Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Pan-Mass Challenge 2015 - Recap

This is my second year as a PMC'er! 

At the start!  A little apprehensive and a little wanting to get pedaling!!

The first year is here:  PMC2104.  I re-read it before writing this up, unsure of what to transfer over, probably not much.

My intention was to start from Sturbridge this year.  I didn't.  I really enjoyed being with the LUNGStrong ladies last year and thought one more year from Wellesley will be OK.  Get my bearings with the team a bit more.  And as the year progressed Diane, our captain and founder and lung cancer survivor, had gone through a tough year with treatment.  The initial tumor was removed with surgery 11 years ago.  It came back 2 years later in both lungs and has been active, and had gotten to the point she needed treatment.  An experimental treatment was tried and did well, to a point, then became to toxic for her body.  She was determined to ride the first day, the second day would be decided at the end of the first day. I'm glad I decided to start from Wellesley to be able to talk with her at the team dinner.

Of all the years I've known Diane we never had a picture together, of course I got one this year and have a goofy look, oh well.  She looks nice!  OH and the daisy's in my helmet are in support of Team Daisy who lost one of their riders and his daughter in a plane crash the Wednesday before the ride.

Unlike my first PMC it was warm and sunny, a bit to warm and a bit to sunny, one extreme to the other.  Kinda like cancer, eh?

Unlike last year I put my bike in the room and had a plan to get what needed to stay into the car and be able to ride with the team to the start.  Like last year I had a roommate I had never met before.  My roomie was Carrieann a friend of Diane's, one of each of their boys went to school together and they had developed a friendship over the years.  Even going to France because both the boys really wanted to see the Louvre after taking a class on French artists.  Diane knew her other sons and husband would be bored out of their minds and Carrieann knew her other son and daughter and husband would feel the same way so the four of them went!  Very cool!  Always great to see how each of the 63 team members on LUNGStrong connect through Diane!

So the ride - Day One

Last year: 83.2 miles / 5:27:52 time / 1.7800 elevation gain

Same route, I think, and there's that elevation mystery!! 

Collected a few PRs besting my 2014 time, and in some cases not.

The ride was different because not as many people bailed because of the rain so it was very crowded till the first water stop, and everyone was getting themselves adjusted to riding in a big pack.  I hung with a few LUNGStrong folks for a while and either they broke away or I did.    The PMC riders really take up the whole lane, and these were the Wellesley starters, not the whole crew!  Fortunately it was early and there wasn't much traffic we were snarling up, plus I think everyone along the PMC routes are pretty well aware the first weekend in August is much like a college town on a football Saturday - you aren't going to move fast. It's been that way from Sturbridge for the last 36 years and I can't find out how long from Wellesley, I'd imagine not that long.

The Wellesley and Sturbrige riders meet up just before the Rehoboth.  Sturbridge is 69 miles into their day and we are 44.  The Sturbridge Day 1 ride is 110 miles.  A few of our folks who start from Sturbridge do Day 0 to get a true Pan-Mass in, they start from the NY/MA border, adding on 91 miles and 4.497 elevation gain.

Like last year I managed to meet up with my co-worker Lisa and her husband Jerry.  They were having a good day, and happy to take a break for lunch!  Once I started up again I noticed a bit of a tangle of bikers in the ditch going up a hill and around a curve.  It was Jerry!  Lisa was no where to be found.  About 5 miles down the road there she was pedaling merrily away, clueless.  We chatted and I asked if she often left her husband in a ditch.  She didn't grasp what I was saying and I said he looked fine after the crash, still she didn't get it, chattered on about how she can beat him up hill and he catches up on the flats and it was odd he hadn't caught up.  We were clipping along about 20 mph, it is so hard to have a conversation on a bicycle, I dropped it.

The next water stop was the pedal partners.  Lisa and I pulled in and she went off to meet up with her group and her pedal partner.  I can't remember who she rides for, they have orange safety cones on their helmets and I did a look through the PMC website and can't find a listing of teams.  Suppose I should google it?   I filled up my water bottles with ice, slogged down a couple Del's (it was in the 90's) chatted with a LUNGStrong team mate I met up with and sat on the ground, often being encouraged to take a chair. I assured them I was fine on the grass gave me a chance to stretch out my hips.    As I was leaving there was Jerry and Lisa, Jerry documenting this water stop and I chimed in "You are still talking to her after she ditched you in the ditch?"  Lisa said "I though you said I ditched him and I always do on hills, now I get it!!!"  Ah...  he was fine, slightly bruised ego, and no one else had any damage.

And then we were off to our final waterstop and Bourne.  It seems so silly to stop with 9 miles left.  For the Sturbridge folks, it seems perfect, they have already ridden a century.  Not that I'm down playing the 84 miles I did, no not in the least.  Just saying I feel silly stopping.  I was glad I did, I ran into three team mates and we mostly pedaled into Bourne together, one got a cramp and had to back off the other two, a father and son clipped merrily along to the finish.

The finish was very different, probably because it wasn't raining and the sun was shining.  I had a hard time getting my bearings as to where I needed to go.  The PMC app wouldn't load and I couldn't remember which dorm I was in.  So I went to the one I was in last year and eventually things started coming back to me with which room I was in last year and figured well I'd be in the same one?  or the same floor?  I was, and just then the app loaded and told me where I was staying.  Thought that was weird.  It wasn't until the last day that I realized all this information was on the handy bracelet on my arm!  Name / emergency contact / dorm at the Mass Maritime Academy / transportation back to Wellesley.  HA!  The logistics are so well done and the volunteers so knowledgeable and helpful I didn't really give thinking and remembering a second thought.    Next year I'll remember?

Beautiful sunset over Buzzards Bay to end the day


3,000 volunteers.  Each and everyone of them, they wore purple shirts this year, were helpful.  If I got confused, just find someone in a purple shirt and say HI and ask the question, they were happy and helpful, and had the answer and if they didn't they knew who to go to!  Amazing, no AMAZING, I can't even find the right words.


The logistics are amazing, you get a set of tags, see picture.  They are all so people can see names and people can be called by name, that is very nice.  The one on the back of your bike is so people approaching can say "on your left Beth" or "Beth, on your left" so you know they are passing on the left.  Don't pass on the right, please (more later). One goes on your jersey so people can see your name.  Two for your bags, I guess you could have two bags, I put both on one bag.  All of them and the jersey come in a bag with all this information repeated, you put that IN the bag in the event the bag gets lost (more on that later). All have bar codes to check you in, check in your bike, check in your bag.  Truly amazing.

Top goes on the top bar of your bike
Second - on your bag (you get two)
Third - on your wrist
Fourth - one on your jersey and one on the back of your bike

The "more on that" - Lost Bag

One of the team never got his bag upon arriving in Provincetown last year.  The staff were able to rustle up some clothes for him to change into once she showered and found a pair of flip flops.  The bag remained lost until three weeks ago, someone found it in a box truck!  I can't even imagine how disgusting that bag was, at least it was found. He was a little concerned this year, however his bag did show up in Provincetown on Day 2!

I overheard a conversation on the ferry ride back to Boston.  The guy's bag had been lost he explained this was why he had on clothes he wouldn't normally wear.  And this seems to be a thing for him it's the second year they lost his bag.  I had to butt in, I said, "I am totally eaves dropping, here, how long till you got your bag back?"  He said it was at his house the next day.  I went on to say what had happened to one of the LUNGStrong guys and everyone had the same reaction as me, gak what sort of disgusting mess was in the bag after a year of wet sweaty clothes.  Last years Day 1 ride rained the whole day, nothing was dry when it was put into the bag to go to it's next stop.

Yes, my bag was there in Boston waiting for me and when we got to Provincetown, John's bag was there.  So at least he had it in Ptown, once in Boston I have no idea, it's a madhouse getting off the boat and finding bikes and bags and the right bus.

The "more on that" - Passing on the Right

On Day 2 we round a couple sharp turns to get on to the Cape Cod Canal bike path after crossing the Bourne Bridge.  It is early, I left on the ride at 5:15 a.m. after a whopping 3 hours and 9 minutes of broken sleep (no I wasn't partying, it was hard for me to sleep) and no coffee.  Maybe some people are alert and nice, me, alert and grouchy.  There was one turn, and knowing that I should have a wide berth on the right to make a left turn some jackwagon gets in the two feet between me and the curb on this left where, yes, I am going a little right, to make a sweeping turn.  I swore a blue streak, I still don't think I was in the wrong, pass left, stay right, just like driving.  Oh wait, maybe he drive's like that too...  That could have really messed up Day 2 for both of us considering we were only a few miles in to the journey.

The ride - Day 2

Last year:  78.5 miles / 5:16:03 time / 1,773 feet elevation gain  (I did turn around at the finish and pedal back to see if I missed meeting up with team mates so that's the extra mile and time - I could crop the ride the 1.5 miles, but that seems silly)  and again with the elevation.

Diane wouldn't be riding Day 2 with the team. After discussions with her oncologist, who really didn't want her riding Day 1 and probably her husband cautioning her and her listening to her body, she would be meeting us at the finish.   One of the other super things is the good care the PMC takes with its Living Proof riders, they kept in contact with her during the ride and she with them.

The day started early, reveille at 4 a.m., I was out for less than two hours, and ended up tossing and turning for nearly 3 hours, not liking facing the wall when I was on my right and not liking sleeping on my left.  It finally dawned on me to switch to my feet at the 'head' of the bed and my feet at the 'foot' and I was out like a light for nearly 90 minutes.  Sum total of 3 hours and 9 minutes per my FitBit.  I let the other three gals in the room do their getting ready while I kicked myself for not thinking and flipping over and glad I thought to bring a fan, it did help when I did sleep.

So I mentioned about the near miss after the Bourne bridge.  We won't re-hash that.

The Cape Cod Canal Bike Path was nice for a few miles then we were off it at mile 8 and it would be a couple miles till our first climb of the day.  This was met with groans from people who remembered and not really welcome to my ears.  Did these people actually know what a hill was?  It was a mile and a half with 200 feet of elevation, yes a little steep for 6 in the a.m. For being coastal Cape Cod has more than it's fair share of 'hills', many are nice rollers, get up a good head of steam on the first one and you can easily go for miles pushing a bit and then coasting.  So, Much. Fun.

Ran in to some of the LUNGStrong Ladies, found out that one of us took a fall before the Bourne Bridge and would be meeting us at the end.  Another gal volunteered to go with her so she wouldn't be alone, awwww, that would have been her first Ptown finish too....  Kris said she tipped over, got herself righted, noticed her handle bar was bent and clipped back in and started to pedal and could feel her knee expand.  BOOM 3 times the size and some nice bruises to boot.  A couple transfers and she and a couple other injured riders were shuttled from the first water stop to the finish in Provincetown.  She will be back next year, no doubt.

Mile 40 we meet up with the Cape Cod Rail Trail.  Very awesome, and also where I started losing my patience.  There is a reason people aren't big fans of bikers, and mostly it has to do with not yielding to the right of way.  The set up:  There was a big glom (I can't call it a peleton, it wasn't it was a glom a heard a mass not a peleton) of bikers, it is narrow, maybe three bikes across if you ride with them regularly and trust them,  so two really. People were riding double or hanging on the left when they should have hung on the right.  I can't remember the guys name or the team he rode with, he had a wine glass on his helmet, though.  He hung to the left and pedaled at 15/16.  I was fine, it's a ride not a race.  It wasn't until no one was getting over for the bikers coming towards us. Especially this guy, it seemed he owned the bike path?  The lead woman in the group was animated, well she was loosing her shit, frankly.  Maybe didn't need to be that crazy, however the glom of bikers should get right with on coming traffic or when there is a car back. Crap people are always yelling "car back" "car up" on the road and not moving so why would "biker up" "runner up" elicit a different response?   Anyhoodles, he had a lot not very nice to say about this woman and finally I edged my front wheel in and called him by name and said "Name, On Your Left"  I pushed him right rather indelicately and got past that glom of bikers.  Yes, I wasn't any better than him with how I handled myself, I'm not proud, I'm not sorry.

When the signs say share, they don't mean everyone shares with you, it means everyone shares with everyone.  Gahhhhhhhh  I'll admit I ride left of the white line when there is no traffic, I pull as far right as is safe when there is traffic.  As a rule I don't trust people, this is enhanced especially reading about motorcyclists and motorist trying to tip over cyclists.  Really?  Can't we all just get along, how is that so hard?  It's like we are all reverting back to being siblings stuck in the back seat of the car on a long trip.  "she touched me" "he's on my side" "she's breathing on me" and whatever other issues there were to whine about meanwhile dad is saying "Be quite or I'll tan all three of your hides".  We all did because he never made an idle threat, ever.    As adults we do have fun when we get together and all three sit on the couch and argue about who gets the window seat and who has to sit in the middle to entertain our parents.

Then we were back on some regular roads and busy roads all with amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean or the Bay.  Eventually having to slog along on US 6 where we meet with the Welcome to Provincetown sign and a choice, straight for a quick finish at 0.8 miles or right for another 5 miles of rollers, views of the ocean and the dunes and less people.  Oh yeah, I picked right, I picked that way last year.  It was beautiful, a couple of climbs and nice coasts, and then the turn off for the finish.  Met by a couple hundred people cheering you in.  Glorious.

Done, complete with my self satisfied smile!

Found my bag, a few team mates, the girl's room to shower and stretch and then food and beer.  Two hot dogs, please!!  I love them and this is the only time I get them, and no I don't care that they are filled with junk, they are yummy!

We all took the slow ferry back, the party ferry.  Yours truly napped, I may review my options for next year, especially if, again, I'm not taking advantage of the live band and partying...

Beth, another year done and about $1,500 left for fundraising! A shameless plug for my donation page.


  1. BLS, this was a great recap... Maybe your best post evah!!! Didn't miss a trick, loved the "Can't we all just get along?" rant, lol! You are AWESOME :-)

  2. Nice write up. See you 8/6/16. JK0013