Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Pan Mass Challenge 2016 -->> 192 Straight Outta Sturbridge

I didn't get the t-shirt because it was black, but I liked the theme!!

192 Straight Outta Sturbridge.

Friday I decided to use the navigation system in Eddie, my new ride, mistake.  Waze is so much better, the BIB* sent me up I 395 and over on the Mass Pike.  Where I sat, on the Mass Pike.  I should have asked Trusty Thomas my Waze guide to get me there with none of THAT Mass Pike nonsense.  I have to have a little chat with the BIB and see what I can do about changing her voice and ability to plan routes ala Trusty Thomas.

*BIB - Bitch in the Box  (I learned this term on the Bourbon Chase relay in 2013, it is uber appropriate because >>>  the female navigation voice sounds, to me, like she's in an utter panic the driver is going to pull a Thelma and Louise and go straight over the cliff into Dead Horse Point (Moab UT) and kill us all.  Nails on chalkboard to me, I can't imagine what she sounds like to guys, thankfully some navigation systems let you change the voice.)

I managed to get a spot on site at the Sturbridge Host Hotel where we'd roll out at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday.  This was good, because I'd have close access to my vehicle and would not have to schlep everything all at once and I could get my bearings before fully embarking on this adventure. My mother and father said I was slow to fully walk on my own, I was always an inch away from a wall or a table, walking but not quite confident enough to go through the middle of the room until I fully explored the boundaries.  Funny how we really don't change much as adults.  So parents, tell your kids how they were in the times before they remember, it may help them ease gracefully into adulthood!!

The Pan Mass Challenge is a 36 year old well oiled machine.  The volunteers are amazing, more amazing than the riders, IMHO.  They ensure we get checked in, fed, off on time to start our ride, fed along the ride, attended to medically, our bikes attended to as needed, and at our destination safely to be fed again and attended to as needed.  Anytime I've asked a question they've had an answer, either they know or they know who to ask.  Truly amazing.  To seamlessly and effortlessly shuffle around 6,300 bikers (and we all know bikers can be self important asshats) on 14 different rides covering one million miles, during the span of 48 hours.  Remarkable, truly.

All of this will raise $46,000,000 for cancer research at Dana Farber.  Forty-Six Million dollars, I can't even wrap my mind around how much money that is and what a difference it will make in people's lives, in the lives of my family and my friends.

Friday - Check in was well coordinated - find the first letter of your last name and stand in that line.  This always makes me uneasy.  My last name starts with an L, not an S.  I have a hyphenated name and the state of RI won't hyphenate the name on the drivers licence so this gets me directed to the S not the L line.  The volunteers, they get that we aren't completely stupid and know our last name, instead of sending we hyphenated folks to our spouses last name, oh the horror, they note the actual first name and find our packet, asking shoe size to get the socks that match the jersey.  I get the socks for my husband, he likes the PMC socks, I'm not a fan. Jersey, Socks, Water Bottle, Tags for luggage and Bike all in a nice carrier bag for groceries.  Instructions to put the bag for the jersey on the top of the luggage before we zip it up in case both of the luggage tags get ripped off they can open the bag and find out where it is supposed to go.  Brilliant.  I need to remember this for packages I mail and bags I send on airplanes.

Racked my bike in the sea of bikes, rack #26!

Wandered around the exhibit got a temp tattoo for my calf.  Managed to not buy anything!

Lesson learned:  I really should have never changed my name.
But Lazor-Smith is so freaking cool...
After 16 years I should know what to expect...

They fed us well and Harpoon was there with beer.  192 is my new favorite.  192 for the number of miles in the traditional route.  It's a lovely red ale, perfect for this stout and porter gal.  I had three and plenty of protein, chicken, roasted pig, eggs soaked in pickle juice.  I'm a protein hoarder not a carb hoarder.  The week up to an event I love a lot of protein, helps me get through and recover.  EVERYONE is different, do what works for you, totally not advocating one method over another. 

The Sturbridge LUNGStrong starters don't have the benefit of Diane to arrange all the accommodations!!  I ended up on an air mattress in a conference room with 10 other women.  Actually wasn't that bad after they got the lights turned off after 10 p.m. We had a 4 a.m. wake up.  Ear plugs and a face mask are on the packing list for next year.   I may opt for the conference room next year depending on how much the hotel option is.  $60 bucks and I got what I paid for in all aspects!

I met up with Steve at the start,  he and his girlfriend were smart and booked ahead, and also planned a week on The Cape for after the ride, wicked smart!!

The sea of riders at the start.  Most wear the event jersey the first day.  We break the rules and wear our LUNGStrong Jersey from the last yeas so we can be found by one of the 67 other team mates!!

We rolled off just a little after 5:30 with U.S. 20 to ourselves.  The coordination with the local police and the state police is amazing, when Billy Starr can get roads blocked he does, and for as long as he can, other wise we have the  benefit of orange cones and occasionally a motorcycle cop escort.  Truly amazing, and a gift for any cyclist.  A gift that should not be squandered by bad bicyclist behavior.

The first 20 miles were tough for me, I forgot my inhaler and the humidity was daunting.  I urged Steve on and to not wait for me as it was going to take awhile for me to get in my grove, the youngster pedaled off happy to not be saddled with the geezer, I'm sure.. ha ha ha.  he's a great guy and we both trained alone, that makes it hard to ride with someone you only ride with once a year!!

After the first rest stop, 25 miles, Whittinsville, I felt much better.  I also recognized the terrain from the Friendship Valley Tour Dave and I did for the organization Alternatives Inc, Dave's father is very involved with this organization, and it was a nice 30 mile loop you could do once or twice, once was enough, the roads were in pretty bad shape!

The next stop, Franklin, was surprisingly close at nearly mile 43.  I grabbed some fruit and got a picture!

Then lunch, someone mentioned the hill before lunch was a bitch.  Oh goodie (no seriously) it was a GREAT HILL, a sneaky one, you go up and then you think you are at the top and pedal for maybe a 1/10th of a mile and there is more up hill!  Wooo hoo.  Mile 70 was lunch and where we met up with the Wellesley start riders on our team.  Most of the Sturbridge starters were ahead of me by about 10 minutes, no worries, it was nice to see everyone I had started with the last two years!!

Then it was on to Lakeville to see the Pedal Partners, and meet mile 85 of my journey.  Here they have Del's Lemonade in both lemon and watermelon.  I had one of each, that sugar got me to the final rest stop.

I know it seems silly to stop at mile 100 of a 109 journey, but a top off on water was really necessary, I went through a bottle and a 1/2 in those last 9 miles of my journey to Bourne!!

When we got to Bourne it was like being greeted as royalty with people cheering.  If you've NEVER been a spectator at any sort of athletic event, it is so helpful and energizing to the folks participating.  Do it, really just go out there and cheer for people you don't know and may never meet, I love that aspect of athletics as much as I love participating.

I took a dip in the ocean, to calm down my aching legs, they enjoyed the cool water.  Got a nice cold shower, into clean clothes and off for meat and beer!

Make some dedications about why we PMC

"My Mom!  LungStrong!"

"Ride to the Roar"  (for Lisa!!)

We had our team photo and our living proof team members photo.

LUNGStrong - 68 strong!!

Living Proof - our living with cancer riders!!

And then bed.  My first year a friend said pack a fan and an extension cord if you are staying in the dorms, it is stuff and the moving air will help you sleep.  He was so right.  I had my trusty small fan and my extension cord, it blew on my feet till the 4 a.m. wake up call when a roomie pulled all the plugs to encourage us to get up.  I waited till the three of them were done and two were out before I got up, no point in tripping over people to start Day 2....

They have these amazing egg and sausage sandwiches, I had two and 1/4 of a cantaloupe, and a carton of chocolate milk, the coffee line was far to long and I was ready to get rolling.

I was rolling about 5:00 and up and over the Bourne Bridge and on to the Cape Cod Canal Path....

Sun coming up over the Sagamore Bridge Cape Cod Canal Bike Path

The amazing sun in the open harbor - Cape Cod Canal Bike Path

The first stop was 24 miles at Barnstable, I got coffee and chatted with Steve and his father John and we all remarked at how great awful coffee tastes when you REALLY need coffee!!!  Grabbed a muffin for some sugar and I was off.

We were back on the bike path and then once we get off the bike path we get treated to a long climb to a sneaky climb (my favorite) and are treated with a few miles of rollers.  This is one of my favorite parts of Day 2.  I learned how to conquer rollers my first time out, it was amazing, plus you had MILES to practice and get the rhythm down to not lose speed on the way up and gain more on the way down.   These start with one of those climbs I love, just when you think you are done the road turns and there is more!  I loved passing people up hill, I really do like climbing, such a conquest!

Caught up with the team at this point and enjoyed the company for a few miles.

Mile 40 we were in Brewster and the ICE COUCH!  OMG, nothing feels better than sitting on a bag of ice.  Horked down a few fluffer nutter sandwiches, got some ice in my bottles.  Totally lost track of every one and hightailed it to the last rest stop in Wellfleet, figuring they all left without me, and it was so much fun riding with people.  And I'm totally NOT a people person!!!

I never did catch up, which means they all left after me... :(

In Wellfleet, after climbing the hill to the rest stop, I fed my face more, I was really craving sugar and salt and knew I didn't consume enough water.  I took the time to find some shade, drink and eat salt and sugar, yummo.  The LUNGStrong folks trickled in so I hung out till they were ready to roll so we could all roll into the finish together.

Guess I was the one who ditched them in Brewster... 

Ran into a few of the people I met along my wanderings in Bourne, people look so different in bike helmets!

It was a nice break and so welcome after all the miles, I only had 25 to go and would be with my group, I could do this!!

We rolled on into P-Town on US 6.  Quite impressive to see 25ish riders all in the same jersey!

And we rolled to the finish, with seemingly millions of people cheering us!  So happy to be done!

Dave and Diane Legg - His 8th her 5th PMC
I will eventually get a picture of him helping her up one last hill with his hand on her back pushing
Stage IV Lung Cancer has nothing compared to this woman's zest for life!!

The team who rolled in together - some just wanted to be done and went for it.
I can TOTALLY understand.
After two solo finishes I wanted a group finish. 

Iced my aching knees and caught up on Facebook and WWF!!  My hip wasn't talking to me so I let it suffer till my knees felt better than gave it both packs!

Showers / Food / Beer and on the ferry back home to be greeted by some humpback whales swimming along and then a fire boat in the Boston Harbor.

They were spraying and jumping - hard to capture on film, it was really cool!!

Andrew would have LOVED seeing this!
Bus to Sturbridge to collect Ruby, and put my well earned 192 magnet on Eddie and head home!

On Monday I cracked open the Allagash Leslie O'Dell gave me a bazillion months ago at the Brrrlingame race - my reward for being so understanding and concerned about her stalker - HI Michael.

It was a good weekend.  Can't wait for next year!

Beth, energized, exhausted, and enthused.

If you were inspired and are able to donate:  My donation page: HERE 

If you were inspired and think I'm totally crazy the comment section is below!!  


  1. This looks like so much fun! I've really been enjoying riding--and yes I've been doing a lot of it this year--maybe next summer I need to do one of these kinds of rides!

    And BTW, I changed the voice on my phone to a male with an Australian accent. No more BIB.

  2. A great event. I would like to ride again but I am too scared at the moment. I have also a scooter but now I only use the car. I am shocked again.
    Beautiful photos.

  3. Great adventure, Beth! A century is still on my bucket list.
    Vinnie is to Volvo, as Eddie is to Explorer?
    Still never seen a whale.
    Fire boats are cool.