try. If you’re a lover of smoked brisket, ribs, pulled pork / chicken, etc you will not be disappointed. We ran into some friends there and the yearly reunion began. Somehow every year the same crew has the same routine. It’s not just us but it’s nice that some things in the world are constant and back to normal after some crazy pandemic years.

The afternoon is spent catching up with friends, meeting new people, and just getting into the PMC zone. Another constant is the people that make up this event. From the volunteers to the participants to the police it’s just the best group you could ever hope to be around. For the one weekend a year everyone is aligned. There’s no politics or division. We’re all there for the sme reason, help put cancer in the history books once and for all.

It’s good having the time to get the bikes and all our gear ready for the morning. It makes it so much easier to rollout at the ungodly hour. The afternoon seemed to fly by as usual, we hit the food tent for some dinner, went to the opening ceremonies, stumbled on a party at a room down the hall from us hosted by an old friend. How they got on the bike the next morning is beyond me but that’s another story. Let’s just say there was a lot of Tequila flowing. We made it an early night. I had set my alarm for 3:45 but as was typical the night before the PMC, I barely slept. I was up every hour. The anticipation and anxiety of getting on the bike and riding 110 miles the next day makes it tough to get good sleep.

I finally gave in and got up around 3:30AM and showered. We got dressed and put our bikes out at the starting line. One nice thing about staying at the HQ for the start is we were in the very front row of the coral. This means we’d be rolling out of there at the front of thousands of bikes. It’s just a lot safer and we can roll out and pedal quicker than if we were in the middle to the back of the crowd. We had a quick breakfast, some coffee, and dressed for the day’s ride. We dropped our bags off at the trucks that would take them to the Mass Maritime Academy (MMA) in Bourne where we finish day 1.

A rider sang the national anthem, very well I might add, and we rolled out at 5:30am right on time. The weather was just perfect. It was still dark but the air was crisp. I gave up trying to use my riding glasses as they were fogging up from the morning dew. No biggie as long as I kept my ride to a comfortable pace I didn’t need to watch my heart rate, speed, or cadence. Mileage is kind of nice to know as we were warned of a road that had been stripped down 24 miles in, 1 mile from the first water stop. The miles just seemed to fly by. The first two sections of the ride are the toughest as they have most of the hills. Fresh legs make the hills seem relatively easy. I was glad we had been warned as we saw this break in the pavement and there was a drop of a few inches to scarified asphalt. This doesn’t sound like much but when you’re flying along on skinny racing tires inflated to high pressure if you hit this the wrong way it’s a recipe for disaster. This section was really rough on the body as you felt every imperfection of the road. We slowed down a bit to keep it safer and rolled into the first stop after 25 miles averaging 19.2 mph. This was probably a little faster than my plan but Eric and Tony seemed good with the pace and the goal was to keep the 3 of us together all day. We did decide to back down just a little as we had a lot of miles ahead of us as well as another 18-20 miles of hills ahead on the next section.

We got in and out of the first stop quick and were back on our way heading to water stop number 2 in Franklin, our team’s home turf.

Franklin Water Stop Volunteers

We pulled into the Franklin stop by 8am. The sun was shining, the music was cranking, and we were home. Nancy, Nicole, Meaghan and Joyce along with many other PHAT Tuesday family were there volunteering among the many others. This was Joyce’s first PMC experience and I’m guessing she’s hooked and will be back. As much as we wanted to spend time with them we had to get back on the bikes so we wouldn’t stiffen up as we still had 67 miles to go to reach MMA.

Me, Meaghan, Eric, Nicole, Nancy, and Joyce
Brittany, Paul, Tony, Me, Diane, Jeff

Refueled and back on the bikes we headed towards the 3rd stop, Dighton-Rehobeth at the 70 mile mark. This is a great section as we get to ride through our PHAT Tuesday home turf and know the roads very well. Our pedal partner, Teagan, was on the route cheering us on. Teagan was diagnosed with B-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age 14 in May of 2022. She’s endured grueling treatment that’s landed her in the hospital many times but she’s a fighter and pushes on. She just wants to be a normal 15 year old kid but that’s not easy for her. Through it all, Teagan has been resilient. Teagan’s mom tells us she is the most optimistic of all of them – never complains, never gets frustrated, never even sheds a tear. She takes on everyday with a smile.


We rolled into the lunch stop around 10am.

PHATs at lunch at the Dighton/Rehobeth Stop

We planned to be in and out of this stop in 20 minutes but ended up there over 40 minutes as we decided to ride out of there with the bulk of the team. Regrouped and on our way towards the next stop, the official pedal partner stop, with a big group riding in a paceline. The miles were flying by. It’s only 15 miles to the next stop and this usually goes fast. Everyone was having a good time until one of our team crashed into a road sign bolted to the road. The bikes in front of him never pointed it out and by the time he saw it he was riding into it. Thankfully he wasn’t badly hurt but it was scary. It looked like he had serious injuries or worse as he wasn’t moving after he hit the ground. His helmet saved his life. He was taken to the hospital and released that night and would meet us at the finish in Provincetown the next day. Once he was cared for by the EMTs that happened to be right there at the site of the accident we rolled out as there was nothing more we could do. It was the best thing for all of us.

Approaching the stop the road is lined with pictures of pedal partners. It seems like they go on forever. If this doesn’t get to you you’re just not human. This is why we ride.

Riding past pedal partner pictures
Think this says it all
PHAT Tuesday at the final waterstop in Wareham

We spent very little time a this stop and were back out on our way towards our final stop of the day in Wareham. By this point I’m just tired and want to get into MMA and off the bike. Between the lack of sleep the night before and about 90 miles into our day I’m more than ready to be done. 5 miles out of the stop I got a cramp in my left leg. I thought I was done for the day as it hit fast and hard. Eric had this “hot shot” product with him and I downed it and 30 seconds later I was back on the bike. It’s a miracle product that worked for me (this time). We pedaled those final miles well and pulled into the MMA just after 1:30.

Eric crossing the finish line Day 1 at MMA
Me and Tony crossing the finish line Day 1 at MMA

Day 1 is done. It was incredible. We averaged close to 18 mph for the day and it felt great. Massages were back this year and those were very much appreciated. They were a staple for all the years I’d ridden but stopped in 2020 due to the pandemic. You only get a 15 minute massage but after riding 110 miles having someone work on your legs and neck / shoulders in my case was a true gift. You get off the table and feel like a new person. I know Eric said he felt like his legs were rejuvenated and were ready for day 2.

Team PHAT Tuesday at MMA

We took our team photo at the canal and then headed back to the house for the night. Huge thank you to our friends Ron and Audrey for giving us a ride back to Falmouth. I used to enjoy spending the afternoon at MMA hanging out with friends and listening to some good music and finishing the day with a great meal at the Beachmoor with my old team. That all stopped 15 years ago when we got our home nearby. It was all great till the night trying to sleep in the non air conditioned dorms at MMA. Let’s just say they were kinda ripe and the beds were less than what prisoners had to sleep on. I have lots of fond memories of some crazy days but the luxury of being able to sleep in my own bed is just priceless. I had a wonderful 3 hours of sleep until I awoke to the smell / sound of our puppy having an accident and redecorating the carpet. That was a long night followed by Nancy taking her to the emergency vet after dropping me, Tony, and Eric off at the MMA to begin our day 2 ride. Why did Nancy have to drive us? The taxi I reserved failed to show up. I’d been using them for the last 10 years without any problem. Chalk it up to the pandemic hangover and lack of staffing.

Day 2 began with us rolling out of MMA at 5:15AM. This is usually the perfect time to go as it’s a rolling start and the cyclists are typically spaced well apart. It seemed that this year everyone decided to start at the same time as the traffic jam of bikes getting onto the bridge was crazy. We are fortunate that one lane of the bridge is closed to motor vehicle traffic to let us get over it safely. It’s usually about a 10 mph pace going over. This year it was barely half that as it was so congested. Thankfully, once it thinned out we could pedal consistently to get over it. I always enjoy the few supporters that get up early to cheer us on going over the bridge. It always makes me smile to see one of my neighbors out there cheering for the riders with her group of friends. Thank you, Michelle, we all appreciate it.

Once over the bridge we regrouped at the entrance to the Cape Cod Canal bike path. From there I lead a clean pace line for the 6 miles at a consistent 18mph pace. One thing PHAT Tuesday is very good at is safe cycling and riding well in a pace line.

PHAT Tuesday Pace Line on the Cape Cod Canal bike path

Once we exit the path we wind our way through Sandwich and onto the Service Rd, aka “The Rollers”. This is one of my favorite sections of the ride. At this segment we split up as riders go at their own pace here. The group I rode it with flew over this section. We basically leave it all on the road and ended up averaging about 23 mph through the hills here. Lots of adrenaline and fun. We regroup at the first stop and head out as a large pace line with most of the team. The miles to the next stop in Brewster at Nickerson State Park are fast, flat, and fun. This year they brought back one of our favorite spectator areas known as “Da Hedge”. This is a long hedge in front of what used to be the Cape Cod Sea Camp that closed during the pandemic and was sold to the town. This year a group of people took it upon themselves to try and revive the screaming / cheering that we always were greeted with just before pulling into the water stop. It was nice to have it back but still a much smaller group than we expected. I’m optimistic that next year they’ll get the word out and “Da Hedge” will be a wall of people screaming that lifts us off our saddles as we ride by.

PHATs regrouping at the first stop Day 2
Eric and me at the 2nd stop Day 2

The second stop at Nickerson State Park is very festive. We usually hit this around 8:00. The sun is out, the music is cranking, people are dancing and singing and smiling everywhere you look. The highlight of the stop for me, popsicles. They taste so good at this point. I usually end up with brain freeze I eat em so quick but it hurts so good.

We regroup the team again and roll out in a pace line and stick together almost the entire way to the 3rd and final stop of the day in Wellfleet. The group splits up riding up the hill to the Beachcomber in Wellfleet but it’s close to the stop so nobody is waiting for long. This last stop is also another quick in and out as now we can smell the barn and just want to finish. Fluffernutters originated on the PMC at this stop for me and have been a tradition every year since. That and the ice couch they setup there.

Eric, Tim, and Bob on the ice couch in Wellfleet
PMC Shirts hung across the bike path

Rolling out of Wellfleet as a group was really nice. Even better, we stayed together as a group which rarely happens.

Ready to roll out of Wellfleet

The well oiled pace line that is PHAT Tuesday rolled through Truro and into Provincetown together. We all turn into the dunes in Race Point in Provincetown within minutes of each other where we all regrouped for the final push. The dunes comprised of 5 miles of hills. Hitting this at the end of close to 190 miles can be grueling but weather and training made these miles pass by very fast as we all raced through them like a group of kids riding in the neighborhood back in the day.

PHATs rolling along route 6 towards Provincetown
Regrouping at Race Point

Once through the dunes we regroup one last time about a half mile from the finish line so we can all cross together as a team. I was very grateful this year that everyone stayed together. This has been a sore point with me for years as we’d historically ended up waiting for anywhere from 20 to 45 minutes for everyone to catch up. This is no fun when all you want to do is cross that finish line and cleanup. A big thank you to Team PHAT Tuesday and especially Captain Tim Brightman for keeping this group together this year. I hope this is the beginning of a trend going forward.

Rory, Tony, Eric, and me crossing the finish line!
Team PHAT Tuesday and Team Huckleberry at the Provincetown Finish

Another year is in the books. I couldn’t be happier or more grateful to all my donors and friends that helped get me here. Almost 3000 miles of training went in before this year’s ride for me and at the time I’m writing this I’ve got more than $34,000 in donations in to the PMC.

Till next year…

2022 Pan Mass Challenge – Short Version

August 14th, 2022

The 2022 PMC took place on August 6 & 7. It was the hottest in my 34 years participating in this event. It was also the first PMC since 2019 that was back to normal. It felt great to be back in the zone. Here’s a list of some of the memorable moments that stood out for me.

  • Going back to Sturbridge.
  • Lunch at BT’s BBQ, yum!
  • Reconnecting with so many old friends not seen since 2019 BC (before Covid)
  • Opening ceremonies in person.
  • Being there with Eric
  • Mass start on Saturday morning with our bikes in the first row
  • Rolling through the hills with sun low and comfortable temps
  • Seeing Nancy, Nicole, and Meaghan working the 2nd stop at 45 miles in and them enjoying their PMC
  • Extreme heat, 96 degrees and over 90% humidity, turning on for us at 70 miles in.
  • Seeing one of my old teammates at mile 100 water stop
  • Crossing the finish line on Day 1 at Mass Maritime Academy with Eric and my friend Tony
  • Running into an old friend / ex-colleague at MMA doing his first PMC
  • Dropping my chain on the entrance to the Bourne Bridge (not good)
  • Seeing a neighbor and an old friend on the Bourne Bridge while riding over it
  • My PHAT Tuesday team waited for me, Eric, and Tony after my mechanical on the bridge
  • Flying over the service road segment
  • Riding a pace line the entire day 2 from Bourne to Provincetown
  • Crossing the finish line with Eric in Provincetown
  • Nancy seeing me and Eric cross the finish line in Provincetown

The 2022 ride is completed. It was a great weekend. It was amazing being back to a “normal PMC” after 2 years of Covid.

There’s still time to donate if you haven’t done so yet.
Go to https://egifts.pmc.org/bs0011

Thank you for your support. If you’d like to read the full report, click https://snapper.net/wpblog/?p=669.

2022 Pan Mass Challenge – Long Version

August 14th, 2022

The 2022 PMC took place on August 6 and 7 and it was the hottest in my 34 years riding it. It was great to be back to a normal PMC after 2020 and 2021 being anything but due to Covid.

My weekend started Friday morning, waking up to what I feared, a forecast of extreme heat and humidity. Anyone that’s followed me over the years knows that these conditions are my kryptonite. Living on the cape we rarely have high heat and humidity to train in. Even if you’re acclimated to the heat it can be challenging, especially over long distance. Day 1 for me was going to be 110 miles with a lot of climbing and I seriously considered changing my route to the shorter, flatter, 86 miles out of Wellesley. I’d done it 31 times before. I knew what I was in for. I decided to just go for it but to put a ride strategy in place that made sure we had the best chance of completing the entire distance. This meant dialing back our speed and not going flat out at a race pace as I’d been known to do. I set a goal of an average speed of 17mph for the day, about 6.5 hours in the saddle of riding time.

I met up with Eric in Natick and drove out to Sturbridge to begin the weekend. We got out there, checked into the hotel and walked over to BT’s BBQ for lunch. If you are a BBQ fan I strongly suggest taking a trip to Sturbridge, you won’t be disappointed. It’s a no frills place but their brisket, ribs, and pulled pork are incredible.

The afternoon was spent catching up with old friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen since 2019. It’s like a big family reunion. The hours flew by, we attended the opening ceremonies, prepped our bikes and supplies for the next day and were off to sleep by 9 as wakeup call would be 3:45. It’s never easy sleeping the night before the event with all the anticipation. I think I might’ve got 4 hours total. Before we knew it the alarm was going off. We rushed to get our bikes out to the starting line as I like to start up front. It’s a lot safer and easier than being behind thousands of bikes. For the first time in my 34 starts we were in the front row! We left the bikes and grabbed some breakfast, packed our bags and put them on the truck heading for MMA.

The starting line seemed smaller for some reason. Just felt like there were much fewer people than in years past. Regardless, we waited with everyone until the national anthem was sung and we were off.

Nothing like rolling out of the start en masse. Motorcycle police escorts, everyone with fresh legs, the air was crisp and the sun was just starting to come up. It was humid but we didn’t feel it while we were rolling. We covered the miles through the first 45 miles of hill quickly. It was really nice pulling into the second stop in Franklin at mile 45 with a pace of 18.2mph. This was a little faster than planned but it felt comfortable. I’ve gotten to this point averaging 21+ and knew that I’d pay for it down the road because I know how much energy I had expended and how my body will behave. You get to realize your limits so that’s a huge reason for us dialing in a reasonable pace with a goal of 17mph overall for the day.

Nancy, Nicole, and Meaghan volunteer at the Franklin stop. Nancy and Nicole have been doing this for 20 years. They’re up early and work hard. This year they endured the heat like we all did. A big thank you to them and the other 2700 volunteers that work over the weekend. We can’t do what we do without them.

We got back on the road quick and were on our way to the lunch stop at mile 70. The miles flew by. We had cut our pace back a little as it was starting to get hot. We pulled into the stop with an average of 17.8 overall for the day. We kept to our plan for short breaks and were back on the road 15 minutes later. It was only 14 miles to the next stop but we felt as if we’d ridden into a furnace when we got back on the road after 70 miles. We got to the following stop and I was starting to feel it. Slightly disoriented and fatigued but that’s the toll the heat was taking on me. We filled our bottles and downed some extra water while there. I was going through a full 24 ounce bottle of water with electrolytes between each stop as well as another 12 oz or more of pure water. this was barely enough but you have to be careful to not overdrink as well. Watermelon was also great at each stop in addition to other fruit and my PMC favorite, fluffernutters!

Once again we were on our way out of the stop and our way to the last stop at mile 100. At mile 90 my legs started to cramp. This was not fun. I downed a Hot Shot on the side of the road and this helped to quiet them down letting me make it to the last stop of the day before the final 10 mile push to the finish. I refilled my bottles and downed a big glass of pickle juice, yes, pickle juice, and was heading out when I ran into an old friend and teammate from my prior team. Also ran into my buddy Jen so we stopped to say hello, catch up a bit, and rolled out on our final leg of the day towards MMA.

Off we went. We made it about 4 miles when cramps hit Tony’s legs. Eric yelled out to me to stop and we did and waited while he worked it out. Back on our way with 6 miles to go and feeling good. A couple miles later Eric yelled out to me that Tony was not with us. We assumed the cramps returned and since we were so close to the finish I told him that we should just continue on and stop before the finish line to wait for him so we could all cross together. We waited a few minutes and sure enough there he was. He was grateful we did and we all rolled across the day 1 finish line together as well as some of our other teammates that came in at the same time. Day 1 was done!!! Hands down the hottest I’d ever ridden in. We crossed the finish line with an average speed of 17.0mph, my exact upper goal for the day.

We showered up and spent a couple hours at MMA eating, drinking, relaxing, and enjoying the day. My cousin Elaine volunteers serving up pizza and I made sure to visit with her. Of course I had to have a couple slices. I had 6 and was still hungry but wanted to be careful not to overdo it.

The team grouped up for our photo and we headed back to my house for the night for a great meal and a walk on the beach. We had plans for a swim or possibly to go out on the boat for a sunset cruise but reality had other plans as we were all drained from the heat of the ride.

Up at 3am to get ready to head to MMA at 4:15 for a 5:15 wheels up time. Everything went well regarding timing. We rolled out of MMA exactly at 5:15 as planned. It’s a slow roll to wake up the legs. We entered the ramp leading up to the bridge and I went to downshift and my chain dropped. This hadn’t happened to me in years. Of course it happens when we’re inside a blocked off lane with hundreds of cyclists of varying abilities. No biggie, I pulled off the road and Eric and Tony stayed with me. I was able to repair this once I realized how the chain was wedged. Once back on the bridge, not an easy feat, we rolled over and into the lot to take us to the bike path along the Cape Cod Canal. I was blown away to see that the entire team stopped and waited for the 3 of us. All thanks to Captain Tim Brightman and greatly appreciated as we assumed we’d be riding the first leg alone.

The white list on my back was a list of names people asked me to carry with me on my ride. They were my inspiration both days when times got tough. The 6 miles along the canal flew by and we would our way to the service road, aka, The Rollers. That’s one of my favorite sections of the ride. It’s miles of rolling hills that parallel the main highway. Once you hit your groove you can just fly on this section and fly I did. The team pace line broke up here and we would regroup at the first water stop in Barnstable.

Regrouped and fueled at the stop, we headed back out for the second leg of the day that takes us to Nickerson State Park in Brewster. It’s a really fun water stop. Very festive with music cranking. We were all pretty heated up by this time as we’d been pushing pretty hard in pacelines. My line averaged over 20mph on this section. The favorite food at this stop, popsicles! I ate two very fast and they were so good but also gave me brain freeze, I loved it, I did also push down a glass of pickle juice as a preemptive strike against potential cramps due to the humidity and exertion level. Once again this was a quick stop where we grouped up and rolled out.

The next section takes us along the Cape Cod Rail Trail for a ways as well as into Wellfleet along the coast, just beautiful scenery. The miles just seemed to fly by. It really helps when you’re riding with a fun group chatting the whole way. The water stop is at mile 58 in Wellfleet, 19 more to go…

After cooling down on the Ice Couch we saddle up for the final 19 mile push into the Provincetown finish line. This section takes us through some very scenic and hilly roads in Truro. We turned onto one road and there written in chalk was “Go Snapper 2” courtesy of our friend Andrea. We exit the dunes and hills of Truro and are put onto route 6 for 10 miles. This is the main highway going to Provincetown. Cars are flying past us at 70+ mph. It can be a bit unnerving but thankfully there were no incidents. And also thankfully that this year we didn’t have grueling headwinds as we’ve had in year’s past. Our teammate Tom pulled our line almost the entire 10 miles at a nice pace. Well, all good things must come to an end. We turn off route 6 and into Race Point. This is where we pull over and wait for those that fell behind with the goal of reassembling the team so we can all ride across the finish line together.

This wait is tough for me. At this point we’ve got 5 miles of hills ahead of us before the final mile or so to the finish line. Waiting is not what you want to do. Your legs are fatigued from the 2 days in the saddle and you run the risk of stiffening up before the final push. This wait was somewhere over 25 minutes and we finally decided that it was time to go and we’d wait for the stragglers at the final half mile into the finish line.

We reassemble and off we go to finish as a team. It’s the right thing to do but it’s not easy this late in the ride. All you want to do at this point is get out of the cycling clothes, take a shower, and get into some clean clothes. We crossed the finish line just after 11am after 4.5 hours of riding with a pace of 17.2mph for the day. Not bad considering we managed to keep most of the team together over the 77 miles on Day 2.

Day 2 is done and the 2022 PMC ride is in the books. It was one hell of a ride. We had the grueling heat of Day 1 over the 110 miles and thankfully a much cooler ride on Day 2 across Cape Cod. The heat did manage to turn on when we hit Provincetown but at that point we’re just going as hard as we can as we can smell the barn and we were ready to be done!

Nancy and Meaghan got to see me and Eric cross the finish line. We were done with the 2022 PMC. It was a phenomenal year on so many levels and I couldn’t be more grateful to be able to ride it the way we did.

I’d like to thank all of your for your support. As always, it’s been a privilege training, fundraising, and riding on your behalf.

Till my 35th PMC on August 5, 2023…

2021 Pan Mass Challenge – The Short Version

August 11th, 2021

The 2021 PMC ride is in the books. It was different than what I call a “true PMC” but much better than last year’s 100% virtual PMC. Here’s a list of some of the memorable moments that stood out for me.

  • Friday night dinner with Nancy, Eric, and Meaghan in the North End
  • Riding with Eric both days
  • Riding out of Wellesley with Eric, Tony, David, Brett, Jim, and Joe
  • Nancy and Nicole volunteering in Franklin
  • Riding with Tony once again
  • Great weather both days
  • Police support ad most intersections
  • Riding with David for the first 17 miles
  • Meeting the next generation of PMC rider
  • Loss of a young girl to Leukemia
  • Support of friends before and during the event
  • Seeing a text message on my Garmin telling me my niece Ashley got engaged
  • Riding strong
  • Boating home after Day 1
  • Finishing in Provincetown
  • Seeing “Go Bill and Eric” written on the road in Truro.
  • All the donation notifications popping up on my phone while we rode.
  • Riding by the park where Debbie and Ben came out to see me on the ride in 2017

Yes, the 2021 ride is completed. It was a great weekend. It was still what I call “PMC-Lite”.

There’s still time to donate if you haven’t done so yet.
Go to https://egifts.pmc.org/bs0011

Thank you for your support. If you’d like to read the full report, click here.

2021 Pan Mass Challenge – The Long Version

August 11th, 2021

PMC 2021 – Wow, great weekend “our way”

My ride for PMC 2021 is in the books. It’ll go down as one of my best for many reasons. Sadly, it’s still not what I call a “real PMC” thanks to the pandemic.

2021 was certainly better than 2020 and for that I think we’re all grateful. My usual ride is from Sturbridge to Provincetown, what I call the “true PMC”. Everything else pales by comparison in my opinion. Why? My true PMC (yes, I’m going to make this about me) is like a yearly family reunion where I get to reconnect with people I might only see once a year. It starts in Sturbridge on Friday afternoon at the registration desk and goes on all weekend. I get the privilege of going “into the PMC world” and leaving the world of politics, divisiveness, and pandemic behind. One place where everyone is there united against a common enemy, Cancer. The PMC community is unique and when you get this group of thousands of people together the world just seems like a better place. The reunion aspect was still lacking in the PMC due to Covid protocols. There were no big gatherings before, during, or after. I’m hoping we get to go back to that next year. Yes, it was the right thing to do but still a big let down.

That said, the 2021 PMC was incredible. I started my weekend on Friday by loading my boat with supplies and taking it from its slip in Falmouth over to a slip in Onset with the help of friends. This would be our transportation back home after day 1. We’d usually finish at the Mass Maritime Academy with a big celebration. The tent with all the food, the Harpoon Beer truck, the food trucks, the music, and the party atmosphere would not be there this year. Instead of riding into the MMA to the cheers of the spectators and crossing the finish line with lots of riders, we would finish at the Onset Bay Marina. This would be different but it would be special. I’m grateful for the help from Steve and Sonny making this work.

After making my way back home from Onset, Nancy and I drove up to Cambridge to stay with Eric and Meaghan since we’d be starting from Wellesley in the morning instead of Sturbridge due to logistics. We went to Parla in the North End for a great dinner and some amazing deserts from Modern Bakery. It was the first time I’d been back in Boston since the beginning of the pandemic with crowds, albeit smaller than typical, but it felt good to be closer to normal. Saturday morning we were dropped off at Babson College and 7 of us started our ride together. It was a bit anticlimactic compared to a mass start with over 3000 cyclists going off the starting line. It was fun though. It was great seeing other riders on the road as well as spectators out there at dawn cheering us all on. It was phenomenal to have the support of the Mass State Police as well as those from local departments. This was sorely missed last year when we did our own PMC with 4 of us riding together and seeing no spectators, having no police support at intersections, and seeing almost no riders at all. It’s easy to take for granted what you have till it’s gone.

I created our own route that would take us away from the official Wellesley route and route us over to Franklin (to the Sturbridge route) where Nancy and Nicole were volunteering. Our group of 7 went to 4 when 3 took the traditional Wellesley route instead of adding on the 8 miles I worked in. I hadn’t realized how much was missing from the PMC till I got to the water stop and saw them serving riders, the DJ blasting music, and announcers cheering us in. It really hit me that I was finally back “in the PMC” after 2 years. Till that point it just felt like a 25 mile ride. It was emotional and empowering. I was back doing what I love and sharing that with Eric for his 3rd ride. That’s a gift and an honor I can’t describe.

We left Franklin and continued our 91 mile journey that ended in Onset, 2.5 miles from the Mass Maritime Academy, the official finish for me for the past 32 years. This was certainly different but it was fun to change it up. To quote George Costanza from Seinfeld, the “seas were angry that day my friend” for our 8 mile ride back to Falmouth but we had fun.

Sunday morning we rolled out at 5:30 on our 85 mile journey to Provincetown. It was raining lightly and we didn’t mind. Thankfully it never rained hard. It was 10 miles to the canal for us to get on the PMC route. While riding along the canal I was passing a cyclist and noticed his tag said he was a first year rider. I said “welcome and congratulations on your first PMC. Hope it’s going well for you.” He replied to me “well, it’s not really my first PMC. I’ve ridden a couple of the PMC kids rides.” That just cracked me up. You have to understand, a PMC Kids ride usually involves a route that’s a few miles. This kid was taking on almost 80 miles for the second day. The fact that he thought this was not new to him just made me smile for many reasons, not the least of which is seeing the next generation stepping up.

We had a shout out from a teammate on the canal taking pictures for the PMC. That was fun but the canal was fairly empty, a bit eerie when you’re used to hundreds of bikes around you. Still, we had a blast cruising through “the rollers”, the service road that parallels route 6. It was really nice to see one of the Monday night group I ride with out there with a sign cheering us on. We cruised to our first stop in Barnstable at 30 miles in.

After a quick break we were off to our second stop in Brewster, 45 miles into our day, around 8am. It was during this leg where I realized how Eric had really progressed. I was at the front of what started as a small line of 4 of us and before I knew it there were over 20 bikes behind me in our pace-line for about 5 miles. I noticed my speed at over 22 mph and thought, damn, I probably dropped Eric. Nope, much to my surprise he was right on my wheel with me riding strong. He had become a cyclist. He had figured out how to use the draft to go faster with less effort. It was a proud moment but I wondered if I hadn’t made a mistake and possibly burned him out going to hard. Time would tell. We rolled in and took a selfie at the water stop. Eric liked the fact that this looked almost like it should, albeit with far fewer people. You have to understand that the water stops are like a party filled with people, music cranking, food, and just fun. This year the stops were barely 25% capacity. Again, the right thing to do but still different.

We were leaving the stop after refueling and someone shouted out “PHAT Tuesday”. I didn’t recognize him but it turned out he rode with some of my team’s Virginia residents. We ended up riding with him for a good part of the rest of our day. Within a few miles it was like we were old friends that had ridden together for years. This is kind of the magic of the PMC, that common bond that unites us all. While we were riding up a long hill in Wellfleet along the coast he says to me, “I want to share something that happened this morning. My daughter’s best friend passed away from leukemia. She was 17. She was diagnosed 2 years ago. She was like my second daughter. We thought she was going to pass last week but she just hung on. I told my wife to not hide it if it happened. The message came up on my Garmin (bike computer) not long before we ran into you.” Wow, I barely knew how to respond to that other than to ask about her and he shared what an amazing young woman she was. How unfair it was that she was barely starting her life and that she’d never get to experience all that lay ahead of her. He talked about her parents and I just kept turning the pedals and listened. All I could think of is, this is why we ride and that hopefully one day no child would suffer. No parent would have to go through the loss of a child due to cancer. It was a very sobering moment to say the least.

We rolled into the Wellfleet stop averaging over 17mph. This was very good and I think one of Eric’s best rides. I’d set a target of 16mph for him and he was beating that. The next leg is one of the tougher sections through Wellfleet and the dunes of Truro and into Provincetown. It’s gotten the best of me many times over the years. I was wondering how Eric would fare there and he crushed it. There was one road we turned on in Truro and someone had written “Go Bill and Eric!”. It was awesome and we had no idea who would’ve done that for us. We later found out it was one of our friends working as a PMC photographer. That simple little chalk message on the road not only propelled us but we had so many people come up to us and say “hey, did you see the sign on the road in Truro?” Fun. We got out of the hills of Truro and onto route 6 for 10 miles heading into Provincetown. I looked back and realized Eric had dropped back so I pulled over for a bit till he caught up. He was still riding strong. He got on my wheel and we rode into the final hills of race point. There’s a choice to go an easy flat 1 mile to the finish or take 5 miles of grueling hills. Eric chose the hills and we hit em hard. We rolled into the finish at 11:30 as planned finishing our 2-day total of 175 miles.

I could not have been more proud of Eric and how he rode this weekend. The same goes for his fundraising. I think he’s been bitten by the PMC bug. I love that this isn’t just “my ride” but it’s something we can do together and each have our own ride experience. I love that Nancy and Nicole have their PMC volunteer experience and making it all work for us. Words can’t express it.

We spent the afternoon in Provincetown and had a great lunch with Eric, Meaghan, and Tony. Nancy and I drove back to Falmouth after seeing Tony off on the ferry to Boston. PMC 2021 was over. It was a great weekend in spite of it not being a “true PMC”. At the end of the day it’s all about the funds raised and we’re raising a lot… The final numbers aren’t in yet but they’re looking great. Stay tuned and I’ll send them out when they’re finished. Personally however, I crossed $19,000 for the year and Eric looks like he’s going to pass $9,000 to bring him to Heavy Hitter level once again, very impressive.

I can’t thank you all enough for allowing me to ride on your behalf. Till next year…

PMC 27 for me… Time flies…

August 19th, 2015

27 years sure go by in an instant.  Each year marked by significant events both good and bad.  Thankfully the PMC is an event that is one of the good ones.

This year was thankfully an injury free PMC and I’m OK with that.  Training season got a late start due to the weather but once it kicked in it was great.  I’m fortunate  to have a great group to train with and together we push one another.

It’s Friday July 31 and that means it’s time to immerse myself into PMC weekend.  This is pretty routine for me insofar as I know what I need to have ready and packed before heading out to Sturbridge to get my registration.  We  have been driving a PMC van out to Sturbridge for many years.  It’s something I started dong around 12 years ago.  I used to volunteer to mark the route along with some others and we used a PMC van to do it.  We’d mark the route from Wareham to Wellesley and then drop the van back off at PMC HQ only for it to sit there till a volunteer drove it out to Sturbridge on Friday.  I figured it was better sitting in my driveway for 2 days and I’d drive it along with some friends out to Stutbridge.  It simplified the transportation greatly as we’d get out there and hand the keys to the road crew.  Much easier in that family didn’t have to fight the traffic getting out to Sturbridge and back.

This year began with picking up my friend and teammate Ed up at his brother’s place in Franklin and bringing him to my place to wait for our van pickup to take us to Sturbridge.  Ed is from Virginia and his trip up here was easier than the one to Sturbridge though not as comical.  We were waiting for the van to pick us up and realized it was late. I decided to call to see what the delay was.  The good news is that the van was at his place.  The bad news is that he had misplaced the keys! Laughing when I heard that I asked what we were going to do and he decided to drive his truck out to Stutbridge as they had a spare set of keys.  He had already dropped a car off in Wellesley for his Sunday return home so what’s one more vehicle to manage?

We ended up getting a late start and sat in stop and go traffic all the way out to Sturbridge.  No biggie, just meant a longer drive catching up with friends.  We were really hungry by the time we got there.  Someone suggested we try this BBQ place down the street.  Sounded good to us.  Man was this a find!  If you’re a fan of great BBQ I can’t recomment B.T.’s Smokehouse in Sturbridge strongly enough.  It’s a little place that looks like a deli when you walk in but you soon smell the most amazing scents of the ribs, brisket, chicken, homemade sauces, and more and can’t wait to order.

Sturbridge ArrivalArriving at the Sturbridge Host Hotel

Fed and satisfied we got our registration SWAG and settled in for our PMC family reunion.  27 years with the same group of people and it is like a family you only see once a year if you’re lucky. The afternoon flies by and it’s off to the opening ceremonies.  Our pedal partner Erica was one of the people featured in the “Living Proof” video and it was extremely moving and powerful.  Erica is a 19 year old girl that was just completing a viscious 1 year plus long battle fighting cancer.  Instead of shopping for college supplies and clothes and meeting her roommate Erica was trying to survive.  2014 and a good part of 2015 has been one large battle for Erica and her family.  I’m happy to report that Erica is NOW shopping for college supplies a year later and will be a freshman in September!  She’s still weak but Erica is a fighter and can’t wait to get to college and resume a normal life.

Erica in the living proof video at opening ceremonies

Our 2015 Pedal Partner, Erica

A group of us headed to a pub across from the hotel before calling it a night.  Knowing it was going to be brutally hot I refrained from alcohol of any kind.  Last thing I needed was anything that would make riding 6 plus hours in the heat any tougher the next morning.  It was fun hanging out by the lake at the pub and catching up with friends and meeting new ones while the band played on.  As fun as it was I made it an early night as wakeup call was 4am.

4am rolled around fast.  After doing this so many years it’s definitely easier.  Bags are packed, clothes and supplies for the day are ready and away we go.  We roll our bikes out to the front of the starting line before the thousands of bikes fill in.  Off to grab a quick breakfast, put our bags on the trucks and up to the starting line eagerly awaiting the starting gun.Sturbridge Start

Sturbridge Start – 5:30 am

It was a beautiful morning.  Clear skies, crisp air, and so much nicer than the freezing rain we started in and rode in all day in 2014.  We knew this cool air wouldn’t last but it was great  to start in it.  5:30 and off we went.  I’d always taken off with my fast friends every year but knew there was no way I could ride at that speed all day and make it the 110 miles without dehydrating so I set my target speed at 17-18 mph average.  That was my goal…

We pulled into the first water stop after 20+ miles of hills averaging 19 mph.  Whoops, this wasn’t the plan but on the bright side, it was a few miles per hour slower than I’d done in the past so I was hopeful I’d be able to dial it back and ride my target ride.  In and out of that stop in Charleton and off we went for the next 20 plus miles on to Franklin, my group’s home turf.  The miles just flew by thanks to the incredible group of teammates I rode with all day.  It’s like a rolling party with lots of talking and laughing all along the way.  We rolled into the Franklin water stop at 8am to a heroes greeting by our friends and family that were there to cheer and volunteer.  I was proud of my family all being there working and enjoying their own PMC.  Nancy, Eric and Nicole along with Christine and Ben were all doing their jobs making sure riders had what they needed.  It’s really great seeing them enjoy the event.  My kids have grown up on the PMC.  This was my 27th PMC and Eric’s 27th birthday is August 19.  I haven’t missed a year.  It blows my mind to think back over the years but I’m really proud of them all finding their own way to be involved.


Franklin Volunteers (my family in the red rectangle, click photo to see)

As fun as it is to see everyone in Franklin we need to move on quickly as we were only 44 miles into our 110 miles for the day so off we went.  Lunch stop is next in Rehobeth at the 70 mile mark.  We rolled along and into the lunch stop at 9:45 averaging close to 19 mph average.  Still hadn’t dialed back enough.  I was getting a little concerned but felt great.  I had all my supplements, food, and pickle juice.  Yes, I said pickle juice.  And yes, I thought it was absurd and disgusting sounding when I was turned onto this during a ride in the NH mountains by some fellow riders.  It seems that pickle juice helps with getting sodium and much needed electrolytes into the body quickly to push cramps off and even knock em out after they hit.  Does it work?  All I can say is that it works for me.  This could be completely placebo effect but when something like this works I don’t question it.  Funny thing is, the lunch stop had small cups of pickle juice at the food table for people.  I was carrying mine in a plastic bottle in my jersey.  People thought I was nuts but then they saw this and, well they stil think I’m nuts but maybe have slightly more credibilty…

We spent a bit to long at lunch but we were on our way by 10:15 or so.  It was heating up.  I was putting away between 1 and 2 24 oz bottles of water/drink mix down between every water stop and still that was barely enough.

The next stop was the pedal partner water stop.  Our pedal partner Erica and her family were there to greet us.  It was really special for us and I think it was for them too.  We hung out with them for a bit before continuing on.  One great memory from this stop is that they had Dell’s Frozen Lemonade.  I had a cup of it with the goal of brain freeze.  Goal achieved!  This was so good in helping cool us down.  I decided I’d have them fill one of my water bottles with it.  Sure it melted quick over the next leg but it was cold and good!


Meeting up with our pedal partner and her family

On our way and off to the last and final water stop of the day after a bit to much time at this stop.  Oh well, it was for a good cause.  Our group was still together which was impressive as we had  about 15 of us.

The final stop is about 8 miles from the finish line.  By now the heat was taking its toll on me.  I hadn’t cramped up yet but had a feeling it wasn’t far off.  Amazing to think that even putting down almost 2 gallons of water, lots of pills containing sodium and electrolytes, and yes, the pickle juice, it wasn’t enough.  Our speed had finally dialed back and we were at 18.5 avg.  We did what we could to refuel at this last stop and got out as quick as we could.  It was now after 12:30 and we all just wanted to be done.

I made it about 2 miles out of the water stop and bang, my right leg cramped up.  At this point the only thing I could do was get off the bike and try to rub it out and make it go away.  I punched my thigh so hard I ended up wiht a bruise but the cramp was gone.  Bruises heal.  My team kept rolling when I stopped as I didn’t yell out to them and didn’t want to stop the whole paceline this close from the finish.  I knew I was going to ride in on my own but was determined to do it.  Once I got back on the bike I basically just rode one legged the final 6 miles.  My right leg was clipped into the pedal but was essentially just going along for the ride with the left doing most of the work.  3 miles more and bang, there it was again.  Off the bike, worked it out and back on the bike.

I made it through Onset and emerged on the main road leading to the Mass Maritime Academy (i.e. MMA).  I knew I was there and had this locked up.  I was OK going in by myself because I was doing it on the bike.  I turned the corned into the MMA entrance and the road is lined with spectators.  I heard some call out my name and was kinda surprised.  My name is on the tag on my bike so I thought it was just people cheering me in which is what most spectators do.  I wasn’t expecting anyone I knew to be there.  It turned out that it was my team.  They ALL stopped to wait for me once they realized I had dropped off.  It just about brought tears to my eyes.  This was special and a real honor.  We all rode in together and that meant more to me than I can explain.


Crossing the finish line at Mass Maritime Academy

Day 1 was done!  I finished at 1:28pm with an average speed of 18.0 mph, the high end of my target goal.  I was really happy and it was shower time… after I made my massage appointment first of course.

Showered, massaged, and on to the food tent.  Food at MMA is nothing to write home about with the exception of the Legal Seafood Clam Chowder.  Well, due to an allergy to clams I can no longer eat that so it was some mediocre pizza, a very well done burger and a really dry piece of chicken.  Mmmm, I know you’re all jealous.  They did have a truck serving some great BBQ but the line was so long it wasn’t worth it to me.  And yes, there’s plenty of Harpoon beer to be had but unlike most, beer just doesn’t appeal to me after that kind of ride.  That’s OK, time at MMA was more about enjoying the afternoon with music and friends.  Food would come later…

For 20 years I stayed at MMA overnight.  That was “ok” but notice I say “stayed” and not “slept”.  Sleeping in the dorms in hot humid conditions on a bed that is less comfortable than sleeping on a board (which is essentially what we slept on there) was not restful.  I’m lucky to be able to go back to my house on the cape and sleep in my own bed.  It’s a real treat for many reasons.  Several friends came back with me.  While leaving the fun and crowds at MMA is a bit of a sacrifice we manage ok.  We went for a swim in the ocean with water temps in the high 70s.  The salt water waves were like magic in healing my legs from the day’s work.  We then went back to my place where we ate grilled swordfish, salmon and quinoa with some decent wine.  Yeah, MMA conditions were roughing it but I feel like I paid my dues there and this was so nice.  Everyone was asleep before 10 which wasn’t hard with the air conditioning and comfy beds.

Wakeup call came at 3:30am Sunday.  Everyone was up, dressed, grabbed their breakfast and coffee and in the cab heading to MMA by 4:15am.  I think we’ve got this down from an efficiency standpoint.  Well, I thought so until I realized I forgot my water bottles at the house.  Lucky this was just about a mile from the house so the cab turned and we went back to get them.  We still got to MMA with plenty of time to drop our bags off and meet up with the team to roll out by 5:15am.  Off we went…

SundayAMReadyReady to roll out of Mass Maritime Academy at 5:15am

We roll from MMA to the Bourne Bridge where we have a lane blocked off for us to safely ride across.  When we got to the bridge we were stopped on the onramp.  We saw emergency vehicles going past us and knew someone’s day wasn’t going well.  We had no idea that it was a friend of ours until we were 40 miles into the day.

Waiting to get on the Bourne Bridge

Once the emergency vehicles cleared we were on our way.  Unfortunately our group got separated with the crowd and a few of us would end up chasing them down for the next 20 miles.  We did pretty well and covered the miles really quick.  Our average for this section was over 23 mph.  I’m always amazed when I can do something like this.  It’s a rare speed for me and usually only happens on PMC weekend.

Ed PMC Edits 2015-08-10PM-13

Riding across the Bourne Bridge

Sunrise on the Cape Cod CanalSunrise on the Cape Cod Canal

Paceline we were chasing along the canalThe pace line we were chasing along the canal

We regrouped at the stop and within 15 minutes we were on our way to the second stop of the day at Nickerson Park in Brewster.  This section of the ride is probably the easiest as it’s mostly flat.  Everyone is charged up after hitting it really hard the past 20+ miles.  The group gets into a pace line and works really well together and the miles just fly by.


Riding the Paceline at Old Bass River and Seatucket Rd

Just as we approach the stop we pass by the Cape Cod Sea Camp.  This gets us charged up every year.  All the campers line a long row of hedges and scream / cheer us on as loud as they can.  It’s a real rush and seeing all those smiling faces you can’t help smile yourself.  We pull into the second stop and it’s about 8am.  We’re making pretty good time so we take a breather to refuel and enjoy the music and all that goes on there.  I ran into a friend there that filled me in on what went on at the bridge earlier that morning.  It turned out that our friend Jon had crashed and was taken to the hospital.  Luckily it was not serious.  He cracked his helmet when he hit and ended up with a concussion.  This is what the helmets are supposed to do.  It saved his life.  No broken bones or internal injuries so yes, thankfully this was minor compared to what it could have been.  We were all a bit surprised to learn about this as Jon is a 31 year PMC rider and very experienced / skilled rider at that.  It just shows you that it can happen to any of us.

We headed back out as a group on our way to Wellfleet, the third and final water stop of the day.  We start out on the bike path out of Nickerson and exit onto the roads in Orleans.  Through Orleans we enter Wellfleet and ride up along the coast.  Miles seem to just fly by as we seem to be at the next stop in a flash.  We hit the Wellfleet stop at around 60 miles in for the day at 9:30.  It’s looking pretty good for a 10:30 or so finish and I was ready for that.  While I was feeling physically strong and OK I was also physically and mentally exhausted as well.  I had a fluffernutter (my one time a year I eat one) and boy was that good.  I can’t explain why but it was just the perfect food for me at that time.  Washed down with gatorade, bottles refilled and ready for the final push into Provincetown, the finish line…  While waiting for the group to get ready to roll I was just antsy to get going.  Feeling tired I decided I’d roll out ahead of the group and just spin a bit slower for a few miles knowing they’d catch up.  I rolled out with my friend Fred who also wanted to take it easy for a bit.  Well, before we knew it we realized that 4 others had joined us and the other 4 were not known for taking it easy.  So be it.  This is one of those moments when teamwork pays off as we all pushed each other.  We picked up the pace and cruised through the dunes of Truro, a very hilly and beautiful section of the ride.  We exit the dunes onto Route 6 which would be our road for the next 10 miles or so.

Route 6 is a challenge due to the wind and the fact we’re riding in the breakdown lane of a highway.  Cars flying by us with most of them beeping and cheering.  The miles flew by with a few of us doing most of the work.  I was happy to sit in the draft and take my turn up front when I could but I didn’t have a lot of energy left so my pulls were short.  That’s ok as the group as a whole worked well to cover this section.  We turned off Route 6 into Race Point, the final 5 miles of hills in Provincetown before the finish line.  We waited for the rest of the team to regroup before rolling out.  They weren’t far behind us.


Waiting to regroup at Race Point

We rolled into Race Point and covered those miles quickly only to stop again about a quarter of a mile from the finish line to wait for some others on our team to catch up so we could roll in together.  Waiting and patience is not one of my virtues but I do it because of this group and our team leader and my friend Tim Brightman.  All these people waited for me on day 1 when I fell behind and it meant a lot.  We grouped up and all rolled in together at 10:30.  My average speed for the day was 19.0 mph.  I was happy.  I was through!  PMC number 27 was in the books for me.


Waiting for some of the team so we can cross together


Crossing the finish line!

Core Team Finish

Core Team Finish Line Photo

Ah, now it’s time for a nice shower and we can finally kick back and enjoy some food and drinks.  We did our annual toast and headed to the food tent.  Food in Provincetown is much better than the rest of the weekend.  It’s one time I just don’t get concerned about what I’m eating from a health perspective.  Sausage sub, hamburger, lobster roll, chips, and some beer were a nice way to start the afternoon.  We’d earned it.  I knew I wasn’t getting back on the bike in the morning and that was a very good feeling.  As much as I love to ride I like having a ride like this behind me.

We headed into town making our way to the ferry for our trip back to Boston.  The weather was perfect for a 3 plus hour boat ride home.  The time flew by as it always does.  We approached Boston and were greeted by the Boston Fire Boat with a water canon salute.

Fireboat Salute

Boston Fireboat Welcome Home Salute

We get to the docks to screaming family and friends.  Another PMC is over in what seems like an instant.  We say goodbye to our friends and head home.  We’re all tired but happy.

This year thankfully was uneventful with respect to injuries.  Even the extreme heat was fine compared to the brutal cold rain of last year.  I had time to reflect on all those we lost this year and all those fighting the good fight.  No matter what discomfort we feel that weekend it’s nothing compared to what a patient and their families go through battling cancer.

Thank you all for your continued support.  As always, it’s been an honor and a privilege training, riding, and fundraising on your behalf.

Till next year,


P.S.  It’s never to late to make a donation to the PMC – Click Here to donate

PMC 2014 – “Whoops, I did it again…”

August 31st, 2014

Hello and thank you for your continued support of my Pan Mass Challenge fundraising activities. This being my 26th PMC I was calling it my marathon year (I know, marathons are 26.2 miles but indulge me). I was hoping for an uneventful year and praying for weather like we had last year, basically perfect. Well, as the Rolling Stones say, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want…”

Most of you know about the weather challenge we all faced this year. What you didn’t know is that I had a bigger challenge than that. No, thankfully I’m still cancer free and grateful for that. But about 3 weeks before the PMC I had a bike accident. Yes, another PMC for me riding injured. Well, at the time of the accident I thought the PMC would be a spectator sport for me this year. I left the hospital the day of the accident with a walker. I crashed on my right side and landed hard on my hip. Luckily it was just badly bruised and later I’d learn there was a couple of chips to the hip but not anywhere critical in the joint. I also tore a muscle in my ribs that wouldn’t completely show itself for more than another week. When it showed I had just transitioned to using crutches and was just feeling like I might be able to ride after all. The morning the rib tear appeared I went out for a nice easy 35 mile ride. It felt OK. I was feeling optimistic. That was until the next morning when I woke up planning to go out and ride 50 miles. My body told me to go back to bed and not ride but I didn’t listen. I figured I’d loosen up once I got on the bike. I was wrong. We stopped at the 18 mile mark to fuel up and take a short 5 minute break. I had just ridden miles of the most beautiful coastline on this ride and I turned to a friend and asked “hey, why don’t I remember riding Surf Drive?”. His reply was “whoa, you’re white as a ghost. I’m calling to get a car to come get you.” I was in so much pain at this point but rather than take the easy way out I chose to cut my ride short and ride home. This was 1 week prior to the PMC. I thought I was toast. That’s it, no riding this year for me.

I was really bummed about this and basically knew if I was to have any chance at all I had to just rest and do nothing but ice, heat, and drugs to ease the pain and inflammation for the entire week. That’s not an easy thing for me to do but I did it. I saw my doctor the Tuesday of PMC week and he cleared me to ride. He said that the pain would be my guide and if I felt up to it I could go. OK, most of you know me by now. Of course I was going to give it a try. I continued to rest through Friday of PMC weekend. This was when I took my bike out for a ride around my neighborhood to see if I could turn the cranks and be comfortable in the saddle. I did and I was OK. I figured my game plan would be to hang back and just ride easy and I could make it.

OK, so the PMC stands for “Pan Mass Challenge”. The challenge part is usually the fund raising and riding the distance. That’s more than enough for most people. Now I was adding riding injured. Sure, I’ve done that before. I could handle it. Well, I guess that wasn’t enough of a challenge. We were faced with the worst forecast I’ve ever seen in my 26 years of riding the PMC. It looked like we’d have rain all weekend long. Not just mist, this looked ugly. OK, it’s the PMC, we’re there for a challenge. We’re there to ride for those that can’t and for those that are battling cancer. Anything they’re going through is far worse than us being a little wet. Being a true PMC’er, I just figured I’d go for it and take it as it came.

I headed to Sturbridge Friday afternoon with some friends. An old friend I hadn’t ridden with in over 8 years was returning. I was really looking forward to riding with Tony again as he was there at the beginning of my journey 26 years ago.

Bill and Tony ready to head out to Sturbridge!

Bill and Tony ready to head out to Sturbridge!

Bikes, gear, and us ready to head out.

Bikes, gear, and us ready to head out.

Friday in Sturbridge was really nice. I spent it catching up with old friends. It’s one of my favorite parts of the weekend. I kept it low key as I was still not feeling 100% but I was there and I was going to ride.

I attended the opening ceremonies along with many of the riders and volunteers. They’re always filled with inspirational speeches and info about why we ride. At one point Billy Starr, PMC founder, asked the “Living Proof Survivors” in the audience to stand up. I did. This was my second time and this time it really hit me. I think last year it was all still to fresh but this time I guess I’d pushed that part of me so far in to the recesses of my mind as my way of dealing with it that it really got to me. I think it was the only time I’d had tears about what I’d been through. It was tough but reminded me all the more of why I was there and how lucky I was, even with my injuries.

I went out to hang out with some friends for a bit before crashing for the night. PMC Friday is hard to describe. You’ve worked hard fundraising and training for months and now you’re here. The adrenaline is flowing and you just want to get on that bike and ride already. It’s usually hard to sleep that night but I manage to get in a solid 6 hours (a lot for me on PMC). We got up at 4:00am, got dressed and took our bikes to the starting line. It was nice out and barely misting. I’m thinking, “maybe the rain will hold off all day and we’ll be ahead of it”? Yeah, right, I can dream.

Me at the starting line (red tires looking down at my computer)

Me at the starting line (red tires looking down at my computer)

And they're off...

And they're off...

We rolled out of the Sturbridge start at 5:30am with 108 miles to ride. The rain was starting. It was a drizzle, no biggie. I had taken my rain jacket off and put it in my back pocket at the start as it was really hot. The rain wasn’t cold and the air was warm enough, we’d be fine. The initial miles from Sturbridge are very hilly, about 35 miles worth. The uphills were a bit of a challenge as I couldn’t stand on the pedals due to my injured hip. Luckily I had trained hard and had the strength to climb while seated. It was the downhills that were scary. The brakes and rims were wet and that made braking very difficult. I worked hard to keep it under 40 MPH on the downhills as the roads were very slick and with skinny tires and painted lines on the road it was really dangerous. This definitely helped the miles to go by as you’re extremely focused on everything around you. You have no choice as one mistake and you could go down and the last thing I could afford was yet another injury.

The miles passed quick. I was keeping an 18 mph average pace and that was right where I wanted to be. I knew if I was going to make it the distance I had to keep it back and not go at my max. We pulled into the second water stop in Franklin at the 44 mile mark around 8am. By now it was raining harder. I found my wife and kids there. This is the stop they were volunteering at. There they were out in the rain serving us riders and smiling while doing it. This is the PMC. Without the volunteers we couldn’t do what we do. I’m very proud of their involvement in the event. All of them have been doing this officially for 10 years. We were in and out of this stop quick and I put my jacket on before leaving as it was now getting colder and much wetter. I had to try and keep my core body temperature up. Sounds strange to worry about this in August but it was about 60 degrees and the cold rain can drain the heat from your body fast.

Nicole and Eric prepping food for the riders in Franklin

Nicole and Eric prepping food for the riders in Franklin

Outside the Franklin waterstop and on our way we stopped to see my neighbor’s grandkids as the ride goes right by their house. The three of them, Sammy, Sophia, and Ava Joy, ages 8 and 5 (the older two are twins) were standing under an umbrella waiting for me. I had brought them Mardi Gras beads (our team’s theme), spent a few minutes with them and were on our way. Not two houses down the street my rear tire went flat. OK, one more challenge. I decided to walk back to their house and use their garage to change the tire rather than out in the rain. As soon as I turned to walk back a black Mercedes van stopped, asked if I needed help, and they took my bike from me and fixed the flat. This is service that makes you feel like you’re a professional racer. I didn’t know till after they were done that this van was not part of the PMC. They were support for a private team riding from NY. We were on our way in no time but now rather than riding with a team there were only two of us. That’s OK as you’re surrounded by countless others out there all riding together. We continued on to our next stop in Dighton/Rehobeth, the lunch stop.

Thankfully we were able to catch up with our team before they left. We grabbed a quick bite to eat, filled our water bottles, and left within minutes. The rain was getting worse, we were 70 miles in with about 38 to go. Sure enough about 8 miles out one of my teammates got a flat. It was pouring now. Rather than everyone standing around changing the tire we sent them on and told them we’d see them later. It took about 20 minutes to change the flat but while we were waiting I got extremely cold. The rain literally sucks the heat out of your body. I thought I’d warm back up once I was moving as this was how the day had gone so far. Every time we’d leave another water stop my injured leg had stiffened up and I was cold but within a couple miles I loosened up and warmed up.

Riding through the rain...

Riding through the rain...

Back on the road and heading for the next stop I was chilled to the bone. I couldn’t get warm. We were now pedaling through heavy rain and deep puddles. We had no choice, we continued on. In and out of the next stop and on our way to the final stop. We regrouped with our teammates and rode the final miles into the Mass Maritime Academy. Arrival time, 2pm, about an hour and a half later than I like to get in. I was shaking uncontrollably and needed to get out of my wet clothes and warm up. Normally I’d stop and make a massage appointment before doing anything. Not this day as I was so sore from my injuries I couldn’t let anyone work on me.

I made my way to my dorm room where my bag was supposed to be. The operative phrase here is “supposed to be”. My roommates bags were there but mine was not. Now I’m getting a bit pissed off. I’m hypothermic and can’t get out of my wet clothes as I had nothing to change into. I had to go outside in the pouring rain just to get signal on my phone so I could call the PMC to report my missing bag and ask for help. Fun fun fun, yes, one more challenge I could have done without. Thankfully I ran into a friend that was volunteering at the MMA and he offered to help. He went looking for my bag in the building and found it on another floor. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank Dave enough for doing this. He literally saved my PMC. It was about 45 minutes now after getting in and once I showered I still couldn’t get warm. Dry clothes helped but it took another hour before I’d stop shaking.

MMA time on Saturday is usually a lot of fun. You’re next to the ocean and Cape Cod Canal and usually have great weather. There are usually bands playing in the quad as well. This day however everyone was huddled under the giant food tent rather than sprawled about the campus soaking in the sun, music, and the day. I was in such a foul mood due to the events of the day I just wanted to get out of there as fast as possible. Lucky for me my house in Falmouth isn’t far. My cousins and friends volunteer at the MMA and they were available to shuttle me and some friends back to my house. It was good to be in the comfort of home after this day. Typically I’d prep a big meal but with the weather we decided to just order pizza. I have to say, we usually love a meal of BBQ’d swordfish, salmon, some fresh pasta, and salad. Today the pizzas and some good wine really hit the spot.

I was pretty sore and wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get up and get back on the bike the next morning. I spoke to Nancy and gave her a heads up that I might not ride and might need her to come get me on Sunday. I wanted to finish the ride but with everything I’d been through that day and my body talking back to me from my hip and rib I thought Sunday morning would come and I wouldn’t be able to get out bed.

We spent some time in the hot tub soothing sore muscles and that was sheer heaven. It was an early night for all as the cab was picking us up at 4:15am to take us back to MMA where our bikes were. Wakeup call came at 3:30. I slept well since I was in my own bed. However I could have used another few hours. Miraculously however I woke up feeling great and decided I was going to ride. Dressed, ate, and out of the house at 4:15 we were on our way back to MMA where we dropped our bags off, got our bikes and met up with the team and rolled out for day 2 at 5:15am.

Day 2 started out with a slight mist. We had no idea if we were going to have a repeat performance of the day before. It didn’t matter at this point. Our bags with dry clothes were on trucks and would meet us in Provincetown. Our only option was to just go for it and go format we did. The day starts with a climb over the Bourne bridge. The sunrises over the bridge are spectacular. Newbies would have to take our word on that as there was no sun to be seen. It was wet and overcast. Climbing over the bridge means a descent on the other side. All worked hard to keep it controlled due to the slick roads and the volume of cycles on the bridge ridden by both experienced and novice riders that have very little clue what they’re doing.

Halfway down the bridge I spotted a neighbor of mine out there cheering on the riders with some of her friends. The supporters are huge for us. It keeps us going, puts smiles on our faces, and gets us through some tough parts of the ride. I’m not sure they know how much we appreciate them being there. It’s even cooler when you see someone you know out there knowing they could be back in the warmth and comfort of their bed. Thank you supporters!

Exiting the bridge we hit the bike path along the cape cod canal on our way towards the Sagamore bridge about 6 miles away. This is a nice flat section and a good place to warm up. We need the warmup as we’d soon hit a climb along route 130 in Sandwich and onto the service road that parallels route 6. The service road, aka “the rollers” is a blast! Newbies usually curse it as they have no idea what it is and where the hill came from. Once you make it over the initial climb the road is a series of small hills, hence the name, “the rollers”. The group I ride with hit this hard. We were over 25mph for most of the ride into Barnstable. It’s a rush and a half. There are times when we’re climbing at 30 mph, which for me is mind blowing as I never ride the road that fast the rest of the year. How do we do this? With a lot of help from our fast engines in the group. These guys ride so fast that you just want to hang on their wheel and draft along. It’s a total blast.

We ended up spending about 30 minutes in the first stop waiting for the rest of the team to be ready to head out. This is tough on me as I’m not real patient when it comes to waiting for others to ride. The longer you’re at a stop the more you stiffen up and the harder it is to get going again. And let’s face it, it’s day 2 of a 192 mile ride and I’m just looking to keep rolling and get to the finish line as fast as I can.

The second leg of day 2 is mostly flat. There’s some “cape hills” meaning, they’re not long and not that steep and doable by all in our group. The highlight of this section of the ride is what is known as “Da Hedge”. This is the hedge in front of the Cape Cod Sea Camp and it’s always a rush riding by here with hundreds of cheering campers and spectators. It’s about a mile from the second stop at Nickerson State Park and the cheering propels is into the stop as if we’ve got an engine on our bikes.

Da Hedge...

Da Hedge...

The weather has been cooperating for us so far on day 2. The second water stop came up fast and it was fun getting there. Listening to a couple at the stop talking about “a monsoon coming” made us get out of there fast. They were describing this like it was armageddon and that was a bit unsettling. We’d learn later that the amateur forecasters were wrong! Regardless, we got out of there quick and were on our way to the third and final water stop of the day in Wellfleet. This section took us along the bike path for a while. We were trying to keep our pace down for one of our team that was not able to ride as fast as the group I was with. That’s harder than it sounds, keeping your pace down that is. We managed to stay together till we got to the road that takes us up by the national sea shore leading up to the Beachcomber in Wellfleet. Once we hit this long gradual hill we split up and rode our own pace. Hills for me are something I like to get over as fast as I’m capable so that’s where I lose my patience and it’s every man for himself. Sorry guys, it’s “how I roll”.

We pull into the third and final stop in Wellfleet by 9:30. It’s at this time I realize I never called Nancy to let her know that I was riding and that she wouldn’t need to pick me up in Falmouth after all. I texted her to let her know I was 22 miles from the finish. She was surprised but not shocked as she’s seen me recover quickly over the years. We regrouped here with the rest of the team and headed out towards our final destination, Provincetown!

Me, JZ, and Steve Branfman at the Wellfleet water stop.

Me, JZ, and Steve Branfman at the Wellfleet water stop.

Scott Britton and I riding through the Orleans marsh.

Scott Britton and I riding through the Orleans marsh.

The final 22 miles of the ride are hilly and fun. It takes us through Orleans, Truro, and finally into Provincetown. The section heading into Provincetown takes on route 6 for miles of headwinds that are tough to power through. We do it as a team and hit it in a paceline that makes it so much easier. We cruised this section at about 22mph average and it was a total rush.

Riding up route 6 in Truro (that's me with the red tires)

Riding up route 6 in Truro (that's me with the red tires)

Entering P-Town!

Entering P-Town!

Most of the team stayed together for this section but we lost a few due to the fast pace so we stopped at the entrance to race point in Provincetown to wait for them so we could finish the ride as a team.

Waiting at race point...

Waiting at race point...

Once we regrouped we hit the final 5 miles of hills. The finish line is so close now that there’s no stopping us. We rolled across the finish line in style as a team and that is fun. Lots of cheering when we all come rolling in together.

Crossing the finish line...

Crossing the finish line...

The ride is done… One final group picture at the finish and it’s time to go cleanup and enjoy the day in Provincetown.

We're done!

We're done!

Finished and very happy to be there...

Finished and very happy to be there...

Our time in Provincetown seems to go by in a blur. Every cleans up, heads to the food tent, eats more than we will eat at a single sitting all year, and then heads into town to catch the party ferry home. Same thing every year but it’s always different if that makes sense. The weather cooperated for us all day Sunday and straight into Boston on the ferry where we are greeted by the Boston fireboats like returning conquering heroes. That sight is both spectacular and sad as that means our PMC is coming to a close. I won’t see most of these people till next year. Next year we will pickup where we left off.

The fireboat greeting in Boston Harbor.

The fireboat greeting in Boston Harbor.

Our weekend journey is over. We say our goodbyes and go on our way home. The glow of the weekend will stick with us for days. It’s a natural high you don’t want to come down from. Regardless of the adversities we faced over the weekend we focus on the fun, the friendships, and the people we are there to help. All of that somehow makes the challenges fade into the background. NONE of what we deemed a challenge over the course of this weekend even comes close to comparing to what the cancer patient faces during their battle. Our discomfort is fixed and bounded and we know come Monday morning our only after effects will be sore muscles. That’s nothing compared to the lasting effects of cancer treatments. It’s a perspective I hope every PMC’er has. I know I do.

Till next year… Thank you for all your support and for sticking with me all these years…

PMC 2013 Video – HCFY!

September 2nd, 2013

The following video shows PMC-2013 from my perspective. It was a great year for many reasons. I hope you enjoy viewing it as much as I did living it and creating it.


PMC-2013-HCFY! from Bill Snapper on Vimeo.

PMC 2013 – 25 years… This time it was personal…

August 31st, 2013

On August 3rd and 4th I rode in the Pan Mass Challenge. This was my 25th and my first. How could this be you ask? It was my 25th time participating in the PMC and that was an honor, privilege, and something I’m very proud of. It was also my first riding as a “Living Proof” cancer survivor and my first riding with my brother riding his first both as a new rider and first year cancer survivor. Needless to say, this year had a very different perspective for me.

I decided to go back to Sturbridge for my 25th after last year’s Wellesley start. The weather looked like it was going to cooperate. Little did we know just how well it would.

My brother flew in from Atlanta Friday morning. His bike arrived several days earlier that week. We all assembled at my house ready to head to Sturbridge Friday morning. Marc had one of the PMC vans for us. This makes getting to Sturbridge so much easier as we drive out and hand the keys to one of the volunteers.

PMC van loaded.

PMC van loaded.

We heard there was a big accident on the Mass Pike so we decided to take back roads to Sturbridge to avoid the giant parking lot. This worked and ended up being a very scenic ride. At one point we ended up driving into a lovely condo complex with a golf course. We all laughed when Marc said “I know where I am and where I’m going”. You have to picture driving through a condo complex and seeing the end and knowing we had to turn back to where we came in to appreciate it. Oh well, it was only a minor detour. The car following us did not really appreciate the humor in this.

We arrived in Sturbridge around 2:30, checked into the hotel, dropped our stuff and went directly to check-in. My brother checking in as a first time rider got the welcome bell. Me, I checked in for the 25th time and when they gave me my “Living Proof” pin it all came rushing in on me. It was like the past 7 months were a speeding blur until that moment when it felt like time stood still and I reflected back on what I went through to get to that point. It was emotional and powerful. I had to walk away from everyone for a couple minutes to get myself together.

We all went over to the pub and had some food and drinks by the lake. Then back to the hotel to catch up with old friends, off to the opening ceremonies and early to bed as wakeup was at 4am.

Bikes staged for the start

Bikes staged for the start

Up at 4, we took our bikes to the starting line to get a good spot and then off to breakfast. Fed and ready to roll we dropped our bags off at the trucks and made our way to the starting line through the sea of bikes. Thankfully I turned on my flashing light so I was able to locate my bike when I came back.

We met up with our team, PHAT Tuesday, and assembled to take off together. My buddy Marc and I usually ride together and end up dropping the team. This year I knew I had to pace myself if I was to finish strong with reserve energy in the tank. That meant I wouldn’t be racing with Marc at 20+ MPH the entire day. My game plan was 17-18 MPH average and I knew if I did that I could finish strong without incident.IMG_2537
I planned to ride with my friend Jim and my brother Howard assuming we could all maintain the same pace. I knew Jim could as we’d trained together but wasn’t sure if my brother could. He and I talked and agreed it made sense for us to both “ride our own ride” and we’d connect at water stops. This turned out to be a good decision and a smart one. I rode at an 18.0 mph pace and was very comfortable with that. My brother rode a little slower and this was a smart thing as it meant he’d be able to finish the entire ride. Those of you that have been with me over the years know that a lot of the time I ride MUCH faster than I should and end up running out of gas and in pain towards the end of the ride. I didn’t want that to happen to either of us. My brother figured this out his first year. It took me 25 years 🙂

Riding out of Sturbridge was incredible. The weather couldn’t be any better. The sun was coming up and everything felt great. It was going to be a good day.

Riding out of Sturbdidge.

Riding out of Sturbdidge.

Jim and I pulled into the first water stop and waited till my brother showed up to make sure he was doing OK. He wasn’t far behind us and seemed to be doing great. It was really cool to see him getting into the event and finding his own way and making this “his event” as opposed to riding “my event”. The PMC effects everyone a little different and I wanted him to find his personal connection. It’s hard to explain but suffice it to say that it is important and he was finding his way. That was very cool to see. We took off and headed towards the second stop in Franklin, my team’s home turf.

We motored through the second leg of our day 1 journey with ease. The miles just flew by. Before we knew it we were pulling into the Franklin water stop. I expected to see some friends of our team there as well as my wife and daughter. The big surprise came when my sister in-law Stacy and my niece Ava were there. They flew in from Atlanta to surprise my brother. Well, they managed to surprise me but they really surprised my brother. We were about 15 minutes ahead of him. I saw him coming into the stop and had people get in front of Stacy and Ava. I called him over. When he reached us we stepped aside revealing his family and he was overwhelmed. Seeing that was priceless.

Howie surprised to see Ava in Franklin.

Howie surprised to see Ava in Franklin.

Our cheering support crew in Franklin

Our cheering support crew in Franklin

We took off from Franklin leaving Howie behind to ride out with some friends of mine riding his pace. Jim and I connected with a paceline and flew to the 70 mile lunch stop. About 5 miles before the stop Jim flatted. We had to pull over to change the tire and lost our pace line. I did the quick repair and we were off again. We pulled into the lunch stop around 9:45. It was a very festive atmosphere. It’s kind of odd eating lunch that early but seeing as we ate breakfast at 4:30 it wasn’t all that odd. We connected with a bunch of our team and all left the stop together, my brother included, and off we went to the next stop. The miles passed quickly. Everyone talking and having fun it was a rolling party. In and out of the stop quickly, off we went to the final stop of the day.

We waited for everyone to get together before rolling out of the last stop so we could all cross the finish line together. The final miles felt great. My legs felt like I had another 50 miles in them. Amazing what cutting my pace back just a little did to give me the endurance to power through. My brother and I crossed the finish line together at 1:14 at the Mass Maritime Academy.

Bill and Howie Day 1 finish at MMA

Bill and Howie Day 1 finish at MMA

My wife and Howard’s family were there to greet us. It was great for them to see us finish. We had to get in and reserve our massage spots and then off to shower and change to enjoy the afternoon’s festivities. Nancy and Howie’s family were not allowed onto the campus so they said their goodbyes and off we went.

Showered and feeling refreshed we had fun eating, drinking, and just having fun all afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised to run into an old friend who’s band was playing at MMA that afternoon. That was a lot of fun.

The afternoon flew by. We assembled to take our team picture around 4:30.

Team PHAT Tuesday 2013

Team PHAT Tuesday 2013

After pictures the crew staying at my house got our gear and headed to the car to drive over the bridge. This part of the weekend is a real luxury after spending 20 years in the dorms at MMA. Back at my house we all took a walk to the beach where a couple of us dove in for a nice refreshing swim. The weather was absolutely perfect. Back at the house everyone cleaned up and we proceeded to prepare a fantastic meal of pasta, fresh swordfish and salmon on the grill. This sure beats the food at MMA. Dinner was followed by a giant chocolate chip cookie cake my sister in-law sent to us from Georgia. IMG_2542

We capped off the day in the hot tub to ease our sore muscles. This was the perfect end to a perfect day. Off to bed by 9:30 as we had an early wake-up call on Sunday in order to get in the cab to take us back to the MMA for day 2 of the ride.

Nobody had trouble getting to sleep and morning arrived much to fast. We were up, fed, caffeinated, and in the cab on the way back to MMA by 4:25am. Back at MMA we dropped our bags off and made our way to the bikes. We met up with the rest of the PHAT Tuesday team and were on our way at 5:15. The sun was coming up as we rolled over the Bourne Bridge.

Sunrise over the Cape Cod Canal from the Bourne Bridge

Sunrise over the Cape Cod Canal from the Bourne Bridge

PHATs crossing the bridge

Rolling along to the canal towards the Sagamore Bridge

Rolling along to the canal towards the Sagamore Bridge

Photo Aug 04, 5 41 40 AM

From the bridge we rolled along the bike path along the Cape Cod Canal. Sunrise over the canal and riding along with the team of more than 20 riders was a blast.

Nearing the end of the canal I noticed that the water bottle in my rear cage was shaking. I was afraid it would come loose and cause an accident so I pulled off to the side and the pace line of PHATs rolled on. My friend Bob stopped with me. I discovered I lost a screw and the remaining one was very loose. I secured the cage and we were back on our way in about 5 minutes. Bob and I rode as hard as we could with the goal of catching up to the team. We were riding close to 25mph and passing bikes along the way. Before we knew it we saw the team ahead. How we managed to cover those miles and catch up to the team is still a mystery to me. I call it the “PMC Magic”. It lets us ride harder and faster than we ride any other time somehow.

We caught the team right before we turned onto the service road that parallels route 6. This is one of my favorite segments of the ride as the service road is what we call “the rollers”. Once we hit this section a group of us just hit it hard and we rode at 32 to 35 mph, crazy. It was fast and very fun. The miles passed so quick at that pace that we were in the first water stop before we knew it. We waited for the team to show up and regroup at the stop. Day 2 is all about keeping the team together so we make a special effort to regroup at all three stops.

Assembled and ready to roll out of Barnstable

Assembled and ready to roll out of Barnstable

In and out of the stop we headed onto the second segment of our day 2 ride. It takes us from Barnstable to Brewster along 20 miles of very scenic cape cod roads. The town of Brewster has people lining the streets and the center all cheering for us. It’s very humbling and cool. Once through the town center we know we’re close to ‘Da Hedge’. This is the section of the ride at the Cape Cod Sea Camp where hundreds of cheering campers are out there cheering us on. The kids are amazing and it lifts us up ass we power our way to the second water stop at Nickerson State Park.

The stop is one of the biggest party stops along the way. Music is cranking, food is flowing, and freeze pops and fluffernutters are served. I know, you’re all saying, “fluffernutters and freeze pops? That doesn’t sound like a great combination.” Well, don’t knock it till you try it. We love it.

Ready to roll out of Nickerson State Park

Ready to roll out of Nickerson State Park



Again we regroup and off we go towards our third and final stop in Wellfleet. Along the way we go through Orleans and I spot one of my ex-colleagues and friends out there cheering us on. That was fun to see. We made our way across the miles and turn onto the road that goes past the legendary Beachcomer in Wellfleet. Riding up this road is tough as it’s a bit of a hill with wind coming off the ocean. It’s one of the prettiest areas along the way and very representative of what people think of when they hear the phrase “old cape cod”.

We hit the water stop, watered up, got some fluffernutters and fruit, assembled the team and off we went towards our final destination of the weekend, Provincetown! By this time everyone is energized and a little tired. The ride through Wellfleet and Truro is incredible. One minute you’re in the woods and the next you’re riding along next to a marsh rolling out to the open sea. This segment has some hilly terrain for the cape. Before we know it we’re out on route 6 for miles from the outer Truro into Provincetown. The winds here and traffic make the section tricky and a bit tough. The team however cruised along strong in a pace line making the miles fly by. We see the sign saying “Entering Provincetown” and it’s an amazing feeling. We’re almost there. Soon after we turn right off route 6 for the final 5 miles of hills through race point in Provincetown. The team split up over the past 10 miles so we stop to reassemble for the final trek into the finish line. After about 20 minutes we push on. All are energized and ready to finish. In the dunes we come across a sign that made us all smile.

Go Snappers!

Go Snappers!

Tired and ready to finish we emerge from the dunes and along the marsh. We can see the finish line ahead! The team had my brother and me get to the front of the line to lead us all in. It was an honor and a privilege leading the PHAT Tuesday team across the finish for my 25th PMC. The feelings were many and overwhelming. In a flash, we were in and done. Wow, PMC #25 was in the history books and I felt awesome!

Crossing the finish line in Provincetown.

Crossing the finish line in Provincetown.

Feels great to be finished!

Feels great to be finished!

PHAT Tuesday finished!

PHAT Tuesday finished!

With the 2013 ride in the books it was time to celebrate. Off to my room at the inn, showered, and cleaned up. It felt great. I honestly wasn’t tired. I felt like I could ride another 50 miles if I had to. I finished day 2 with an average speed of 18.0 MPH, my target goal. It felt great. We toasted our finish and went to the feast under the big tent in Provincetown. There was plenty of food and drink. I ate more in one sitting than I’d eat in several meals. The time flew by and it was time to head into town to catch the party ferry home.

We got to the ferry after seeing some friends and having a double chocolate frappe. Something I hadn’t eaten in years. It was awesome!

The ferry ride back was a blast as usual. The band played the whole time. People partied for over 3 hours and before we knew it we could see the Boston skyline. We were coming to the end of our weekend. The Boston fire boat greeted us in the harbor with a heroes welcome. I’ve seen this sight every year for years and it still doesn’t get old. I loved seeing the faces of the new riders that had never experienced it let alone a full PMC weekend. Us veterans live vicariously through them.

Boston Fire and Rescue

Boston Fire and Rescue

Fire boat
We dock in Boston to cheers and screams of joy from all the family and friends picking up their loved ones.

Heroes Welcome

Heroes Welcome

If you’re still with me, thank you for reading this far. The 2013 PMC was an incredible experience. Riding my 25th and what I feel was my strongest ride felt fantastic. Riding it as a Living Proof cancer survivor barely 6 months out of surgery to cure my cancer is a feeling I can’t describe. I’m extremely honored and lucky to have had my brother ride his first PMC with me. The both of us having gone through the same cancer battle at the same time and finishing it with a great PMC ride was something I couldn’t have ever imagined even a year ago.

I am lucky in that my cancer is cured as far as we know. I am looking forward to putting cancer in my rear view mirror and next year just riding to raise funds to help others. I still hope that one day we will have to find another cause to ride for. Till that day comes you can expect to see me out there on my bike the first weekend of August riding in the Pan Mass Challenge.

Thank you all. It’s an honor and a privilege riding on your behalf.