A Helping Hand: Pan Mass Recap

Pan Mass Challenge 2014 – what a weekend. As I sit down to write this, I think I’ve finally dried off from 12 hours of riding in the rain. Saturday morning we got on our bikes at around 6:30am, and within about an hour it started drizzling, which, by after lunch (10am) turned into a downpour.

Thursday and Friday my dad and I were whining about the weather and how uncomfortable it’d be both days. Thursday night, our team captains Aime (has been battling cancer for 9 years) and Greg were on TV sharing their story of her personal fight against cancer, and how she’d be out there to ride the last 3 miles with us. That really put my complaints into perspective. Our goal is to bike to Provincetown while raising money to help those that are struggling with a whole lot more than rain and cold. The least we could do is suck it up and quit the whining about how, for only two days, we’ll be a little (a lot) uncomfortable.

In his words: “I whined a bit about the weather Friday evening, but then I watched highlights of the PMC opening ceremonies and remembered what’s at stake. I told myself “Shut up and ride.” Sure, it was cold and uncomfortable, but at the end there was a hot shower and a lot of food and drink. Riding is easy. Raising money is easy. Dealing with cancer day after day is not.”

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Motivation comes in many forms

Saturday’s ride was slower than last year due to the rain, and pretty memorable. One of my favorite and most motivated climbs comes just before the second or third rest stop of the day. It’s a quarter mile climb with photos of children battling cancer along the right side of the road. I attacked this hill with everything I had, thinking of the kids going through a whole lot more discomfort, which makes the burn a whole lot easier. I didn’t see an inch of pavement during that climb… My eyes were glued to the names of the toddlers and little kids fighting for their lives.

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Pedal Partners

As the day went on, the rain started coming down harder. We carried on, and eventually ended up in Bourne after about 85 miles of riding. Great time to experience rain on the bike for the first time…

While we were on the bike, the rain and cold didn’t have too bad of an impact (it beats the heat!) though once we stopped, we instantly became uncomfortably cold, which a long hot shower eventually fixed.

Day two brought another 7am start (very late compared to the 5am start most people had) and a bit of rain to start the day again. We had hoped our gear would dry off, but just about everything was still wet when we set off in the morning.

I started off day 2 with some pretty tired legs, which I blame my training for. My longest ride of the season was 55 miles, compared to 75 last year, and I did very few back to back long rides. I did one long ride on a Saturday after Summit Ave repeats, which helped a little with fatigue training, but I could’ve done a lot better. Despite riding half as many training miles as last year, my muscles feel great as of noon on Monday. Thanks ENERGYbits.

Around mile 30 we rolled into my favorite rest stop – Nickerson State Park, which is the lunch stop for day 2, and has the feel of a giant party for athletes. The music was loud and everyone was smiling. The sun starting to peek out definitely helped. I spent a few minutes on the ice couch (exactly what it sounds like and yes, it’s awesome), and then off we went. 38 miles to P-Town and 18 to the next rest stop.

Nickerson State Park

One of the biggest hills of the whole ride came prior to the last rest stop. It’s probably a half mile climb and I remember it being a whole lot nastier last year than it was this year. My dad always sprints up it as long as he can, so this year I decided to see how far I could go. Made it halfway up in full sprint… double what I did last year. Thanks November Project.

We met up with the rest of our team at the next stop and after refueling (more on that at the end) said we’d meet up 3 miles from the finish with Aime and Greg.

The next 20 miles between the last stop and the finish are the hardest miles of the entire ride, and not just because it’s the last hour of 12 hours of riding. Truro brings steep rolling hills, and Provincetown brings a fierce headwind. Knowing that we’d be taking it easy after meeting up with the team right near the finish, my dad and I gave it everything we had along route 6 into that headwind. We had been cruising along at 21/22 miles an hour and kicked it up to around 23-25 for the last couple of miles, taking turns pulling and drafting.

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“A Helping Hand”

3 miles from the Provincetown Inn finish line we met up with Aime, Greg and the rest of the team. Greg helped push Aime along to the finish… It was a beautiful sight and the epitome of the entire weekend.

We crossed the finish line with family and friends right there to congratulate us. While one of the best parts about the PMC is that the entire course is lined with people cheering strangers on, there’s nothing better than familiar faces when it’s over.

While this year’s Pan Mass weekend is over, the fight against cancer certainly is not. We may have crossed the finish line, but there’s a lot left before we’re actually done. Our goal this year is to raise $40 million, and we could use your help! 

To everyone that has donated, thank you so much. To my friends and family that have supported me in other ways, thank you. To November Project: thank you for the accountability and continued inspiration to keep moving, no matter the circumstance… All of those cold/wet/rainy winter mornings helped me power through this weekend. #WeatherProof for sure.

finish line

Another rewarding finish line

For those interested, here’s my fueling plan:

Day 1 (85 miles, 6.5 total hours including stops)

Breakfast was Nature’s Path’s Qi’a which is hemp, chia and buckwheat, along with coffee.

ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits 20 minutes prior to riding.

I had 2.5 servings of GenUCAN 45 minutes prior to riding, as well as 2.5 hours in to the ride, which was around lunch, where I had two eggs, pickles, lettuce and tomatoes with coconut water from Zico, a sponsor of the PMC.

ENERGYbits every 20 miles. I also had a “Sticky Bun” (sweet and salty) Lara Bar around mile 68, and Nuun electrolyte tablets every other water bottle, resulting in 3 tablets total.

I nibbled on one Picky Bar throughout both days.

No hunger issues at all, and felt steady energy the entire time.

Day 2 (68 miles and 5.5 hours total)

Same chia cereal for breakfast. Had UCAN 45 minutes prior, along with ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits (helps with lactic acid buildup while exercising).

One hour in (about 15 miles) had PocketFuel (Vanilla Haze flavor) and a serving of ENERGYbits. I was a lot hungrier already, so I went with more calories earlier in the ride as well as throughout.

30 miles in (a little under 2 hours) I had more UCAN with ENERGYbits and bananas topped with peanut butter.

At mile 48 (3.75 hours) I had ENERGYbits, RECOVERYbits and more bananas with peanut butter which carried me through to the end.

After both days I had Vega Recovery Accelerator immediately post-ride, as well as ENERGYbits and RECOVERYbits. Had Health Warrior’s chia bars later in the day too. I felt MUCH better after this ride compared to last year, where I ate a Larabar about every hour. Had some stomach issues on Sunday last year after the ride, and I’m guessing eating 10+ Larabars in two days.

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2013 food for the ride

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2014 food for the ride