On August 4-5 2001, I rode in the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (http://www.pmc.org/), a charity bicycle ride for the benefit of cancer research and treatment at Boston's prestigious Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (http://www.dfci.harvard.edu/) through their fundraising arm, the Jimmy Fund (http://www.jimmyfund.org/).
Although I may continue to accept contributions up to the middle of October, at the time of the ride I had raised $2280 in donations from my friends, family, and coworkers.
I mention that here because although people often ask me about what the ride was like and how I did, the important part is that myself and my contributors were able to be a part of an event that is the Jimmy Fund's single largest source of funds.
In 2001, this two-day cycling event hopes to raise over $13,000,000 for cancer research. Tune to the news or visit my cycling Web page for the final tally after November 11th, when the ceremonial check presentation takes place.
While the ride itself was fun and important to me, and I'll tell you all about it, the important part is the result: that we have helped advance cancer treatment and brought the world closer to an ultimate cure.
For about four years I'd toyed with the idea of doing a long-distance bike ride. At first, my primary interest was in doing the Boston to New York AIDS Ride. I almost signed up for the 2000 AIDS Ride, but I also expected to spend a lot of that summer house hunting, so I decided that I would forego it, but make a serious committment to ride in 2001.
However, when January came around, the AIDS Ride's route was completely revised so that it didn't even go near New York City. Between that and the grumblings I'd heard about the private company that puts on the AIDS Rides, I decided to consider other alternatives.
The year before, I'd sponsored two coworkers who rode in the Pan-Mass Challenge. The PMC ride is known for its low administrative overhead, and its beneficiary is the Dana Farber Institute, a leading research center looking into a cure for cancer, and the Jimmy Fund, one of New England's most reputable charities. My father died of cancer three years ago, and my friend Jeanie lost her mother to cancer at about the same time; and last fall Jeanie's 26 year-old sister Becky was diagnosed with breast cancer and began chemotherapy and radiation treatment. And after I signed up, I also learned that another close friend, one of the writers for my fiction magazine, had a mother who was terminally ill with cancer.
With all those factors in mind, it was clear that the Pan-Mass Challenge was the ride I would commit myself to. The route from Boston to the Cape and back might not be as magnificent as the ride from Boston to Manhattan, but I felt much better about the fundraising.
The PMC actually has six different route options. I was hoping to sign up for the original and longest route: from Sturbridge in central Massachusetts, to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. However, returning riders are allowed to sign up a month before new riders, and that route sold out by the time new rider registration was open. I wound up picking a 166-mile, two-day route from Wellesley (a western suburb of Boston) to Bourne (at the foot of Cape Cod) and back.
To be honest, I really didn't think the ride itself would be difficult for me; instead, the fundraising would present my biggest challenge. I really don't like asking others for money, and being an introvert I didn't have a large collection of friends to call on. I was really concerned that I wouldn't be able to raise the $1800 minimum fundraising requirement, and that I'd wind up having to put $500 or maybe even $1000 on my credit card.
However, the fundraising wound up being much easier and more successful than I had feared. Many people helped me out, and I reached my minimum about a week before the ride. In addition, the ride gave me the impetus to get back in touch with a whole lot of old friends, some of whom I hadn't talked to in years. The simple act of reestablishing those connections was a great side benefit of my participation in the ride.
About a month before the ride, I was in the Boston Public Library, looking for books with training plans for cyclists, when I ran across a biography of cyclist Lance Armstrong (http://www.lancearmstrong.com/). I checked it out and read it through, and found inspiration in his recovery from testicular cancer to win the Tour de France. And in an odd coincidence, throughout the month of July I kept tabs on the 2001 Tour de France (http://www.letour.com/), and Lance's success in winning his third consecutive tour.
My training for the PMC ride actually began back in October of 2000, ten months before the event, when I bought my new bicycle: a hybrid road/mountain bike manufactured by Cycles Devinci (http://www.devinci.com/) in Quebec.
Throughout the winter, I planned to ride 50 miles per week, mostly commuting to work. From October through the end of March, I made that goal 70 percent of the time, racking up over 1000 total miles in that time.
In April I began ramping up my training, coincidental with a brief work assignment in Waltham, a suburb about 15 miles west of Boston. Using that as an opportunity to ride more, I increased my average weekly riding to over 90 miles.
However, in May I slacked off. I had a number of flat tires, had the bike in the shop for a major overhaul, and was out of town during my fiction magazine's annual writers' summit in Jan Jose, California.
But June and July were incredibly successful months. I rode more than 100 miles per week in seven of the eight weeks leading up to the PMC ride, including two weeks of 150 miles, and one week where I put in a record 205 miles (which required more than 14 hours on the bike)! In that time, I averaged 133 miles per week both by increasing the length of my daily commute, and also undertaking some lengthy weekend rides. My new commute took me 15 miles down the Southwest Corridor Park to the Arnold Arboretum, then up the Muddy River park to the banks of the Charles River, and down the Esplanade to work. My weekend excursions included trips of 30 miles to Winthrop, 40 miles to Ponkapaug and Squantum, 70 miles to Salem (New Hampshire), and another 70 miles from Gloucester back to Boston. And then I supplemented all those with special training rides where I repeatedly climbed the hills in the Arboretum.
By the time of the PMC ride, My bike was only 9 months old, but I'd already put 2750 miles on it in well over 200 hours in the saddle. As far as I could tell, I was ready; my only concern was riding with other people in a large group, which I had never done before.
During my training, I'd had a few mechanical failures, but none of them serious. I'd had several flat tires, and the spokes on my rear wheel were continually coming loose, leaving the rim out of true. However, I took a five-session introductory bike repair class at Broadway Bikes (http://www.broadwaybicycleschool.com/) in Cambridge in June, and that gave me the skills necessary to fix such minor problems, even on the road. However, after so many miles, the bike is definitely starting to wear, and I look forward to another major overhaul now that the ride is complete.
I also bought myself some new toys, of course, both of which I wound up using on the PMC ride. I used a gift certificate my brother had given me for Christmas to buy a pair of special Shimano sandals (http://www.shimano.com/) that have cleats which clip into my pedals, and those worked out wonderfully. And I also picked up a handheld global positioning system (GPS) from Garmin (http://www.garmin.com/), which uses satellites to give me the ability to identify landmarks and where I am in relation to them.
In those ten months, I only had two accidents, and both involved cars who were turning right on red. In both cases I was knocked to the ground, but essentially unhurt. I was less fortunate in my two solo falls, both of which were caused by icy conditions while riding in the winter; in one, I had a small fracture in my elbow, and in the other I raised a livid bruise on my left hip.
But overall, I enjoyed my training. I learned about stretching, which became a necessity. And for the first time in my life I felt secure in calling myself a real athlete. The only downside was that I was riding so much that cycling had become more like work, and less like recreation, and that wasn't really what I wanted out of my riding.
I left work early on Friday to bike out to my friend Jeanie's house in Malden. My plan was to borrow her car to drive out to Wellesley to sign in for the event, then drive back to her house and bike home from there. Unfortunately, traffic was snarled everywhere, and as I sat on Route 128, travelling slower than a walking pace, I wondered how people could live like this. I must admit that I'm spoiled by my bicycle commute!
After more than an hour, I got to Babson College in Wellesley (http://www.babson.edu/) and signed in, receiving a little bag containing a number for my bike, a water bottle, luggage tags, a tee shirt, and so forth; and a cheer from the volunteers for being a first-time rider. The whole transaction took about 30 seconds, and I was back on the road again, heading back to Jeanie's.
Friday was an oppressively hot and humid day, and on the way back, all hell broke loose. Rain came down in sheets, and thunder and lightning blazed. I got back to Jeanie's, but there was no question about riding 10 miles back home in that torrential downpour. She would have driven me home herself, but she is recovering from abdominal surgery and is not allowed to drive. Furthermore, her sister, who was going to help drive me to Wellesley Saturday morning, was unable to make her flight from New York to Boston. So we eventually decided that I'd take Jeanie's car for the evening and leave the bike at her place until morning. Even driving became risky, as the normal street out of her neightborhood was under more than a foot of standing water! But I finally got home at 9:30pm.
After that, I still had to finish packing and eat something. I didn't get to sleep until 11pm, so the storm ruined both my plans to eat heartily the day before the ride, and get to sleep early. Furthermore, the front which had caused all this rain had stalled over the region rather than clearing out as expected, so the weekend forecast had changed from "clearing, and becoming nice" to "heavy overcast, with pockets of heavy rainfall". It wasn't an auspicious beginning.
In order to stop at Jeanie's and get to Babson in time for the start, I had to get out of bed at 3:30am. That meant I was operating on about four hours' sleep.
The first thing I did was look outside; the rain had stopped, but the ground was still completely saturated. The second thing I did was look in the mirror at the squinting old man looking back at me. No good news to be found anywhere this morning!
I showered and ate, fighting my cat for possession of the bowl of Frosted Flakes, but eating at that insane hour left me feeling nauseous. The weather radar confirmed that there were pockets of rain throughout the region. I tried to make sure I had everything, then drove out to Jeanie's at 5am.
Fortunately, Jeanie's sister Becky had made the last flight out of LaGuardia. If she hadn't, Jeanie would have either had to drive me, or left me with the car all weekend. None of us felt very good about being up at that hour, but we piled into the car and drove to Wellesley.
After I unloaded my stuff, Becky and Jeanie said goodbye, and I went to check in my luggage and make last-minute preparations, along with the other 1100 people who were starting out from Wellesley. After about fifteen minutes we were told to line up at the starting area. After I'd started my usual stretching routine, we were harangued by a woman who took the group through a stretching warm-up. I stood around, noting that I was about the only person I could see with a hybrid or mountain bike. The opening ceremonies were brief, but did drag on a little, since there were so many last-minute arrivals that the line of cars actually blocked our route out of campus! But after a little delay, they had a young cancer victim give the riders the signal to go at about 7:50am.
I still remember seeing one person at the side of the road who appearred to be changing a flat, less than a half mile from the start. The first fifteen miles weren't as congested as I had feared, but there was a great deal of sorting out as the faster people moved to the front, myself included. It was particularly pleasing to watch people's eyes widen when they saw a hybrid passing their road bikes, and my extra gears gave me a distinct advantage on the uphills, even though I rarely used the easiest "granny gears" during the ride. Along the way I talked to a couple people who were checking out either my GPS or my sandals.
After the first ten miles or so, the mass crowd started breaking up into smaller groups of six to twelve riders. I hooked up with a couple fast groups, and then would go off their front, gapping up to the next group ahead of them. At the first rest stop, 19 miles out, I was averaging 18 miles per hour, which was way ahead of what I'd normally do on my own, even without the big crowd at the start. I watched people leaving the rest stop carefully, because I wanted to be sure that I could hook up with another group when I continued. Although I'd never ridden in a group before, it only took me a few minutes to appreciate how much faster you can go, and how much less wind resistance you have to fight, when you're travelling close behind another cyclist.
The second segment was much like the first. We biked on back roads that had very little traffic on them, passing through New England woods, farmland ("Sheep left!"), churchyards, and golf courses. The roads were generally surprisingly well-maintained, but the exceptions were particularly terrible, including one section of unpaved gravel, and several areas where standing water spanned the width of the roadway. Just before the lunch stop we merged with the cyclists who had started in Sturbridge.
I reached the lunch stop at 10:20, 43 miles into the ride. Unfortunately, that's when the skies opened up, and I only managed to gulp down a very soggy ham sandwich before I decided that stopping wasn't going to help any. I pulled out my windbreaker and put that on over my already-soaked tee shirt, and wrapped my GPS and cyclometer in plastic that I'd thankfully brought just for that purpose.
It absolutely poured rain for the entire hour I took to get to the third rest stop. I was soaked to the bone and completely waterlogged, and everything in my shoulder bag was completely saturated, as well. Fortunately, the weather was warm enough so that it wasn't a chilling, cold rain; it was more reminiscent of going out to play as a child in a sudden summer downpour. I followed a slightly slower group this time, so the ride itself was more restful, but it was certainly more stressful than if the roads had been dry and it'd been clear sailing.
I reached the third rest stop at 11:41, 60 miles into the ride. My average was still surprisingly above 18 miles per hour. The rain looked like it might be letting up, but the roads were still completely saturated. While guzzling Gatorade I was surprised to look up and see Billy Starr, who founded the PMC ride back in 1980 and continues to be its organizer, talking with some folks next to me. He looked almost as wet as anyone else.
I made the last rest stop at 1:03pm, after having biked 80 miles at what was for me a record pace. By then the rain had stopped and it was starting to get hot and humid, but it was still heavy overcast and the roads were still wet. At that point, I was starting to hit the wall; my neck in particular was bothering me, so I took a few extra minutes at the rest stop before undertaking the final, short segment of the ride into Bourne and the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (http://www.mma.mass.edu/), where we'd overnight. After leaving, I hooked up with a slower group, because I knew that my reserves of stamina were getting depleted.
Over the course of that first day, the people lining the streets were great inspiration. Some folks had impromptu water stops, some simply cheered, and others had just put up signs of support. Everywhere there were signs talking about loved ones who had contracted cancer. But the last ten miles were kind of annoying, specifically because of the crowd. Like a watched pot, the miles tend to pass faster when you don't think about them, and having people shouting "Just six more miles!" doesn't really help, especially when the last crowd you passed had said "Just *five* more miles!" But their enthusiasm was still appreciated, and the cheers that went up when we reached MMA were thoroughly welcome! I arrived at 1:56pm, having biked 88.4 miles in 4 hours and 54 minutes, averaging 18 miles per hour overall and reaching a max speed of 34 MPH.
After checking in and parking my bike, I immediately signed up at the massage tent for a 3:45 appointment and took a cursory pass through the food tents, picking up a cheeseburger, hotdog, and lemonade, which I brought with me as I searched for the dorm room I'd been assigned. The climb up four flights of stairs to the room were sheer pain, but as the second person to arrive, I claimed the top bunk for myself, leaving floor mats for our two later arrivals. I rested up a bit before finding my way to the shower.
After my shower, it was a little early for my massage, but I went down and discovered that there was a tent giving out roasted corn on the cob, a personal favorite. I snagged two ears of corn and munched on them until it was time.
The massage, the first "professional" one I'd ever recieved, was quite thoroughly painful. The woman clearly knew what she was doing, and I think I felt better when she was done. My neck and shoulder muscles had been really incredibly tight, partially, I think, because I was carrying that heavy shoulder bag, which had gotten heavier thanks to all the rain water it had absorbed.
After that, I spied a truck giving away ice cream, so I scarfed up two cups of ice cream, then laid back and relaxed. It was about this time that I reflected on the people who had supported my ride and finally understood something PMC founder Billy Starr had said at the new rider orientation meeting I'd attended in May. The ride isn't the point of the event; the ride is just your reward for being a successful fundraiser. And although I never really got that feeling from the ride itself, it certainly felt that way after my corn, ice cream, and massage! And after I thought about that for a while and rested, I decided to reinforce it with two more ears of corn and two more cups of ice cream!
So I pretty much ate constantly from my arrival at 2pm until I went to my room at 7pm. I tried to set everything out to dry, and climbed into bed. Two of my roommates came by to pick up their stuff, having made other arrangements, so there would be just two of us, which was good, considering we only had the bunk bed and a couple thin mats. I had slept for a few minutes when my last roommate, Keith, came in and bedded down. We talked briefly, and I learned that he was also a first-time rider. For the rest of the night I tried to sleep, but only managed a few fitful hours, listening to the pouring rain outside.
We were all awake at 4am. Again, the rain had just about stopped, but the ground was completely sopped. I was pretty discouraged, because I'd expected Sunday to be a better day than Saturday had been. I didn't feel too bad, and I think by then I'd learned that aches in walking and climbing stairs don't necessarily equate with aches while on the bike, because your body becomes used to that repetitive pedaling motion. I ate a little before packing up and heading down for breakfast. I nearly put my luggage on a Provincetown-bound truck, but rescued it in time. Having nothing better to do, I made my way out to my bike to re-lube the chain and make sure everything was ready for another ride.
Those people who started in Wellesley had had three route options: ride just one day (which most people did), ride on to Provincetown (which many did), or ride back to Wellesley, which is what I and about 300 other riders wound up doing. So Sunday's ride back was much, much more sparse than the ride down. Wellesley riders were supposed to gather near the gate at 6am, but at 5:50 there were only two of us there, and we saw some Wellesley riders going by, so we headed out and followed them.
Although the ground was wet, conditions weren't too bad, and I very shortly decided that the windbreaker I'd donned was too hot and had to go. I dropped off the group I was riding with and stopped only long enough to stuff my jacket into my pack. That was the only time I stopped during the entire ride, save for rest stops and required stops at a couple traffic lights and stop signs.
Continuing on, I gapped some slower guys, but got passed shortly thereafter by an older guy who was on his own, just cranking at a pace I could barely keep up with. I stayed with him, and then the two of us gapped another fast group, and the group of about eight of us stayed together for about fifteen miles. My hybrid was the caboose in a very fast-moving train, and after an hour of that I finally gave up and dropped off, hooking up with a man and a woman who were doing a slightly slower pace.
Soon thereafter we were at the first rest stop: 7:19am, 25 miles in, averaging 16.5 MPH, at a slower pace because it was more consistently uphill. The roads were starting to dry off, and I took a little more time at all the rest stops today, both because it was the second day and also because instead of the four rest stops we had on the way down, there were only two on the way back!
Although I didn't start out with the same couple I'd been following, soon after I started the next leg I saw them and gapped up to them from the group I'd been riding with. I rode with them the entire way to the last rest stop, where the sun was just starting to show through the clouds. I arrived there at 8:43, having biked 44 miles at 16.4 MPH.
I took an extra long break at the rest stop, knowing that the last segment would be rough, so after that break I lost the couple I had been following. It would be the most difficult part of the ride for several reasons. First, since it was the last segment, I was already tired. Second, since there were so few riders returning to Wellesley, they had become very sparse on the road, especially after three hours of riding, and I'd be unlikely to meet any people to draft who would be going my speed. Third, at 25.5 miles, the last segment was also the longest one of the ride. So already I knew it was going to be a problem and took extra time preparing myself for it at the last rest stop. And it's a good thing I did, because not only did I drop everyone I met and ride the whole way alone, but I also discovered that it was by far the hilliest part of the ride, as well. The last fifteen miles were all rolling hills, trending upward, so it became a very difficult, intense test of endurance and will. But so close to the end, I just kept pedaling until I reached the Babson campus.
I made my way up the hill to the finish line, where a crowd of about four dozen volunteers, supporters, and riders were waiting. I heard them cheering at the top of the hill and gunned it, even though I was still in my middle chainring, knowing that since I was the only person I had seen ahead or behind in miles, their cheering was just for me, which was indeed a nice welcome. I crossed the line at 10:56am, having biked 71.1 miles that day in 4 hours and 21 minutes at an average speed of 16.3 miles per hour and maxing out at 30 MPH.
For the entire ride, I biked 160 miles through 21 towns in 9 hours and 10 minutes, averaging 17.4 MPH.
After parking my bike, I got myself another hamburger, hot dog, and banana, and because I had arrived earlier than I'd expected, I sat outside cheering other riders as they arrived. Some of them I remembered passing, such as the girl I'd started the day with, some guys I'd seen at the rest stops, and the woman wearing the "I'm 61 and I know you're on my left" tee shirt who had complained of mechanical problems at the last stop. As I rested and did some people-watching, my roommate Keith came up with his girlfriend, who was one of the people who had done the one-day Wellesley/Bourne ride and taken the bus back, and we chatted for a bit. The sun started to come out, and I put on my sunglasses for the first time the entire weekend. I called Jeanie and we arranged to meet at the Babson front gate. I cheered a few more riders on, and made my way down there just in time to greet the last two riders of the day, who had gotten a flat just two miles short of the finish line.
Jeanie, Becky, and their grandmother picked me up and I drove us back home to Boston, where I had plenty of time to spend the afternoon unpacking, eating, showering, and recuperating.
One of the things I asked myself was whether I accomplished my goals with this ride. Unfortunately, I don't have a good idea what my real goals were. I do think that I proved some things to myself about my endurance, committedness, and fitness for my age. I did enjoy the ride and am proud of the money we raised, although I think I spent so much time on training and preparation that riding ceased being fun and began to become a chore. If I do a similar event in the future, I think I'll be more selective about my training. But overall, yes, I had fun and am satisfied with what I accomplished.
Physically, the ride was stressful, but I came through it surprisingly well. It may be different for others, but I found my riding wasn't constrained by the strength and endurance of my legs, but more by other things like my hands and wrists, neck and shoulders, feet, and especially my seat.
Mechanically, the ride was pure silk. Other than tightening a few spokes that expectedly loosened up, and lubing my chain after riding so far in the wet, I didn't have to deal with a single mechanical issue. Of course, now that the ride's over and my bike is approaching 3000 miles, it does need a full overhaul, but that was true going into the event.
The ride itself remains something of a blur. Usually I rely heavily on known landmarks and maps to give me a sense of where I am and where I've been. However, on this ride I merely followed the signs and the other riders, and never looked at either the Rubel Eastern Mass cycling map (http://www.bikemaps.com/) I'd brought or even the PMC cue sheet. That made it easier to concentrate on cycling, but it also left me with no real sense of place. Furthermore, when you're riding with a group, you tend to stay focused on the riders directly in front of you, so much like the driver of a car on a busy interstate, you don't really tend to see much of the countryside you're passing through. I thought that bicycling would be a contemplative sport, but on any long ride your mind tends to be sharply focused on the moment-by-moment questions of making the right turns, staying safely but closely with the guy in front of you, avoiding road hazards, and so forth. You become something of an automaton, which I think explains why it's so difficult to capture the essence of a bike trip in words.
On the other hand, I did have one mapping victory: my GPS. At our new rider orientation in May I'd actually stolen a cue sheet from a previous ride from one of the boxes at the PMC office and used MapBlast (http://www.mapblast.com/) to generate coordinates for each of the turns in the ride. When I got the cue sheets for this year's ride, I confirmed that the routes were essentially the same, and then downloaded the coordinates into my handheld GPS device using some public domain GPS software (http://www.gpstm.com/). As I rode, the GPS told me my distance, time, and current, max, and average speeds. But beyond those simple functions that any cyclometer can tell you, the GPS also showed me my compass bearing, elevation, and automatically displayed the distance and bearing to the next waypoint. The GPS has become even more useful now that the US government has stopped intentionally inserting an error factor into the data returned by the GPS satellites.
One more point about the ride: I was completely impressed with some of the women cyclists I came across. Many were easily able to keep my pace and better, and they weren't typically the lithe or athletic types you might presume. And you might not know it, but they typically have to work harder to go the same speed and distance as a man, because the cranks on their chainrings, which act like a lever, aren't as long as those on a man's bike, so they have less mechanical advantage when pedaling.
The biggest lessons I gained from this experience were things I really should have known and gleaned from other cyclists. First, pack light. I carried a shoulder bag that was heavy with lots of snacks (Rice Krispies Treats, granola bars, and dried fruit), my air pump, spare parts, my cell phone, maps, keys, rain gear, my tape recorder, and even a camera. That was heavy enough, but when the bag got soaked in the rain, that's when my neck muscles started bothering me. On Sunday I put the camera and some other stuff in my luggage and had a much easier time riding. However, in the future, I'll lose the entire shoulder bag and stick with something smaller that doesn't sit on my shoulders.
Continuing on the theme of things I should have paid attention to, next time I'll wear cycling shorts and a cycling jersey rather than cargo shorts and a tee shirt. I'm sure the cycling shorts would have saved some chafing and extended my endurance, and cycling jerseys usually have pockets in the back for (at last some of) the stuff I carried in my shoulder bag. And, of course, getting road tires on my hybrid, or buying a separate road bike would ease the trip, as well.
In other stupid Ornoth tricks, after packing so much stuff to bring on the road, I put virtually nothing in my luggage. In fact, I was so thrifty on luggage that I only brought one pair of shorts and had to wear them wet on Sunday, and just a hand towel to dry myself off with after my shower! Dumb. I should have pushed the 25-pound limit on luggage and carried much less with me on the road.
I guess I'll know better next time. At least this time I can chalk it up to rookie inexperience.
I think I had two genuinely meaningful moments during this year's ride. I'd like to share them with you.
The first was during my fundraising. One of my co-workers related to me how she had lost her mother to brain cancer, and how a year ago she and her father had both undergone abdominal surgery within a week of one another to treat Gardner's Syndrome, a familial (genetically inherited) disease with a strong correllation with cancer. Her optimism and support were touching and energizing.
The second was having Jeanie's sister Becky bring me to and from the ride. If you didn't make the connection, Becky is the 26 year-old who had been diagnosed with breast cancer last October, and one of the reasons why I chose the PMC ride in the first place. She had come to Boston only to tend to Jeanie after her abdominal surgery; her coming along to see me off and pick me up was one of those funny coincidences of life, but it did make a difference to me. Certainly, seeing her smiling and happy after finishing her chemotherapy and radiation was also a great motivator and reinforcement of what the ride is really about.
Riding in the Pan-Mass Challenge was a year-long goal of mine. I trained very hard for it, and put as much effort into it as I have put into just about any activity I've done in many, many years. I became a passionate cyclist, a cycling advocate, and an athlete. At the same time, that committment crowded out other aspects of my life, especially so in the two months leading up to the ride. I enjoyed the ride immensely, I'm proud of the fundraising I accomplished, and am very glad I did it. But I'm also somewhat glad it's over and I can go back to doing some of the other things in my life that haven't gotten much attention lately.
And to all the people who sponsored me, I remind you again: although the ride itself was an accomlishment for me, the meaningful part of the ride, and the part that really makes me proud, is the money you contributed to seek better cancer treatments, and an eventual cure. There have been some fascinating and promising results reported in the news recently, and it's events like the PMC, which is the Jimmy Fund's single largest contributor, and people like you who have made that research possible, and who bring us closer to the eventual cure.