By Jean and Ralph Hammond
In the words of Billy Star, the Founder of the Pan Mass Challenge, “Cycling long distance is an accomplishment in and of itself. But the real glory comes from channeling that physical, mental and emotional energy into a goal greater than athletic achievement. With every mile we pedal, PMC riders bring cancer researchers closer to a cure.”
In the words of almost all the riders, “Volunteers are the PMC ride’s unsung heroes!”
Each of the nearly 6,000 bikers, 4,000+ volunteers, and many of the Pan Mass Challenge corporate supporters has a personal passion for finding a cure for cancer, but not all of them can be, or want to be, riders.
The PanMass Challenge is much more than its riders cycling many miles on the ten different routes during the first weekend in August.
Before and during the event there is a tremendous amount of preparation, most of it done by volunteers, some of it weeks earlier. As volunteers, we’ve filled riders’ shirt packets, set up registration, registered riders and stuffed goodie bags. But that’s only a small part of a huge picture.
The logistics behind the scenes are simply fantastic, though it’s so well-organized that many hardly notice.
Long before the weekend, the PMC staff has planned for water stops, mechanical, communication and logistic support, as well as police, ambulance, medical and safety support. And still there’s much more. Every penny contributed by riders and their sponsors goes to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, so the underpinnings of the weekend itself are funded by rider registration fees and generous underwriters.
Setting up enough tents to enable 6,000 bikers and volunteers to register, have meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner!) or a drink and snack at each water stop, or receive necessary medical attention is a huge undertaking.
One volunteer had the responsibility of replacing the paper in every toilet (there are many) at one of the water stops.
The sea of overnight bags belonging to the 2-day riders are loaded onto donated semi-trailer trucks by PMC volunteer drivers and ferried to Mass Maritime in Bourne. Riders find their bags outside their rooms, placed at the correct door by volunteers.
And don’t forget where you parked your bike; you’ll have to find it in one of the racks in a space the size of more than 2, possibly 3 football fields.
Arranging for 5,000 riders to spend the night includes dinner and breakfast, as well as the possibility of medical attention or maybe a massage (yes, also administered by volunteers).
PMC cyclists get hungry, but they don’t go hungry A vast amount of donated food and water is served up at water stops, at lunch and at dinner. In one recent year, sponsors donated, and riders and volunteers consumed: 19,000 bananas, 14,000 bags of trail mix, 9,800 hamburgers, 7,000 Cliff bars, 6,800 slices of pizza, 5,500 hotdogs, 3,000 bagels, 3,000 lbs. of chicken, 1,600 loaves of bread, 1,400 lbs. of pasta, 1,300 lbs. of peanut butter, 500 lbs. of sliced turkey, 500 lbs. of sliced ham, 275 watermelons, and 160 kegs of beer. Leftover food is donated to local food banks.
After the first day of the ride, you might see 14 trucks lined up delivering equipment, food, and luggage in Bourne. More trucks are assigned to each of the 17 water stops along the various routes.
At the end of the ride, 3,000 bikes might need to be transported from Provincetown to Boston as the riders return by ferry or bus.
About Bedford’s 19 Riders!
PMC riders get a lot of well-deserved praise, and they gratefully acknowledge the volunteers that give them the support and assistance that makes the PMC the event that it is, and has allowed PMC participants to raise half a billion dollars over the years.
There are 19 Bedford riders in the 2016 Pan Mass Challenge. Each name is followed by a link to the rider’s personal web page where you can learn more, or perhaps choose to make a donation on their behalf.
- Al Filosa AF0111 has ridden since 2010
- Rodney Green RG0158 has ridden since 2010
- Martin Guay MG0329 has ridden since 2015
- Brad Hafer BH0188 has ridden since 2016
- Dan Hurwitz DH0128 has ridden since 2006
- Bill Keating BK0131 has ridden since 2015
- James Mabry JM0829 has ridden since 2016
- Chris Marino CM0156 has ridden since 2004
- Jack Markuse JM0739 has ridden since 2013
- John Martin JM0600 has ridden since 2010
- Amy Mason AM0085 has ridden since 2004
- Bruce Murphy RM0122 has ridden since 2002
- Ann Partridge AP0026 has ridden since 1999
- Anita Paton AP0117 has ridden since 2010
- Frank Richichi FR0010 has ridden since 2005
- Martin Rogers MR0111 has ridden since 2003
- David Sachs DS0382 has ridden since 2015
- Michelle Sanders MS0463 has ridden since 2013
- Jessica Soares JS0788 has ridden since 2016
Editor’s Note: Ralph and Jean Hammond have ridden or volunteered for the Pan Mass Challenge for more than 10 years and volunteered to write this story because they’re taking a year off from active participation in the ride.