Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category

PMC 2012… After 23 years, a change for #24

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

24 years doing the same thing the first weekend in August… Yes, I participated in my 24th Pan Mass Challenge on Aug 4 and Aug 5th of 2012. This year however it was time for a change. In short, the weekend went very well. My supporters, both old and new, came through as always and that’s what the PMC is really all about. The ride is my reward for the fundraising, planning, and training. Yes, that might sound a bit selfish but when it comes to PMC weekend, this ride is for me. No, I don’t mean I’m special. I just mean that my ride is about doing what I love to do and doing it my way and no one else’s.

This year I made the decision to ride from Wellesley as opposed to Sturbridge as I’d done the 23 years before. Why? It was time for a change. Last year’s Sturbridge ride took a toll on me physically and I realized that if my training was the same this year that Sturbridge just wouldn’t be a good idea for me. I knew that I’d end up riding out with my friend Marc and trying to ride “his ride”. What’s that mean? Marc is much stronger than I am and can ride much faster. Sure, I can keep up with him for 70+ miles. That’s always fun. The problem is I end up riding so much faster than I train for that I end up running out of gas before the end of the ride and I didn’t want that to happen again. People kept telling me, “just ride with us, it’ll be fine”. While that sounds like a plan I know me and the only way I was going to change was to break the cycle and ride from the Wellesley start. I wanted Marc to ride “his ride” even though he said he’d slow the pace down for me. Nope, as much as my ride is about me I want my friends to ride their ride their way. We’ve all earned it.

What’s different about the Wellesley start? Well, for starters it’s about 30 miles shorter the first day. There’s a big difference between the 109 miles from Sturbridge and the 80 miles from Wellesley. The first 40 miles from Sturbridge consist of mostly hills. The ride out of Wellesley is much easier without the hills.

Regardless of the route, I had registered for Sturbridge which meant I still had to go there to get my registration packet. I also get a hotel room out there that I did not want to lose so I kept it and checked my friends into it this year. Next year for my 25th I will be back in Sturbridge and WILL be ready. It was still good being in Sturbridge for my annual “PMC family” reunion. It’s always great reconnecting with old friends. As good as that was it was very strange for me to know I’d be heading home and not to the opening ceremonies, dinner, bar, and waking at 4:15 to get ready to roll out. It was harder telling people I wouldn’t be starting with them. I knew it was the right thing however. Especially since the forecast for Saturday was extreme heat and humidity.

I left Sturbridge and headed for home by mid afternoon. Got home, prepped my gear, loaded my car, grabbed dinner and watched the opening ceremonies on TV. It was strange and I didn’t feel like I was “in my PMC weekend” being home. Off to bed and up at 4:45 to head out the door at 5:15 for the Wellesley start. It was nice being able to sleep in. Yes, 4:45 is sleeping in for PMC weekend. The ride to Wellesley started the weekend for me. Every traffic light was green from Holliston to Wellesley. That never happens. I pulled into Wellesley, parked, and rode my bike to the starting line. It was very different. First of all, it was daylight. I’m used to being in the dark at the start in Sturbridge as we leave there at 5:30. Wellesley rolls out at 7:00. I connected with my friends David, Jen and her husband Dan.


Big Papi was there to send us off as his wife Tiffany was riding with a couple other Sox wives. Such a fun, happy guy. The Sox manager, Bobby Valentine was also riding the one day and he was there too. I was about 5 feet from him and so tempted to ask him if he rode better than he coached but common sense (go figure) had me keep that question to myself. After all, he was there for the cause I really believe in and he wasn’t out there as a Red Sox representative. He was just another one of the riders, another one of the great things about the PMC, it’s the great equalizer. Celebrities check their egos at the door. Well, there was this one year Bob Villa rode and he had a ‘tide as if he was a “real celebrity” but that’s a story for another time.

Me at the start showing off my PHAT Tuesday tattoo.

Me at the start showing off my PHAT Tuesday tattoo.

The ride rolled out of Babson College at 7am. I wasn’t able to connect with my friend Jim as I had planned but figured we’d find each other on the road somehow. Sure enough, within the first 5 miles Jim found me and we rode together along with Dave and Jen. Jen’s husband Dan was nowhere to be seen the rest of the day. He’s extremely fast and was gone. We pulled into the first stop and when we stopped we realized just how hot and humid it really was. It was brutal. We refilled out bottles, grabbed some food and were about to head out when Dave informed us that he was not feeling well. We made sure he was OK to head out and told him to shout out if he needed to drop so we knew. It’s never fun or something you want to do but sometimes it’s smarter to cut your losses so you can live to ride another day. Somehow we lost Jen in this stop. She thought we left without her and we thought the same. Oh well, there’s thousands of people out there to ride with. Nobody’s ever alone on the PMC.

Bob Reed's mascot, PHatasoraus (aka PHAT-A-Sore-Ass)

Bob Reed's mascot, PHatasoraus (aka PHAT-A-Sore-Ass)

The miles flew by and we were at the 45 mile lunch stop before we knew it. We thought it was hot before but when we pulled into the stop and got off our bikes the heat hit us off the tar like we were in a blast furnace. There was a misting station setup and we walked through it. It didn’t make a dent in the heat. It was close to 100 degrees and with the humidity it felt much hotter. Trouble was coming but we just knew we had to forge on. We grabbed some food, refilled the bottles, and connected up with our buddies that came from Sturbridge. The plan was on track and I was feeling pretty good about my choice to start in Wellesley. Off we went. Dave was still with us and his stomach was not feeling well but he figured he could continue. The miles to the next stop 15 miles up the road flew by. Somehow we dropped Dave without knowing it. Yes, our pace picked up significantly but it was fun. We were about to leave the stop when we saw Dave. He’d gotten sick and knew he was done for the day. Going on for him on the bike would not have been smart so we left him behind in the medical tent where he’d get some attention he needed and take a truck to the finish line. Off we went rolling towards the final water stop which was 8 miles from the finish. Once again we were cruising along at a quick pace. People were starting to feel it. Guys that never cramp were starting to get the dreaded leg cramps but we forged on. I was feeling awesome till about 3 miles before the stop and bang, there it was. Both legs started to twinge in my hamstrings with very painful cramps. I stopped, stretched, and a friend came back for me and we went off together to cover the final 3 miles to the last stop. Ironically this was the exact spot I cramped up last year and flagged the truck down. This year I was not going to give up. I got to the stop, fueled up, grabbed some Advil, and was determined to leave and ride in to the finish. It was only 8 miles away.
One of my favorite helmet designs featuring "Kayaking Kermit!"

Kayaking Kermit!

I rolled out of the stop and up the hill to the traffic light just up the road. My legs both cramped going up to the light. Damn, I was pissed, this was not happening again. I knew I needed to figure this out or I’d never finish. I sent the guys on and said I was going back to the stop. I rolled to my left and back down the hill to the last water stop. I pulled in and went directly to the medical tent where I was given some much needed food, heat rub and a roller massage on my legs to work the cramps out. Everyone asked “are you drinking enough”? I was putting down 2 20oz bottles of water/electrolyte solution every hour. I’d down a glass of sports drink at the stops as well as making sure I was eating and taking electrolyte capsules to get what my body needed. 50 oz of water / fuel an hour was not enough for my body that day. Imagine how hot it was.

I stayed in the medical tent about 20 minutes and decided it was time to try again. Some of my fellow PHAT Tuesday teammates were about to head out. I was going to go it alone but they wouldn’t hear of it. I’d been averaging just over 18mph to that spot. I knew that if I was going to make it in I’d have to cut back to 15 or less to just spin it in. My leg muscles were toast but I knew I could spin. I’d have walked it in at that point as I was NOT going to get on the SAG wagon this year. They said “just come with us. We’ll get you in and we know you can do this.” I rolled out with the guys and kept with JZ and Scott. They were not going to drop me out there. I got to the top of that hill at the traffic light and felt my right leg start to cramp again. I just hammered the pedals with my left leg and powered over the hill. JZ and Scott dialed their pace back to match mine and made sure I was OK. Once over that hill we were off. We covered the remaining 8 miles quick. Along the way we connected up with Joel and all rode in together. Crossing that finish line with these guys was awesome. I could not have done it without them. Sure I was the one riding but their encouragement and having them to talk with to cover the miles got me to the finish. It was very emotional for me. Day 1 was done! Average speed was 17.0mph for the 85 miles. I’ll take it.

I hit the showers as fast as I could. No hot water. I did not care. The cold shower was going to have to do and boy did that cool me off. Now it was junk food time. First stop, hamburg, pizza, and water. Yes, there was Harpoon ale but I just wanted water. Round 2, more pizza, a chicken sandwich, more water. Still not full… OK, so now it was time for a cold Harpoon. As good as it tasted 1 was more than enough for me. I still needed more water.


My cousin Len Freed working the grill at MMA.

It was so hot all I wanted to do was get out of the Maritime Academy and to my house. I got a ride home from my friend Sam and stopped at the local fish market to pickup some fresh swordfish and salmon to cook for me and my houseguests for dinner. The rest made their way to the house later on. All were tired but all were hungry. We cooked up a feast including fresh pasta and grilled marinated fish. The perfect end to a long hard day. We took a walk to the beach after dinner. Some went for a swim to cool off and sooth the sore muscles. Back to the house and off to bed by 9. The cab was coming to get us at 4:15am to take us back to the Maritime Academy so we could ride day 2. Wakeup call was 3:45am and it came to fast.

The cab was there on time and off we went. Back at the Maritime Academy in 20 minutes, dropped our bags off at the truck to send them on their way to the Provincetown finish. Quick breakfast and we assembled the PHAT Tuesday team and rolled out at 5:15am on our way to cover the 80 miles to Provincetown. Dave was with us and feeling better after a good night’s sleep. The team of 22 PHATs rolled out together and stayed together.

Bob Reed's arm in my face along the canal...

Bob Reed's arm in my face along the canal...

The miles went by fast. First stop, water, regroup, and off we go heading to the Nickerson Park stop. The highlight of day 2 for me is what I’ve written about in years past, it’s “Da Hedge”. “Da Hedge” is a long hedge of shrubs at the Cape Cod Sea Camp that is lined with all the campers yelling and cheering for us. It’s hard to describe the feeling you get but it literally lifts you off your saddle and you can’t help but smile. This is very close to the second stop so it’s a great marker as well. The Nickerson water stop is always festive. Regardless of everything going on there I found my new best friend. One of the volunteers asked if I wanted an ice soaked cloth put on my neck. WOW, that was awesome! It felt so good and cooled me off. Top that off with popsicles and fluffernutters, yes, fluffernutters. They were the perfect food to get me powered back up to the next leg of our journey. We rolled out of the Nickerson stop and the skies let loose. Oh well, I was actually OK with the downpour since it wasn’t blistering heat. The rain persisted for the next 10 miles. Riding in a paceline in the rain is tricky. It was trickier as my brakes were not working now that they were soaked. Luckily I didn’t need to make an emergency stop as that would have been ugly. Rain stopped and we rolled on to the third and final stop in Wellfleet. What a great feeling. Having done this ride so much I knew what was ahead. It was the roughest part of the day 2 ride but not a problem.

My body was cooperating due to cutting my pace back to a sane 16mph average. In and out of the stop quickly and off we went. The group splintered at this point. There were those that wanted to hammer and picked the pace up. I knew that would not have ended well for me so I rode my ride with Dave and my teammate Ed. Through Wellfleet and into Truro for some hills. Yes, the cape does have some hills. We rolled through and before we knew it we were on route 6 in Truro. It was windy, cars were flying past us and our legs were beat. We lined up and rolled on as fast as we could. I heard a friend come up yelling “jump on, we’ll crank it in”. I jumped into my friend Jim’s pace line and we all took our turns pulling. The pace picked up to 21 and we were on a mission. The miles flew by. We turned off route 6 into Race Point for the final 5 miles of hills of the ride. My PHAT Teammates were all waiting for the team to regroup so we could ride in together. It was then I realized I had dropped Dave and Ed. I thought they jumped onto the pace line when I did but they did not. They showed up within 5 minutes as did the rest of the team. We all headed out and rolled through the hills of race point and crossed the finish line in PHAT style. My ride was done!

At the finish with my PHAT Tuesday teammates.

At the finish with my PHAT Tuesday teammates.

Time to shower up at the inn and head to the food… The P-Town finish has everything from healthy salads and wraps to legal clam chowder and sausages and the Harpoon bar.



It feels good to know the riding is behind us and now we can celebrate. We ate and drank and headed into town to the Ferry. With time to kill we grabbed some ice drinks and relaxed while we made our way to the ferry. We boarded the ferry at 3 and were on our way at 3:30. It was a beautiful day to be at sea. 103_PMC_Highlights_2012_sm

The band played and the hours flew by. It’s the party of the year and flies by in a flash. The boat comes into Boston Harbor with the band playing “Dirty Water” and the pier filled with cheering family and friends. 138_PMC_Highlights_2012_sm
It’s a sight to see and at the same time it’s sad as it’s the close to our weekend. We dock, leave the ferry, caught our bus to Wellesley and home I went. Another Pan Mass Challenge was in the books.

Over the course of the weekend you get to hear all sorts of stories. Some telling of battles fought and won and some of battles lost. We all connect through this horrible disease. It’s never sad. We’re all there celebrating life and the strength in numbers and knowledge that what we’re doing is making a difference. It’s hard to put into words but it keeps me coming back year after year.

Thank you all for supporting me and for taking the time to read my story.

Till 2013 and my 25th Pan Mass Challenge…

Pan Mass Challenge 2011

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

23 years and about 4500 Pan Mass miles ridden. Lots of changes but some things stay the same.

This year marked my 23rd PMC (Pan Mass Challenge). I’ve always ridden the long route from Sturbridge to Provincetown. This is the first year I considered going from Wellesley, a route about 30 miles shorter. This route avoids the grueling first 40+ miles of hills. Why would I change after all these years? This year was very hectic and I hadn’t been able to put in the type of training miles I like to let me ride this course the way I enjoy, fast and hard.

I hadn’t talked to many about my planned route change as this was tough for me to come to grips with. Well, the week before the PMC all this changed. I was at the funeral for a family friend that just lost their battle with cancer. I was thinking about how courageous their battle was. I remembered a friend I lost earlier in the year and recalled his attitude and struggle. These two battled hard but never gave up. It was at this moment I decided I’d go from Sturbridge. I figured I could hack the extra miles and pain of going the long route. Pain is temporary. I’d find a way to deal with it. Or so I thought.

I got myself prepared mentally for this 23rd challenge. I had trouble on a 90 mile training ride in June and for the first time in my life I took the sag wagon in the last 10 miles of that ride because my legs gave out. Why? I wasn’t in the shape I needed to be in and I was riding “way above my pay grade” (i.e. much faster than I had trained for). This was a real blow to my ego but also a reality check. I knew I’d have to put in the miles and figure out what was going and why I was cramping up if I was to make it the two days on the PMC. I knew the 110 miles of day 1 of the PMC would be tough and I KNEW I had to have a solid game plan if I was to complete it. The game plan meant that I would not be able to ride with my friend Marc as I do every year. I knew he was in much better shape than I was. I knew if I went off the starting line with Marc I would match his pace and would be able to do it for quite a distance but I knew that I’d probably burn out if I did. My plan was to ride with other members of my team that kept a solid pace but quite a bit saner than what Marc and I usually do.

OK, so I had a game plan. I knew what I had to do. I was ready in that I had about 1600 training miles in, about 400 less than I prefer and virtually no hill training miles which had me concerned. Most of my training was done on the cape and while we have some hills they’re nothing compared to the training I usually do in Metro West. No problem. I was going to be cutting my pace back. I’d be good. I was healthy. I tapered my mileage down the week and half leading up to the event like I was supposed to. No problem. Right? Oh, and did I mention that at this point I was still injury free?

Well, Thursday before the event I was doing some work around the house. It was one of those days where Murphy was present. Anything that could go wrong did. I was doing the final prep of the bike when I noticed that the rear tire had a slice in it. OK, this is easily solved. I called the bike shop and they had a pair of tires for me that I’d pickup later. I brought a bunch of chemicals for the spa with me to the house. I put them on the counter in the kitchen. I was rushing around and knocked over one of the bottles on my way out of the house. When I returned the counter (usually white) was green. The bottle that was knocked over had a loose cover and spilled out. Luckily this was a cleaning chemical. The good news is that the counter would clean up better than before. The bad news is that the food I just picked up at the grocery store for Saturday’s post day 1 ride dinner was ruined. OK, no big deal. I could replace the food. At this point I decided to go to the beach and chill out for a bit before heading back home.

I got back from the beach and rather than just locking up the house and heading north I looked at the hot tub and thought, I have time, might as well do a quick cleaning. What could go wrong? Right. You’ve all been with me long enough to know that anything is possible. I was reaching over the edge trying to reach a section that was just out of reach. I leaned in on the edge and reached a bit to far and felt a “pop” in my lower left side. I’ve been here before and knew exactly what had happened. I tore the cartilage of my lower rib. No, I’m not kidding. Basic physics, put 180 pounds on a corner and try to balance on soft tissue. DUMB! I couldn’t believe it. I just kept shaking my head thinking, “here I go again. One more PMC where I am injured off the starting line.” OK, so now I figured it was time to head north. I got home after picking up the new tires on the way. I was in a bit of pain but figured I could hack this. Changed the tires, the bike was ready. I got everything I’d need ready for the ride to leave on Friday (the next day). I got a good night’s sleep and woke up to a very sore rib. I decided I’d take my bike out to make sure I could ride. I was OK. Sure it was a bit sore but I could compensate for it and as long as I didn’t rock my upper body much (right) I’d be fine.

Friday morning, Aug 5, four of us loaded our bikes and gear into a van and headed out to Sturbridge by noon. We got out there, had some lunch, checked into the hotel, got our registration packages and were on our way to PMC weekend. Another beautiful day in Sturbridge. Catching up with friends I’ve known for what seems like forever but some I only see one weekend a year. It’s always fun. Like a family reunion. One person in particular I ran into is my friend and ex-colleague Bob Power. Bob had been supporting my fund raising since my very first ride in 1989. Bob became a rider last year for the first time. Now he was back for ride #2, a venerable veteran. I am proud to be one of the people that inspired him to ride. The PMC is lucky to have yet another great person that “gets the event” and seems hooked on it.

Opening ceremonies had a lot of buzz surrounding them this year? Was it because WCVB channel 5 was now our sponsor? No. It was because for the first time in the history of the PMC Lance Armstrong would ride with us. I thought, so what, he’s talked about this before. We’ve had big celebrities ride. We’ve had all sorts of VIPs, this will be no different. I was wrong. When Lance was introduced and stepped up onto the podium to address us all it was electric. The place erupted in applause. Here in front of us was what most of the world knows as the face of cancer survivors and arguably the best cyclist to ever grace the sport. It’s hard to describe but it was incredible. More important was that “Lance got it”. I figured his speech would be typical and almost robotic. Again I was wrong. It was inspiring. He was talking about how someone approached him and asked how Livestrong was doing? He said “OK”. OK, Livestrong and the PMC were generating lots of money to wage war on cancer. So many strides have been made towards understanding and treating this disease. “Things were going OK, not great.” Why not great? “One day when cancer is cured and conquered and we no longer have to ride to raise money to combat this, it’ll be great!” Till then it’s just going OK. Our goal is GREAT!
Waiting for opening ceremonies

Post ceremonies a few of us headed to the pub for a drink (one, we had to ride in the morning) and then it was off to bed.
Wake-up call was 4am. We got up, got ready, put the bikes on the starting line, and were ready to roll out by 5:30 (yes, AM).
breakfast   Starting Line
It was a bit humid and overcast. Not bad but the humidity would turn out to be a tough opponent. So, remember my plan to ride at a sane pace? Not ride with Marc and my usual crew? Yeah, right, that didn’t happen. I rolled out with Marc as usual. We were strong and we did not hold back even though we talked about it. It’s hard to do when you get caught up in the adrenaline of it. And no, we were not chasing Lance. That never crossed our minds actually. We were just riding hard. We hit the first water stop at the 25 mile mark averaging 21mph. I noticed this and while I felt great I knew we had to back it down a bit. The first 25 are the hilliest part but we still had about another 20 miles coming up and quite a few miles to the day 1 finish. We took off and covered the next section quickly pulling into Franklin, the second water stop averaging over 20 mph. Yes, we backed down a bit but still hammered the hills. The good and bad was that I still felt great. I was sweating profusely and clearly wasn’t putting enough water and electrolytes back. I knew that I now had to back down or I’d never make the next 70 miles. The real blow came when my wife said “hey, you guys are only about 10 minutes behind Lance”. Ouch, any other time this would be cool. Now all I could think of was that this was not good. I went out way to hard. I should have averaged about 18 instead of over 20. There’s a HUGE difference in the energy exerted by me to make that difference. Now I was a bit worried. My side was in check and not in much pain.
Eric and Nancy working in Franklin  Marc and I leaving Franklin

We rolled out of the stop and headed towards lunch in Dighton-Rebobeth, around 70+ miles into day 1. About 2 miles from the stop my right leg started to cramp. I thought “no, this is not good. I still have about 40 miles to go. I’ll recover at lunch and be fine.” I got to lunch, ate and drank plenty. Or so I thought. I rolled out of lunch after about 20 minutes. Our group was up to 7 and off we went. The next stop was where the pedal partners are. We all were looking forward to meeting up with our little Joey and his family. We rolled in there feeling great. Met up with the Griffith’s and took some pictures with them all.
Our pedal partner and his family.   The crew riding from Lunch out.
Such great people. We didn’t stay long and were back on our way in minutes. Well, not far out of this stop at around mile 92 my right leg started talking to me again and I didn’t like what it was saying. CRAMP, bang, I had top stop. I got off the bike and tried to rub it out. It was futile. I saw a PMC support van coming down the road and flagged it down. The van took me to the next stop. I downed a bottle of gator-ade, ate some calcium pills, downed bananas and other misc fruit and food. My friends rolled in and I figured I could roll out with them to finish. Off I went, we only had about 7 miles to go. About a half mile out of the stop my leg let go again. This was it. I was cooked and it was time to get off the bike for the day. I turned and rolled back (literally) to the stop I had just left. I caught the next truck out and was taken to the Mass Maritime Academy.

I was very bummed. We were on a pace of hitting the MMA at 12:00. This was not going to happen for me this year. The truck dropped me off about a mile from the MMA and I got on the bike and rode it in. I was determined to cross the finish line on my own. OK, so I only rode 93 miles instead of the 110 that day but that was the way it would have to be. This ride is not about the bike. It’s not about winning a race. It’s about raising lots of money to fund research that will hopefully one day find the ultimate cure for this dreaded disease.

I got to the MMA at 1:30, was in a very low mood, and found my stuff, showered, and got some food and started feeling better. My mood picked up after I shrugged it off as just a bad ride. It happens. I hadn’t planned on riding the 110 miles let alone going that pace. I had nobody to blame but myself. Tomorrow is another day and we’ll finish this up. The afternoon passed quickly. A bunch of us headed back to my place where we’d eat a great meal and get a good night’s sleep.

Morning came fast. We woke to the sound of pouring rain. Ugh. Another challenge? Like I needed more obstacles. Oh well, it was the PMC, this is about overcoming obstacles and it is a “challenge” after all. What fun would it be if the weather was perfect and I wasn’t injured? I’ll tell you, a LOT OF FUN! Nothing I could do about it, off we went. We were to meet up with our team in Sandwich at the Bourne Bridge. We got out of the truck and started unloading our bikes when I realized I FORGOT MY HELMET AT THE HOUSE! I’m not kidding. So I guess this was going to be my next obstacle. I was not about to ride without a helmet. We called PMC support to see if they could dig one up. No reply while we were waiting. One of our teammates was sick and couldn’t ride day 2 so I figured that I’d just go get his helmet and use it. We went to MMA, picked him up, and were dropped on the course around Brewster. OK, so now I have to live with pulling a “Rosy Ruiz” (remember the marathon runner that took the subway). No biggie, it’s not about the ride right? Exactly right.

We got dropped on the course and hammered day 2. We were lucky in that the rain stopped and held off while we were riding. We never had more than a little sprinkle. Sure was better than riding in the downpour. We crossed the finish line, headed for the showers and checked off another Pan Mass Challenge. I figure I still rode more miles than those riding from Wellesley so I was able to rationalize it. Still wish I had put in the entire 192 miles but that wasn’t in the cards this year.

The Provincetown finish is a fun place. The ride is behind us. Now it’s time to eat, drink, and relax. We headed into town to catch the ferry back to Boston. Now the rain hit us and it hit us hard. By the time we got to the ferry we were completely soaked. The seas were rough. This was going to be an interesting party boat ride back. It was certainly different. People were turning green and worse. Thankfully I have my sea legs and I was fine. The seas were very rough but we still managed to have fun.

While this was not my best ride and I was injured (again) I still consider this to be another successful Pan Mass Challenge. Success you ask? How could this be a success? Because this isn’t about the ride. It’s about raising money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Thank you all for all the support you’ve provided all these years. You should all be proud to know that the funds you donate DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

If you have not yet sent in your donation it’s not to late. You can donate online by clicking here:

Once again I would like to thank you for sponsoring and supporting me in this very worthy cause and for letting me ride on your behalf.

Till next year…

Pan Mass Challenge 2010 – The Full Report

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

22 years, about 55,000 training miles, and about 4400 Pan Mass Miles ridden by me…

I rode my 22nd Pan Mass Challenge on August 7 and 8th. The event has grown significantly since I first started this both in terms of the number of riders and the amount raised. Just to put it in perspective, 1989, my first year participating, there were 700 riders, the minimum to raise was $700, and there was one route, the 192 miles from Sturbridge to Provincetown. We raised a total of $1,000,000 when our goal was $700,000. I remember thinking how amazing this was. I was part of something that raised 1 million dollars in a single weekend.  Little did I realize that this was only the beginning.

I’d love to say I started riding in the event to help in the fight against cancer but that wouldn’t be accurate. I got into the event as a result of a “bar bet” with a friend. We were with others that had ridden the event and after a few drinks we figured that if they could do it that we’d challenge ourselves to do it too. The first year was tough. I had no idea what I was getting myself into from a physical challenge perspective or how this event would come to be such a major part of my life. The training that first season was tough but I think I might have had 1000 miles total with the longest ride prior to the event being 40 miles. Needless to say the first year was tough with the second day being even tougher. It rained non-stop the first day for 85 of the 110 miles. We were all raw, exhausted, and uncomfortable by the time we finished. Yet, we got up and rode day 2. The event was a life changing experience.

What started as a challenge to ourselves became much more. Cancer had touched my family and others I knew and I finally found a way to help fight back. I was blown away by the support of the volunteers and all the people along the route cheering us on. It’s hard to describe until you experience it. Through it all I was convinced I’d be back. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be still doing this 22 years later.

I suppose the best way to explain it is that for one weekend a year I’m privileged to participate in this event and give back along with all of your generousity. One weekend a year I see the world at its best through the eyes of 5000 plus riders, over 3000 volunteers, and countless others cheering us on. I have to tell you, it’s quite a sight. Sure there are teams and lots of individuals riding but this is NOT a race. This is a ride. Everyone out there has a story to tell. Everyone out there is willing to help you. The competition of day to day life, the worthless politics or republicans vs democrats that clutter our news outlets, and all that is bad in the world seems to be suspended for this one weekend.

Sorry for the long intro but the point I was trying to make is that after 22 years it’s easy to lose sight of why we do this. This is the first year I just wasn’t looking forward to the event. It was the first year it felt like I was going through the motions. All that changed when I got out to Sturbridge the Friday before the event started. While a lot has changed about the event the cause that keeps me coming back and all that the event represents to me is still the same.

Three of us drove out to Sturbridge that Friday. There was no rain. There was hardly any humidity. It was just near perfect. We checked in, got our registration packages and settled into another Pan Mass Challenge weekend. My team, PHAT Tuesday, was setup at the hotel registration desk selling raffle tickets to a quilt that one of our team members wives made. It’s one of those items that seemed to resonate with people as the raffle tickets sold well. Senator Scott Brown and his family stopped by and bought some tickets as well. This day, he wasn’t so much a “US Senator” as he was a first time Pan Mass Challenge participant. His famous daughter Ayla Brown had people more star struck than her famous dad. This day however they were just another family participating in the Pan Mass. Both Senator Brown and his daughter Ayla were a large part of the opening ceremonies. Both seemed to “get it” and both were connecting with the event in different ways. Ayla wrote a song for a young cancer patient which she performed that night. The song started out as something she did for an organization that writes personalized songs for these kids but this morphed into a close friendship between Ayla and her new little buddy.

Opening ceremonies wrapped early. I went to the hotel bar to catch up with old friends. While some were overindulging I knew better as the last thing I wanted to deal with when the 4:15 wake-up call came in was a bit of a headache. We stayed at the bar till around 9 and the it was off to bed. Well, it was off to the room to get everything prepped for the next morning.

Morning came all to fast. Lucky me, I woke up with a sore throat and a head cold. Of all the times that this could happen this had to show on a day I was about to ride 110 miles. Oh well, nothing I could do about it and people fighting cancer have it much tougher. I knew I could hack it (no pun intended) riding with my slight discomfort. I put my bike up at the front of the starting line at 4:30, grabbed a quick breakfast, downed some coffee, and was ready to roll out with the other 3000+ riders at 5:30 when the starting gun fired.

I'm still trying to wake up...

I'm still trying to wake up...

Are we all awake yet?

Are we all awake yet?

Here we go...

Here we go...

Day 1 I usually ride with my friend Marc. We take off faster than I’ll ride all year long. It’s the combination of the event, the preparation, and the adrenaline rush that comes with riding this event for me. It’s my “Tour de France”. Yes, it’s not a race but this is what I’ve trained over 2000 miles for and I was ready, cold and all. The weather was the nicest it’s been in all the years I’d been riding. While this summer was hot and humid somehow the weather broke this weekend and it was like a gift.

We covered the first 40 miles, the toughest of the event, at a 20mph pace and rolled into Franklin, the second water stop and our home riding turf before 8am to a huge welcome from our PHAT Tuesday family and friends. It feels like a homecoming for us rolling in. As tempting as it is to stay around we get in and out of there in about 15 minutes, longer than we care to stop. Much longer and my legs start to stiffen up and rolling out gets tough. We got out of there and back on the road. This time we had a couple others join us on our trek to the third stop at the Dighton-Rehobeth school. We slowed our pace down to about 19 (doesn’t seem like much but believe me, it is) and covered the next 30 miles quickly rolling into lunch around 9:30.

Bill entering Cherry Street.

Bill entering Cherry Street.

Bill entering the "PHAT Lands", our home turf

Bill entering the PHAT Lands, our home turf

70 miles down...  Lunch at 9:30?

70 miles down... Lunch at 9:30?

Bill and Donna at the lunch stop

Bill and Donna at the lunch stop

The plan was to be in and out of the lunch stop in 15 minutes. It ended up being about 30 minutes and we added one more to our group. This was another one of our teammates and we all worked well together to make the miles pass by quick. While we stopped at the next two water stops briefly we managed to cross the finish line at 12:20 with a police escort. How did we get a police escort you ask? Well, it wasn’t exactly planned but it worked out really well. We turned onto route 6/28 about a half mile from the finish and we heard sirens that we thought was an ambulance. This was a scary sound as I was afraid cars would slide over into our lane and push us off the road. We stood on the pedals and started to hammer it to the finish. The sirens got louder and we saw what turned out to be a collection of mass motorcycle police officers riding in formation in support of the event. We jumped in and crossed the finish line in style. We thought maybe they were escorting the two senators (Kerry and Brown) in. We got to the finish and I mentioned that to my wife and she said “no, the senators beat you guys in by about 15 minutes”…

PHATs with our past pedal partner Ethan and his mom Carolyn

PHATs with our past pedal partner Ethan and his mom Carolyn

Jeff, Tom, Paul, Marc, and Bill at the MMA finish line

Jeff, Tom, Paul, Marc, and Bill at the MMA finish line

It was great to have my Nancy and my son Eric at the finish line. This was the first time in 22 years they’d been there to see me finish. They worked at the Franklin water stop for years and last year moved to the Mass Maritime Academy (aka MMA), the finish line for day 1, but this was the first time they were able to see me finish and that meant a lot. My daughter was there working as well and for me to have them all there involved in the event makes it even better.

Wasting no time we made our massage appointments and hit the showers. In spite of the cold I felt great. I managed to cover the 110 miles at a pace of 18.7 mph. Showered up and in clean clothes it was time to get some food. First stop was the Legal Seafood clam chowder, a couple slices of pizza, a burger, some chicken, and then back up for more. You get a little hungry after riding over 6 hours.

Plenty of bike parking when you get in early.

Plenty of bike parking when you get in early.

A full parking lot a couple hours later

A full parking lot a couple hours later

Team PHAT Tuesday at the MMA

Team PHAT Tuesday at the MMA

The afternoon passed by quickly. It was a picture perfect day for riding as well as for hanging out on the quad at the Mass Maritime Academy listening to some great bands, drinking a little Harpoon, catching up with friends, and of course eating some junk food. Rather than staying in the dorms as I’d done for 20 years I went back to our home in Falmouth with a few of my teammates. We had a feast of grilled swordfish and pasta thanks to Nancy. Despite the head cold and riding 110 miles I was still going strong and had plenty of energy to cook. We all ate very well that night. Nothing like fresh marinated swordfish on the grill with a bit of pasta and some wine to end a great day. The end of the day came early for most. My teammates were off to bed by 8. I took a walk to the beach, stopped and visited with some neighbors and got home around 9 and it all hit me. I was done. It didn’t take long for me to be out cold once I hit the pillow.

I had set my alarm for 3:45 (yes, AM) as we needed to get back to the MMA to get back on our bikes by 5:15. Nancy wins the award for getting up with us and driving us back to the Maritime Academy. We left my place promptly at 4:15 and were at the MMA by 4:35. The bags got thrown on the trucks, we grabbed some breakfast consisting of biker buns (bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches on English muffins), fruit, some coffee and off we went to meet up with the team.

Mmmm, coffee...

Mmmm, coffee...

Day 2 is when the entire PHAT Tuesday team rides together. There were more than 20 of us this year. All were ready to roll out on time (quite a feat for this crew) and off we went.

Day 2, not quite awake but here we go...

Day 2, not quite awake but here we go...

Tim and Bill rolling out of the MMA on Sunday

Tim and Bill rolling out of the MMA on Sunday

Bill and Dave riding out of MMA on the way to the bridge.

Bill and Dave riding out of MMA on the way to the bridge.

One the road with the sun just peaking through we made our way to the Bourne Bridge. It’s a real treat to have one lane blocked off for us to ride on. If any of you have every ridden over the bridge on the sidewalk you know what I mean. Over the bridge with a gorgeous sunset coming up we could tell it was going to be another picture perfect day. Good thing as today I rolled out feeling feverish and just “blah” from the head cold I was fighting. We cranked along the canal on the bike path at a very brisk pace. Out of the bike path and on to what we call “the rollers”. A lot of people don’t realize that there is a service road that parallels route 6 along the cape. This is what we call “the rollers” as they’re just what seem to be endless rolling hills. It is a really fun part of the ride if you hit your stride and know how to ride it. The first stop came up around 20+ miles in. We all arrived together, filled up bottles, grabbed food, advil, and assembled to roll out for the second leg between Barnstable and Brewster. Another favorite section of the team because this is relatively flat with some great roads. We were making great time. In fact, a little too good as a few of us ended up out ahead of the group. We were trying to get our friend Dave to the place his family would be. They come out every year to meet him on the route, cheer him on and wish him well. We arrived there but they were not there. They were late. Figures as this was the first year I stopped as I NEVER stop if I can avoid it. A couple of his friends were however. One of his friends is battling a rare form of cancer at the moment and for him to be out there meant as much to him as it did for us. We stopped for a bit to chat with them and the team soon passed us. We said our goodbyes and managed to catch back up to the team in time to ride past “Da Hedge” together. “Da Hedge” is an incredible sight. It’s at the Cape Cod Sea Camp and is lined with all the campers and counsellors cheering and screaming as we pass. This sight never gets old. It just about lifts us off our seats as we go by.

First water stop on Sunday

First water stop on Sunday

Ridin with the PHATs

Ridin with the PHATs

We pulled into the second stop at Nickerson State Park very early. I was now starting to feel worse and was halfway to my Day 2 destination. One of my teammates was riding with a few broken ribs and a couple broken fingers and another was fighting some bad knee pain. I was in good company. We ended up getting ahead of the team pulling out of this stop and at this point we never looked back. We all were ready to be done and just wanted to get to the finish line. We would not cross with the rest of the team this year and they would just have to understand. We were “the riding wounded” and we rode extremely strong together. We’d all done this ride enough to know what we had to do to finish it. None of us even entertained going in on a truck. We’d finish under our own power or not at all.

Nickerson Water Stop

Nickerson Water Stop

Let's get going...

Let's get going...

We covered the final 40 miles quickly and pulled into the finish line around 10:15 AM.

A very welcome sign.  About 8 miles to go.

A very welcome sign. About 8 miles to go.

Bill and Paul crossing the finish line!

Bill and Paul crossing the finish line!

It was great to have finished this year. I managed to ride through the head cold and was really looking forward to a shower and be able to kick back and relax in my day room at the Provincetown Inn. After a while relaxing in the room we headed down to the BBQ. More Legal Seafood clam chowder, burgers, chicken, and Harpoon. We hang out for a while and then made the trek into town where we need to catch the ferry for the ride back.

Bill and Tim enjoying the boat ride back.

Bill and Tim enjoying the boat ride back.

Steve, Tom, and Bill on the boat.

Steve, Tom, and Bill on the boat.

The weekend seemed to by in a blur. I put in over 2000 miles training for this two day event and before you know it, it’s done.

The heroes welcome from the Boston Fireboat.

The heroes welcome from the Boston Fireboat.

The boat docked around 7 on Sunday. I was exhausted but feeling great. We boarded the busses back to Wellesley. It was a bit quieter than the boat. It was enjoyable nonetheless. I got home a little after 8, had some dinner, sat down and that was about all the energy I had. The head cold was mostly gone and the weekend was over. Another successful Pan Mass Challenge.

This year was different for me. It was more about the fund raising and the cause than the fun of the event. It’s hard to explain. Maybe it was the head cold. Maybe it was just all the changes that have taken place over the 22 years. Regardless of the reason I’m still very proud of what we do on that one weekend every year. I’m privileged to be able to be with people that are as dedicated and committed to eradicating this disease as I am. I will be back next year for number 23 and hope you’ll all be here to support me once again.

Thank you all for all the support you’ve provided all these years. You should all be proud to know that the funds you donate DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

If you have not yet sent in your donation it’s not to late. You can donate online by clicking here:

Once again I would like to thank you for sponsoring and supporting me in this very worthy cause and for letting me ride on your behalf.

Till next year…

Pan Mass Challenge 2009 – The Full Report

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

The 2009 Pan Mass Challenge took place on August 1st and 2nd. This was my 21st time riding this event from Sturbridge to Provincetown, the long route. PMC 21 was just as enjoyable as all the rest.

I had a great season of training in spite of all the rain. Somehow I managed to put in over 2000 miles before rolling off the starting line. I trained with my PHAT Tuesday team as well as many others. We put in some great miles around New England from Western Mass to Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard. Training is hard work but I’m very lucky to have such great people to ride with.

PMC weekend came up very fast this year. I typically began the weekend traveling to Sturbridge with my friends Dave and Mark. Mark and the rest of my old team did not ride this year and Dave started in Wellesley. This year I took a bus from Babson College to Sturbridge. The PMC is very organized. It takes quite a bit of logistics to move 5000+ people across the state during PMC weekend. Well, it’s no surprise that the transportation arranged to bring those of us that opt for it to Sturbridge is top notch. Our bikes were taken out there by truck and we all rode in luxury busses.

Friday was a very rainy day. Why not? It was par for the summer. However, I’d much rather have it raining on Friday than over the weekend. Historically if it rains Friday we are spared from it over the weekend. This year was no difference.

I got out to Sturbridge early Friday afternoon, checked into my hotel room, picked up my registration packet and began the weekend. If you’ve read past reports from me you know that Friday is kind of like a family reunion. Some of the best people I know I’ve met through the PMC. Sadly I only see most of them once a year. It’s always great catching up.

My old team, the B-Czar B-Stees, were absent from the event this year. This was the first time in 20 years they did not ride and they were missed. Everyone kept asking me where they were and why the team car was not in its usual spot. The team car was a huge hit with the riders and their families. Kids used to stop and marvel at it as well as get their temporary tattoos. Adults stopped for a beer from the taps installed on the side. Even the police used to come by and hang out with us. I did miss not having the car and the old team there. I’d have to say that part of the weekend was the only disappointment.

The afternoon went by in a flash. We prepped our bikes and gear for the next morning and were in bed by 10. Wakeup call was 4am.

Up at 4 we dressed and placed our bikes at the starting line. Inside for a quick breakfast, back to the room to close up, grab our luggage and load it on the trucks.

I was walking to my bike when I ran into my neighbor, an anchor at New England Cable News. Leslie asked if I wanted to do a quick interview. I was happy to do it. Funny thing is that they got my name wrong. The caption read “Phil Snapper”. I got a kick out of it. Leslie told me later that she phoned in the info and made sure they knew how to spell “Snapper”. They clearly didn’t hear “Bill” so I became “Phil”. Anything for the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber. Even funnier is that my team, “PHAT Tuesday” has this thing where every word that starts with the letter “F” ends up being spelled “PH”, family becomes phamily, fun becomes phun, etc. So, I guess anything for my team too 🙂

Click to see Phil Snapper interview at the start…

We were all assembled and ready to roll out by 5:30 am. They held us back due to fog. The start went off at 5:40 am. It never gets old riding off the starting line with over 2200 people. It’s quite a rush. My group always starts up at the front. We learned years ago that it’s safer up there. This year as in years past I rode out with my friend Marc Mann. We were right up there with the police motorcycle escorts. It was very cool. This is our “Tour De France”.

Marc and I were cranking along when someone yelled out “hey, PHAT Tuesday, can I ride with you”? This was our new friend Jamie Buckley. We’d met Jamie during the training season. He knew one of our team and joined us a couple times. He noticed us because of our Mardi Gras helmet accouterment.

This was Jamie’s first PMC. Marc and I were happy to have him along and to be able to show him the PMC as well as to be able to see it through his eyes.

Jamie’s a strong rider. We were cranking along at a VERY fast pace. Typical of how I go out on the PMC. Somehow I manage ride at a level higher than I can every ride the rest of the time. I call it the “PMC Magic”. It’s the combination of training, adrenaline, and this effect the ride has on me, on all of us. We were averaging over 20mph. This kept up for the first 40+ miles till we pulled into the second water stop in Franklin, our home turf. I looked at the speedometer and said to Marc, “we need to cut the pace back. There’s another 70 miles to go.” So we cut back to a much saner pace and that was still challenging but had we kept is up at 20+ I would likely have not made it to the finish line on the bike unless someone towed me.

We rolled into the lunch stop at the 70 mile mark around 9:30. This was pretty good. We were feeling great and had been efficient at keeping our prior two stops to less than 10 minutes each. Lunch would be around a 20 minute stop. I know it sounds funny to have lunch at 9:30 am. Remember that we had breakfast at 4 and had just ridden 70 miles and it doesn’t sound so strange after all.

We met up with some of our friends that rode out of Wellesley. They came with us when we rolled out for the final 40 miles of the day. 40 miles, that’s a piece of cake considering what we’d already ridden. The terrain is much easier which is really nice. We rolled out with our trio plus our friends Donna, Wayne, and Eric, all very strong riders. We covered the next 30 miles in a very short time. The final water stop is 10 miles from the finish. By this time we’re all feeling it. I wanted to get to the finish and off the bike. We were all surprisingly still riding strong. It was hot and I thought I had been drinking enough and eating. It’s tricky to make sure you keep the right ratio of water to drink supplement to food. Hot days with serious physical exertion like this means downing at least 40 ounces of liquid every hour or so. In addition to this I was taking e-caps, a concentrated electrolyte tablet intended to help keep balance and stave off the dreaded leg cramps.

Off we go on the final leg of the day. I made it about 4 miles when my legs both cramped at once. This is not fun. Nothing you can do but keep calm, coast, and hope you can work it out or get to the side of the road and off the bike without crashing. I yelled out “I’m done, you guys go on without me. I’ll finish it.” Well, Marc and Jamie came back for me. The other 3 slowed up a bit to see if I could recover and catch up to them. I downed almost an entire 20 ounce bottle with drink mix very fast along with about 5 e-caps. Within minutes (and I mean less than 5) I was back up to speed and cranking to the finish. We worked together to catch the other 3 and we did catch them in Onset center. At this point I’m going on sheer determination and adrenaline. There was no way I wasn’t going to cross the finish line on my own accord. I slowed the pace just a little and was able to crank it through. We crossed the finish around 12:40pm. Our goal was 12:30 and that was based on a 5:30am start. Considering we got off at 5:40, we made it! It was very cool crossing the finish with Marc and Jamie. Bringing Jamie across for his first finish was awesome.

We parked our bikes and headed in to make our massage appointments and hit the dorms for a very welcome shower and clean clothes. This year was a significant milestone for me as it was the first that my wife and daughter were at the finish line at the Maritime Academy. They were working there as volunteers and it meant a lot to me to have them there. You don’t have to ride to be part of the PMC and the volunteers are a very important part of the event. We riders couldn’t do it without them and we’re all very appreciative.

Showered, massaged, and fed it was time for a beer. Harpoon supplies the beer for the afternoon’s festivities. I went back into the tent to get out of the sun where I ran into Jamie. He introduced me to his wife and son. Jamie was telling them how Marc and I helped him through day 1 and how he couldn’t have done it without our help. It was very humbling and flattering but we honestly didn’t do much. We really enjoyed showing him the ropes and he ended up helping me at the end of the day. I see it as a true team effort.

The afternoon at MMA passed quickly. I honestly don’t know where the hours went. My cousins were working at MMA too cooking and serving us all. I barely got to spend time enough to say thank you to them. So I’m saying it now, thanks to all of you. I hope you enjoyed the day as much as we appreciate having you all there and all you did.

This year was another first for me. This year I would NOT be staying in the hot uncomfortable dorm! Nancy took me and a couple friends back to our house in Falmouth. I cooked up a meal for all and slept in my own bed with air conditioning! You have no idea what a luxury this was compared to years past. We had a cab pick us up the following morning at 4:20 AM. It took us to the MMA where we grabbed some breakfast and connected with the team to ride day 2.

Day 2 we ride as a complete team. PHAT Tuesday had 17 people riding both days. We had a few others join us as well. Riding with the whole team is a lot of fun. We kept a good pace but because there were so many of us we were able to benefit from pacelining. Riding in a paceline is phenomenal when you know how to do it. In short, you can ride about 20% faster than riding alone. The draft effect carries you along. People rotate through their turn at the front and with a long line that means you’re up there much less so you ride hard for about a minute or two and then enjoy riding in the draft till it’s your turn again.

We ride over the Bourne Bridge staying together as best as we can and then regroup when we enter the bike path along the Cape Cod Canal.

The first section water stop is at 24 miles. We get there quick. I was feeling it in my knees. Nothing a little ibuprofen couldn’t take care of. I got my drugs, water, some food and off we go toward our second stop of the day at Nickerson State Park in Brewster at the 40 mile mark. This is one of the fastest legs of the day as it’s very flat. Contrary to popular belief the Cape is not flat. This 16 mile section however IS flat and fun. Just about a mile before the water stop we come upon what is known to the riders as “Da Hedge”. This is a section of trees at the Cape Cod Sea Camp. There is nothing like this anywhere on the two day route. All the campers and counselors are out there cheering us on. There has to be hundreds of screaming kids out there. The cheers nearly lift us off the saddle. It’s very hard to describe and do it justice. Here’s a couple pictures of what it looks like.

We pull into the Nickerson stop as a team to throngs of cheering supporters. It’s a party. It’s barely 8am and we’ve got a big party going on. So much fun. We find our friend Jack to take our annual photo.

Jack is a staple of the event. He became famous when he was out there years ago holding a sign up that read “Thank you riders. I’m 4 because of you!” This photo got so much publicity that everyone knew who Jack was. Jack and his family have been out there every year since. This year he’s 13, cancer free, and growing big. He’s such a great kid. We used to bring him a little toy when he was younger. Now he’s out there handing out Mardi Gras beads which for our team is a perfect match. We trade beads, say our farewell, and are on our way toward the third and final water stop in Wellfleet.

This next leg is 17 miles long. It takes us along some of the bike path on the outer cape. It also takes us along the coast along some very pretty and hilly terrain by the Beach Comer. We all rode strong along this section. The weather was cooperating so well that day. It was overcast the entire way which kept us cool. It was not windy either, making the journey much more pleasant, especially along the beaches where crosswinds can really make the ride tough.

We pull into the final stop around 9am. This is the another party stop. It’s theme is like a Jimmy Buffett concert for those familiar with that. There’s music blaring, good a plenty, and the biggest attraction and favorite feature of mine, the “Ice Couch”. The people make a couch out of bags of ice. Believe me when I say that sitting on this couch is awesome. It is so refreshing you just want to sit a while but we know the longer we’re there the stiffer our legs become and we know we’re within 20 miles of the finish. So off we go on the final 20 miles of day 2.

We covered this section quick. It takes us through Wellfleet and into Truro where we are dumped out onto Route 6 for about 5 miles. This is when it got very fast and the group split into a few groups. Why? Well we were with Eric, a friend that joined us the entire day and he kicked up the pace to about 23mph. This was going up hill! We all got behind him and just enjoyed the pull. Before we knew it we were up to 27-28 mph and working as hard as we could to just keep up with him. I was having a hard time keeping on the line and started to drop when this guy passed me and yelled “get on my wheel and I’ll pull you up”. This meant for me to get as close to his rear wheel so I could use the draft to my advantage. It worked. We caught the line. I could see the “Entering Provincetown” sign ahead. I was riding WAY beyond my comfort zone but knew I could make it to the town line. I decided I’d make it to the line and then drop. I made it and I did drop my pace to 20mph. 20! This is still fast but slow relative to that group that I watched pull away from me. I was OK with that. I met my goal and knew we’d regroup up the road ahead in about 2 miles. We did regroup. The entire team got back together and we worked the final miles through Race Point in P-Town toward the finish line. We crossed the finish line as a complete team at 10:30am.

Finishing with the team was very cool. Everyone worked very hard. We finished day 2 with an average speed of 18.2 mph for the day. Not a bad speed considering there were over 20 of us that stayed together the entire way.

I had my day room at the P-Town inn for my shower. It sure beats showering in the tents. Several friends used the room as well. It’s a nice way to finish and relax before heading down for the afternoon festivities. Marc and I toasted the ride with Kettel One on the rocks. That was a great start to ease the aching muscles of the weekend. I had ridden over 190 miles but Marc rode almost 300 as he rode in from the New York border Friday of the weekend adding almost another 100 miles to his journey to make it a “true Pan Mass”. Me, I’m good with the 190+ miles. Their Friday ride sounds like fun but with no official support and the downpour they were caught in somehow I can contain my enthusiasm from signing up for that next year 🙂

The tent at the finish line has plenty of food. I think I tried one of everything, possibly two. Cheeseburgers, Sausages, Clam Chowder, salad, and a little bit of everything else. Today the beers flowed freely. I was not planning to get up the next day and ride. It was a celebration. We hung out with friends eating, drinking, telling stories of the weekend and in some cases saying our goodbyes till next year. Not everyone takes the party ferry back. We do. I can’t see going home any other way after such a tremendous weekend.

So we head out of the P-Town Inn and walk into town to the docks. And yes, I stopped to get some more food along the way. I can’t pass by the pizza stand at the dock without grabbing at least one slice. So I got two 🙂

We ran into the oldest cheerleaders in P-Town. Let me explain. These are a couple women that have been out there every year I’ve ridden the Pan Mass that have given themselves the name “the oldest cheerleaders”. They’re out there both days cheering us on where we need it most. Day 1 they have a new costume every year. This year they were leprechauns. Day 2 they’re dressed as cheerleaders.

Brenda and Evelyn lost their brother to cancer years ago and this is their way to give back and connect with the event. Anyway, they were talking with my friend Marc. One of them sees me and says “you look familiar. I know I know you.” I said “that’s possible, I’ve ridden this event the last 21 years and we’ve met.” This is when the other sister yells out “he’s a B-Stee! Where’s the rest of your team”? She knew me as being associated with my old team. They were well known to all. It was very funny to hear both of them talking about the team car, the beer taps, the contra water stops (ring dings, slim jims, twinkees, coca-cola, etc). I guess you had to be there but it still cracks me up remembering the encounter. It was a fine conclusion to our afternoon in Provincetown.

The ferry departed on time. A great band was playing. A group of us were talking and another one of our team mentioned Jamie, the guy Marc and I rode day 1 with. They said Jamie was raving about his ride and how grateful he was for our help. He also told them that he was 1 year cancer free that day. Wow! Neither of us knew. We were stunned and totally blown away. Talk about someone that epitomized the PMC. I’ve ridden with survivors before but the fact he never let on was just amazing. All he talked about was how proud he was to ride and be able to help all those people battling cancer. I was speechless then and am still now as I write this note.

The boat ride always seems to pass by too fast. Lots of stories but I’ve already taken enough of your ti
me. Suffice it to say it was a stellar weekend.

I say it every year but I assure you I do mean it. It was an honor and a privilege riding on your behalf.

Till 2010, adieu…

Pan Mass Challenge 2009 – The Short Version

Monday, August 24th, 2009

The 30th Pan Mass Challenge took place on August 1st and 2nd. This was my 21st time riding and one of my strongest rides to date. I trained well and it paid off.

Highlights and some statistics (as of 8-23-2009):

  • Fundraising passes $23.5 million (as of 8-20-2009)
  • Medical Report: 17 hospital transfers – all released by 2pm Sunday!
  • Over 800,000 miles pedaled by PMC cyclists over PMC weekend
  • Total riders registered: 5,216
  • Off the line: 4,949
  • % – Male / Female: 65/35
  • % – Alumni / 1st Year: 75/25
  • Avg. Years in PMC: 4.6 (I still got this one beat by a mile)
  • Average Age of Riders: 43
  • 2-day: 3,557
  • 1-day: 943
  • 1-day Sunday: 449
  • Teens: 13-19 176
  • Over 70: 39
  • Volunteer/Ride: 36
  • Sturbridge Sat: 2,521
  • Wellesley Sat: 1,978
  • States: 36
  • Countries Represented: 10
  • Volunteers: 3,000
  • Kids Rides: 36
  • # of Kids: 7,000

My Personal Stats

Ride Day Dist. Avg Speed Riding Time Start Time Finish Time
Saturday 110 18.6 mph 5 hr, 54 min 5:40 am 12:40 pm
Sunday 78 18.2 mph 4 hr, 17 min 5:15 am 10:30 am

Once again I would like to thank you for sponsoring and supporting me in this very worthy cause and for letting me ride on your behalf.

If you have not yet sponsored me it is not to late. I am still raising funds trying to hit my goal of $10,000 for this year. You can donate online here:

If you prefer to send a check or pay in cash or would like to met face to face please contact me by email at

Pan Mass Challenge 2008 – The Full Report

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

The 2008 Pan Mass Challenge took place on August 2nd and 3rd. This year marked my 20th year participating in the fund raising ride. I’m pleased to say that this year was a great year all around. It was sure nice to ride without injury this year. It certainly made preparing for and participating in the ride much more enjoyable.

My training started in earnest in April. I set a personal goal of having 2000 miles saddle time before rolling out of Sturbridge and I ended up with 2200+ miles. Much nicer than my 2007 ride with barely 850 but that was another year with lots of issues that were thankfully behind me.

August came up fast. I honestly don’t know where the time went. It seems to go by quicker each year.

Friday, August 1 was the day the weekend began. The bike was prepped, the gear was packed, and it was time to load the truck to begin the weekend journey. I headed out to Sturbridge with friends Mark Robart, David Winthrop, and Marc Mann. Marc chose to ride to Sturbridge in the van this year as opposed to cycling from the NY border as he’d done in years past. We got to Sturbridge by 2:00, grabbed some lunch, and checked into the hotel. Our massage therapist Jackie came out once again. This is one of those luxuries that just helps to make the day as well as the beginning of the ride the following day just that much nicer.

The afternoon was spent catching up with old friends. Always a great time. As I’ve said in years past this is like a family reunion with some of the best people I know. It’s just one of those feel good weekends from start to finish. The Sturbridge Host has vendors setup for those last minute purchases. Harpoon sets up to provide some of the necessary carbs needed for the next day’s ride. The beer goes nicely with the carb themed buffet setup by the lake behind the Host.

It was a beautiful sunny day in Sturbridge. Not to hot and no torrential downpours as past years had served up. Kind of made us wonder if this would hold out for the weekend. The spring and summer had been extremely stormy. We wondered if / when it would show up. But this is the PMC and we ride rain or shine so those thoughts were quickly put out of our heads. Why worry about what you can’t do anything about?

The day passed by in a flash and it was off to bed. Bikes were setup in the hotel room draped with clothes for the following day, drink mixes needed to take us till we hit the water stops, computers charged and mounted and we were as ready as we could be. Sleep came easy and the 4:15am wake-up call came much to soon. Up, showered, and it was time to get the bikes outside to the starting line. I’ve learned over the years that while you may drop your bike out there with a small few that you would come back after having breakfast to a sea of about 2000 bikes and finding your bike can be a challenge. Flashing lights on the bike made it much nicer to find. Any of you that have been to a party where they hand out those little novelty flashing lights probably thought they were “cute” and discarded them after the batteries died. Not me, I save them away in a bag of “PMC stuff” for this special time. Those cheap little novelty lights make it so easy to spot your ride. I need to thank the host of that Bat Mitzvah 🙂

Breakfast in Sturbridge
(Breakfast in Sturbridge)

Lined up and ready to roll off the starting line we eagerly await the start. This is not a race but you learn that the safest place to be is up front with the elite fast riders. It makes getting out of the starting gate much safer. It’s also pretty cool when you get out and have a motorcycle police escort. The roads belong to us thanks to the support of the Massachusetts State Police and local town police support we receive. You can’t imagine how nice it is to have that kind of support. Every intersection from Sturbridge to Bourne seems to have coverage and people there looking out for us so we can “just ride”.

Rolling out...
(Rolling out of Sturbridge.)
Here we go..

Here we go..
The early miles are supposed to be meant as “warm-up” miles. Well, with the adrenaline pumping these miles are very fast. I rode out with Dave, Marc, and Kevin, one of our teammates from Phoenix. Marc was feeling very strong and he quickly cranked it up and was determined to stay with the lead pack at a pace of around 25-30 mph. I followed him into this pack and quickly realized that I needed to back it down to a sane pace. We pulled into the first water stop averaging just over 20 mph and rejoined Marc. He had realized too that it was time to back down if we were to make it all the way to Bourne strong and without cramping or bonking out. One of our teammates that no longer rides the Pan Mass was there to cheer us on. We miss you Eric. Come back soon!

Eric and Paul
(Eric and Paul at the first water stop.)

Out of the first water stop in less than 5 minutes and on to Franklin, my team PHAT Tuesday’s home turf. This is where we ride out of for our weekly training rides. The miles pass quickly. Anticipation builds as we know that there will be huge support from our extended family and friends. We hit the driveway of the Remmington Jefferson school at 8:15, 44 miles into the day and were completely blown away. There were PHAT Tuesday signs everywhere. Starting on the road leading to the entrance and inside the driveway our supporters were lined up with signs cheering us on like royalty. Our current pedal partner Jake and his family were there with homemade signs. Our past partner Kira and her family were there. My wife and daughter and friends of ours were there working as volunteers. Words can’t describe just what a great feeling it was to pull in to that sort of a welcome.

(Andrea greeting us in Franklin.)
Jake and Brenna
(Bob Reed, Dave Eberhart, Brenna, and Jake in Franklin.)
Jake and Brenna
(Mark, Brenna, Jake, and Kira)
Jake, Brenna, Kira, Katana
(More of our PHAT Supporters in PHranklin)
As I said before, I like to get in and out of the water stops quickly. Franklin was no exception even with family and all my PHAT supporters. I made a stop to see my wife and daughter, said hello to some friends, filled up my bottles and hit the road. There are some that like to hang out and socialize but my legs turn to stone if I stay to long and getting going again is not much fun so on my way I go.

The miles past quickly as the next portion is through what we call “The PHAT Lands”, our training territory. One of the highlights is Cherry Street which comes up soon after leaving the Franklin water stop. The people of Cherry Street go all out. We make it a point to stop for a second for some photos with some of our weekly cheerleaders. They have the fresh water for us 🙂 The water at the Franklin stop is really not drinkable so it’s very welcome to get some clear, cold, crisp bottled water.

Cherry Street
(Welcome to Cherry Street!)
Cherry Street
(The band has been waiting for you…)
Cherry Street
(Cherry Street supporters are the best!)
Cherry Street
(Our regular Cherry Street supporters there with fresh water for us.)
The next stop is lunch. We pull into the lunch stop around 9:45. OK, so that’s a little early for lunch for most people but remember we ate breakfast at 5 and had already ridden about 70 miles. We were making great time. Lunch is the long stop of the day. We spent about 20 minutes here fueling up. It’s very tempting to stay around longer. The routes from Wellesley and Bourne merge here. Needless to say it was very crowded. It was good though as we met up with a teammate of ours that rode out of Wellesley. All headed out together to make the final 40 mile trek of the day.

(Bike parking at lunch. What, no valet?)
(Lunch in the tent.)
Next up on the trip is Lakeville water stop. This comes up quick and is the stop where the pedal partners are waiting to meet up with their teams. Our past pedal partner, Ethan, was there with his parents. Ethan and his parents were paired with another team this year but they’re members of our extended PHAT Phamily and we were happy to see them out there.

Ethan Rossi
(Our little buddy Ethan Rossi.)
In and out of Lakeville and off toward Bourne. It’s getting pretty warm and humid by now and I’m on a mission to get off the bike. We cover the next miles fast. All is looking really great for our 1:00 Mass Maritime arrival time. We’re really amazed how well we’re all riding and how well we were tracking to our goal. We pass through Wareham, into Onset and make the final turn on route 6, about a half a mile from the day’s finish when we hear “I have a flat”. Marc, Kevin, and I look back and sure enough David’s got a flat tire. It’s 12:55. Marc yells out “come on, you don’t weigh much, lean over the front wheel and ride it in.” Back comes the reply “I can’t”. I yell out “can’t you pick it up and run it in.” Again comes the reply “I can’t”. We look at each other and say “OK, let’s go help him.” We go back and fix his tire and are back on the road in minutes. We cross the finish line at just before 1:10. We’re very pleased with this time and rib David about how we almost made it.

PHATs arriving at MMA

(Dave, Kevin, Bill, Marc, and Donna arrive at the MMA!)

The sun was shining and it was a gorgeous afternoon at the Mass Maritime Academy. We parked our bikes and headed immediately to the massage reservation table to make sure we got our appointment. It’s one of the privileges of getting in early, an early massage. Then we head to our dorm room where our luggage has already been delivered. The shower feels incredible after the 6 plus hours of riding. Changed into clean dry clothes it’s down to the quad to consume whatever food we want. There’s quite a feast put on. Chicken, hamburgs, legal seafood clam chowder, salads, baked stuffed potatoes, pizza and more. I head to the pizza table where the well intentioned server said “would you like some veggie pizza?” My reply, “I just rode 110 miles, what’s the least healthy pizza you have?” She laughed and handed me a sausage and pepperoni calzone. Yummy… Downed that, then a couple slices, then a hamburg, and a cup of clam chowder. All before my massage appointment. And, I was still hungry.

Mmmm beer...
(Mmmmmm beer…)

The massage was fantastic. It’s only 15 minutes but there are two massage therapists per table so you get the equivalent of a 30 minute massage. It’s very welcome and appreciated.

All massaged and fed it’s time for a beer. Harpoon is setup serving their best, freshest draught beer. It goes down really fast. Tempting as it is to grab more I make a conscious effort to grab some water and juice to make sure I’m well rehydrated. The Sunday ride would not be pleasant if you don’t hydrate well after the day’s ride.

Len works the grill...
(My cousin Len working the grill and having a ball!)
Luxury MMA accommodations...
(Luxury accommodations secured by Dave. Nice job Dave!)
I stopped by and visited with my cousins Lenny and Elaine. They work the food tables at MMA Saturday afternoon and always seem to enjoy themselves. I know we enjoy having them there. The afternoon seems to pass in a flash. I never managed to grab the nap I wanted but I actually felt very good. Around 5:00 we moved our dorm room to some special luxury accommodations secured by one of our teammates. This was pretty nice considering the alternative. We were hanging out when we heard some serious thunder. It’s a good thing we were inside as a brutal storm came through and forced everyone to take cover. We were all hungry and didn’t feel like going outside to walk to the food tent. So what did we do? We called a friend that was staying nearby and ordered take out. He delivered pizzas and drinks to us at MMA. Yummy. I usually go over to the Beachmoor for my yearly dinner with my old team but I skipped it this year to lay on some ice. My back was not feeling well due to a strain and ice is the only thing that helps it out. If I hit it quickly I can avoid lots of pain. It was tough missing that dinner but I’ll go back next year.

Day 2 began at 4:15 am. Time to get up, get dressed, get the luggage to the trucks, and off to grab a quick breakfast before heading out for the final 80 mile journey. Breakfast consisted of “biker buns”, yummy. English muffins with egg, cheese, and bacon. I’ll take 2, plus a banana, some juice and off to meet the group.

The second day of the Pan Mass my team, PHAT Tuesday, rides as a team. It’s quite a site to see and a lot of fun working together. There are times we will get split up but we regroup at the water stops and then head out together. We leave the Mass Maritime Academy at 5:30 and head over the Bourne bridge. It’s such a luxury to have one entire lane to ourselves going over the bridge. It’s crowded with what seems like an endless stream of bikes but sure beats trying to share the road with cars. However, at 5:30 there aren’t many cars going on the road. The PHAT support started for us at the top of the bridge. One of our teammate’s family and friends are up there cheering and holding up signs for us. This still amazes me that people that don’t have to be up will be out there at that time of day. It propels you over the hill and gets you on your way.

Bourne Bridge
(Here we go. Up and over the Bourne bridge)
Bourne Bridge
(Bill going over the Bourne bridge. “Can anyone see up there?”)
Over the bridge and on to the canal path for about 5 miles makes for a really pleasant warmup. I kind of feel bad for the fisherman out there that were unaware of the Pan Mass coming through. The Pan Mass riders take up the entire path and are moving at a good pace. By the time we exit the canal path we’re warmed up and ready to crank. The canal leads us to the service road that parallels route 6. This is one of my personal favorite parts of the ride. The service road starts with a climb and then turns into some of the best rolling hills we’ll ride all day. Once you hit your stride you can crank through this section around 25 mph with what seems like very little effort. It’s just one of those things that amazes me as I ride that section other times of the year and it never seems as fast or as easy. Maybe we’re numb or maybe it’s the “PMC magic” I’ve spoken about over the years that pushes us to limits we dream of all year long.


The group splinters on the service road due to varied speeds but we all get back together at the first water stop in Barnstable. Once we’re back together, have our bottles filled, some peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, oranges, and some ibuprofen we’re on our way. The second leg of day 2 takes us from Barnstable to Nickerson State Park in Brewster. This will be one of the fastest sections of the day as it is very flat, one of the only flat sections of the cape. The miles pass by in a flash as we’re riding in a paceline averaging 25+ mph. Before we know it we start to see the signs for “Da Hedge”. “Da Hedge” is a stretch of road located at the Cape Cod Sea Camp where over 500 campers, counselors, and supporters are out there cheering us on. It’s very loud and very inspiring. The screams and cheers just about lift us off our bike saddles. It gives us that “turbo boost” to make it the next mile or so into the water stop at Nickerson.

Da Hedge
(Da kids of “Da Hedge” are the best!)
Da Hedge
(Look, by the hedge… Is it a bird? A plane? No it’s Super Camper!)
Nickerson is a very festive stop. It’s about 8am when we arrive and we’ve covered 40+ miles already. One of the highlights there are popsicles! You have no idea how good a frozen popsicle tastes when you’re that heated up. They go extremely well with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too. From our diet you’d think we’re in kindergarten. I manage to give myself “brain freeze” when I ate a popsicle to fast. I didn’t care, I went for another one 🙂

Another highlight of the Nickerson stop is Jack. Remember Jack? He became famous to PMC riders way back when he first held up a sign that said “I’m 4 now thanks to you!”. Well Jack is now 12 and still very appreciative. He’s planning on riding in 3 years when he’s old enough. He’s a great kid and living testimony to why we ride.

(Our hero Jack. He’s touched us all and we can’t wait for him to ride!)
Out of Nickerson and on to Wellfleet, the final water stop of the day. Here we go! This next section is very fun and takes us through some really great roads and beautiful scenery. These miles seem to pass even faster which makes no sense. We should be getting tired but for some reason it’s not hitting us. We climb the road in Wellfleet by the Beachcomber Restaurant along the coast. It’s amazing. We feel the cool, crisp air immediately when we turn on to this road. It’s like walking into a cooler and very refreshing. The road is hilly with wind but we enjoy every minute of it. We exit that road and turn the corner toward the water stop and the heat hits us smack in the face. What a huge difference several hundred feet make. On we push up the hills to the third and final water stop of the day. The Wellfleet stop is famous for its festive party theme. The mocktails are gatorade. The couches are made from bags of ice. Music is cranking and as much as you want to stay and drink it all in we have to go.

Welcome to Wellfleet...
(Welcome to Wellfleet!)
Ice Couch...
(Paul is loving the ice couch… “I’m not leaving here…”

Off we head to the final destination, Provincetown! We wind through Wellfleet and Truro. Out onto route 6 we head for miles. The winds coming at us blowing sand make it even tougher but we keep on pedaling. Up ahead we see the sign, “Entering Provincetown”. Cheers and screams erupt from the group as we know we’re close to completing our long 190 mile journey. We turn off route 6 and enter “race point” and pull over to the side of the road to regroup for a team photo before riding the final 5 miles to the finish line. This ends up being a 25 minute stop waiting for all to get back together.

PHATs at race point...
(PHAT Tuesday team photo entering race point)
Once we all were there we headed out for the final tough miles of the day. Race point starts with a fairly decent climb. This is pretty tough anyway but after stopping for the pictures my legs felt like they were turning to stone. I was up in front of the pack climbing the first hill and just kept turning the cranks. Top of the hill we turn left and drop into the race point rollers. I don’t know what it was but something came over me. All of a sudden I had this enormous burst of energy and I let out a scream and jumped on the pedals and was up to 30 mph before I knew it… going up the next hill. Dave was on my rear wheel and I looked back and asked “you want to wait for the rest or just crank on?” He replied “what do you want?” I said “here we go, no waiting for me I just want to finish the day and get off the bike.” Off we cranked. The final miles passed by in a flash. We saw the finish line up ahead. The volunteers were yelling for us to slow down. Nope, I was not slowing till I got to the finish. We hit the finish line around 25 mph and I hit the brakes and skidded to a stop. I felt like I was possessed. It felt so good to get in and off the bike.

Heading into race point...
(Here we go. Final miles into the finish. Who put these hills in P-Town?)
Where is Bill and Dave?
Anyone seen Bill and Dave?

PHATs crossing the finish.
(The Phinish line… Yeah!)
In hindsight I wish I had stopped and waited for the team so we could all cross together. We had come almost 75 miles that day as a group. Whatever the case that’s over and it was time to hit the inn for a nice hot shower. Cleaned and in street clothes it was time to get some food and a celebratory dry martini. Off to my massage and boy did I feel good. I had completed my 20th Pan Mass Challenge. The feeling was like any other but this year was very special. It was a huge milestone for me. I was not injured which was a great change from years past. Personally I had just finished close to 4000 miles of Pan Mass riding and I was proud of that.

We spent the afternoon around the Provincetown Inn eating and drinking. And I did eat at least one of everything. Hamburg, chicken, tuna roll-up, sausage sub, cookies, cake, beer, and chips. All of this and I was still hungry 🙂 No worries, I stopped for pizza on the way into town and to the ferry. Now I was close to feeling full.

The ferry took off at 3:30 and the closing party began. It was a beautiful day for the boat ride home. There were a couple storms that we went through but they passed quickly. I’d much rather get rained on while on the boat than while on the bike. It didn’t seem to slow down the party much. We just moved below deck to stay dry (well, some of us anyway) and enjoyed the afternoon.

Back in Boston we’re greeted like returning heroes. It’s quite humbling and amazing. The harbor master greeted us out in the open water with a Pan Mass jersey from years ago hanging on the back of the boat. He was circling the ferry and sounding his horn. The boston fire boat greeted us as usual with the water cannon salute. That never gets old.

Here we come home....

Here we come home....

We say our goodbyes, find our luggage, and leave Boston for our homes. Another Pan Mass concludes and it was a great one. All the training miles, the miles ridden over the course of the weekend and it seems like it’s over in an instant. Once again it was a phenomenal time and I can’t wait to ride number 21 next year!

Thanks for allowing me to ride on your behalf. As always it was an honor and a privilege.

Till 2009, adieu.

Pan Mass Challenge 2008 – The Short Version

Monday, August 18th, 2008

Hello all and welcome to the short version of my Pan Mass Challenge trip report.

The 2008 Pan Mass Challenge took place on August 2nd and 3rd. This was a big milestone year for me in many ways. First and foremost it was my 20th Pan Mass. Second and probably as important, I was not injured at the starting line…

Those of you that recall last year’s journey know it was one of my toughest. This year I’m please to say it was one of the smoothest and easiest rides I’ve had. It’s amazing how having no injuries makes training easier and the journey much more fun. Though the stories aren’t nearly as good. Suffice it to say that number 20 was a banner year and I look forward to coming back and riding number 21 in 2009.

Once again I would like to thank you for sponsoring me in this very worthy cause and for letting me ride on your behalf.

Highlights and some statistics (as of 8-17-2008)

  • Current fundraising: $26 million
  • Fundraising goal: $34m
  • Kids rides have raised: more than $750,000
  • Registered Riders: 5558
  • Off the line: 5,237
  • 2-day riders: 3,946
  • 1-day riders: 1301
  • Male/Female: 63/37 (females gained by 2%)
  • Average Age: 43 (I’m over by 5 years… Whatever happened to the days I was younger than the average?)
  • Avg. Yrs in event: 5 (I still got this one beat by a mile)
  • Sturbridge start: 2,837
  • Wellesley start: 2,096
  • Personal training miles for 2008: 2200 miles (1400 more than 2007)
  • Total massages over the weekend: 3
Ride Day Dist. Avg Speed Riding Time Start Time Finish Time
Saturday 110 17.8 mph 6 hr, 10 min 6:00 am 1:10 pm
Sunday 78 17.8 mph 4 hr, 23 min 5:30 am 11:00 am

Thank you once again. It’s been an honor, a privilege, and a pleasure riding on your behalf.

Best Regards,

– Bill

PMC 2007 Trip Report

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

The 2007 Pan Mass Challenge took place on August 4 & 5 this year. Let me start by apologizing for taking 6 weeks to get to this trip report. I pride myself on getting this out the week after the ride. This year has been extremely hectic and I honestly don’t know where the time went post PMC.

I was fairly nervous about being able to complete the ride as most of you are aware. Getting cleared to ride 5 weeks before the ride meant that my training would be very compressed. It was kind of like cramming for a test. To put it in perspective, I usually train 12-14 weeks on the road putting in about 2000+ miles to get in the shape I like to be in for this ride. I also workout in the gym to get the strength needed. This year I had to do with about 900 miles and very little gym time but let’s not forget that this is the Pan Mass “Challenge”. So, I had my challenge and I’m proud to say I completed the entire 192 mile long route.

I could not have done it without the help of my physical therapists and my friends. This was truly a team effort.

The weekend began with my friends Mark and Dave traveling to Sturbridge Friday afternoon. It was a perfect day weather wise. I was happy to be able to get there without an injury (remember 2006???). We got out there around 2:00, checked in to our hotel, picked up our registration package and were ready for the weekend.

Some of our team cycled to Sturbridge from the NY border that day. They wanted to do a “true pan mass” which meant 95 miles in the blistering heat through some very hilly terrain. They did it though and arrived shortly after we did. We were a little more rested though. Every year they try to talk me in to riding it with them from the border. I get the “come on Bill, don’t you want to be able to say you did the true Pan Mass and crossed the entire state”? My reply used to be “next year”. Now it’s just “no thank you, I’m good with two days and about 200 miles.” I think after 19 years of doing this I don’t feel the need to prove anything.

PHATs arriving from NY

(Marc, Fred, Andrea, Tim, and Bob arrive from the NY border ride on Friday)

The afternoon was spent catching up with people. It really is like a family reunion. I’ve known a lot of these people for so long and some I only get to see a couple times a year so this is always a good time. Of course I took the ribbing from all that know me well. “Hey Bill, what, no cast? No crutches?” I suppose I earned it. I was honestly just happy to be there and healthy enough to do the ride. Most people were surprised I was going to do the ride considering the injury this season but anyone that knows me knows that as long as I’m able I will do this ride. It means too much to me.

The afternoon went by in a flash. Dinner was served in a tent by the lake next to the Sturbridge Host. We carbo loaded on chicken, pasta, some sort of seafood salad and some wonderful deserts. From dinner it was on to the opening ceremonies. It was so hot. I know it was a while ago but think back to that first weekend in August with temperatures in the high 90s. R.D. Sahl from NECN looked like he walked through a shower while he was MC’ing. The Sturbridge Host was having A/C trouble and it was hard enough to sit there and be a spectator let alone be on stage under the hot lights and performing. There were the typical speeches that over the years I’ve come to expect. One thing that always amazes me is that this just never gets old to me. It always hits home and serves to remind me why we’re riding and that what we are doing IS making a difference. Never more evident than when Jack came out on stage. Some of you may recall Jack from my past trip reports. Jack is the little boy that was featured in some of the PMC literature and on NECN. He first made his impact on the world of the PMC when he was 4 years old. There he was holding a sign saying “Thank you. I’m 4 because of you.” He instantly became a symbol for the PMC. Jack’s parents would bring him to Nickerson State Park every year where he would hold his sign and hand out something to the riders thanking them. Jack came out on stage carrying a sign this year that said “Thank you. I’m 11 because of you.”

The opening ceremonies wrapped up, we headed back to our rooms, got all our gear ready for the ride the next morning, and went to sleep by 10. The wakeup call came in at 4:15 but I was actually up already. This wouldn’t happen on any normal day but at 4am I was wide awake and ready to get this journey underway. I was excited and very nervous.

Dave and I put our bikes out at the front of the starting line before 5am. Bikes at start

(Sturbridge starting line around 5:30am)

We were among the few that left their bikes out there at that time but being veterans we know what it takes to get a good starting position. So, bikes in position we went inside, had some breakfast. We met up with the NECN crew after breakfast to do a quick interview. I had been contacted and asked if I would do this before the ride. It was a short piece focusing on me riding 19 years but also about why I would do this ride after such a serious injury. Some of you saw it on NECN and I have a copy of it that I will post online.
OK, so nerves and excitement were building. It was time to go back to the starting line and get ready to roll. Well by the time we went back the area was packed with about 2000 bikes and people. Lucky for us we put flashing lights on our bike so we could find them. We were still up front. We picked up our bikes and listened to the opening speeches. About 10 minutes before we’re ready to roll several people came up and jumped in front of us. There goes front of the line. I said “hey, come on, what gives”? Senator Kerry turned around and smiled. We just laughed and figured “OK, I suppose he can get away with it”. Well, 5 minutes later we hear this very loud “bang”. It sounded like a gunshot. It was a tire that popped. Senator Kerry’s tire blew out. I turned to the guy next to me and said “you think it was full of hot air”? That got a laugh from all around us and even a smirk from the senator.

The star spangled banner was sung, the starting gun fired and off we went. There’s just such a great feeling to roll out with over 2000 bikes. We owned the road if only for a short while. I had to make sure I paced myself and hold myself back from going too fast and burning out too early. This was tough as everyone’s adrenaline is pumping and while this is not a race people ride like it is. You get caught up in it and it’s always a trip to ride that fast.

The temperature was very warm and it was really humid at 6am when we started. We knew it was going to be a hot day. Key to the day… Drink! I rode out with my friends Marc Mann and Dave Winthrop. We worked together as a team and covered the first 20 miles quickly (approx 20.5 mph pace). We filled up our bottles at the first stop and got right back out on the road. Stopping for long times is not a good idea and we have this down to less than 5 minutes at most stops. Out of the first stop and on to Franklin. We were making pretty good time and arrived in Franklin around 8:30.

The Franklin stop is special to us for many reasons. First and foremost it is our home turf. The water stop is at the location of our weekly training ride start. Our team, PHAT Tuesday, has such a huge support base there that coming in to this stop is just a trip. All the signs welcoming us as well as friends and family out there cheering us on. The other main reason Franklin is special to me is that this is where my family volunteers. My wife, son, daughter, and mother in-law are all out there from 5:30 on to get things prepared for all of us to ride in. We arrive to food, drinks, and just a party atmosphere that all of the volunteers make possible. I’m very proud and honored to have my family out there working the event so we can ride.

As much as we love Franklin we get in and out in a flash. It was getting very warm by then too. You don’t realize how hot it is till you stop. So, back on the road and on our way to the 3rd stop of the day at the Dighton-Rehobeth school. This is the lunch stop. We pulled into lunch around 10. This is the stop we spend the most time at. Our goal is about 15-20 minutes. Well, we ended up there around 45 minutes. By the time we got back on the road our legs were a bit stiff but we loosened up fast thanks to the temperature being in the 90s.

The ride was going great. I was pacing myself and happy with how things were going. I was feeling good and riding strong. Around 90 miles my right leg had a twinge. Ouch. I’ve had this before and knew it was the dreaded leg cramp coming on. Great, I still had about 20 miles to go for the day. We pulled over and I worked the cramp out. I downed a 20 oz bottle of water and off we went. Now understand I was putting down 40 oz of water about every 20 miles or every hour plus. You’d think this would be enough to stay properly hydrated. Not in that heat though. No worries. My friends stuck with me and we rode on. We made it to the next stop and cringe, there it went again. Off the bike, rub out the cramp, back we go. There was no way I was going to get driven in after coming so far. Marc and Dave hung with me through it all.

At one point the cramp hit again and lucky for us there were some spectators setup in front of their house. They called us over and had gator-ade, water, bananas and crackers. These were such nice people. They asked if there was anything else they could get us. Marc said “a cold beer would be nice”. They said “what kind would you like?” We laughed, thanked them and were on our way. We were too close to stop now and a beer with another 10 miles to go would not be smart.

We rolled into the Mass Maritime Academy at 1:45pm. I was totally spent. It was really an emotional finish. I was just so happy to be in and done with the 112 miles. We ended up sending Dave on when there was about 15 miles to go. He was really itching to get in early and we didn’t want to hold him up. Funny thing is, we got in only 15 min after he did. My usual finish time is somewhere between 1:00 and 1:15. I had set my goal on 2:30 – 3:00 and could not have been happier finishing when I did with an overall average speed of 17.5 mph for the day.

We parked our bikes, made our massage appointments, and made our way to our dorm rooms where our luggage had already been delivered. I grabbed a nice long shower and made my way to the quad for food and the afternoon festivities. It was a perfect day at the MMA. Sun was shining, a nice breeze coming off the ocean, and live music playing.

My cousins Lenny, Elaine, and Michelle and Dave’s dad were among the volunteers taking care of us at MMA. And take care of us they did. The food ranged from Legal Seafood clam chowdah to burgers to salads to pizza to chili… Beer was provided by the Harpoon brewery. Honestly, I think I had a half a beer all afternoon. I was in need of rehydrating and beer just doesn’t do it for me. Lots of water and juices though got me feeling great.

We had our annual dinner at the Beechmoor and as always it was an amazing feast. The owner takes such good care of us. She made our special fried chicken livers. I know these don’t sound too appetizing but trust me, they’re amazing. They are not on the menu but she knows we love them and has them made just for us. We’re not sure exactly what’s in them and don’t really care. We believe they do help us on day 2. I said “believe”, not “know scientifically” 🙂

Dinner came and went in a flash. It seems the whole weekend does that for us. So we said our goodbyes to Rita and the staff and off we went back to the MMA to get some sleep so we’re ready to roll by 5:15am.

Morning came all to fast. We got up, dropped our luggage on the truck, chowed down some breakfast and off we went on schedule. Sunday is team day for us. We ride with our entire PHAT Tuesday team. This is just fun.

We start the day going over the Bourne bridge. The sunrise from the bridge was absolutely beautiful. We go from the bridge and onto the canal road. This is a really nice way to warm up. The canal road is about 5 miles and flat. This is perfect as we’re still all shaking out the cobwebs. We have the most amazing views of the sun coming up over the water too. From the canal we are off to the access road that parallels route 6. This part of the ride is a blast as the road is just long and rolling hills. Once you hit your stride you just fly along. We covered the first 20 miles quickly, watered up and on our way to water stop 2 at Nickerson State Park. This is a really nice flat section (and the only flat section) of the cape. The team flies over this section in a pace line moving along at about 25 mph average. There’s nothing like it.

Just before the water stop at Nickerson we pass what is known on the PMC as “Da Hedge”. “Da Hedge” is a Cape Cod camp along the route. There is a huge hedge along the road and it is lined with all the campers. They’re out there with signs, balloons, streamers, noise makers, and are cheering so loud that it nearly lifts you off your bike as you go by. We always look forward to it. There are signs along the road for miles leading up to it building the anticipation of what’s to come.

(Fred, Dave, Jack, Marc, Bob at the Nickerson stop)

We rolled into Nickerson and there’s Jack. This year he was handing out Mardis Gras beads which most of us graciously accepted and wore for the remaining 40 miles of the ride across the cape. Jack is now 11. Jack not only stood out there cheering and handing out beads but this year he rode the final 40 miles with his dad on a tandem bicycle. Pretty amazing.

Off we went on our journey heading to the third water stop in Wellfleet. This stop has a real party theme. They had little shot glasses of gator-ade along with limes for the closest thing we’d get to a live Margarita at this stage of the ride. The gem at this site however is the ice couch. Yes, this is a couch fashioned out of bags of ice covered with a stylish throw cover. It felt so good to sit on and cool off and was very tempting to sit there a while. However, we had work to do and it was time to roll out for the final 20 miles to Provincetown.

(PHAT Tuesday riding along the cape)

(Bill, Dave, and Marc on the ice couch)

(Jim Barry and Pete Broman share a mock shot)

(PHAT Tuesday riding along route 6)

The final leg of the ride took us from Wellfleet to Truro. Truro is absolutely beautiful. It is what comes to mind when I think of Cape Cod. There are roads winding through marshes, along beaches and just some of the most tranquil land along the route. It is amazing to me that this area of Cape Cod has managed to maintain its charm without being overbuilt.

We make our way through Truro and are dumped out onto route 6 to begin the final trek to Provincetown. Route 6 is really tough to ride on. It was extremely windy that day and between the hills and the sand coming off the dunes and just being exhausted from the two days of riding it can really beat you up. We worked as a team though and made it up to one of the most welcome sights along the route. The sign said “Entering Provincetown” and that’s when we know we’re just about done. However, we still have race point to ride through.

Our team regrouped at the entrance to race point. We stopped for a picture and then hit the final hills. Somehow we all manage to summon the energy to fly through these last miles. It was a lot of fun cranking through these final miles with my fellow PHATs. We exited the point and hit the final mile down route 6 to the finish line. Our team is one of the few to finish together. It was very cool to be part of this and finish the ride as a team. The cheers from the crowd and the feeling of team accomplishment is hard to describe. It truly was a team effort. Crossing the finish line together was just plain cool. All of us wearing our PHAT Tuesday team jerseys. It’s our Tour De France finish.

We crossed the finish line at 10:45am and I have to admit I had tears in my eyes. They were tears of joy and accomplishment. I’ve crossed this finish line many times before but this time it was even sweeter. My journey to get there was a tough one. It is actually the thought of the ride that kept me focused while healing and working with the physical therapists. To go from not being able to move my left arm to crossing the finish line of the Pan Mass Challenge was an incredible feeling.

Provincetown was fun once we were cleaned up. The food at the finish line was plentiful and very good. I don’t think there was anything I didn’t consume at least one of. Burgers, hot dogs, roll ups, clam chowder, chili, chicken and ice cold beer. I think I actually consumed more calories than I burned over the two days which is hard to do after 10.5 hours of cycling but I managed to do it.

We loaded our bikes and luggage onto the trucks for their journey back home. We all then make our way to the pier to take the party ferry back. The walk into town is always enjoyable. I guess I didn’t eat enough as I was still hungry. No problem, I found my favorite pizza place at the dock and stopped for a couple of slices. Yummy…

We boarded the Provincetown II Ferry for our party ride back to Boston. As always this is the highlight of the weekend. It’s the same party year after year with about the same 1000 people and it never gets old. Most of the people on this boat are there to party and enjoy the journey home. You’d think this crew would be tired but nope. This is part of the weekend activity we’ve trained for. We sleep when we get home Sunday night.

The boat ride passed quickly as did the entire weekend. We docked in Boston at 7pm greeted by cheers of friends and family. Our Pan Mass weekend is over. We say our goodbyes and are on our way back home. Another year done and all of us looking forward to the next ride.

Once again I would like to thank you for allowing me to ride on your behalf. It was an honor and a privilege as it always is. This year was special for me. Next year for my 20th Pan Mass I’d like to ride it healthy. I think I’m due 🙂 I look forward to crossing the finish line again next year and hope you will support me as you have in the past.

Until next year.


Pan Mass Challenge 2006

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006

This is my annual Pan Mass Challenge trip report for the ride that took place Saturday and Sunday August 5 & 6 2006. The ride for me was not quite what I had planned for but that’s just the way it goes. The theme of basically dealing with a situation as it presents itself is fitting for the Pan Mass ride when you think of what we’re riding for.

In spite of the weather I managed to get in 1900 miles of training during the season preparing for the ride. I felt ready. The week before the ride I did back to back rides of around 60 miles each and felt strong and ready to roll. I was psyched for a great Pan Mass ride. All the riding was done, all my sponsors came through for me (thank you), my bike was ready to roll, everything was set for a great ride. All we needed was decent weather and the rest would be fun. Well, that was the plan anyway.

Friday morning, Aug 4, the day I head out to Sturbridge for pre-ride
festivities arrived. All my equipment and clothes were packed and ready to load up. I had a Pan Mass support van in my driveway that I was going to use to get out to Sturbridge meaning I would not need to ask anyone for a ride or deal with logistics of what to do with a car. Perfect situation.

I ran a couple last minute errands and was walking into the house when the tone would change. I turned to look at something while on the bottom step in my garage and slipped off and rolled my ankle. Anyone that’s ever done this knows what this feels like. Let’s just say I “felt something crack”. I could not believe this. In a split second I went from feeling great to complete disbelief and thinking, “I just broke my foot, I’m not going to be able to ride.” Well, my friends Dave and Mark that were driving with me out to Sturbridge showed up soon after. I was in the house with ice on my foot. They came in and said “ready to go”? I said, “yup, to the hospital.” I explained what had happened, we loaded the van and off to the Framingham Union hospital we went. I was so upset I couldn’t speak. We got to the hospital, I checked in, and waited to go in for an x-ray. Not quite what I had planned for the day. I was not supposed to be there. I was supposed to be on the way to Sturbridge to check in, have some lunch, get a massage, and just relax and enjoy the day.

Nancy came to meet me at the hospital. I decided that I better get my bike and luggage off the truck as it looked like I was not going to ride. I sent Dave and Mark off to Sturbridge and I sat in the waiting room quite depressed not knowing what the x-rays would show. Time passed very slow as I sat and waited in a very crowded waiting room. Almost 3 hours after I got there the doctor came in with the results of the x-ray. She said “good news, nothing is broken but it looks like you stretched out some ligaments and you chipped a bone in your foot.” Stunned I looked at her and said “that’s good news”? She then said “you will need to rest for about 48 hours as it’s going to be very sore and walking will be difficult. I’m going to put on an air cast and you’ll need some crutches for a bit.” Still stunned from the news I heard Nancy ask “he’s got a big bike ride this weekend, can he ride it?” The doctor said “well, it all depends on his tolerance for pain. He may be able to ride but the foot is going to swell up overnight and even if he rides it is probably going to be much more aggravated after the end of the first day. He won’t injure it any more if he rides but will set his healing back a couple days. Other than that he won’t do any permanent damage.”

Well, after hearing the news I still didn’t know if I was going to ride or
not. I knew I wanted to get out to Sturbridge and check-in, get my rider materials and attend the opening ceremonies. I figured I would at least go out there and take my bag and make sure someone got it on a truck. I figured if I couldn’t ride the event I’d at least get to the Maritime academy and volunteer and enjoy the event. My friend Jim’s wife was heading to Sturbridge and offered to give me a ride out.

Off to Sturbridge I went with my luggage, foot in an air cast, and crutches in tow. Not quite the picture of health I was in the morning when I got up. Bill and Steve at info desk

(Me and Steve Hauser at the info desk in Sturbridge Friday)

After much explaining to all I met I attended the opening ceremonies. They were quite good this year. American Idol finalist Ayla Brown opened with a song to kick off the show. There were some incredibly inspirational speeches and performances. There was one that got to me. It was about a woman from Holliston (my town) that lost her battle and how her 15 year old son (my daughter’s friend) and husband and a team from town would be riding in her memory. This was tough to watch. She was a really great person. I remembered her battle and it was a courageous one. Two years ago we were both on a local access cable TV program and interviewed about the Pan Mass. When the interviewer got to her he said “I know you have a special story and reason for riding this year. Would you like to tell us about it?” She just replied, “well personally I am hoping they find a cure real soon.” That was all she said. She did not let on that cancer had come back and spread all over her body. She knew this was her last stand but she chose to meet it with courage and more dignity than almost anyone I ever saw. She did complete the ride that year and passed away the following December.

Opening ceremonies concluded, my luggage was with my friend Tony so it would make it on to the truck to the Mass Maritime Academy and for the first time in 18 years I left Sturbridge on Friday night and went home. This was very hard for me to do. I had no idea how I’d feel in the morning. My foot was in a bit of pain and I was slightly depressed at the thought of not starting with the 2500 others leaving in the morning. I love the mass start. It’s hard to describe what it’s like to start with over 2500 other bikes all at once. That would not be in the cards for me this year.

I went home, got a good night’s sleep and got up at 5am with the rest of my family. They were all leaving at 5:30 to go to Franklin, the second water stop at the 40 mile mark, and work as Pan Mass volunteers. I told them I was going to get dressed and ride to Franklin and see how I felt. They never even questioned it. I said if I felt ok when I got to Franklin I was going to ride the rest of the way. They left and I flipped on NECN at 6am to watch the start of the ride. Seeing it on TV was tough but it made me even more determined to get out there and ride.

The ride to Franklin was about 15 miles from home. It was a very strange and reflective ride. I was happy I was able to fit my cycling shoe over the cast but the way I felt I knew I would not be able to stand in the pedals on any tough climbs. I figured I was in good enough shape that I’d just take the hills as they came and be able to handle them seated. That was what I convinced myself of anyway. I had missed the hardest hills of the ride not starting in Sturbridge and that was a smart thing. I made it to Franklin in about 45 minutes. I was really happy to see the entrance to the water stop. It was a pretty emotional thing for me to have made it here. I thought I timed it so the first riders from Sturbridge would have come in already and I’d slip into the water stop under the radar. Well, I sort of miscalculated and guess who the first rider into the stop was? Yup, it was me. Before I knew it there was cheering, cameras snapping photos, and the announcer saying “and here comes the first rider. And he’s wearing a cast…” I just put my head down thinking “oh man, I’m the PMC Rosie Ruiz”. Nancy set them all straight soon by saying “he cheated, he rode from home”. This made me laugh. I did not want to be in the paper or highlighted. I just wanted to ride.

Bill riding into the Franklin Waterstop

My left engine.

I waited in Franklin for some of my friends to show up as I felt I could do the ride. At least I believed I could do day 1. I’d figure the rest out as it came. I left Franklin at 8:30 with my friends Mark and John. We were off and within minutes were flying along in a paceline. I felt good. I was happy. I was riding in my 18th Pan Mass.

Me waiting for my friends.

I mostly pedaled with my right leg. The left was basically clipped in and along for the ride. I could spin but could not put a lot of pressure on it. That was ok. I was riding. We got to the lunch stop about 27 miles away from Franklin and I felt great. We were making great time. I ate, and was back on the road about 15 minutes later. This time my old friend Bob joined us leaving lunch. Bob and I go back a lot of years and it was great to see him again and ride with him.

We cranked to the next stop, filled a bottle, grabbed some food, and were on our way. The miles were flying by. We were doing great until we entered the final stretch in Wareham. We turned a corner and my left leg cramped up entirely. I yelled, “ouch, stopping… cramp” Very eloquent. It was all I could get out. I pulled to the curb and could not get my left foot out of the pedal. My leg would not move. I forced down a bottle of water and some gu and worked the cramp out. Bob stayed with me. He asked if I wanted to get the sag wagon. I would not do that. I was going to ride into the Mass Maritime Academy if I had to walk the bike there. We were 6 miles and I wasn’t giving up now. We rolled out…

More than ever I just wanted to get to the Maritime academy. The remaining miles passed quickly and thank heaven without incident.

I pulled into the Maritime academy at approximately 12:55. This was one of my earlier finishes. My average speed for the day was 18.1 mph which I was very pleased with. I’m happy when I can do this with two good legs.

I parked my bike, signed up for my massage, took a shower, and could not have been happier to be in Bourne. It was a beautiful day. I had no crutches and was able to get around with the walking cast on.

My cousins Len, Elaine, and Michelle were all working at MMA and enjoying themselves. Dave Winthrop’s dad Walter (a 7 year volunteer) was there working the salad bar . They all thought I was slightly nuts for riding like this but I like to think of it as determined. This was a temporary pain and not unbearable. I think what cancer patients go through with their battle and the discomfort I had was nothing. If anything it made me appreciate the event even more.

I spent the day catching up with friends, explaining what happened, and enjoying the day. We had our annual dinner at the Beechmoor to end the day and as usual it was a feast fit for kings. The owner, Rita, went out of her way as usual for our team. We always feel like royalty when we arrive at the Beechmoor. They couldn’t be nicer to us. We have a loyal following that always meets up with us there. It’s always a good time.

Dinner at the Beechmoor

Dinner came and went and it was back to the MMA to sleep. Bedtime was at 8pm for me that day. I got to my dorm room and my roomates Dave and Joel were already in bed. I was a little uncomfortable and did not know if I’d ride in the morning. I decided I’d figure that out when I woke up. I did.

Sunday morning came quickly. I got out of bed at 4am. My foot hurt a bit. I was still not sure I’d be able to ride. It was much more swollen than it was the day before. I figured if I could get my cycling shoe back on that I’d give it a shot. The “shoe fit” so I cleaned up and decided I would dress to ride.

A breakfast of biker buns (english muffin, egg, cheese, and bacon), fruit, and Dunkin Donuts coffee hit the spot. I figured I’d give day 2 a try and see how I felt. I figured I’d take it easy and if I didn’t feel up to it I’d take a sag wagon into P-town. Not something I wanted to do but I’d figure that out if and when I couldn’t ride.

I met up with friends and headed out on the road at 5:45am.

The Sunday ride starts going over the Bourne Bridge. This is dangerous. They close off one lane but it is filled with riders of all skill levels. This is the one time on the ride that I felt unsafe. Understand that both my feet are clipped into my pedals with cleats like a ski binding. They are made so you can clip out but my left foot being injured I could not clip out that easy. Some riders decided to get off their bikes in the middle of the bridge because the climb (the bridge is a steep hill) was too much. This brought the group to a screeching halt and almost caused a large pileup. I could not clip out quick enough so I jumped out into the traffic lane and passed the group on the bridge. This was not a show of testosterone, it was survival. I was chastised by a couple women but I really didn’t care. The last thing I wanted was another story to tell…

Once over the bridge I rode along the canal with Dave Winthrop. We stayed together the 5 miles along the canal. Leaving the canal you begin a slight climb that takes you to the access road that parallels route 6 known as “the rollers”. It’s aptly named as it is a very long road made up of rolling hills. It is one of my favorite sections of the ride. Once you get in the rhythm of the rollers you can fly. I did. I was passing a lot of people to most of their amazement. Unfortunately I lost Dave when I picked up the pace. I was riding by myself which was ok. I was with hundreds of fellow riders that were all very friendly and helpful. Well, I wasn’t riding alone for long. My friends Steve Kohalmi, Steve Hauser and his fiance Kathleen Rider came along. They spotted me and said “let’s go, get on our wheel and we’ll pull you along”. To the uninitiated, the phrase “pull you along” means they will lead the way and I would draft off them. Drafting is great when you have strong riders to ride behind. I did. These are some of the strongest riders I know. Steve and Kathleen ride a tandem and drafting off a tandem is like riding behind a truck (i.e. it blocks the wind making it easier to ride). You can ride very fast with approximately 20% less effort. This is an absolute blast. Fly we did. I hooked on to their line a couple miles from the first waterstop at the 20 mile mark. My average speed was 18 MPH which I was happy with considering I rode most of it alone. Well, I rode with my new tandem engine to the next water stop about 20 miles away in Brewster. My average when I pulled into the second stop went up to 19.8 MPH. That’s really fast for me. My average went up almost 2 miles per hour meaning we were probably averaging over 22 the entire 20 miles. Fast was good for me as I wanted to get to Provincetown and rest my foot.

The foot...

Bill and Kathleen

In and out of the second water stop quickly we were back on the road in about 5 minutes. I managed to stay with them for about another 10 miles till the hills of Wellfleet came. Yes, contrary to popular belief the cape has a lot of hills. It is not flat. I could not stand on the pedals to get extra power on some of the tougher hills so I told them to go on. I didn’t want to slow them up. Again, I wasn’t really alone. I started talking with some other riders going along at my pace and rolled into the third and final water stop of the day at 9am. This was pretty good. I stopped at the “ice couch” (a couch made up of bags of ice and a blanket covering), cooled off, got a gatorade martini (gatorade served in plastic martini glasses), grabbed some food, and filled my water bottles to head out on the final 20 mile stretch to P-Town! I met up with my friends Wayne and Eric and started the final stretch with them. This didn’t last long as I lost them in the hills where my speed drops. Alone again but this was ok. I was in a zone focused on one thing, finishing and getting off the bike. Drive and determination kept me pedalling. I made it through the tough part of Truro quickly and then on to route 6 for the final push to race point.

The miles along route 6 are extremely tough. You’re physically and mentally exhausted when you get to this section of the ride. Route 6 is exposed with no shade and usually has a nice cross wind, and a lot of hills. I started out and before long a couple of riders passed me. I yelled out, “mind if I draft off you”. They said “sure, no problem.” These were not even PMC riders but were gracious enough and willing to help me out. I drafted off them all the way down route 6 to the entrance to race point in Provincetown, the final stretch before the finish line. Race point is made up of a series of hills (yes, several more miles of hills, do you see a theme here) that go through the dunes of Provincetown. I just cranked over them. Sheer adrenaline was driving me at this point. I knew how close I was to finishing. I made it through race point and onto the final stretch to the finish line at the Provincetown Inn. Seeing the finish line after such a gruelling ride is indescribable. I just stated turning the cranks as fast as I could. I crossed the finish line around 10:15am. Total riding time on Sunday was 4 hours, 2 minutes. Average speed: 19.3 mph Wow… I impressed myself with that one. It was so emotional crossing the finish line after such a difficult trek.

I checked in at the finish line and proceeded to get off the bike. Someone came up and offered me an ice cold bottle of water which I gladly accepted. I no sooner started drinking it when my friend Debra, a volunteer in P-town, spotted me and came over to congratulate me. She had heard I was riding with a bum leg and an air cast and I don’t think she believed it till she saw me pull in. We chatted a bit but it was time for me to get rid of the bike, find my bag, and head to our day room for a shower. The PMC provides shower tents supplied by the national guard where most of the riders clean up after the ride. A bunch of friends and I opt to get a day room at the Provincetown Inn. This is money well spent. This is even better when you’re one of the first ones to the room. Clean towels and a clean shower! I cleaned up and the bed looked so good that I decided to lay down, put my foot up and ice it down before heading down to begin the day’s festivities. Took a nice half hour power nap till the next rider showed up and woke me up. This was just what I needed.

Now it was time to get some nourishment. PMC puts on a great feast after the ride. You just can’t beat it. Everything from fresh roll-ups, Legal Seafood clam chowder, hamburgs, hot dogs, sausages, beer, veggie burgers, chicken, etc. No going hungry for this crowd. With all the calories we burn over the course of the two days you don’t see people watching what they eat all that much.


(me and Dave chowing down in P-Town)

After some food it was time to head into town to meet up with some friends at the “Governor Bradford”, our yearly meeting spot for a drink before getting on the ferry to head home. Always a good time catching up with Matt and the crew before the boat ride home. We leave the Governor to head to the boat around 3 but I’m still hungry. Time to stop for pizza 🙂 Yup, more food… Now I’m good for the ride home.

Weather for the ride back was absolutely perfect. Calm seas, cool breeze, clear skies, and smooth sailing for the 3 and a half hour ride home. You couldn’t ask for any better weather. The pictures probably don’t do justice to convey the party atmosphere on the ferry on the ride home. The band plays almost the whole way back and most of the people are up and dancing showing no signs that they just rode 192 miles in most cases. This is one of the highlights of the weekend for all of us. It’s by far one of the best parties I’ll go to all year. How can it not be? After 18 years I have made a lot of friends that I only get to see on this weekend. It’s just a great bunch of people. You seem to pick up where you left off last year. I do manage to see some of them during the year which is great. We keep in touch by email and see each other at PMC events but nothing compares to the ferry party.

Ferry Party!

The hours seem to pass in a flash. We see the dock in Boston harbor filled with people there to greet the returning riders. I can only imagine how cool it must look to everyone when that boat comes gliding into the slip with the band playing and everyone up partying and cheering. The party seems to continue for a bit after we dock. Nobody wants it to end. However, end it must as we need to go home and back to our lives. We say our goodbyes and off we go till the next year.

This year was a really tough one for me but it was also one great ride too. I’m sure some of you are asking why I would ride after injuring my foot and having a cast put on the day before. Most people would think, heck, I’m not riding, I’m done. Well, to be honest, that’s a thought that crossed my mind and I was more depressed at the thought of not riding than I can explain. I had decided that if the doctor came back and said I had broken bones and advised me not to ride that I would listen to her. It was not something I wanted to hear but I also was not going to ride and risk doing permanent damage. Well, when she came in with the x-ray results and delivered the initial news saying “well, the good news is you did not fracture any bones. The bad news is that you stretched a bunch of ligaments and chipped a bone in your foot. You will be sore and it will be very tough to stand and walk on it.” A soon as I heard this I knew I would make it one way or another.

That’s really what the ride is all about. It’s called the Pan Mass Challenge and not the “Pan Mass Race”. Ok, so this was a bit more challenging for me than usual. Big deal. That’s two days of the year. Nothing compared to what cancer patients go through while being treated and battling to survive.

Last year I rode with my friend Jen that had finished radiation treatment less than 6 weeks before the ride. This meant she trained less and faced a very tough ride after having her body beaten down by the treatment. This year my friend Maryellen rode two days from Srurbridge to P-town after her battle with breast cancer last year. She was to head into the Dana Farber the following Monday morning for follow-up treatment. She told us very matter of factly as if it was just another day. This is how she faced the disease every day during the gruelling treatment. I don’t think I ever heard either of these women complain. They just smiled and were happy to be out there. So, when you think of this and put it in perspective my ride was relatively easy. It’s not about winning a race. It’s not about any prize money (there is none). The ride is about facing adversity and dealing with it the best way you can. Cancer patients do this every day. Riding is nothing compared to this. Even riding with a cast can’t compare. The heroes of this event are the survivors and those battling the disease. As a rider we’re all in awe of them. Riding
and raising money is our way of fighting back.

Another year down and after it’s all said and done it was a great year. Thank you for letting me ride on your behalf. As always it was an honor and a privilege and I will be out there doing it all again next year. Hopefully this time with no pre-ride injuries.

Best regards to all,

– Bill

Climb To The Clouds ’06

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

The Climb to the Clouds took place Sunday July 16. I’ve done this ride many times before but never in heat like this. It was so hot that breathing was difficult due to the heat coming off the roads in areas with no shade.

The ride started off great. It was hot but I felt very strong. I rode with my friends Dave W and Dave R as well as several hundres others. We covered the first 15 miles quickly. This brought us to our first stop at the convenience store in Sterling. It was so hot that I couldn’t put enough water in fast enough. I consumed almost 2 full 20 oz bottles in the first 15 miles. It was going to be a tough day…

We got some water and food and were about to leave Sterling when Dave W decided to mark another spot in the state. Well, decided is probably not an accurate term. I doubt very much that this was a decision so much as an unavoidable incident. The heat was definitely starting to affect people. We ended up staying with Dave for about 40 minutes till he felt well enough to continue. This was a very tough thing for us as it was like starting over again after waiting that long…

Dave recovered well and it was off to the mountain. We got to the infamous Mile Hill Rd within 5 miles. This road is aptly named. It is the road that leads up to the mountain and is a 1 mile climb at a 9% grade. I am usually able to make it up this road without stopping. Not this day. The heat coming off the road was so high that it was very difficult to breath. I had to stop twice to catch my breath just to make it to the base of the mountain.

We got to the base and Dave W was smart enough not to try and summit. I decided to give it a shot. Not a great idea. I didn’t make it that far before I was out of breath and mentally shut down. The summit would have to wait for another time. We turned and went back down and continued on.

We met up with Dave at the ranger station and decided to head out since the line for water was sooooo long.  The water stop was in about 5 or 6 miles and we had enough to get there.

 Leaving the mountain tooks us along a slight climb up the rest of mile hill road and then down about a 5 mile descent.  This was worth the climb.  We flew…  It was a lot of fun.  We rolled into the water stop, fueled up, and were on our way soon after.

We stayed together and rode strong till about Northborough when I started to bonk.  The heat was kicking my butt.  I backed it way down and watched the Daves ride off.  I made it to Sawyer Hill when a tandem flew by me.  This was my friends Steve and Kathleen.  They were moving.  I caught up to them soon.  No, not because I was flying but because they stopped to help someone that had what looked like a full body cramp.  They helped him off his bike and lowered (not kidding) him to the ground.  They gave him some e-caps which helped his cramps.  I left and was on my way.  The next water stop was over Sawyer Hill and I wanted to get there.  It was not fast as my right leg was starting to cramp.

 Into the water stop I met up with the Daves again.  We got some water and food and off we went.  I made it to the crossover of route 117 and onto Harvard Rd in Bolton.  We started climbing and the leg cramp came back.  Mentally I was done.  I yelled ahead for them to go on without me.  I then turned, rolled back down Harvard Rd and turned onto route 117 to take the easy ride back to the Nashoba school where we started.  This cut out about a mile but it was worth the shortcut as I was able to turn the cranks as long as I didn’t have to engage the muscle that was cramping up.

I got to the school a few minutes before the Daves.  I was spent.  We hung out a little bit, said our goodbyes, and home I went…  Next year will be a better ride.