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

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…

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