As many of you know by now, this past weekend I rode in the PMC with my sons, Jacob & Sam, and my husband Eddie. Before I say another word, I want to thank everyone for your support, be it emotional, financial, spiritual, humorous, or in the form of helping my family and me logistically make this happen. There are so many different aspects to doing the PMC…from buying a bike & gear to training, from figuring out how/when to get a ride to Sturbridge to coordinating pick-up in Boston, from packing lightly (???) to packing the right gear (waterproof would have been helpful), and then to add two teenagers into the mix and making sure they are covered and all set…it’s slightly crazy to manage. And then, there’s the fundraising. Always the fundraising. Lots of moving pieces, and luckily, a big enough support system to make it happen with ease. For that, I am forever grateful. Many thanks to each & every one of you who pitched in to help us make this happen. We could not have done it without each & every one of you…you know who you are.
This year was particularly emotional for me, perhaps because of age/perspective, and also because I was surrounded by the majority of my family. Each year this ride has more and more of an impact on me. This was my 8th year doing the ride, and my 5th year connected with Tommy, our Pedal Partner. This year was the year of the pig.
There are multiple water stops along the PMC route, but the one that pierces my heart is water stop number 4 – the Pedal Partner stop. The road leading up to this stop is decorated with huge pictures of kids who are fighting cancer & who have partnered with a PMC team to become that team’s Pedal Partner. The poster-size pictures grab your attention and instantly form a lump in your throat. Face after face after face after face. Tommy wasn’t able to make it to the PMC this year because he had an MRI scheduled. On a Saturday. Because when you have cancer, you can’t just deal with it Monday through Friday. Tommy’s mother sent our team an email Saturday morning telling us what Tommy’s schedule would be that day, so ‘if we ever needed inspiration along the ride, we could look at the time and think of what Tommy was doing at that moment.’ This year, in honor of Tommy, we found out that his favorite animal/cartoon is a pig, and my teammates and I decorated our helmets with stuffed little pigs. (Chloe M – a huge thank you to you for coordinating this effort, for finding the pigs, putting them into bags with pipe cleaners & a good luck note to boot…I love you & think you are amazing).
The pigs had a wild & wet ride this weekend. Some made it the entire way on helmets, others ended up napping in back pockets, and mine landed a ride right behind my handle bars.
The pigs got drenched. The pigs got dirty. The pigs sparked a lot of conversations among the many PMC riders…a few of my favorites revolved around whether the pig was helping me pedal, if the pig trained for the ride, if the pig had bacon for breakfast, if the pig was waterlogged…etc etc.
For me, the pig on my frame reminded me why I do the PMC. I would look down at my computer to see how far we had gone, see the pig, think of Tommy, think of his mother’s email, and try to fight back the tears, the reality & unfairness of cancer.
My team & my family finished the ride without issue or major injuries. The riding conditions were horrible and dangerous, cold & unfriendly, and yet 5,700 people rode their bikes, and 3,700 volunteers showed up and helped in the pouring rain and hundreds upon hundreds more people gathered on the road along the entire route, ringing cow bells, blowing bubbles, playing bagpipes, drumming on anything metal, dancing, coffees in hand, toddlers by their sides. Some dressed up in costumes – I saw two lobsters, one pilgrim and many kilts. Da Hedge, otherwise known as the Cape Cod Sea Camp was in full force this year, wearing Vineyard Vines pink foam whales on their heads. Perhaps the most striking image from the weekend was the elderly veteran who stood alone in the fog and drizzle at 5am on Sunday, silently saluting the riders.
I met Tommy and his family last night at Kimballs and gave my pig to Tommy. For Tommy, it’s just another stuffed animal that hopefully will make him giggle and brighten his days. For me, the pig will always represent PMC 2014 and the fact that we cannot stop fighting to find a cure.