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PMC 2005: Day One, Sturbridge to Bourne

Saturday, August 6, 2005

You might think that today's story would start the same as yesterday's: with me not wanting to wake up. But, surprise! That wasn't the case at all. The wake-up call came at 4:00, I got out of bed to answer it, and went right into the shower.

Last night I set everything out that I'd need in the morning, knowing that I'd be getting ready in the mostly-dark so that Corinne could keep dozing. I'd even packed my duffel bag with the clothes I'd need that afternoon in Bourne, so the bag could be thrown on the truck and delivered for me.

For the third year in a row, I forgot to bring my own towel! How would I dry off after my shower at the end of the ride? In desperation, I decided to take one of the hotel towels. I asked Corinne to please tell the front desk so that she could pay for it when checking out. (What a goodie goodie.)

With a sleepy kiss goodbye and the bag slung over my shoulder, I rode the two miles down the hill to the Host and the starting line. Parked my bike in the 20+ mph area (I was early, so I got a pretty good spot), took my shoes off, and went inside for breakfast.

Took my shoes off? Yes. As goofy as it might sound to just walk around in my socks, the ground was dry and I was a lot more comfortable than everybody else who was walking around in cleats. I'll note that I seemed to start a mini-trend, too: lots of people in the starting area saw my big feet (in the free, white PMC socks), and immediately bent down to do the same thing. :-)


Breakfast consists of a long row of tables piled high with juices, yogurts, muffins, trail mixes, fruits, cereals, danishes, and COFFEE. Really, really strong coffee. Curl your toes and straighten your hair coffee.

It's always insane at the Host on Saturday morning. Being early helped, there wasn't much of a line, but by the time I was sitting down to eat the line was hundreds of people long. At least everybody was in a good mood!

Mike Lucas said recently that this weekend of riding is our reward for working so hard to raise the money for the Jimmy Fund. (Well said, Mike.) I think that's how nearly everyone feels, and you could tell by the excitement in the room. As everybody woke up, they smiled a lot and were eager to start moving.

Didn't see any of my friends at breakfast. (Steve, Jim, Chris, Dave, Mike, Mark, or Andy. Forget anyone?) The guys I sat with were very chatty, a couple of them complained about how little sleep they got. I couldn't help myself: I told them I'd slept like a baby after wearing myself out the day before. Thankfully, these guys were all multi-year riders and didn't get all googly-eyed like the folks at dinner last night, they just teased me about "200 miles not being enough for some people."

(Note that the Huckleberry ride only happens by word of mouth, so if we want people to keep doing it we need to talk about it at least a little! Yeah, that's why I keep mentioning it! Really!)

Starting Line

The only thing I forgot to do before leaving the hotel room was fill my water bottles with cold gatorade from our cooler. Darn, that meant I'd be starting with room-temperature Poland Spring that's donated to the PMC every year (many pallets of it). Eh, oh well. It's probably better to start with water anyway.

I went back to my bike, and started looking around for some of the crew. Nope... nope... nope... "Seth." Looking around. Ah, there's Steve, staring at me, standing with his and Mike's bikes. There was room for him to come over with me, but Mike wasn't there yet and he didn't want to try to schlep two bikes through the crowd. (Unfortunately, if you start more than three feet apart in this crowd, you'll be lucky to see each other again until one of the water stops.)

Billy went up on a high, mechanized platform so everyone could see him. He reminded us at least three times that we were not, under any circumstances, to "clip in" until we were out of the parking lot. It's too dangerous, nobody wants to start the day with a crash, etc., etc. (He also took credit for the great weather we were going to have all weekend, according to the weathermen.) Then someone that he claimed was going to be the next American Idol sang the National Anthem (she was VERY good), we counted down the last ten seconds to 6:00, and we were off.

Most everyone around me clipped in immediately. Oy! I straddled the bike and shuffled up the parking lot's slope to the entrance before getting on the pedals, but... oy again! I got to shuffle past the NECN camera. The straddle shuffle looks really dorky, and of course they played it on the air. I've seen it, and no, I'm not linking to that pround moment in my weekend. ;-)

I warmed up at about 18 mph for a couple miles, then started picking it up by drafting other riders who were obviously in a big hurry. Guys who clearly weren't in very good shape (that's not an insult, just a fact), but were excited by the event and were starting out at 22 - 24 mph. They'd regret pushing it so hard later, but I felt pretty good and those speeds are a lot easier when you're drafting. (When I didn't have anyone to draft, I maintained ~21.)

John Kerry, and the First Water Stop

"Wow, that guy looks haggard. His face is so long..." I thought. D'oh! I'd just caught up with John Kerry. The man is fast, especially for his age.

Unfortuantely -- and I really mean that -- I didn't have anything clever to say to him. Two years ago, when he threw me an elbow in the lunch line, I joked with him about being in favor of the draft. This year, on my bike, I had nothing.

"No security with you this year?" I asked. "Oh, they're around," he replied.

I looked around. There was a van a ways back behind us, and he had a microphone clipped to his jersey. Huh. I gues he learned something, riding for a day in Lance's support car this summer.

"You're pretty quick. You and Bush should have just settled it with a bike race." Oh man, did I just say that!? That's some real creative conversation-making at twenty-two miles per hour, there, slick.

(Remember that Bush is a mountain biker, when he's not choking on pretzels or blowing something up.)

"You're not the first one to say that," he replied, sounding like I was putting him to sleep. I don't think he was very happy that I had recognized him in the first place. Props for being out there at all, though.

We'd reached the first water stop. Senators don't go to water stops with the rest of us, though. They have domestiques -- nay, Secret Service Domestiques -- to bring them food and water at the raise of a hand. (Lance should have tried that, since these domestiques could shoot anyone that gets in the way, or incarcerate them at Guantanamo Bay, or whatever.) I turned in for some Gatorade and a PBJ sandwich (and ice-cold melon!), but "John" just rode on through.

Steve and Mike skipped the first water stop, and so got a little ahead of me.

Going Down

I was ready for the hill where I hit 54 mph last year, and was determined to top that speed. (Last year, I didn't even know I'd gone that fast until the second water stop when someone asked me to look at the max speed on my odomoter.)

After spending a little too much time at the water stop, I had let a bunch of people get ahead of me again. The lane was totally crowded, and instead of flying down the hill at 55+ I had to keep hitting my brakes and never made it over 49. That's not bad, but I hit those speeds on my training rides at home! Bummer.

Second Water Stop

The second stop is a little over 40 miles into the ride. Steve and Mike were just getting off their bikes when I pulled in. My average speed to this point was about 20.3 mph.

I filled up my bottle with ice and gatorade, and (of course) slurped down some more melon. One of the pedal partners was there... I think he was Mike's, but I'm still not clear on that point. Cute kid, though. By the time we left he had debossed, rubber bracelets (like the original Live STRONG band) in just about every color of the rainbow plus black. His Dad took a picture of he and Steve posing with their bracelets.

John Thomas pulled in, I stepped over for a quick hello. John's the guy who called us both "clydesdales" in 2003 when we rode most of the first day together. (I'm in better shape than I was then, and am finally riding a bike that fits me, but I'll always be a clydesdale.) John's a nice guy, and seemed happy to see me. I'd been looking for him since Friday afternoon, so it was good to know he was there and riding well again.


Mike, Steve and I left together. The next stop would be lunch, at about mile 67 in Dighton. We rode together for awhile, but I got a little absent-minded on a hill and sort of broke away from them. (I have a bad habit of not checking the riders behind me when I'm pulling.) We were all a bit tired from yesterday, I was maybe just slightly less tired.

There was a slight route change from last year. This pushed the lunch stop out to mile 71. You might think that a few miles wouldn't make much difference, but when you're hot and hungry those few miles seem to go on forever!

When I stopped for lunch, my average speed was down to 20.1 mph. Steve and Mike pulled in just a minute or two behind me, just as Mark and Andy were leaving. Steve's Mom and Dad, and two of his boys (Paul, 14, and Dan, 10), were there waiting for him so he was happy. Steve rides for his Mom, who has survived cancer more than once, and it's always good to have your kids there, focusing on what you're doing, "learning from the old man" (so to speak).

I grabbed a sandwich, some chips, fruit, and a couple of drinks, parked my butt under the tent in the grass and relaxed. I didn't know anybody around me, but everybody talks to everybody at the PMC so that didn't really matter.

Mike seemed to know all of the volunteers. He grew up in Berkley, and still lives in the vicinity, so I guess he may have actually known them all. I could see him from where I was sitting, and everybody "had to" stop and talk to him, give him a hug. Guess it helps, too, that he's been doing this ride forever.

Nancy (Steve's mom), Steve, Dan, and Paul Davis pose with the 2004 Red Sox World Series Trophy

After twenty-five minutes I was ready to leave again, but wanted to finish the day with Mike and Steve. Mike wasn't yet done with what looked like a receiving line (the man really does know everybody), and Steve was still cooling off and enjoying time with his family. So, I waited, chatting with Clan Davis.

Steve thought he was ready to go, but then he wanted to have his picture taken with his son Michael (I think) and the Red Sox World Series trophy, which was set up on a table for just that purpose. So I waited a little longer (there was a line).

Dave Schlageter and Steve Davis pose with the 2004 Red Sox World Series Trophy
(photo by Paul Davis)

Steve thought he was ready to go again, but then Dave Schlageter pulled in, and Steve wanted his picture taken with Dave and the World Series trophy. So, guess what? I waited a little more. Hey man, this isn't a race! (I have to keep telling myself that...)

Steve thought he was ready to go again, but now it was my turn! Hah! I just had to refill my bottles. Steve didn't wait! Sneaky git. (Actually, he rode very slowly until I was on my bike, which does count as waiting.)

My Butt

That's right, my butt. Shortly after lunch I started to realize just how much time I'd spent on that bike over the last two days. Darn saddle sores.

Still, my legs felt ok.

Finishing Up

With all the walking and slow-motion riding at the lunch stop and the last two water stops, my average speed started doing the "one step forward, two steps back" dance.

Mike hooked up with us again at the next water stop. Steve was parked on the ground, laying back against a huge pile of bagged ice. I was trying to find a hole in the ice I could climb into, or some way to build an igloo. No luck.

The ice was one of my favorite improvements of this year. There was more ice at each water stop than I saw at all of the stops during both of the last two years, combined. I'm not exaggerating! They probably had a new donor. With the cost of ice at the stores these days, this was a pretty big donation.

Three-seater tandem. You can see a video of this bike in action on NECN.
Photo by Steve Davis

(I'm not saying the weather was bad. It was warm, but we were extra hot because of what we did yesterday.)

I pulled for the last few miles into Bourne and the Mass Maritime Academy. Or, I would have if Steve hadn't decided that we needed to draft a tandem! Actually it was pretty cool, being the only three-seater I've ever seen. They had almost no power going up hills, though, so the draft didn't last long. (That's Steve's picture of the bike.)

There were less than 200 bikes in the lot when we pulled in. A lot less than last year, when we spent even more time at lunch than we did this year, but still more than the year before. It's not a race!

Stats: 113.1 miles (182.0 km) in 5h 46' 55" for an average speed of 19.56 mph (31.49 kph).

Page last updated: 8/13/2005

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