PMC weekend. There’s nothing quite like it. Whether you’re a volunteer, a rider, a pedal partner or a support person cheering from the sidelines, the PMC is an event that creates one community working together toward the common goal of raising money for cancer research and treatment.
The PMC is something that sticks with those who get involved with it. The feelings it generates do not stop when you cross the finish line. Rather, they linger long after the two days are over, your bike gear from the weekend is washed and put away, your Garmin is re-charged and your legs no longer feel that tight ache from exhaustion. There’s no recipe for this feeling and my mind darts all over the place, looking for a way to get grounded. What does physical exhaustion plus camaraderie and teamwork plus joy plus heartache plus accomplishment plus living proof plus cowbells plus really good beer plus bubbles plus 192 miles equal? Is there a word for that? If so, please let me know.
The best I can do is share slices of life from the weekend.
This is the magical scene right before the riders leave Sturbridge early Saturday am. The conversations at this time are the same every year: Will it rain? Should I wear arm warmers? Remember not to clip in until you get close to the road. Do I have time to quickly pee again? No? Ok. The air is filled with anticipation as we listen to the National Anthem and wait for our turn to start rolling.
This is our newest team member, Bill, standing next to a poster of his son, Grant. One year ago, Bill was at the Pedal Partner stop, simply playing the role of being Grant’s father. He wanted to take a picture of Grant’s poster and so he left the water stop to run down the road to get a photograph. This year, he was able to ride up to the poster so we could capture this picture. Can you imagine the feeling of riding in the PMC, knowing you’re doing it for your son?
The true meaning of a team…no one with cancer is ever alone.
We were blessed to have both of our Pedal Partners waiting for us at the Pedal Partner stop on Saturday. Joy is knowing that Grant was going to Dana Farber on Monday for his last treatment. Pain is knowing Tommy is still fighting his disease.
One of my favorite pictures from the weekend…the white tent and colored flags on the backdrop of a blue sky. After Saturday’s ride, everyone relaxes and hangs outside at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy. There’s live music, yoga classes, massages, tons of food, beer & drinks, and bean bag toss games too.
Team Crank, Saturday evening. My family.
PMC weekend was made for pastry chefs simply because of the early morning start times. This was my breakfast of champions, Sunday at 4am. I can only imagine how early the volunteers had to get up to make sure everything was set up for us. From the rowdy luggage crew to the smiling people helping keep the food table full, the spirit of the PMC is within every single person.
I think the best part of PMC weekend is meeting new friends. On Sunday, our paths crossed (thankfully, not our tires) with first time PMC rider, David McCormick who happens to live in Acton. To spend time with a first year rider is to experience the thrill of the PMC through a new set of lenses. David started off as someone who helped pull one of our teammates to the next water stop. This chance encounter led to a casual conversation, which quickly revealed that we all pretty much knew each other. Serendipity at its best. Every stranger has a story of what brought them to the PMC. Talk about a book that I would love to research & write. David – it was so great to ride with you this year. Congratulations!!!
The headwinds of Truro were fierce this year, and that’s where the unexpected happened. I found myself behind my team a bit, alone on a long stretch of brutal wind. Ahead of me was a rider named Greta. She was my target, my focus. I kept thinking to myself, if I can get to Greta, we can work together and make it through this. I finally got to her, pulled ahead of her and suggested she draft me. Two minutes later, she pulled ahead of me and let me draft off of her. Back and forth we went, barely chugging forward at maybe 12 mph. A man in a red shirt appeared and joined our line. Slowly but surely, riders hopped onto our little line we worked together to get to the dunes. It made me wonder what we need to do off our bikes to duplicate this kind of random, unorganized group effort. Can you imagine if this spontaneously happened in real life? No pictures for this because I was white-knuckling my handlebars in the drops, just trying to keep moving forward. Instead, I’ll share one of my favorite pictures of the weekend…the iconic PMC flags.
Bill and David led Team Crank down the path toward the finish line. Nothing can replace that feeling of accomplishment of cycling down that final stretch of road. It was an honor for everyone on the team to have two first time riders leading the way through the finish line.
I started writing this post on the ferry heading back to Boston. As I scrolled through my photos and started drafting this in my head, I realized that I would never be able to capture a picture of the main reason why I’m able to ride in the PMC, year after year. Why? Because I don’t have pictures of every person, friend, family member, customer or business partner who, year after year, donates to my ride. Each of you is part of what makes the PMC such a successful, meaningful event. I really cannot thank each of you enough for your ongoing support.
Finally, a heartfelt thank you and moment of respect and admiration for the person who started this movement – Billy Starr. In 1980, Billy Starr had an idea and put it into motion. Thirty seven years later, the result of this idea is that $547 million dollars have been raised and donated to Dana Farber. It’s simply incredible, and yet another reminder for me that we all have the ability within us to make a difference. It’s being able to take that leap of faith and start something without having a map that shows you the final destination.
With gratitude for Team Crank, new cycling friends, Grant, Tommy and everyone who continues to support the PMC year after year. Until 2018…