Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pan Mass Challenge

Yesterday, we took part in the Pan Mass Challenge. For those who have been living under a rock or aren't from around here, the PMC an enormous bikathon to benefit cancer research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. It's a good event for a good cause. We were first timers and didn't entirely know what to expect, but it turned out to be a great day.

We chose to ride the one day route from Wellesley to Bourne. From the get-go, we met up with a few of Mrs. Wheelie's coworkers. I always enjoy riding with new people. We planned to stick together and move at a moderate pace to avoid the Lawrence Orbach's of the world and also avoid the slower tail-end of the crowd. This turned out to be a good choice for the event, but we did split up some. True to it's description, the route is a pleasant 84 miles that is basically flat. While one could speed right through it, the mood is festive and merits stopping to enjoy the scene at each rest area. Still I felt almost bad stopping every 15 or 20 miles, though it was really nice to have volunteers waiting to feed me and fill my water bottle with ice-cold Gatorade. To be honest, the riders have the easy part, the support volunteers do all of the work. Really. They serve great food, collect your bike at the end and ship it home, etc. Every time a tire flattens on the road, there is a van that rolls up and magic elves pop out and swarm the distressed bike, they instantly make it new again. If it weren't weird for the volunteers to turn the pedals too, I'm sure they would have. It makes for a pleasant day.

The PMC draws a big crowd, so it's interesting to see the different nations of the cycling world. Lot's of pro-looking roadies, bunches of garden-variety riders, and several of tandems! It appears that custom fabricator Seven is doing a good business, as is The Great Trek Bicycle-Making Company!!! What else could you expect. The fixed-gear crowd sent a delegation of one, yours truly. I was a little concerned about not meshing with the stop and start rhythm of freewheel bikes, but it wasn't an issue once the initial crowd spread out. Riding my usual 46x17 was great for a long mellow day in the saddle. If we participate next year, and there's a good chance we will, I think we'll add some helmet-top ornaments. Team Kermit zipped by a few times with green Kermit the frog totems. Several were bent in superman position - mine would have been swimming the backstroke. Entertaining and practical, especially when everyone is where the same crazy bike shirt.

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