I do this ride for family and friends, and their support makes it all
possible and worthwhile. Laura and the kids put up with my cycling ("Honey,
can you look after the kids while I take a nap? I did 80 miles this morning")
and everyone else gets hit up for money. But all the aches and pains of
riding are worth it when you hear a former patient tell how other hospitals
treated her disease while the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute treated her,
This year's ride, my 9th, was one of friendship. On Friday afternoon we packed John's car to head down to the starting line in Sturbridge. John has been riding the PMC since 1985, and is my inspiration to turn my hobby of cycling into something that benefits others. Andy flew in from California, more fit than ever. Back in April I borrowed his bike for a ride around Silicon Valley and broke part of the frame while adjusting the seat. Somehow he managed to forgive me, but he had a plan for revenge. And Bob made it in from Singapore in spite of the airline's best attempts to delay and cancel his flights. Bob was my training partner in 1996 and without each other's motivation we were less prepared for this year's ride.
Bob and I stayed up late after the traditional pre-ride pasta dinner,
assembling his bike. Luckily the PMC has very good staff of bike mechanics
as Bob had left his handlebar stem bolt in his car. After a few skinned
knuckles, and lots of oil, we finally made it to bed at 11pm.
Saturday morning was warm at 4:30am when we woke up, but this was better
than the rain of previous years. We ate breakfast and threw our bags on
trucks headed for the finish line. We lined up at the start with butterflies
in our stomachs, waiting for the countdown. I was nervous as always - how
many times can I totter over to the porta-potties in my cleated bike shoes?
The above picture is me, John, Andy, and Bob, with the Sturbridge Host
hotel in the background. At 6am we started - 1700 cyclists filing out onto
Rt. 20, a procession which takes 15 minutes to pass by. At the same time
in Boston several hundred more riders were leaving on the alternate course.
In all almost 2000 cyclists and 2500 volunteers were on the road to find
a cure for cancer.
Andy had already ridden thousands of miles this year, much more than
the other three of us combined, and so he shot out to the front of the
pack, not to be seen again. Must be nice to live in California with no
kids and gorgeous weather. Bob and I hammered away, going faster than our
legs could support. We had 112 miles to ride and were acting like this
day would be done at 40. It grew warmer and by 60 miles we started fade.
I broke a spoke on my rear wheel early on while pushing up a hill and rode
with a wobble until lunch. Next Bob started feeling washed out, so I told
him to eat Gu, an energy food which tastes like chocolate frosting. He
bounced back but then as the day grew hotter, I faded. I ate too many Gu's
and Powerbars and my stomach rebelled against the sugar. For the last 30
miles I just tried to stick behind Bob whose training miles in the tropics
prepared him for this kind of weather. After all this we still managed
to reach the finish line in Bourne by the Cape Cod Canal at the same time
as last year. In all about a dozen people had to drop out because of the
Saturday afternoon is for relaxing, getting a massage, and stuffing your face while listening to the bands that play at the Mass-Maritime Academy. For the first time I was staying on the training ship, the Patriot State, instead of the dorms, which meant that I had only one roommate and an in-room "head" with shower. What luxury! I shared it with Andy who was very insistent on knowing when I finished. Turns out his coach pledged 50 cents for every minute that he beat me in. Even with his getting lost for 20 minutes he arrived 40 minutes earlier. My former training partner was getting paid to race against me! Oh well, it all goes for a good cause.
Sunday morning was cooler, so John and Andy decided to treat the day as an easy spin - if 82 miles on a bike seat could be easy. Bob and I decided to hammer a little harder, if for no other reason than to beat the lines at the showers at the finish. We didn't get the luxury of riding in as many pace-lines as previous years, so instead of drafting behind several riders, we had to push along on our own. Bob still had not recovered from towing me on Saturday as he had not been able to train for long distances living in Singapore, a flat island only 20x5 miles. So I pulled him along up the hills and highways of Turuo and Provincetown. I always get a sense of elation (or exhaustion) when I reach the Provincelands National Park at the tip of Cape Cod. The road turns into a roller coaster through the scrub pines and dunes - a last bit of isolation before the we reach the crowds headed for the beaches by P-town. At this point a pace-line caught up with us, giving me a short break. Bob and I had enough energy for an all-out sprint for the last ¼ mile to the finish line. We were greeted by dozens of cheering volunteers, reggae music, and lots of food. A quick scrub in the Army shower tents, some Legal's Chowda, and chocolate cheesecake and I felt good enough to do it all over again! Here is Andy and I at the end.
Thanks again for your help and support of the Jimmy Fund. I hope you have a happy and healthy year.
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