Why I PMC & Thank You - Lisa Patterson

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Bill Alfano

Why I PMC & Thank You - Lisa Patterson

Thank you note / guest blog by Lisa Patterson

Thank you for your very generous donation to my 1-day Pan-Mass Challenge ride of 111 miles from Sturbridge to Bourne. It was a very hot humid day in the high 80s, but so much better than last year’s ride, which was the coldest and wettest ride ever in PMC history!

I almost didn’t ride due to a mindless fall the day before when I sprained a ligament in my foot (did not know if I had broken a bone, since I didn’t get it diagnosed until Sunday), but was still able to ride with the help of a stiff bike shoe that kept my foot immobile while my legs pedaled. A few years ago I had sprained my ankle while hiking and did not ride, next year I think I will just stay rooted on my couch the week before I ride!

Each year I write my top 10 observations that I experienced while riding in the PMC that I like to share on this very inspirational and magical day. Sorry for the length of this letter, but a lot happens while riding 111 miles!

1.This was my first time starting from Sturbridge along with more than 3,500 other PMC riders.  PMC takes over a hotel, grounds, parking lot and conference center. The air is electric with like-minded volunteers and riders all excited about the night and next day activities. The televised Opening Ceremonies are extraordinary as cancer survivors and riders all convey their messages to inspire us to ride such a long distance and ask for your donation to beat cancer. Sadly, the reality of our times since the Boston Marathon sets in when you see so many police and bomb-sniffing dogs in the very large crowd.

2. Say “Sturbridge” and all you hear from riders are “oh, the hills are tough…” well that is true as I found out. As I reached the top of one hill, I told a spectator on the side of the road, “I’ll switch with you”, as I looked at his motorcycle, he smiled and said, “That is one bad-ass hill”. I said, “My sentiments exactly” 

3. On this same hill – a man with a prosthetic leg pedals up the hill besides you.

4. Along your ride, you meet volunteers as well as riders. At mile 42, a volunteer, Diane, greeted me when I got off my bike with gallon jug of water. She thanked me for riding and likewise I thanked her for volunteering. She said it was her first year as a volunteer and her second year as a cancer survivor.

5. Along the route, the spectators are cheering you on with signs, blowing horns and thanking us for riding. I’ve said this before, you feel like a rock star when you see the sign that says “YOU ROCK”! There are streets that I feel are in competition for the most noise and decorations! One is Cherry Street in Wrentham, named the “Mile of Hope”. They had bagpipers and drummers with a balloon arch across the street. The other street is in Plainville and they had a Calypso band and a bubble machine.

6. Two signs propped up that read: “Cancer at 3”, next one reads, “Now I’m 14”. 

7.  We attach name tags to the bike bags under our seats, so you can say hello by name to your fellow cyclists. One cyclist I recognized from Duxbury who was at a Heavy Hitter dinner a few years ago with his twentyish-year old daughter, both had cancer at the same time. The dinner was the night before her marriage and they both spoke with their doctors about their treatment together. He had pinned to the back of his PMC cycling jersey “Father Survivor”, and riding next to him was a man who had “Daughter Survivor” on his jersey. So, I asked him are you riding for the father and daughter that were at the Heavy Hitter dinner a few years ago? He said he was and that he was riding for his wife, the “Daughter Survivor” and she was not riding since she was pregnant now with their third child! He said she rides every other year and has been pregnant the other years! Great outcome for all 3 riders!

Some more poignant moments of riders that I saw…

One man I saw with a beautiful black and white photograph of what appeared to be a photo of a young wife and her very young daughter, which read, “I ride for my wife Lisa”. Behind him was his daughter, in her late teens, she too had a photo of a young mother with her very young daughter and it read, “I ride for my mother”.  It appeared that there were no recent photos. I asked  her if she was in the photo and she said “yes”. I told her the photos were beautiful, she beamed back a smile and said ‘thank you’.

I noticed two men with the same beautiful photograph of a very young woman pinned on their backs. Without saying a word, the older of the two rode past not saying a word to the younger man, up the hill with a burst of energy, the younger man saw him and followed with the same vigor. It appeared to me they needed no words, just inspiration from the woman in the photo.

8. At the Lakeville water stop is the PMC Pedal Partner Tent where the Pedal Partners can greet their Team members. Pedal Partners are children in treatment for cancer or who are cancer survivors. As we pedaled to the water stop, at least 40 Pedal Partner Posters were placed ¼ mile before the water stop along the side of the road. The very first poster was that of Poppy, my Team Perini’s Pedal Partner. Poppy is 3-years old and is a cancer survivor! The very last poster was of Sophia, another Team Perini Pedal Partner. Sophia is 8-years old and is currently in treatment and doing great! One Pedal Partner, Beatrix, was standing next to her poster while her dad was taking her photo. Don’t need more inspiration than that to ride.

9. We pass through 40 towns and the police help us cross the streets at intersections. We always thank them and they wish us well. As we crossed one intersection, one officer took his hand and placed it over his heart. I was really moved by this, perhaps he was thinking of someone he loved with cancer.

10. When we reached Mass Maritime in Bourne, it is a happening place! There is a huge tent with over 6,000 riders and volunteers, a band, delicious food, beverages of all kinds, teams meeting for team photos, a huge bike parking lot with thousands of bikes, and 15-minute massages! I got a massage as soon as I showered and didn’t have to wait in line since I was a Heavy Hitter from last year’s donations. Thank you if you supported me last year! We had a well-deserved dinner, great conversations with Team Perini members and made new friends. One especially memorable conversation was with a father who told us about Team Abby who formed this team for his then 4-year daughter who had cancer, who is now 13. Such a thankful and happy father!

A great ending to an amazing day! Thank you for “riding” along with me.

Lots of love and thanks, Lisa

(I'm in the middle with Mary Kenyon, 9 year rider, on left and Melissa Robin, 11 year rider, on right. We have origami paper cranes on our helmet. There were made for Jaqueline Desai, former Team Perini and South Shore Kids Ride Pedal Partner, who passed away from osteosarcoma when she was 18 years old.  We have fastened them to our helmets since she died 4 years ago.)