2013 Pan-Mass Challenge Ride Report

My review of the new book about the PMC: Closer By The Mile
My review of the new book about the PMC: Closer By The Mile
Video of PMC Friday night Opening Ceremonies (skip ahead to 1h 17m)
Video of PMC Friday night Opening Ceremonies (skip ahead to 1h 17m)
Ornoth captured by PMC event photographer approaching the Franklin water stop. Check the GoPro mount!
Ornoth captured by PMC event photographer approaching the Franklin water stop. Check the GoPro mount!
Ornoth's friends Jay & Kelly drove up from Florida to ride a tandem in memory of her mom.
Ornoth's friends Jay & Kelly drove up from Florida to ride a tandem in memory of her mom.
Ornoth self-portrait while riding.
Ornoth self-portrait while riding.
Ornoth in Wareham after a 6h 20m century; still not done riding, tho!
Ornoth in Wareham after a 6h 20m century; still not done riding, tho!
Time-lapse video showing riders. As you watch this, imagine each rider represents about $6,500.
Time-lapse video showing riders. As you watch this, imagine each rider represents about $6,500.
Awesome photo of my friends Jay & Kelly. Still all smiles after 110 miles together on a tandem!
Awesome photo of my friends Jay & Kelly. Still all smiles after 110 miles together on a tandem!
WCVB wrap-up story & video of Day 1, featuring Jay & Kelly kissing at the finish!
WCVB wrap-up story & video of Day 1, featuring Jay & Kelly kissing at the finish!
One PMC rider parked his bike… on a boat!
One PMC rider parked his bike… on a boat!
This silver pin was Ornoth’s Lifetime Achievement award for raising over $100,000 in 13 PMC rides!
This silver pin was Ornoth’s Lifetime Achievement award for raising over $100,000 in 13 PMC rides!
Ornoth's video of his 2013 ride appeared on the PMC's homepage as a
Ornoth's video of his 2013 ride appeared on the PMC's homepage as a "Featured Video" after the event!
Ornoth's lifetime PMC fundraising.
Ornoth's lifetime PMC fundraising.
The 2013 Pan-Mass Challenge Yearbook
The 2013 Pan-Mass Challenge Yearbook

Prologue

This year’s off-season provided a number of developments that promised to make my 13th Pan-Mass Challenge a little more interesting.

One of those was my announcement that I will stop riding the event after 2014, which made this year’s ride my next-to-last year as a rider.

I also picked up a GoPro video camera, which is about the size of a matchbox and designed to capture action shots like cycling, skydiving, surfing, and so forth. I planned to get lots of video footage and compile another PMC video.

On the topic of media, I also bought and read a new book that has been written about the PMC: “Closer By The Mile: The story of the country’s most successful athletic fundraiser, the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge”. It’s a quick, easy read, and shows a little bit of the stuff behind the event. Read my full review here on my blog.

I also decided that this year I’d have professional massages after each of my major cycling events, to see what impact they had on my postride recovery.

Another major development was my purchase of a new bike to replace the well-worn “Plastic Bullet”, which had delivered me from Sturbridge to Provincetown for the seven years from 2006 to 2012. Although the new bike (nicknamed “R2-Di2”) was the same model as the old, many improvements have been made in the intervening years, and I opted for Shimano’s new electronic shifters, which have been a pleasure to use. The best part was a $1,000 discount I received thanks to an unexpected sale from the manufacturer, Specialized. Read more details in this blog post about the new bike.

This spring, having a new bike was a great motivator to train. The weather really didn’t cooperate, though. From Memorial Day onward, we endured long blocks of cold, rainy weather or brutally hot and humid weather with frequent thunderstorms, with no pleasant middle ground in-between. We had the third wettest June in recorded history, and then July was the fifth hottest on record, featuring one of the longest heat waves in Boston history.

My first major event—the Tour d’Essex County—was postponed for a week due to cold, but it was so hot the next weekend that my friend Noah and I were the only people who rode the full route. I figured getting acclimated to the heat would make me stronger for long days in the saddle during the dog days of July and August.

Despite the challenges posed by the weather, I completed five centuries before PMC weekend, which is more than I’ve done in any previous year. My program was very similar to last year, featuring the aforementioned Tour d’Essex, Outriders, and Mt. Washington rides, plus solo centuries to Harvard and Rockport. Follow the links for my writeups.

By late July, all that training paid off in a real and familiar feeling of strength, ease, and puissance on the bike. After completing several brutal centuries in training, the bike and I were physically ready for the PMC’s two-day, 192-mile victory parade.

The Hundred Thousand Dollar Question

The other side of preparing for the PMC is fundraising, and that—like the weather—was a mixed bag that turned out well in the end.

I basically had two goals in mind for 2013. Since I had two years of participation left, I wanted to close half the distance to my big lifetime fundraising goal of $100,000. Having finished 2012 with a lifetime fundraising of $84,000, I needed to raise $16,000 in two years, so my first goal was to bring in $8,000 this year. If I made that, my “reach” goal was $10,000, which would allow me to retain my status as a “Top 10%” fundraiser.

But things looked a little iffy at first. I discovered that Google’s popular Gmail service was sending my emails to people’s “spam” folders, so many folks didn’t even see my fundraising note! And I also learned that my biggest sponsor, having worked at a company that matched his generous donations two-to-one, had lost his job. Given that, I was convinced that 2013 fundraising was going to be an uphill battle.

However, a few months later my “angel” sponsor was re-hired in a different position by his former employer. He and several other of my biggest donors also surprised me by dramatically increasing their gifts this year. After a pretty quiet spring, at the end of July I suddenly found that I had unexpectedly surpassed both of my goals.

In fact, without even pushing it, fundraising had blown past my previous fundraising record: $11,776 back in 2008, a high-water mark that I never dreamed of exceeding. Fundraising was literally “off the charts”, as I even had to go back to my Excel spreadsheet and extend the “money” axis on all my fundraising charts! As PMC weekend approached, I toyed around with a cute way to announce it: 13 thousand dollars in 2013 for my 13th Pan-Mass Challenge!

But both my Excel charts and my tagline had to revised again over PMC weekend, when my usual pre-ride email blast garnered even more unexpectedly large donations! I had been flabbergasted when fundraising had reached $13,000; I was completely speechless when it reached $15,000 and continued to climb higher.

My sponsors have surprised me many times over the years, but this was astonishing beyond words. Fifteen thousand dollars! My friends had nearly ruined my two-year plan to surpass $100,000 of lifetime fundraising in 2014… by donating the entire remaining $16,000 in 2013!

On the eve of the 2013 Pan-Mass Challenge I had a ton to be thankful for!

Friday, 2 August 2013

Somehow, it always seems to rain the Friday before PMC weekend. This year a soaking overnight rain continued into the morning, but cleared up by noon, when my longtime (and very deeply valued) support person Sheeri pulled up to drive me from Boston out to the start in Sturbridge. Just 48 hours earlier, Sheeri had returned from ten days in Japan, so jet lag factored into our planning a bit. As we crawled through Mass Pike traffic on the way to Sturbridge, I was also a bit downbeat due to a mild headache.

After arriving at the start and signing in to the ride at registration, I wandered through the PMC merchandise area. Unlike other years, they had some stuff that interested me, so I picked up a PMC tee shirt, a pin, and a pair of bib shorts that match this year’s excellent PMC jersey design. After trying them on in the men’s room, I took a quick pass through the vendor expo and said hello to Thea, the woman at Landry’s bike shop who did my new bike fitting this spring.

Just before leaving, I got a text from my friend Lola, who wanted to know if dogs were allowed on site, so I chased down someone who looked authoritative, who suggested using the excuse that it was an “emotional assistance animal”.

Having dispatched that inquiry, Sheeri and I drove out to Southbridge and checked into our hotel room, where I reviewed (with no small amount of glee!) the donations I’d received since that morning’s pre-ride email blast, including an unexpectedly large donation from Sheeri herself.

Then, just like every other year, we headed back to Sturbridge for our usual pre-ride dinner at “Thai Place” (lemongrass chicken), followed by watching the telecast of the PMC Opening Ceremonies in open-air seating outside the hotel.

This year’s opening ceremonies were a very mixed bag. Our media sponsor apparently had no interest in broadcasting them, so they were produced by the PMC. This meant a lot less polished production, but also allowed the organizers to go into more depth and highlight things that wouldn’t be of interest to a general television audience.

Some of their choices went off well, such as the event founder interviewing one of the main behind-the-scenes organizers. Others were marginal, and the unquestionable low point was the shock-jock comedian who opened the show with a monologue making jokes about midgets and whores. While the show had some touching moments, the content and production really suffered from the lack of professional involvement. I don’t know why WCVB wasn’t more involved, but I hope the situation improves next year.

With night falling, Sheeri and I made our routine evening stop at CVS for supplies before returning to the hotel to turn in.

Typically, I would make the first voice post to my blog on Friday evening from the hotel, but for some reason Livejournal’s voice post system wasn’t responding to my phone. I was very surprised, because I had successfully tested it just a week earlier. I entered a brief text message as a replacement, but Livejournal would continue to be inaccessible for the entire weekend, which meant there would be none of my usual voice posts from the middle of the ride for my supporters to listen to. And since voice posts have been the only reason I’ve kept my blog on Livejournal, I suspect my time with them is nearing an end.

Meanwhile, Sheeri had passed out due to the effects of jet lag, so I got ready for bed. Since the ride started at 5:30am, we needed to be out of the hotel by 4:45. So I set the alarm for 4:50 and went to sleep.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Did you catch the logic error in that last statement? Normally, I would set the alarm for 3:50am, so that I would have plenty of time to have breakfast, stretch, apply sunblock, suit up, and so forth. But I’d set it for 4:50, which was the time when we had to be out of the hotel. I’d set the alarm so that I would oversleep by a whole hour!

I realized this about 4:45am and immediately went into crisis-rush-management mode, getting Sheeri up and hurriedly dressing and grabbing what I needed. Fortunately, all my stuff had been in separate bags based on what I’d need when, and I had laid everything out the night before. When we hit the road ten minutes later, we weren’t too far behind schedule, but I’d lost out on breakfast, sunblock, and stretching; hopefully I’d be able to function well enough without them!

Arriving about ten minutes before the ride’s start, I got the bike ready and then ran off to put my afternoon bag on the truck to Bourne. As I crossed a small gully, I stepped in a big, unseen puddle, getting my feet and sandals well soaked before the ride. I sent Sheeri off, so that she’d be able to get back to the hotel (and bed) before the riders blocked her exit route, and went to line up in the starting area. A cop wouldn’t let me into the fast rider lane from the front, but I went around the back and made my way to within a couple dozen yards of the front.

I had just enough time to turn my GPS bike computer on and examine the weather (cool, with heavy overcast) before we rolled out. Half asleep and with the absolute minimum preparation, I was on my way!


Despite having lined up at the front of the ride, the first leg to Whitinsville was surprisingly crowded. It was also a cool 60 degrees and the air and ground were still moist from the overnight rains which had come through. Although I checked, Livejournal still wasn’t working, so at the water stop I just topped off my still-full water bottle and continued on, in hopes of getting ahead of the pack.

On the way out of the stop, I noticed that someone had written the distance to the next stop on the roadway in chalk. I laughed at this, because earlier in the year I’d spoken with the ride founder by phone, and he’d insisted that the distance to the next stop was always posted at each stop.

Throughout the day, I tried to capture the experience of riding in the PMC with my GoPro video camera. Earlier in the year I’d fabricated a really useful wrist mount for it, based around an empty wristband tape dispenser with an elastic mount, and that had worked pretty well. I wore the device almost all the time I was riding and took a lot of footage for later compilation into my ride video.

I rode much of the next segment with a woman named Karen, whom I’ve run into at the past few PMCs. She paced me well, and after 40 miles I was still averaging 18.6 mph.

I pulled into the second water stop in Franklin at 7:50 and spent a little time chatting with a volunteer from Dorchester as I downed a banana. Despite spending a whole 15 minutes at the water stop, I was still leaving most of the pack behind.

The weather showed tantalizing breaks of blue sky, but stayed socked in most of the time, threatening to rain at any time. The usual crowds of spectators were a lot thinner than usual on Saturday, probably due to the weather. Another 28 miles and 90 minutes later, I arrived at the Dighton “lunch” stop. My right hamstring was aching, so I took a few extra minutes to do my full stretching regimen, which helped immensely.

The segment to Lakeville was quiet and pretty uneventful. I had been hitting all my time estimates exactly, and was so far ahead of the pack that I only occasionally ran into other riders. On the other hand, that gave me more reason to interact with them along the way, especially on a few of the short, challenging hills. I was beginning to tire and slowing down, but still enjoying the ride.

When I reached the water stop, I fueled up with sweet chili flavored popcorn and dumped some frozen lemonade slush into my water bottle. I also made use of the cold, wet facecloths that a volunteer was handing out. Having first seen these two weeks earlier at the end of the Mt. Washington Century, I had been prepared to advocate for them in my post-PMC feedback email, but my wishes had already been anticipated! Finally, I stopped by the mechanics’ tent to put a drop of lube on my right pedal cleat, which had been squeaking and creaking for a couple hours.

On the next 16-mile stretch into Wareham, I was clearly running out of gas. I was still enjoying the ride, but it had started getting difficult. However, I pulled into the water stop with 101 miles under my belt in 6 hours and 20 minutes, which is quite an achievement for me. It had started to sprinkle lightly, but I still took a little time to recover before setting off on the final 8-mile leg into Bourne. I also had a picture taken: one of the few so far of me with the new bike.

Half an hour later I pulled into Mass Maritime Academy. It was 12:31pm: ten minutes ahead of my estimated arrival. I’d ridden 110 miles in 7 hours at a 17.9 mph average speed. I was very happy with my performance and felt pretty good, despite my overall fatigue. The sprinkles turned into a light but soaking rain, and the temperature hadn’t risen above 67 degrees.


The afternoon at MMA progressed according to its usual strict schedule: find my bag, take a quick shower, change into street clothes, get my massage appointment, then grab something to drink before heading to the massage tent. This year I wound up on a massage table next to former senator Scott Brown, and was worked on by an MTI grad based out of Portland; it was a vastly more effective treatment than the token massage I received last year.

After the massage, I voice-dictated an apologetic post to get my Livejournal followers caught up, said hello when I ran into my friend Tony, and helped out a volunteer. He was trying to keep the PVC pipes that supported some of the PMC banners together in a gusty wind, but was too short to reach the tops, so I stepped in and gave him a hand.

Then I headed off to the food tent for some “supplies”: nearly the first solid food I’d had all day! Although my favorite location—the tugboat dock—was once again off limits, I found an inclined basement door/hatch to sit and lay on while I munched and relaxed. I fired off text messages to my friends Lola and Jay, who were still on the course, then wandered off to ingest a couple Klondike ice cream bars.

Eventually the sun came back out again and my good buddy Jay turned up with his wife Kelly. Although Jay had moved to Florida shortly after riding in last year’s PMC, he returned to the PMC this year on a tandem with his wife in memory of her mother. It was really great visiting with them and sharing their PMC experience.

Then it was time for me to get ready for my second ride of the day: the bonus 9-mile ride to my off-campus hotel room. I grabbed my bag and changed into fresh cycling gear, then brought the bag to the official off-campus bag drop next to the PMC information desk, carefully placing it on top of the pile of bags headed to Provincetown the following morning. I also was stopped briefly to say hi to Mark, the Landry’s manager who sold me my new bike.

Returning to the bike at 6pm, I pulled off the plastic grocery bags I’d wisely used to protect the handlebars and seat from the rain, mounted up with a groan, and headed off toward the Bourne Bridge. Traffic was unusually light, and getting up to and over the bridge was a breeze. After that it was a simple, quiet solo ride up the Cape Cod Canal bike path, with a forgiving following wind.

Arriving at the hotel, I changed and did a bunch of reorganizing: downloading the day’s videos and GPS logs, charging camera and GPS batteries, laying things out for Sunday morning, and so forth. Then a decent dinner with Sheeri at the British Beer Company (pastrami bap).

After dinner, Sheeri again was out like a light, so I made a quick Livejournal update and turned in, as well. Despite a hectic start and marginal weather, Saturday had been a pretty good day, and I was very happy with the ride thus far. My right hamstring still had some residual ache, but nothing to be concerned about.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Sunday, thanks to my unfortunate sleep pattern, I woke up before my alarm and decided to get myself ready for the day’s ride. I left the hotel at 5:40am; the weather was a cool 57 degrees but luminously clear, promising an absolutely gorgeous day ahead. With the improved weather, the crowds of spectators returned in force along Sunday’s route.

I found myself back in a large crowd of riders as soon as I merged in with the PMC route. We made good time, though, and quickly hit the Barnstable water stop, which for me was only 14 miles into the ride. Again, I only topped up my bottle before heading right out in hopes of getting ahead of the main pack of riders.

After hanging with a trio of riders with “North County” jerseys, I reached the Nickerson State Park water stop in Brewster, 30 miles into the ride. Between my early start and 18.7 mph average speed, I was a good 35 or 40 minutes ahead of my expected arrival and at the very front of the ride. I felt good, and it was indeed turning out to be one of those rare, magical summer days with moderate temperatures, a cerulean sky, and low humidity. I even seemed to be the first rider to find the ice pop freezer at the Brewster stop!

When I left Nickerson, I was pretty much the only rider on the road; I was so early that roadside spectators were just setting their chairs out, and some of the turns weren’t even manned by PMC volunteers yet!

Although I was increasingly running out of power, that was fine, because the leg to Wellfleet was just amazingly beautiful, with a few thin clouds decorating a brilliant sky, and bright sunlight that hadn’t grown overly hot. This segment passed many of my favorite places on the cape: the Cape Cod Rail Trail, Ocean View Drive and White Crest Beach, and good old Long Pond.

I pulled into the Wellfleet stop at 8:30am, feeling that I was in the middle of the most beautiful day of PMC riding in all my 13 seasons. I grabbed some fruit and pulled up a section of a wall next to another rider, chatting as we rested up for the long final haul into Provincetown.

Leaving Wellfleet for the hills of Truro, I caught up with a woman wearing a jersey with the single word “Dad” on the back. I rode with her up Corn Hill, where the two Over The Hill Cheerleaders always brought a smile to riders’ faces. However, this year they weren’t able to participate, so it was kind of bittersweet not to see their irrepressible smiles and enthusiasm. If the PMC ever has a Hall of Fame, those two deserve to be inaugural members.

After the hills, the long haul up exposed Route 6 next to Pilgrim Lake was another endurance contest: this time versus the wind. A handful of us plodded steadily on, then turned out toward Race Point Beach and the expansive Provincelands dune field. As I rode along, another rider called out to me and we chatted; it was Paul Legere, whom I had exchanged messages with on Twitter. He expressed appreciation for my page of PMC hints and tips, which is always a very gratifying thing for me to know that some of the material I’ve shared online has benefited other riders.

In my exchanges with him and other riders this year, I often mentioned that in reference to the PMC, “I only have one more year in me”. They inevitably asked why, and I explained that part of it was that after 13 rides, it has become too familiar, too formulaic, and too rote. Of course, there are several other reasons, some of which appear in my retirement message, but the fact that there isn’t as much excitement in such a familiar ride certainly plays a part.

However, it’s always exciting to approach the Provincetown finish line all alone and receive the cheers of the gathered spectators. I took in the final gorgeous sights of the dunes and sea grass marshes before crossing the finishing line with a big smile at 9:59am. It had been a great day in the saddle, I’d raised a shit-ton of money for cancer research, and there was still a whole lot of day left for refueling and relaxing!


Having finished so early, I was able to get just about the best parking space in the entire “bike line” behind the inn, then went to pick up my bag. Despite there being dozens of kids helping out, no one (myself included) seemed to be able to find it. We spent an hour searching everywhere, but it was nowhere to be found.

Eventually a volunteer coordinator got me some temporary (former lost and found) clothing and a towel so that I could at least shower and get out of my stinky cycling kit, so I went off and did that before returning to the search. After another round of searching, I eventually found it; it had been in the right place, but buried underneath a pile of other riders’ bags. So I grabbed it and headed back to the showers a second time to change into my own clothes and then return the borrowed ones.

Having wasted an hour and a half on that, I took the time to file another Livejournal update before getting a great upper body massage. Then it was time for a sausage sandwich and salad for my first lunch of the day, while chatting with other riders. Eventually I called Sheeri and we met up by her car, so that I could stow the bike and my bag and change into casual footwear.

We spent a chunk of the day wandering around Provincetown. We did a little shopping, and I really enjoyed a short rest in the shade and quiet of a Japanese garden behind a store called “WA”. I picked up a limeade slushy and we went down to the town beach to dip our toes in the water, and I took a picture of a motorboat moored nearby with a PMC rider’s bike thrown aboard. Then we had my second lunch (cajun chicken sandwich) at yet another “usual” place: the Squealing Pig pub.

After lunch, we hit a convenience store and drove back to Truro to the Head of the Meadow beach. Sadly, we wound up visiting the Cape Cod National Seashore section of the beach, which charged a $15 admission fee, rather than the town beach section we’d gone to last year, but either way we really enjoyed spending a long, perfect afternoon on the sand and in the water.

Finally we were driven away by the sound of distant thunder, so we packed up and drove back down to our hotel in Sandwich. As usual, we picked up some ice cream along the way. However, when we went to our rooms, we discovered that neither of our room keys worked. Apparently the hotel had re-keyed the locks, thinking we were only staying one night (when they have a two-night minimum), but we got everything straightened out in time to still spend some quality time in the hotel’s hot tub before turning in.

While Saturday had been a “pretty good day”, Sunday had been an absolute stunner. But as much as I had enjoyed the day, I was glad the ride was over and there was nothing left to do but enjoy myself.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Our pattern on the Monday after PMC is to check out of the hotel and do something on Cape Cod before returning to Boston in the evening. I packed all my stuff up and got in a thorough cleaning (i.e. shower, brush teeth, shave) so that I felt human again. It was another gorgeous summer day, and we hoped to make the most of it.

Then we tried breakfast (ham omelet) at a local place called Cafe Chew, which turned out to be pretty good. Although it hadn’t bothered me since Friday, my headache returned with renewed strength, so I wasn’t really at my best all day.

We drove out to Eastham, where Sheeri picked up a sun hat, I exchanged a bit of money at Seamen’s Bank, and we gathered drinks and snacks for a day on the water. Our next stop was Goose Hummock kayak rental, where we picked up two touring boats and hit the Nauset estuary.

I was tempted to try to make it three miles out to Nauset Spit, a long, thin barrier strip of sand that runs for miles up the outer edge of Cape Cod, and every time I checked with Sheeri to see whether she wanted to stop, she chose to push on, so we did. While the windy day made it pretty choppy, we made it all the way out there, debarked, and walked across the dune to an absolutely deserted strip of strand facing the open ocean.

The 3.5-mile return trip was right into the teeth of a strong wind, but Sheeri gamely pushed on and we made decent progress homeward. In fact, she kept up with me nearly all day, with almost no complaints.

Meanwhile, my headache had progressed to nausea, and I was just as happy as she was to get back to the dock and turn our stuff in. However, right after we said goodbye to the rental clerk and turned toward the parking lot, Sheeri asked me, “What can I do for you?” and I responded, “Just give me some space.” She continued heading toward the car, while I found a convenient telephone pole and grassy area where I energetically deposited my breakfast (the home fries providing added texture). But at least I had waited for a convenient time and place to present itself!

With that putting a damper on any talk of evening meals, we promptly aimed her RAV4 back toward Boston. I gradually improved over the next hour and a half, but Sheeri (having found a parking spot right in front of my condo) still helped me lug my stuff up to my unit, where my cat gave us both a welcome, enthusiastic greeting. That was about 6pm, so I still had some time to unpack a bit and relax before heading off to bed.

The kayak trip had been a great idea, and the weather made it a real pleasure. Getting sick wasn’t the most fun in the world, but it really couldn’t take away from another great day and a truly awesome PMC weekend.

Lessons Learned

After thirteen years, there aren’t a ton of lessons that haven’t been learned at least once already. But here’s a couple that might be worth mentioning.

The biggest one is to relate to PMC weekend as if it was just another long ride. Don’t stress over it, don’t wig out trying to make sure everything goes perfectly like clockwork, because it probably won’t. Bring what you need, ride your bike, and enjoy the weekend. Don’t sweat it so much.

One of the things to keep in mind when using a wrist-mounted video camera, as I did, is that it discourages you from drinking from your water bottle. I found I had to make a more conscious effort to stay hydrated. Although the cool weather might also have been a factor, I found myself reaching water stops having only drank a third of a bottle. And, of course, the secret with any video capture from the saddle is to keep the camera level and find a way to minimize vibrations.

Epilogue 

Overall, despite heavy overcast and occasional sprinkles on Saturday, this year’s Pan-Mass Challenge will be remembered quite fondly. Sunday provided picture-perfect weather for the scenic ride up the cape. I was well trained and my body handled the stresses of the event well. Similarly, the new bike performed flawlessly in its inaugural PMC, and has proven to be a worthy partner on rides of any length.

At the same time, I am more convinced than ever about my plan to retire from the PMC after next year’s ride. The PMC is an amazing experience that I would encourage anyone to do, and which I wouldn’t trade for anything. However, after thirteen years the burden of devoting all that time to fundraising has worn me out, while at the same time the ride itself has become ever more familiar, routine, and has stopped being the major life event it was in my earlier years.

At the same time, I’m rapidly approaching a huge fundraising milestone that means the world to me. There are very few people who can say that they, as an individual, have raised over $100,000 for cancer research, treatment, and prevention; and that will always be one of the proudest achievements of my life.

If you have sponsored my ride, I cannot thank you enough for your contribution toward that goal. Whenever the $100,000 mark falls, I will always remember this year’s PMC for the amazing generosity of my friends and family, who obliterated my previous annual fundraising record and unexpectedly hurtled me headlong toward a goal I thought would take another whole year to achieve. I am unable to express how humbled I am by the support I have received, and how much it means to me to have contributed so much to the effort to eradicate cancer.

I am very privileged to be able to keep the 2013 Pan-Mass Challenge as a cherished memory for the rest of my lifetime, and I’m glad to have had the company of those who helped make it such an amazing year. Thank you!


Check Presentation 

On November 3rd, the Pan-Mass Challenge presented the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jimmy Fund with a check for $39 million, the largest sum ever contributed to any charity by any athletic fundraising event anywhere in the world. For the seventh straight year, 100% of rider raised revenue will go directly to cancer research and patient care.

I’ve already told you about my experience of this year’s PMC weekend. Saturday’s weather was overcast, but Sunday was the most picturesque day of my 13 Pan-Mass Challenge rides. I particularly enjoyed riding it on a brand new bike.

However, the most memorable part of this year’s ride was the support I received from my friends and family, whose donations tallied up to a flabbergasting $16,460.

Why is that flabbergasting? Because that’s one and a half times what I raised last year, and 40 percent more than my previous fundraising record. I actually raised more money in 2013 alone than I raised in my first five PMCs combined!

When I decided I would retire from the PMC when I reached the $100,000 mark, I knew that would take me two more years to achieve. Unbelievably, my supporters proved me wrong, accomplishing in one year something I never imagined would be possible. After 13 years of dedicated fundraising, on August 30th—four weeks after this year’s ride—I received a donation that pushed my lifetime fundraising above $100,000, achieving my lifetime goal a year early!

That donation came from a high school friend named Mark, who has been living in Japan and trying to keep his own business afloat for the past 30 years. Although philanthropy wasn’t part of my image of him in high school, he has proven me wrong by being one of just nine people who have made a donation in support of all 13 of my PMC rides.

All PMC Ride Reports:
   2001   2002   2003   2004
   2005   2006   2007   2008
   2009   2010   2011   2012
   2013   2014

Each year I’ve thanked my sponsors for their generous donations in support of cancer research; however, it’s difficult for me to put into words the immense gratitude I feel for your help in reaching this lofty milestone. The war on cancer is one of the most important humanitarian causes of our time, and raising so much money to support the work done at Dana-Farber is an achievement that I will treasure for the rest of my life. And it’s all thanks to those of you who have so freely given; I am completely amazed and deeply humbled by your support.

Thank you. A hundred thousand times: thank you!

Having achieved my lifetime goal a year early brings up the inevitable question about whether I will still ride next year. Yes, 2014 will still be my final year as a Pan-Mass Challenge rider; I just won't be focusing on reaching any particular fundraising milestone. It will be the PMC’s 35th event, and I’ll take it as a well-earned “victory lap”.

As I did in 2010, on the day before the 2014 PMC, my buddies and I will be riding an extra 100 miles from the New York border to Sturbridge in order to make my last Pan-Mass a true ride across Massachusetts.

Finally, allow me to thank you more time for your unsurpassed support in 2013, as well as in so many previous years. Next summer, I hope you’ll be there to support me one last time!




datetowntime intime outhourstempmilesavgmaxnotesaudio reports
FriSturbridge         
SatSturbridge  5:27 am     Woke up an hour late! Rushed to make start on time. 
SatWhitinsville 6:44 am 6:49 am 1:1660.624.719.3 Overcast, cool, moist, and crowded with cyclists. 
SatFranklin 7:51 am 8:05 am 2:1763.842.718.6 Rode with Karen for most of this leg 
SatDighton 9:38 am 9:53 am 3:5166.470.318.3 Right hamstring ache, cool and overcast. 
SatLakeville10:41 am10:51 am 4:396884.318.1 Well ahead of the pack, maintaining strength well. 
SatWareham11:49 am11:58 am 5:3668.6101.018.0 Great 6:20 century, but it's begun sprinkling. 
SatBourne12:31 pm 6:01 pm 6:0867.9110.017.9 Finished right on time, feeling pretty good despite light rain. 
SatSandwich 6:37 pm  6:4069.8119.117.8 Sun came out, nice ride up canal bike path with tailwind! 
SunSandwich  5:40 am 6:40 119.117.8 Chilly but clear, starting a little earlier than usual. 
SunBarnstable 6:28 am 6:29 am 7:2757.1133.717.9 Crowded again, quick in and out to beat the pack. 
SunBrewster 7:22 am 7:28 am 8:1964.9149.918.0 Fast segment with North County guys, weather ideal. 
SunWellfleet 8:32 am 8:45 am 9:2067.5167.517.9 Way ahead of pack, absolutely gorgeous scenic day, feeling great! 
SunProvincetown 9:59 am 10:3576.7187.717.7 Windy Route 6, ran into PBLegere, finished early, strong, and happy! 
SunSandwich       Post-ride: Zen garden, beach, ice cream, and hot tub!