Why I Ride: Pan-Mass Challenge 2018
“When you run a marathon, the crowd is giving you encouragement and telling you “You can do it!”. When you ride the Pan-Mass Challenge, the crowd is there to say “Thank you for riding!”
- Billy Starr, Founder / CEO – Pan-Mass Challenge
I rode the Pan-Mass Challenge for the first time in 2017 and was so overwhelmed by the movement that Billy Starr and his incredible PMC team have built that I made a promise to myself to ride every year for the rest of my life.
Since moving to Boston from Germany in 1994, I was always vaguely aware of the PMC but really wasn’t sure what it was or why it was different than other fundraisers or non-profits. We all get fundraising emails from friends, family, work colleagues, neighbors every week, not to mention the “junk” mail we get in our mailbox. Each cause is worthy. Each one represents people, families and loved ones in need. Impossible to say that one is more deserving than another.
When I decided to ride in my first PMC in 2017, it was because our team at Breakaway got involved as a sponsor and partner and I felt obligated. And if I’m brutally honest, it was really for me. To prove to myself that I could do something difficult as i turned 50. (Yes, I know, I look 30. Thanks.) To set a goal and attain it. And to try something new. I knew it would be hard to ride 200 miles on a bike from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA, not to mention the training that goes into it and the challenge of the fundraising commitment of $5,000.
So if we're being honest, it was really a mid-life crisis thing. (You can tell in this video for WBZ TV that i really don't know why i'm riding but trying to make a case for it.)
But what I found is that becoming part of the PMC had very little to do with me. The world’s strongest, most powerful brands and organizations are ones who are purpose-driven – they’re on a mission to create change and improve lives. They often feel more like movements. Not just thousands of people moving on bikes. But hundreds of thousands of people helping to rid the world of “The C Word” - cancer.
I was instantly part of something much bigger than riding a bike, or me becoming a MAML (Middle-Aged Man in Lycra) to complete a challenge.
For the entire 3 days of PMC weekend – all along the roads, at every rest stop and from everyone lining the route, all I heard was “Thank you for riding!” Whether from a volunteer. Another long-term rider. A family sitting on the roadside holding up pictures of cancer patients in their family. Or pediatric cancer patients themselves. Or from PMC Living Proof riders – cancer survivors who ride the PMC annually.
The training, the miles, the weather and the fundraising are all hard. And yeah – the hills and the miles suck. But the pain goes away very quickly when you see children with cancer cheering you on. Its impossible not to be motivated when you know that the thousands of riders and volunteers are helping the team at Dana-Farber is getting closer to a cure every day that will help those children you see. And their families.
I’ll be psyched to complete another 2 day, 192 mile ride across MA this August. But I’ll be honored to help deliver the cure for cancer by bicycle.
In 2018 and for as many years as I can.
That’s why I ride.
#WhyIRide #PanMass2018 #BreakingAway
About the Pan-Mass Challenge
The PMC is the world’s largest sports-related fundraiser, raising over $51 million in 2017 and nearly $600 million since 1980, every dollar of which has gone directly to Boston’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. More about the PMC at their website.