Sunday, June 15, 2014

Pan Merrimack Challenge Charity Ride - 100K - Recap

I've been struggling with how to recap this. After writing a recap, not liking it, and then sleeping on it and running on it and talking to my Mom I think the important take away is safety and helmets.

The conversation with my Mom went like this:

ME:  I rode my first metric century, translated 62 miles, well 66 because I rode with a woman who has the same faulty sense of direction I do.  One of the women in our group crashed and has a minor concussion.  Her helmet was cracked and it probably saved her life.

MOM: I am so sorry for your friend.  Adults wear helmets on bicycles?  That is interesting.  Is there a law?  They had to make a law for motorcycle riders to wear them and now they are repealing that law because the motorcyclists don't want to wear them.

ME:  In RI and CT you have to wear them until you are 16 after that it isn't a law.  I don't think there is a helmet law for motorcycles in either state either.  

MOM:   How odd is it that an adult would choose to wear a helmet on a bicycle and not a motorcycle?   We always made you kids wear helmets on the dirt bikes and go carts.  

ME:  I don't get it either.

Some background on the ride:  

The Riverside Rockets Pan Mass Challenge (PMC) Team put on a bike ride, in conjunction with Riverside Cycle, Michael's Harborside, and Trek to raise funds to meet their fundraising commitment to the Pan Mass Challenge.    (I can't figure out how to make that sentence any smoother, probably break it down more - and yes, I edit technical documents for a living, go figure)

Team LUNGStrong and the Riverside Rockets are sister teams (or is that brother teams, oh hell, sibling teams) and they support each others events to raise the funds for the PMC.  Our fundraising commitment is waived for this ride, yeah!  Thanks!  Perfect, a supported 100K ride, I need to ride with people, and I really want to meet a few of the Team LUNGStrong folks, many birds, one stone!!

Diane Legg is the reason LUNGStrong was founded.  She is a 10 year lung cancer survivor, and only 52 this year. Diane rides the PMC, this will be her 3rd year and the 4th year of the team.  Diane also runs.  I met Diane the first time I ran with Team Lung Love, 2011 for the Providence 1/2 Marathon.  An amazing woman, bar none.  She was pretty clear she rides about 14 miles an hour and has a tough time with hills.  Well, yeah anyone with 3/4 of their lungs left might!   I knew riding with her and the other women on the team  would be perfect, I can manage that pace in the hilly area I ride and am still trying to master hills.  Plus I REALLY needed to ride with a group of people to see what that was all about. 

So on to the story, because there is always a story:

I got to the start wicked early, after stuttering to get out Metric Century (for some reason my brain cannot remember things lately)  I picked up my package and was handed a number and a map.  Humm.. a  number, where does this go I asked.  Anywhere we just need to make sure all the riders are accounted for.   Looked around for other LUNGStrong jerseys and found a couple and introduced myself.  Eventually meeting up with Diane who loaned me her LUNGStrong jersey from last year, then managing to miss the team picture, there were about 20 of the 60 LUNGStrong PMC riders on the ride.  Total number of riders, under 100 for the 100K, for the 25 and 10 mile dunno...

Diane, Korky, Monica, Mary Ellen, Sara, and I were in a pack.  Diane took the lead and set the pace, we'd pass her up hill and wait for her at the bottom if we needed to.  Monica and Korky would break away for a while and then we'd regroup.  

I didn't want to get lost, because yeah that is something I do and following cue sheets isn't easy and there was no way I was going to hork the Garmin from Dave he was already kinda ticked I took the road bike pump with  me to MA.  Hmmm, is there an app for that?    The course was marked with a "P" and a directional arrow on the pavement.  Well it rained heavily the day before and the night of and the morning of, some of the key markers were in puddles...  yippie.  There were a few times all we could say was "Where is the flipping P???" 

None of us are really sure how we got of course, I think we were all still a little wigged out from what happened to Monica. 

Two falls:

Where is Mary Ellen?  We looked over and there she was in the grass giggling.  She forgot to un-clip when she stopped.  Whoops!  We hoped that would be the only fall...  it was not.

Monica was out in front on a slight downhill and then she was down.   Lying on her right side in the fetal position still clipped into her bike.  Out cold for a very brief time.  

I went ahead up the road to slow traffic another biker went back to slow traffic.

Front tire caught in a crack in the asphalt. 

Cracked helmet, scraped up knees, ripped gloves and jersey.  She has a minor concussion, Corky (who went with her in the ambulance) had a nice picture of her all bandaged up with two thumbs up.

I was behind Corky, looking in a different direction and missed the fall, it happens that quick.  Corky said she nearly ran over Monica.  Diane was amazed we all didn't end up in a huge pile up.

Really not much more to say than that.  Falls happen.  Crashes happen.  They are scary and it is very important to be aware and keep an eye on the road.  Monica will be OK, thankfully.

Back on course:

We did get back on course, actually going the wrong direction, which was funny considering Diane and Sara live in the area.  Got to where we needed to be and checked in at the last water stop (we were some of the last riders out on the course).  Chitter chatter about the woman who fell and she was with you.  Diane changed the course for us at this point and took us on a much more scenic route along the Merrimack River rather than on 113, plus we actually saw the river and not as many cars!  

Two Rollerbladers:

I don't want to end this on a sad or troubling note.  In the metric group were two rollerbladers.  Seriously, they rollerbladed (or is it called in-line skating) 62 miles.  They didn't take all the same roads, some were in to rough of shape.  On a particularly nice stretch of new tar they drafted off of us and we all chatted for a couple miles.  Interesting guys.  What a feat 62 miles on blades!!!

Beth, who never underestimated the power of a helmet, Dave and I have both cracked a couple mountain biking.  


  1. That's an awesome ride, and I'm glad that Monica will be OK! Never underestimate the need for a helmet. I don't even let Sophia ride her bike in the driveway without one, you just never know...

  2. Great ride Beth! Glad Monica will be ok. Sounds like a nice day despite the fall.

  3. Nice ride, Beth. Sorry to hear of Monica's fall - same Monica that runs?

    Quick story I tell my helmet-less neighbor when he rides: A former neighbor's husband was out for a ride helmet-less. Not going very fast, he hit a curb, fell and hit his head on the road. It took him four days to die from his internal head injuries.

    1. Different Monica! She will be fine, bruised pelvis and concussion, all in all doing well.

      That is horrible about your former neighbor's husband, it doesn't take much of a blow to scramble the brains enough to kill a person, if not immediately then eventually. I'm hoping this information knocks some sense into a friend of mine who won't wear her helmet when she rides alone, but will wear it when she rides with a group!

  4. I like the Bikes Fight Cancer team picture you used. I saw the team selling framed copies and shirts openning night of the PMC in Sturbridge.