It is hard to believe that our 2 month adventure has come to an end. There are still so many things I still want to write down about the cross country ride and I will try as the days go on. But right now I am going through the post PMC blues. It is such an exciting, fun and motivating weekend that always leaves me ready to ride again. There are many reasons I ride and things that make the weekend special and that is what I wanted to write about now.
The PMC weekend has so many facets. When we arrive in Sturbridge the chaos of registration is the first thing we need to go through. A large room filled with bikers from all over the world checking in, meeting friends and trying on their new biking jersey. Every few minutes a cheer goes around the room as a new rider checks in. Loud yelling, cow bells ringing and cheers from all over the room to celebrate a new member of the PMC riding community. The bikes are parked in the lot and Landry’s is out there making the last minute repairs.
Next is the start of the weekend of food. The menu for the first night is filled with pasta, rubbery chicken, salads of all types and a great assortment of desserts. We sat and ate a course of dinner, dessert, some more dinner and then of course another dessert. And we never forget to get the hydration going with one of the many water bottles we will drink over the next few days.
We finish the evening with the opening ceremonies. It is usually a fun time with music, comedy and the beach balls come out along with the inspiring videos and stories about why groups, families or individuals are riding. Some find it more exciting than others. We get to hear from Dr. Ed Benz, the President and CEO of Dana Farber, on how the the money raised is used to help in their battles with finding the cures and making the treatments of their patients better. The temporary tattoos are on and we leave ready to ride.
The Spectators- We begin the first day at 5:30 am with the singing of the National Anthem and that last reminder not to “clip in” our bike cleats until you clear the mass of 3500 riders leaving the staging area. Riding down Route 20 in Sturbridge the crowds are up and cheering and the sun is just trying to come up in the east. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people that are out on the road at 5:00 am to 5:00 pm. They are there with signs, cow bells, balloons, music and their voices. They offer bottles of water, a pump for our tires and words of encouragement. They cheer, they wave and they thank us for riding. They have their reasons for being there also. Friends and family with cancer have brought them out.
The Volunteers- What an amazing group. They are there at every point in the ride. From registration to food to medical to bike maintence (thank you Landry’s Bike for your presence all weekend) to massage to more food to water stops… At all hours (the second picture was taken at 4:00 am ) they are makng the ride easier for those of us riding. It is nice to know that after I register I will be able to find everything I need because of the volunteer’s non- stop efforts.
The Water Stops- There are 8 different water stops along the route. Each one has its own personality and an endless stream of water, fruits and peanut butter/fluff products. Some of the stops have themes such as the Nickerson Rock and Roll Stop which includes posting trivia questions on the porta potties to give you something to think about while you are standing in line. One of the best is the Lakeville Stop dedicated to the Pedal Partners. The Pedal Partners are the children who are currently receiving treatment (or finished with treatment!) at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Each are sponsored by teams riding in honor of them. Many of the children are present at the Lakeville Stop and poster-sized pictures of them line the road on the way into the stop. It carries a very powerful and emotional message and gives a needed boost for the final 40 miles of the day.
The reason others ride- There are so many groups/teams/individuals that ride the PMC. Everyone has their reason for making the trek across the state. Some are riding for people they know and some ride for a particular cause/cure/type of cancer/pedal partner but everyone has their own reason to ride. Teams have their names such as Brielle’s Brigade- Miles for Mary- Annie’s Angels- Patriot Platelet Pedalers and they come with their mottos on the team jerseys – like “making cancer our bitch”, “cancer sucks” and “lick cancer”.
Why I ride- Every day for the last two months I have had this picture of my parents on my riding jersey. They have been an inspiration for my riding the PMC as both passed away due to cancer.
But every year there is at least one thing that makes me want to return and ride the PMC. This year, like the last several years, I have seen one young boy who stands near the Nickerson Park water stop holding a sign. ”Thanks to you I’m”… with the last 6 years crossed out. I stopped and briefly talked with him this year. He seemed to be surprised when I thanked him for being out here every year. He is why I ride.