Sunday, August 13, 2017

Pan Mass Challenge 2017

This was my 4th Pan Mass Challenge (PMC).  My second out of Sturbridge.

It really is hard to know what to say about the two days on my bicycle with nearly 6,000 like minded bikers.

Billy Star provided some stats, so let's start there:

This charity ride is very important to me, really, it is the high point of my year.  I've been raising funds for Lung Cancer awareness and research since 2011, running 1/2 and full marathons for the cause was one thing, but to me, this is a bit more.  The whole event is focused around raising funds for cancer research, period.  My total fund raising for this event is approaching $25,000 for the 4 years I have been riding.  This is fully a result of my generous friends and family!  Thank you!

2017 is the 10th year my mother has been living with lung cancer.  That is truly astounding.  With a small hop forward in lung cancer treatment, the 5-year survival rate has budged from 15% to 17%.  We are still losing more than 50% of those diagnosed with lung cancer in the first year.

So 100 people get diagnosed, let us be generous and say 50 of them live a year, of those 50, eight or nine people will make it 5 years or more post diagnosis.  Pretty cruel fact, facts are facts, and I want to see those facts changed.

Oh and before you get all well they smoked, didn't they?  60% of those diagnosed with lung cancer either have never smoked or haven’t smoked for decades.  Honestly, does anyone DESERVE cancer?  no, no they don't.

In 2014 I joined Team LUNGSTRONG.  LUNGSTRONG was formed in 2011 with 8 riders in the PMC. We are now over 60 riders strong!  LUNGSTRONG rides to benefit LUNG CANCER research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute, under the direction of Dr. Pasi Janne, where there is a commitment to world-class care and innovative lung cancer research to develop new, more effective diagnostic and therapeutic techniques.

Lung Cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths, killing more Americans each year than breast, prostate, colon and pancreatic cancers, combined. Yet lung cancer research is the least funded, relative to mortality rates.  With increased funding for research, we can reduce the mortality rates for lung cancer.

The Lowe Center of Thoracic Oncology at Dana Farber is a leader in innovative research in lung cancer. As one of the nation's premier lung cancer programs, the Lowe Center of Thoracic Oncology is raising the bar for thoracic treatments by fostering collaboration between its clinical and laboratory researchers in order to provide optimal, individualized therapies to patients.

It is kind of a big deal, at least I think so and the people treated at Dana Farber think so and the people and their families benefiting, even if it is only for a short while, from the research done at Dana Farber.

So the fun part of this is the ride.  Like I said in my previous post I do get wiggy about things, more about the logistics and a little bit about the doing of it.  That many miles and hours on a bicycle is a big commitment, physically and mentally.  Anyone goes into a big event slightly sleep deprived and anxious, I can't believe anyone is completely calm.  If you are, what's your secret???

Friday I took the day off.  I was going to work from home, but only did a few things, probably enough to not take it as a vacation day, but we shall see how this all shakes out at the end of the year,  I usually end up carrying days over anyhow.

I didn't want to miss out on getting an overnight parking spot at the hotel, I wouldn't be staying at that hotel but that would be the hub and where I would be dropped off on Sunday evening.  I got up there way too early.  Lesson learned.  But I was able to find a nice cool spot to veg for a couple hours before registration opened and I could pick up my stuff, get my bike looked at, and take part in the drinks and food.

My pre ride bike evaluation turned up what looked like a small cut in the sidewall of my brand new front tire.  Do I get a new one or not.  I got a new one.  I could hear my father and my imaginary husband saying, 'They are just trying to get money out of you, you don't need a new tire'.  But then who exactly was going to be there when, in the predicted rain for Saturday's 109-mile ride, was going to be there them? or me?  Me.  So a new tire it was.  Did I do the right thing?  Sure, it gave me peace of mind.  Otherwise Randy said my bike checked out, he cleaned the chain and lubed it and pumped up the tires and I was ready to rack my bike and go find some food and beer.

After a bit of a snafu getting to the right hotel for the night, I snuggled in for a few hours for my 3:30 wake up to get this party started!  I slept fairly well for trying to sleep in a stuffy room with daylight peeking in through every crack in the curtains!

4 a.m. on the bus ready to get some breakfast and get on the bike to roll at 5:15 a.m.!

The rain was off again on again in that annoying misty spray, it was hard to know to put on my rain jacket or not and I was on the verge of leaving it in my car when I decided to keep it with me and managed to shove it in my cycle bag under my seat.  I ended up needing it with in a mile of starting and then again after lunch when the rain came down like BBs.

The first few miles we are rolling on US20 East bound closed to traffic.  It is AMAZING to have the whole road with just cyclists.

This also helps everyone sort themselves out so when we do get on secondary roads and have to stay to the right people are about where they belong pace wise, much like a trail race where the field sorts it self out and much like a trail race, the road runners get WAY too far up in the mid/back of the pack and then cause a traffic jam once we get on single track.  And like a trail race, the best place to pass these folks is up a hill.  Good thing I love hills!  Nothing is more self-satisfying than saying "ON YOUR LEFT" as you crank past someone struggling up a hill.  Tee hee....

It is so amazing to see how many people are out so early cheering on the riders.  The tears start quickly with the signs about survivors and especially the children diagnosed at a young age and then the child holding the sign, I'm so and so.  SOB SOB SOB!!!

The first stop is Whittinsville, 25 miles in.  Here I was able to get rid of my rain jacket and stuff it back in my saddle bag.  Had a 1/4 of a fluffer nutter sammich and took care of biological balancing.  I was feeling pretty good and making decent time.  I'm not recalling much else about the first 90 minutes of the ride at this point.  Oh, wait, yes!  Snickers bars!  OMG, I love love love the Fluffernutter sammiches but that Snickers Bar was like gold.  I also took a Salt Stick Cap, and I was behind on my water consumption.   I should have finished at least one bottle. This was also the end hilliest hilly section of the 109 miles.

The next stop was 18 miles away in Franklin, MA.  This sends us out on some very quiet residential streets, there are a few families out cheering people on.  Mostly in bathrobes with coffee cups and I love that!  The next 27 miles are pretty sedated, and I look forward to completing them as it is the last big climb and then the lunch stop where we join up with the folks who start from Wellesley.  We were met with rain for about 10 miles before lunch and when I stopped it was pouring.  I didn't want to take to long at lunch but still, I didn't want to ride soaked the radar was so spotty and any rain wasn't going to stick around too long.  Also, the next stop is only 14 miles away, less than an hour.

The rain pelted me like bbs for those 14 miles and finally started letting up just as we approached the last mile (mile 83) before the Lakeville stop.  This is where all the posters of the "Pedal Partners" are and usually their families at the poster.  Those kids with cancer tear me apart.  Most of the "Pedal Partners" are at the Lakeville stop.  Also at this stop is Del's.  I love this stop for a lot of reasons.  All of that and clearly the rain had stopped and I could put my balled up road grime covered and soaked rain jacket under my bike bag for the remainder of the journey.

You can see the rain drops on my helmet!!
The next stop is Wareham, it is 18 miles away and then it's only another 9 miles until Bourne.  It is a tough call to stop or not to stop.  I was jonesing for a Snickers bar and to biological balance (I caught up on my water drinking, clearly).  I was so glad I stopped!  I ran into a huge group of the Wellesley LUNGStrong starters!!  Whoop I could ride into Bourne with them!  Of course, I managed to drop a few of them and then waited and then at the last 1/2 mile I cross chained and dropped my chain and couldn't catch up to ride over that interim finish line with the gang.  Bummer.

I've been in the same dorm room since my first PMC so I knew where to go, but first I stopped for a beer and chatted with one of my team mates from St. Charles ILL!  I checked the dorm assignment saw 4 names and 3 bags and there wasn't a bag in the room. Ok, we'd only be three.  I took the top bunk and got my extension cord and fan all situated and one of my roomies came in.  She remembered me from last year, I, of course, oblivious, had no clue.  She remembered the fan and the extension cord, not me, I'm pretty sure.  She had her own fan and extension cord!

The shower was heaven on earth and it was nice to be in non-restrictive figure unflattering bike clothing for my hot dog fest at the food tent!

We got our team picture taken:

I'm front row third from the left (of the picture), Dave and Diane Legg are to my left (or the right of me in the picture - Dave's rocking his plaid shorts)

Diane did a great toast for Living Proof:  Seriously listen to it, it is very short.

And the Living Proof riders and volunteers got their picture taken:

Relive the ride here.

Up at 3:30 a.m. for Day 2!

I slept a bit, rested mostly.  I found out if you stay on the ship it is air conditioned.  You can't flip flop around in bed as there is limited space between you and the bunk on top of you and you sleep in a room with 10 or 30 other people.  Did I mention it is air conditioned?  No flipping fan needed!!!

We were to meet at 4:30 a.m. at a designated spot, before this you needed to get your bag packed and loaded into the right truck and get some food, hence the early wake-up!  Day 2 is bacon egg sammiches, my second favorite to Fluffernutter, at least for this weekend's gastronomical festival!

I didn't get any coffee knowing that we'd be rolling by 5:15 a.m. and the first stop was at Barnstable in 24 miles, I could wait for 90 minutes or less for coffee and the bathroom....  well everyone else had the same brilliant plan.  Well, I guess when you are trying to move thousands of people it is never going to be easy.  The coffee lines went quick and I could drink that while I waited in line and caught up with team mates and a coworker who also rides this ride.  I've worked with Dean for 7 years, he has never acknowledged me until that weekend, and true to form, he was back to looking through me at work this week.  Lawyers, waddayagonadoaboutem?

Back on the bike, and back with the team.  The rollers through Barnstable are a favorite of mine and a lot of people.  I couldn't help but blast up the hills and blast down them!  I did my level best to stay with everyone.  We were all a bit concerned because Diane passed on this stop and hadn't had anything to eat before we left at 5:15.  Diane Legg is our team leader, this is her 7th PMC, riding with Stage IV lung cancer.  She was diagnosed at age 42, 13 years ago.  Read about her here and here and well Google her, be inspired.  She is an amazing woman, no she is a force, a real force lung cancer has to reckon with.  She is winning. She is a face of Lung Cancer.

At the end of the ride in Provincetown

The stop in Brewster was 16 miles and we all regrouped there.  Diane ate and really looked and sounded great.  She knows her body and well she is in charge.  It is our job to worry!!

This is the part of the ride that usually makes me hate the PMC and hate other riders.  I stuck with the team and well I loved it.  It was awesome.

Ok, so I was biking and playing with my phone, a no no.  But awww all the little LUNGStrong girls right in a row, it's cute, no?

The next stop is Wellfleet, with the ice couch.  Ahhhhh

Cool the tush with some fresh chamois cream, ahhhhhh
Christine and Martha didn't know about this - I was happy to share the experience.

And we were ready to roll!

This is the last leg of the journey, well mostly.  There is a decision point to go straight to the finish or do the dunes.  I convinced Kim, a first timer on our team, to do the dunes.  She's forgiven me!

Kim and I at the finish
Kim's mom was diagnosed with Lung Cancer when she was carrying her first child,
he has welcomed a sister and her mother, their grandmother, has been there to celebrate every one of Ryder and his sister's birthdays
We had a minute to spare to meet up with the rest of the team and Dave and Diane to roll the last mile in our biker gang to the finish.

Yeah, playing with my phone again, cool shot, no?

And PMC 2017 is in the books!  About 1/3 of the team.  Some finished earlier, some went to the family finish.

 We showered, ate, drank and I got on the bus back to Sturbridge at 2 p.m.  Most everyone takes the party ferry back.  This wasn't so much fun the last two years so I thought I'd take the bus, get a seat on the right side window and sleep for the 3 ish hours back to Sturbridge.   I did get my desired seat, however, a very friendly and engaging investment banker sat next to me and we chatted about bikes, gear, power meters, carbon wheels, the best hills we've climbed, and the best bike rides we've done for the trip back to Sturbridge.

It was a great event.  It is an emotional weekend for me.  So many people have been impacted so many more people will be.

Relive it here.

That wraps up my 4th PMC.  I'm a few hundred dollars away from the Heavy Hitter goal.... so if you'd been considering donating, the link is here.  And if your company matches, don't forget to do that and let me know!  Seriously, don't feel obligated.

Beth, really it's hard to know what to say other than this is truly the highlight of my year.

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