The 2008 Pan Mass Challenge is in the books. I apologize for being a bit late with this report and delinquent with
my updates prior to the event. A lot has been going on in my personal life that demanded my full attention. As you may know,
I am the head freshman coach of men's crew at Boston University. Our head coach was suddenly let go for lack of competitive
results among other things. For a while I was not sure I would be employed, but then was told that I will still have a job
for the upcoming academic year, and then it will be up to the new head coach to determine if they will keep me on or not.
I am also in the process of applying for the position and have a second interview on Tuesday (so wish me luck). This all means
that the PMC was forced to be put on hold while I was getting application ready while also keeping the program going over
My fund raising has suffered as a result: I am $1500 behind my minimum as of today.
to the PMC. As always, it was an incredible event. Here are some pictures mostly from the Friday ride and our mini vacation
on the Cape after wards, but there are a few from the PMC. http://picasaweb.google.com/rowdml/PMC2008 As you can see from
the pictures, our Friday ride is pretty top notch!
I got the bike dialed in nicely and training rides
during the lead up were the highpoint of my days -especially with the stress of applying for a new job and answering to all
the alumni inquiries.
The week prior to the PMC, my family and I went out to Sacramento, CA to visit
friends. I was able to turn it into a somewhat working vacation by scouting the rowing venue. Next year's collegiate national
championships will be on Lake Natoma in Sacramento. It looks like a vey nice place to row. It is also a great place
to ride. The bike path has stretches that are 5+ miles long with no stops, and is beautiful. the problem was I didn't have
my bike and borrowed a bike from our friends. It was just too small, and very heavy which made me miss my bike. There is a
huge difference between a 35 pound hybrid and a 17.5 pound race bike.
The Friday leg overachieved
again. Tom LeBlanc started doing this a few years ago and the group is now up to 30 riders. We wear blue and whie jerseys
with a cartoon drawing of Tom and "Team LeBlanc 362/3" on the chest. Tom is the driving force behind the friday leg doing
most of the organizing. The 363/2 refers to an article, called 362/3, about how PMC riders and volunteers are pretty passionate
about the event. They spend 363 days a year preparing (obsessing) about the PMC and 2 days in the event itself. Since we rode
for 3 days...
We started at the NY border at about 7:30am in the small town of Hillsdale NY near
the Catamount Ski area. Blandford MA is the summit of the toughest climb of the day -and our lunch break. I was second to
the top behind a 23 year old 130 pound marathon runner. The kid made the mistake of waiting for me at the top and I
passed him on the slight descent into town when gravity was on MY side... So I was the first to the lunch stop! Experience
wins. My in-laws were there too lending much appreciated emotional support. It was good to see them.
police escort was awesome once again. It really made our ride seem that much more important and 'real'. I kept thinking that
this was much more than a training ride. The crowds (yes, crowds) at the water stops also reminded me that we were riding
for a cause that a lot of people care about. The best and most emotional was the Brielle's Brigade water stop in East
Longmeadow. Brielle is the daughter of one of the riders and is battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She was there looking
healthy and happy while shooting us with a huge water gun and handing out food. At the same water stop were volunteer bike
mechanics from a local shop offering free mechanical support. This just showed how important what we were doing is to everyone
and how it touches us all.
Our SAG crew was top notch again. Special thanks to them for keeping us
hydrated and fed.
We rolled into Sturbridge at about 4:00pm, checked in to the PMC and ate. The opening
ceremonies were fun and, as always, the food was great.
Saturday was day one of the actual PMC.
high point of the Pan Mass came as I was about to leave the second water stop. I was adjusting my helmet when a bunch of riders
pulled up. They all had PMC jerseys and Toyota United shorts with shaved legs, deep tans, and pro level bikes. Billy
Starr, founder and executive director of the PMC was in the group. I recognized some of the Toyota pros because they were
at the opening ceremonies (signing autographs etc). I decided to ride with them on to the next stop. Up until then, I had
been averaging around 22mph. Quick, but not pro bike racer fast. That group was chugging along at 29-31 mph. I was having
a hard time keeping up. Finally, my lungs were burning, and I was starting to see stars in my peripheral vision. I also kept
thinking about how Billy Starr was in the group and that he has to be in his late 50s and he was keeping up! Finally, I had
enough and was going to sit up and let them drop me when a woman cheering on the side of the road said "Only 3 miles to the
lunch stop!". So I dug down and stuck with them for rest of the leg. I even did another pull at the front. It hurt.
the lunch stop is extremely emotional. There is a long driveway that has lots of big posters of cancer patients (all kids
too), survivors and their families. And tons of people cheering. It is a powerful and emotional entrance. Unfortunately
I have no recollection because I was nearly passing out from oxygen debt.
I usually try to keep my
water stops brief. Top off my bottles, eat something, hit the porta-pottie, quick stretch and back on the road. 5 to 10 minutes
tops. This stop was a little longer. I think I was there for about 45 minutes.
I pulled into the
Mass Maritime Academy, checked into my room, took a LONG shower, made my bed, signed up for a massage and started eating.
Then I saw Billy Starr arriving with a different group. I didn't see the Toyota United riders. I had rolled in about 2 hours
earlier. The ride with the pros hurt him at least as much as it hurt me. My pride felt a little better...
Sunday ride begins before the sun because they want to get as many riders over the bridge as possible before traffic gets
too heavy. This year there was a thick fog making descents a bit scary. It also made everything damp. I have talked before
about how ideal fog and light rain is for rowing, and how miserable it makes cycling. My cycling shorts and gloves were wet
and uncomfortable for the rest of the day.
My wife, daughter and mother were at the Nickerson State
Park water stop. It is so great hearing "Go Daddy go!" from my three year old. This is also the stop where Jack hands out
beads and poses for pictures. Jack is the kid who holds the sign that says "I'M 12 NOW THANKS TO YOU". He has been an inspiration
to me sine I first met him at the same stop a few years ago. It is another powerful reminder why we do this.
hardest riding on the Sunday leg is the 8 mile stretch on Rte 6 from Truro into Provincetown. Riders are totally exposed to
the wind, it is slightly uphill, and it comes at the END. I pulled in to the family finish area took a nice hot shower and
spent a relaxing time with my family and some riding friends.
I have always said that the ride itself
is not the hard part but raising the required $$ is! Like I mentioned before, I am $1500 behind my fund raising minimum, so
please be generous. It will be worth it when we wipe out cancer for good!
You can give on-line
if you prefer, you can send a check via regular mail made out to "PMC/Jimmy Fund" to this address:
260 Brookline Street
Cambridge, MA 02139 USA
you all so much for all the support and love. I couldn't have done this without you!