It has been 2 weeks since the ride, and I have stayed away from trying to write about it. It has been quite difficult for me to try to capture the experience as well as to come to terms with fact that I finally achieved the goal that I have been dreaming about since the day of my first chemo treatment. The PMC weekend, the ride, the camaraderie, the emotions, the meaning is unique for each and everyone who rides, volunteers, or stands along the side of the road and cheers. And for me, this PMC was the most exceptional of the eight that I have been a part of since 2006 (6 on a bike, 1 on the sideline with chemo, and another changing kegs in Sturbridge and Bourne for Harpoon).
Without a doubt, all the training I did this year, starting on the trainer in January and then doing over 1,000 miles on the road since April, paid off. I rode with groups of my teammates nearly the entire weekend. Saturday, I think, I surprised them all with my energy and my pace. I kept it up on Sunday, leading the entire Forza-G train of 25 or so riders over the Bourne Bridge to start the day, and then riding the rollers with 2 other teammates, both who are excellent and experience riders, and alternating with them who pulled the train. To be honest, and my teammates Brian and Tom can attest to this, I have pretty much never pulled in the past PMCs. But there I was, taking my turn when it came up. It was 125 miles into my 8th PMC weekend, and I had finally figured out how to do this cycling thing. I kept rocking and rolling all day long, enjoying the Forza-G train on our second segment of the day, cruising up Ocean View Drive, blasting up Route 6 and through the dunes at the end. At the end of the day, and the days that followed, my legs weren’t tired. My, er, seat and the balls of my feet – that was another story. That being said….
Here are my highlights of the weekend….
HIGHLIGHT 1: Mile 100, Day 1
Thanks to the indomitable and amazing Kathi Nelson, our cycling team, Forza-G, is the only team to have its very own Pie Stop. Yes, pie. Blueberry, cherry, apple. And more! This stop, right along the route in Wareham, has become a great meeting spot to see friends and family. The day 1 finish is only a few miles away in Bourne and this is certainly the best stop of the day. This year, Michele’s whole family was on hand, it was a fantastic way for them to get to see my teammates and to see the ride itself. I was also thrilled to share some time with Shannon, who at age 3 is just starting to understand that I ‘do a big ride’ and that there are ‘a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of bicycles’. Certainly a PMC Kids Ride will be in her future soon.
So these are the guys I rode a lot with… having a beer at mile 100!
Take a break JR!
Some of our team (and Shannon) at the pie stop
With my mentor Jaime
Celebrating Pie, Riding, and Beating Cancer
Shannon tells me about all the bikes
(click photo to see full pic and captions)
HIGHLIGHT 2: Living Proof Photo
Without a doubt, the best moments of my weekend were seeing my family at the team Pie Stop and the Living Proof photo. This year’s Living Proof pic was the largest ever. I was thrilled to share a few moments with three very special people who have ridden with me, inspired me, and have given me so much even though we only spend a few minutes together each year. Blessed to know you: Carie Capossela
, Suzanne Merritt, and Diane Gibbins
– and I look forward to our next time together.
One of the best selfies ever – with Carie Capossela, one of the people who reminded me how committed I am to the PMC, before we even met
Each year for many years, Diane and I get our photo taken in this same spot. I met Diane during my 1st PMC weekend and we have been ‘riding’ in the same circles ever since.
My newest Living Proof pal Suzanne is also a Forza-G teammate. She celebrated her 1st anniversary of survivorship by riding the PMC! Congratulations Suzanne – you are amazing!
(click photo to see full pic and captions)
HIGHLIGHT 3: Provincetown Finish
On Sunday afternoon, riding in Provincetown for the first time since August 2010 was pretty much as overwhelming an experience as I have had in the roller coaster that my life has been since March 2011. When I crossed the town line while riding on Route 6, I was riding alone. I was riding well, riding at about 17 or 18 mph into the wind, but had been dropped by a group of teammates just after the final water stop. It was one of my few times riding alone the entire weekend. When I have dreamed about getting back to riding the PMC, dreams that I remember having in the days following finding the lump in my groin, I have often thought about this very stretch of road. I was glad to have this time, about 30 minutes, by myself, to just ride and reflect.
There was a lot to reflect on. Everything that Michele and I have been through since I last finished the PMC. The dark days of chemo. Being so grateful for all the sacrifices our family made for us. The months and months of recovery. Struggling to get our life back on track. Building great friendships in Baltimore. All of the people who I have met who are battling cancer and those who have been taken from us to soon. The families that I know that have been devastated by cancer. All these thoughts and memories just flooded over me, some good, some bad. It was an experience that I am so thankful that I was able to have and one that is pretty much impossible to put into words.
As I made the turn to head into the Dunes, I was pleased to see a group of my teammates, waiting for me and some more of our team who were behind me along the road. One of the best Forza-G traditions is that we do try to make sure we ride into the finish together and share the moment of crossing the line together, 192 miles away from the start. And then we make sure the PMC Rookies (1st-time riders) get a photo….
Group photo time – Rookies get in front!
Yes – the photographer was in on it!
And what is the result of all this cycling? Well, right now, the PMC has already raised over $30 MILLION in 2013. The goal is $38 million, so there is still a way to go. But this goal is just another step in our campaign towards the end of cancer. A campaign that we will achieve, by working together, by believing, and by riding. If you have not done so already, please consider joining our campaign by making a donation.
[I will have more thoughts and recollections from PMC 2013 Weekend, plus some ‘riding stats’ at some point soon]