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PMC 2004: Sunday Morning, Stage 2, Bourne to Provincetown Inn

Sunday, August 8, 2004

It's Like an Insomniac Convention

No matter how good you felt on Saturday -- and I felt great -- 112 miles on the bike will wear you out, and a good night's sleep ends up very high on the agenda. That's why having to get up at 3:45 Sunday morning feels so incredibly WRONG!

But get up we did, and Corinne once again drove me to where I needed to be, from our hotel in Plymouth to the MMA in Bourne, and then drove herself back to the hotel for some more sleep. She dropped me off at about 4:45.

I deposited my bag in the truck for the family finish, as Corinne was planning to meet me there to see me ride in. (Family isn't allowed at the big finish at the Provincetown Inn.) Then I grabbed the same breakfast as yesterday: a cup of strawberry shortcake yogurt, three muffins, and a couple small pieces of fruit.

After eating, I walked back up to the bikes and was again very pleasantly surprised to find Jim and Steve waiting for me near our bikes (they'd only been there a few minutes, though). As we headed out, they kept bellowing "Rawsen!" so that Chris would find and start with us. Turns out he knew where we were, but instead of responding decided to just meet us at the exit. "I wasn't walking all the way over there!" Sneaky git. ;-)

We're Off!

Jim and Seth climbing the Bourne Bridge With so many people starting at once, you have to walk your bike most of the way to the MMA exit or risk starting your day with a collision, but it's not far. By 5:15 AM we were on our way, and after just a few minutes we were climbing the Bourne Bridge. In the dark. (Well, it would be a lot darker if not for Jim's jacket!)

Immediately after crossing over the canal on the bridge, there are a couple quick turns and then five and a half miles on the beautiful Canal Bike Path. Literally, this path is right along the canal, and the only thing between us and the water was a few rocks and a whole bunch of fishermen.

Sunrise, from the Canal Bike Path Jim, Steve, and I traded pulls, and we averaged about 20 mph along the canal. (None of us were sure when it happened, but Chris dropped off our wheels somewhere along the bike path.) Near the end of the path we watched the sun come up, and it promised to be another beautiful day.


The first half of the ride on Sunday is rolling hills, a couple of them with rather deceptive grades because of the way the road curves. Jim, Steve, and I stuck together for the first half.

We tarried only briefly at the first water stop, enough to grab a little more gatorade, make a brief pitstop, and hear Steve proclaim to all the world, "After today, I don't want to see any more gatorade for a long time!"

From there we hopped on a couple of pacelines. One of them was driving us crazy because they wouldn't work together: on the downhills they were fine, but every time they started climbing a hill they'd start fussing with each other over position, breaking ranks, or opening big gaps.

When a second paceline caught up, this one being run by the Crack of Dawn team (who I keep thinking of as "the Clockstoppers," for some reason), we abandoned the first group for this much more organized line. But, my word they were fast. There were some points that they maintaining 27mph on the flats. Jim complained that he "didn't have much of anything left," and dropped off just a couple miles before the second water stop.

Second Water Stop, Nickerson State Park, Jack

We pulled into the second water stop (Nickerson State Park) quite surprised at the speed we'd maintained with that paceline. I felt a little guilty about leaving Jim behind, but he kept telling us to go ahead and I felt good again today.

I told Steve that this is the stop last year where I discovered the Joys of Canteloupe and made a serious dent in their supply. Same thing this year, but this time Steve and I were tag-teaming the platters of fruit. There's something about iced canteloupe slices when you've been riding really hard that's better experienced than read about.

Jack is 8 now This waterstop is when things changed for me a little. I wasn't just reminded of the reason that we're riding. I saw it for myself. In person. Up close.

His name is Jack. He's been sitting in this same spot on PMC Sunday every year since he was 2, with a sign like that over his head. Dana Farber Cancer Institute saved his life, Jack is 8 Now and he and his family give a lot of credit for that to the riders in the PMC who raise such a big portion of their budget.

Steve knew who he was. I didn't, because last year I missed him in the crush of people (as I was much slower last year, there were a lot more people at the stop). Steve asked Jack if he could take his picture, and Jack obliged.

Back of Jack's Winner Ribbon Then, very solemnly, Jack stood up and walked over to us. Without a word, he handed each of us a winner's ribbon, and returned to his seat. On the back of the tiny "medal" hanging on the ribbon, written in his own hand, it says, "Thank you from Jack 2004."

Both of us almost completely lost it. Even now, as I write about this days later with my "winner's ribbon" dangling from a shelf next to my computer monitor, I'm getting choked up.

Winner Ribbon from Jack Like many things in life, it's easy to get caught up in the "what" you're doing, and forget the "why." This weekend was not about our bikes, or our legs, or lack of sleep, or beautiful weather. It was about Jake, and other survivors, and trying to make sure that there are more of them next year than last year.

It is, frankly, about the money we're raising to keep DFCI pushing the boundaries. Riding our bikes won't cure cancer, it just gives us a focal point for our fundraising (and as Billy would say, it provides a great metaphor!).

Quick Photo

Jim, Seth, and Steve Jim showed up at the water stop a few minutes after us, and I coerced Steve into sacrificing another spot in his camera for a photo of the three of us together. Pretty good shot, but I wish I had taken off my shades! (Steve and Jim look good as usual.)

This Is Why They Call Me Freight Train

Finally we were ready to leave for the second half of the last day. The Crack of Dawn paceline was leaving, and Steve wanted to stick with them, so we started heading out. Jim was already at the exit, but Steve somehow went right past him without them seeing each other. I stopped to tell Jim that Steve was a few seconds ahead of us, but Steve had already turned the corner and Jim wasn't sure he could believe me. In the ten seconds it took Jim to look around the park and realize I was right, Steve was gone. That darn paceline was so fast there was no way we were going to catch up with him on our own.

Actually, I *may* have been able to catch them, if I had used the riders between me and the paceline as rabbits, but I would almost certainly have regretted it later. Instead, I decided to ride the rest of the day with Jim. He mentioned, frequently, that he didn't have much energy left and that I was welcome to go on without him, but I thought it would be more fun to ride and chat with him than it would be to ride faster but (probably) alone.

Jim wasn't feeling strong at all anymore, but I still was, so he spent a lot of time drafting me. I don't know if he was feeling guilty for it, but I had to remind him a few times that it was ok.

I figured Steve was going to be way, way ahead of us by the end of the day, but we actually saw him again at the next (and final) waterstop. He still left (and finished) ahead of us, just not by as much time as I expected.

At this final waterstop, I used Jim's phone to call Corinne. If our timing was really, really good, she would be less than an hour from the Family Finish, and would get there just a few minutes before me. But, no, instead she had gotten an extra hour of sleep and was sitting on the bed in the hotel room, just ready to leave. I knew she needed the sleep, and was glad (for both of us!) that she got it, so I decided to to just ride to the Provincetown Inn finish and then go to the Family Finish later.

Much of the route from the final waterstop to the Provincetown Inn are into a brutal headwind on Route 6. Jim and I had both filled our tanks with Gu and/or Power Gel at the last stop, and we just plowed through it as best we could.

At one point on 6 we passed a rider who had clearly blown a gasket: he was travelling at half our speed, his cadence was about 40 rpm (at most), and his head was hanging low. Still, though, if you have anything left to give, you don't let a couple of human windscreens go past you without at least trying to draft them, and he managed to pick himself up enough to tuck in behind Jim. I pulled all three of us to the end of Route 6 unti we were out of the wind.


Another paceline caught us just after we left 6, and apparently our tow had been enough for this guy to recover. He jumped onto their wheel and tried to leave us behind. Jim had pulled in front of me to give me a break for a couple minutes after what I'd just done, but seconds after passing Jim this other rider hit the sand on the side of the road and went down on his side very hard.

Jim swerved to miss him, and yelled to the back of the paceline that a rider was down. I slammed on my brakes, jumped off the bike, and helped the rider (whose name we never got) untangle himself from his bike. The paceline and Jim turned around and came back, and kept yelling at me not to help him up (I wasn't going to anyway).

Amazingly, one of the riders in the paceline was a doctor! He asked the guy a few questions, and then helped him up. He was bruised and covered in road rash all along his left side, but nothing was broken and eventually he decided to keep riding.

A Great Finish to a Great Day

That paceline kept passing us and then falling behind again, so basically we stayed together most of the way to the Inn. For some reason, though, they wouldn't work with us.

The Finish Line When we hit the One Mile to Go point, a volunteer stands at the intersection to tell everybody to go one way for the Family Finish, another way for the Ptown Inn finish. After we cleared that intersection, I asked Jim if he wanted to "run" for the last mile, meaning "stop pacing ourselves, and really push it." He said he'd try it, but burned out a little when we hit the next incline.

The Cheering Squad at the finish That was just a good warmup, though, because a few hundred yards later he had recovered and said we could go for it. We blitzed the last half mile, completely losing site of that rather unfriendly paceline, and shook hands just a few yards before the the finish, as we rode between the lines of cheering masses.

Stats: 82.45 miles (132.7 km) in 4h 18' 19" for an average speed of 19.15 mph (30.83 kph).

Page last updated: 8/13/2004

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