The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, September 1, 2006


Pedaling to beat cancer

Kathleen Ryder and her friend Bill Snapper pedal for the Jimmy Fund. (Courtesy photo)

Living in New Hampshire for the first 41 years of my life, I had never even heard of the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC). Now that I have officially transplanted myself in Carlisle, I can't go anywhere without spotting one of their brightly colored shirts donned by a bicyclist zipping along the road. Last year, I was unable to complete the 2005 ride because my tandem partner and fiance, Steve Hauser, landed in the hospital for a week. Last month I happily rode the entire 192-mile route of the PMC with sunny skies overhead and a healthy partner in front of me.

Since 1977, the PMC has evolved into the nation's largest athletic fundraising event where 99 cents of every dollar raised goes to the Jimmy Fund for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. This year over 4,000 cyclists participated, each making a significant commitment of time, energy, and funds to a wonderful cause.

The feeling in the air on the eve of the PMC at Sturbridge was electrifying. NESN camera crews milled about trying to capture the excitement and purpose for which we ride. There were somber moments during the opening ceremonies as we were reminded of just how pervasive cancer is and that it strikes both the young and old alike. But mostly there was a message of hope that with these dollars raised we can help find more treatments and ultimately a cure. This year the PMC hopes to raise $25 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The rest of the weekend was all about The Ride. Waking too early, fueling the body, and following the little yellow arrows that marked the route from Sturbridge to Provincetown became the focus for the next two days. While my partner and I negotiated some mechanical issues (one flat tire and a defective chain) during the first 40 miles of Saturday's trek, the remainder of the ride was without incident. I was grateful for ideal weather, countless volunteers, and the marvelous supporters who stood by the road for hours to cheer on the riders as they passed. Some handed out water or orange slices, some played music to take our minds off the work we were doing, and they all encouraged us to keep pedaling and thanked us for making a difference.

I was particularly concerned about the second day. I had been training outdoors ever since the snow had fled in the spring, and I knew that I could ride one long day. I was less sure about getting back on the bike at 6 a.m. on the second day. Saddle sores, tired muscles, lack of sleep these were the thoughts that I battled. Much to my surprise, the second day was delightful. Aside from the hazelnut-sized saddle sore that kept me fidgeting in my seat, the other concerns didn't even register in my mind. I was happy to be riding again and looked forward to the finish line in Provincetown.

Completing the ride brought me a sense of relief and accomplishment. I am proud to be a part of this yearly tradition and look forward to next August.

Ed. note: Heidi and Vaughn Harring, Mark Robart, and Chip and Laurie Bevier were among other Carlisle riders participating in the Pan Am Challenge.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito