Chris Spear's 2007 Pan Mass Challenge

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No dopes here!

Jon, Chris, Ben, Moe at Mass Maritime This year's PMC ride went well. First, let me thank my sponsors. My generous friends, family, and co-workers have contributed over $7000. Compared to past years, I didn't train as much, because of knee problems caused by an improperly positioned saddle. Additionally, while some professional cyclists improve their performance through blood transfusions, I donated a double shot of red blood just two weeks before the ride. Gives new meaning to "dope".

These problems actually improved the quality of my ride as I rode with my friends all day Saturday, rather than going solo. Jon and Ben met me at Moe's house in Needham, not far from the early morning Wellesley start at Babson College. We stuck together for the first 20 miles, but Ben was having leg cramps, so he took a break at the first water stop. Jon was also having leg problems from when he crashed into Ben who had stopped short to avoid a car. Jon decided to keep riding to keep the bruised muscle limber. The next "challenge" came when we realized that we were no longer seeing the PMC's green arrows and were lost. A passing motorist gave us steered us two miles back on course, and Moe, Jon and I continued heading south to the Cape. A flat tire and another wrong turn kept us humble and slow.

While the PMC is not a race, there is pride in completing quickly. On several occasions we passed the same two riders who had "virtual passengers", drawings of children on poster board, positioned over the back wheel so it looked like the kids were enjoying a ride with their parents. We got a good laugh out of this the first time we saw them, but soon realized that these casual riders were passing us every time we became lost!

The "lunch" stop came after 40 miles, but we ate lightly as it was still only 9:30am. After 18 years you recognize many of the riders, even on an event with 4000 participants. The most famous is Senator John Kerry, who was part of group averaging a blistering 23 mph, over the hills from Sturbridge. We were unable to keep up with his pace, especially in the hot and humid weather that Saturday. I led our little group for most of the day, allowing us to finish at the very respectable time of noon at the Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne.

Dark bridge crossing

Waiting for the cones on the Bourne Bridge On Sunday, reveille is 4:15am to get us up and out on the road before the hectic summer traffic of Cape Cod. I rushed to my bike, only to find that the rear tire was almost out of air. Always make sure you find the cause for the flat - in this case a staple was still stuck in the tire from Saturday. After this was fixed, I headed to the first challenge, riding over the Bourne Bridge. The Mass Department of Transportation closes a single lane for the PMC. All other biking events must settle for walking their bikes on the sidewalk. However, this morning the truck was late putting out the cones, so 20 of us waited in the pre-dawn darkness while the crew slowly drove over the bridge, placing the cones. My next delay was from a short tune-up to prevent my chain from falling off. The result was that from most of the ride, I was well behind the leaders, with several cyclists riding in my wake.

Jake is 11

Jake is 11 because of the PMC As you roll into a typical PMC rest stop, the road is lined with larger than life photos of little kids; most of them are wearing hats. They are the real reason for all those hours spent fund raising and training. These are the children who are treated at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and they wear hats as they lost their hair because of the chemotherapy. Teams of cyclists ride in honor of their "Pedal Pals" and get to meet with them at the DFCI during treatments. Then there is Jake, more than just a photo, he is a cancer survivor. Every year at the PMC water stop at Nickerson, he holds out a sign. The first year that I can remember he had a sign that said, "I am 4 because of you" and handed out buttons with his picture. This year he handed out Mardi Gras necklaces with a tag reminding us that he is now 11 because of the money raised by the PMC. Many of the experimental treatments in use at the DFCI were partly funded by the unrestricted funds that you have donated.

Provincetown Finish

Last hill coming into Provincetown The rest of the Sunday ride went smoothly, and I rode 75 of the 80 mile either by myself, or only with riders behind me. There were about 8 riders ahead of me, but there were also 2500 riders behind!

Over the last 26 years, the PMC has raised over $170 million, which allows Dana Farber researchers to create new treatments, new cures for cancer. The Boston Red Sox sponsor the ride, thus covering much of the overhead for the ride. This means that even more of your donation (99%) goes to directly to research! Thanks!

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