PMC 27 for me… Time flies…

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

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

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

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

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

Sturbridge ArrivalArriving at the Sturbridge Host Hotel

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

Erica in the living proof video at opening ceremonies

Our 2015 Pedal Partner, Erica

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

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

Sturbridge Start – 5:30 am

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

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


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

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

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

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


Meeting up with our pedal partner and her family

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

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

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

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


Crossing the finish line at Mass Maritime Academy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting to get on the Bourne Bridge

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

Ed PMC Edits 2015-08-10PM-13

Riding across the Bourne Bridge

Sunrise on the Cape Cod CanalSunrise on the Cape Cod Canal

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

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


Riding the Paceline at Old Bass River and Seatucket Rd

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

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

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


Waiting to regroup at Race Point

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


Waiting for some of the team so we can cross together


Crossing the finish line!

Core Team Finish

Core Team Finish Line Photo

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

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

Fireboat Salute

Boston Fireboat Welcome Home Salute

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

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

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

Till next year,


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

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