I'm Pedaling for Penny for my 2nd go-around (here is Edin's post from 2017). My mom, Penny (Stephanie) Randall, passed away 2 years ago from Acute Myeloid Leukemia, and I’m riding the PMC again in memory of her.
Reflecting on my first PMC experience, I have a vivid memory of smiling at Mile 110, as I finally settled behind a 6’5” man, in a paceline of 10 riders. After managing alone for the first 10 miles of Day 2, I followed more experienced PMC cyclists into a paceline and was magically pulled into the streamline of riders in front of me, through a nasty headwind and along massive rolling hills. The tough ride was quickly made manageable by the help of others…and the metaphor didn’t escape me.
After almost 12 years of cycling as a triathlete, where pacelines are not permitted, I had never truly experienced the benefits of a paceline. A paceline is, “a formation in which riders travel in a line, one close behind the other, in order to conserve energy by riding in the draft of the riders in front. This enables the group to travel at a faster rate than any of the riders in the group could do alone.” The bike leg in triathlon is quite different – it is essentially a “time trial” in which a racer maintains the maximum sustainable pace he/she can go without help from other riders. So, during all of my years' training for and racing triathlons, I had been conditioned to rely only on myself, with the outcome totally reliant on my individual effort.
This ran counter to how I managed the physical challenge of the PMC and coped with the emotional challenge of recovering from the loss of my mom. I could not have done either alone.
During the entirety of the PMC experience, I was carried by the vibrancy and passion of the supporters, volunteers, spectators, and other riders. The power of my “paceline” was evident the moment I decided to sign up for the PMC. I was invited by a veteran PMC’er (Stephanie Levin – 25 years of PMC riding/volunteering!) to join Erica’s Entourage – a team composed of excellent cyclists who have been part of the PMC since its inception. I felt like a VIP, training with some of the best and most experienced PMC riders before I even started. And it continued when I raised $9,000 with the help of the unprecedented support from my friends and family.
The effects of the “drafting” intensified once I finally arrived at Sturbridge to start the PMC. The sheer number of people who rode, volunteered to help the event run like butter, and came out to support the PMC riders was breathtaking. I was energized by the poignant stories told by Living Proof riders during the Opening Ceremonies, moved when I cycled under a larger-than-life American flag hung by local firemen, and overwhelmed as I rode by countless spectators holding signs that read, “I’m alive now because of you!” and “The PMC saved my child’s life – thank you!” My body thanked the efforts of all who volunteered – they prepared great food, gave soothing massages, and smiled brightly with words of encouragement. And I was energized to finish the final 60 miles after my family braved the rain to cheer me on with posters and hugs. The experience was truly unforgettable!
I’m excited to embark on my 2nd PMC, and I know now that I can do it by relying on the energy of all of the people around me.