Monday, June 28, 2010

For $10k I will.....ride a "true" Pan-Mass Challenge

Last year, I rode the "original" PMC route, or "the long one," which goes from Sturbridge to Bourne to Provincetown. On the ferry back from Provincetown, I got introspective (which seems to happen) and got hung up on the meaning of the words (which seems to happen): "Pan Mass Challenge." Challenge I got no issue with! "Pan Mass," however, was somehow offensive. "How can it be the PAN-Mass Challenge if it only goes from CENTRAL Mass to southeastern Mass and then out to the pointy little tip of the Cape?" I asked. "Really, it'd have to go from the northwestern-most corner of the state to really be a PAN-Mass Challenge." I concluded.

So, of course, I plotted a route, which is approximated below.

"That's a stupid idea" said my very intelligent wife. "Yup," I thought and said. That it is, and I'm just the idiot to think about it.

And I'll do it if there's $10k in my PMC fundraising account by 11:59pm on July 31. That'd make my ride about 276 miles over 3 days.

I know it's possible, but pretty darned hard for me to do alone. What do you think? Can you help? You can donate yourself, but it's MUCH more likely to happen if you invite your whole network to donate, too. $10k is only $100 from 100 people, or $10 from 1,000. I bet you know 100 who could and would give $10.....

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Sunday, June 13, 2010


Today was the annual Susan McDaniel Run for Love here inn Weston. A great event with devoted champions, Margaret Randle and Jim McDaniel, Susan's parents. Oh yeah, Kevin Youkilis is also a supporter through his Hits For Kids Foundation. :)

After the race, our friend Lydia said "That was so much fun! There were people cheering for us all the way. I like it when people cheer for me." She went on to say "I wish people would cheer for me when I'm driving kids in a carpool," so I "encouraged" her kids to cheer when she gives them rides, or makes their lunches, or comes to their performances or games. We'll see if that one sticks!

And then I encouraged her to ride the PMC. It's a cheering-fest where thousands, if not tens of thousands, cheer the riders on and say thank you, thank you, thank you for us for riding our bikes. The MOST outrageous example of this is "Da Hedge" on the Cape, where a couple of hundred kids sound like ten thousand. The PMC is a unique event, and a unique experience. I'm looking forward to my fifth!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

PMC Haiku

Ride the PMC
Eradicate cancer soon.
Closer by the mile.

Friday, June 04, 2010

A PMC Family Weekend

This Sunday, our entire family will join the PMC Community together. The boys are riding and the girls are volunteering in the Weston-Wellesley kids ride.

Wish us dry weather, please!

If you'd like to contribute to Max's PMC ride, please visit his profile page. There's no fundraising minimum, unlike the $4000+ I get to raise ;) More on that later. If you'd like to create a virtual cyclist, festooned in ugly spandex of your choice, join my "PMC Paceline.

If you'd like to chat, please call or email me anytime on 781-333-8686

Sunday, May 30, 2010

68 Days, 50 Miles, 5+ animals, Wonderful People

68 days to the PMC and Team Avanti did a gorgeous, gorgeous 50-miler from Weston to Dover and back. On my way out of the driveway at 5:45 a.m., I rode between two turkeys. I saw another when we got back into Weston.

As we rode through some of the most beautiful countryside on aptly-named Farm Road (Dover, I think), near the head of the Charles River, we came upon the first of two LARGE snapping turtles. The big fella was right in the middle of the road, sunning his belly on the quickly-warming pavement. We stopped and I moved him to the side of the road -- not an easy task as he was large, wet, very snappy, and substantially covered with some very unattractive slimy stuff. The picture is of a MUCH more attractive turtle.

The route took us up Strawberry Hill Road to Wilsondale Avenue, where a best friend, Lalla, grew up with her delightful siblings and her wonderful parents, Charlie and Bootsie, both of whom I ride the PMC to honor. If there has ever been a nicer couple, I haven't meant them. My son Charlie has a bear he named Bootsie. 'Nuff said. Soon, I hope, the tears will stop.
If you'd like to allow me to ride the 2010 PMC to honor a loved one -- family, friend, or otherwise -- who has battled cancer, please send me an email or click the button to call me anytime.

And if you'd like to support the cutting edge research to eradicate cancer, please visit my PMC Paceline, where you can make a donation and create a virtual rider.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

75 Days; 40 Miles Today

Today was the first "real" ride of the season -- Team Avanti hit the roads at 6 a.m., and not a moment too soon, for the PMC is only 75 days away. We rode the "Eastern European" to Carlisle and Concord, though nobody knows why it's called that. One thought is that the stone walls evoke Eastern Europe. More likely, some crazy Eastern European came out and screamed at bikers who were making too much noise at 6:20 some Sunday morning. Can't you just see a "frau" in a housecoat with a straw broom screaming while here husband, wearing black pants and suspenders, looks on with a dour look? Hey, it made the ride that much more fun.

See the GPS trace from our rocket-scientist 'mate, who's just back from "Oz" and New Zealand.

Do you know Ros McLean (right). She's a great friend who was profiled in the PMC Yearbook. Among all the other things she did was jump out of an airplane.

Monday, January 18, 2010

200 Days to the 31st Pan Mass Challenge

It's 200 days until the 31st Pan Mass Challenge on August 7-8, 2010. I'll be riding again from Sturbridge to Provincetown and looking to my friends and family to join my Team Avanti again to join the effort to eradicate cancer by funding life-saving research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

In the first five years of riding the Pan Mass Challenge, Team Avanti members have riased $118,458.

I wonder what we can do this year......

When we ride off the starting line in Sturbridge at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 7th, well be wearing the jersey you see here.

I'm thinking about my mom, her sister, her friend, and the friends and family members of so many friends and acquaintances for whom I've had the honor of riding the Pan Mass Challenge.

I hope you'll join me, and that you'll share your loved ones' stories.

To join my "PaceLine," please visit, make a donation of any size, and create your own bike rider on my Paceline.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Pan-Massachusetts Challenge gives $30,384,200 to the Jimmy Fund for 30-year total of $270 million

Official announcement of PMC gift to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (from the PMC blog, and many other places.) I've added bold to the parts that I think are particularly noteworthy. In 2009, Joe Parrish and I riders raised $16,704 and, since our members started riding in 2003, we've cumulatively raised $118,458. My personal total is $45,154.

BOSTON (Saturday, December 5, 2009)— The 2009 Pan-Massachusetts Challenge (PMC) has contributed $30,384,200 to adult and pediatric cancer research and care at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its August cycling event.

This PMC fundraising gift is the single largest contribution made to the Jimmy Fund in 2009, representing 50 percent of the charity’s annual revenue. The funds raised by the 4,937 cyclists of the 2009 PMC brings the organization’s 30-year total Jimmy Fund gift to exactly $270 million.

The organization had set the fundraising goal at $30 million.“Exceeding our fundraising goal in this troubled economy is a tribute to PMC riders’ commitment to raising money for cancer research and care,” said Billy Starr, PMC founder and executive director. “It also shows that people understand the necessity of funding research for this deadly disease.”

The ceremonial check was presented to Dana-Farber President Edward J. Benz, Jr., MD, at the House of Blues Saturday night at a party attended by some 800 PMC cyclists and volunteers. The contribution represents 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar, a charity pass-through rate that is nearly unparalleled within the $3 billion athletic fundraising event industry.

This is possible due to presenting sponsors the Boston Red Sox Foundation and who, along with 200 other corporate sponsors, underwrite the cost of producing the event and provide in-kind contributions of goods and services. In addition, 3,000 volunteers work throughout the year and during PMC weekend, fulfilling many roles that are typically paid positions.

“The money the PMC raises is critical to our work. It enables us to invest in major new patient care and research initiatives that could otherwise go unfunded,” Dr. Benz said. “In this economy, when non-profit organizations are seeing a decrease in private, corporate and federal funding, we are extremely appreciative of the PMC’s extraordinary support.” Dana-Farber is one of the top cancer research and treatment institutes in the country. The PMC is among Dana-Farber’s largest funders.

In 2009, the PMC attracted 4,937 cycling fundraisers from 36 states and eight countries. Each cyclist was required to raise a minimum of between $1,000 and $4,200 to participate, depending on the route chosen. Routes ranged from 47 to 190 miles over one or two days. More than 90 percent of PMCers raised more than their respective fundraising minimum, according to Starr.

Founded in 1980 when 36 cyclists rode across Massachusetts and raised $10,200 for the Jimmy Fund, the PMC is known today as the “gold standard” of athletic fundraising events, due to the unprecedented sums it raises and its consistently efficient charity pass-through rate. In 30 years, 61,606 cyclists have ridden in the PMC and 36,269 people have volunteered to make the PMC such a successful and well-supported event.

The PMC was among the very first athletic fundraising events in the nation and it was a pioneer in the way it focused on raising money for charity.

The 31st annual PMC is set for August 7 and 8, 2010. Registration opens online on January 12 for alumni and January 19 for newcomers. For more information about the Pan-Mass Challenge visit

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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Energizer Bunny; $8,356

Remember the Energizer Bunny that just kept going and going. Well, Team Avanti's supporters just pushed my fundraising tally to $8,356 for 2009. Dare I say that $10k is actually within reach? I'm not pushing, but I know it's possible.

Please invite others to contribute to fund the lifesaving research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at

Thank you!


Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Update: $26 to $8k

And only $32 to my goal of $8006 for 2009. Be the hero that puts Team Avanti over that goal line. Visit -- and join -- my PMC PaceLine at

And here are some links for your entertainment:
The PMC on NPR's "Only a Game:"

Billy Starr: "My Road to the PMC:"

Billy Starr - My Road to the PMC from David Hellman on Vimeo.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Eye Candy (aka "Holy Moly - did you see what that dude just did on the bike?"

This is just INSANE biking.

PMC Trip Report - Sunday

Sunday morning came very quickly. Our alarms rang at 4:30 and we were out the door with Jane at about 5am. Texted Ted from the car - in the dark - and watched as the beauty of the Cape was slowly revealed as we travelled west to Bourne as the sun approached the horizon. As we came into MMA, bikers were streaming out in a steady gush. Ted texted us: “Where are you?” “Approaching.” Jane dropped us, we said our goodbyes, and swam upstream toward the baggage trucks, the huge tent, and the promise of a steamin’ hot egg sandwich, a Sunday morning biking staple. We found Ros - the most devoted and eternally delightful PMC volunteer I know - chatted and then ambled into the tent. Ted texted “Where are you?” “100’ behind you.” It was 5:45am. There were 6 people in the tent. We ate and saddled up by 6:05. There were only about 30 riders still milling around their bikes and we rode out with the sun just over the horizon.

We were almost alone, riding single file out of MMA and toward the Bourne Bridge. Up onto the bridge without a pause for bike traffic and right over the top and down. No brakes required for the descent to the Cape Cod Canal, except for the 120-degree turn at the bottom. Onto the Canal bike path and quickly up to 20mph. Still no traffic. This was awesome. We were riding with people, passing with ease, and being passed with ease. This was a delightful surprise -- in years past, we’ve come to a stop at the base of the bridge and then ridden 4-abreast for the first 20 miles.

Onto 6A in Sandwich where I’d seen Larry Lucchino a couple of times. There he was again, as incognito as ever, but ready for a soft “low 5” as we rode by. He’s a funny guy in person, and wonderfully supportive. Have to be to be out there from 6-7:30 in the morning.

The biggest hill of the morning comes just after the route passes under Route 6 -- oddly we cross and ride on the wrong side of the street before taking a left turn and climbing Service Road leading to six of the best miles on the ride -- rolling hills that are fast. Back onto 6A into Barnstable to the first water stop, which is at the bottom of a fun, fast hill. At the bottom, there was a wise volunteer cautioning you to slow down for the hard right turn and climb into the first water stop.

So as we arrived, having started “so late,” I noticed that there wasn’t much of a crowd, and that some of the volunteers had already started to knock down tables and consolidate. Made sense, given that 85% of the riders had already been there and gone. I got a drink and went for a piece of a Dunkin’ muffin -- wanted the donut but they never get eaten, so they’re not offered. The muffin lady was the only volunteer I spoke to at the stop. I noticed her nametag, “Alexandra,” said she lived in Osterville. “Do you know my great friend Jane?” I asked. “She’s one of my very best friends,” said Sandy. Jane’s husband Gary and son Robbie had been at their house the night before. I’d almost gone with Gary to meet Sandy and Rik Clark, both of whom are very strong PMC supporters. Rik had ridden Saturday and was the wise volunteer cautioning us to slow down just minutes before. I rode back out, met him, and then we left.

The second water stop is at mile 38 at Nickerson State Park, just after “Da Hedge” at the Cape Cod Sea Camp in Brewster.
“Da Hedge” is a hedge about 300 feet long that is manned by hundreds of screaming campers. There’s more energy there than anywhere else on the ride; they give you rock star treatment. Then we turned into Nickerson State Park for the water stop with the best music on the Cape. It’s also where I met Jack, a 13-year-old survivor who’s lived with cancer for 11.5 years. That brought me right back to the purpose of the PMC.

We were quick at the water stop because we were a bit late on our plan to meet Rob Rodgers and Rob Mosher at mile 52, just at the other end of of the bike path. We’d planned to be there between 9:15 and 9:30 and ended up arriving at 9:45. I expected to stop and start, but gave a call of “Avanti!” as soon as I saw their bubbly blue jerseys. They started rolling and we kept on going, having a nice reunion as we started and introducing Rob and Rob to Ted. Ted, by the way, is a Team Avanti guy now. Great fit. Funny, nuts, and thoughtful.

We rode together with a growing bunch of riders -- we were a bit faster than the average so we were gaining on folks -- through the first gorgeous piece through the dunes to the final water stop, famous for its ice benches and Gatorade Margueritas. Rather than continuing on the regular route which jumps back on 6A and then 6, we followed the Mosher Alternate Route which took us on the back roads through the hills of the Cape Cod National Seashore. It’s much nicer, and much hillier than the PMC route. It’s now a highlight, especially the hill that climbs to the first view of Provincetown right after a screaming descent.

The rest of the 15 miles is a wild mixture of experiences -- first on a bucolic suburban roll, then along Rt 6 with trucks and beach-goers passing you at 50mph, then a long gentle climb that we somehow were able to take at 21mph, then back into the dunes for the pristine approach to the Provincetown Inn. We stopped at the turn where Ted headed to the family finish and we pointed to the Inn. I challenged Rob Rodgers to race -- a very stupid idea, but I felt really good at the time. I got a good start and then he just dropped in behind me to draft. I gave that up quickly. Rob Mosher reeled us in and we approached the Ptown Inn. We stopped and they planned to turn for the ride back to their to their car at mile 52. With a lot of sadness, I crossed the finish line alone and handed my bike over to the PMC volunteers who’d make sure it got back to Wellesley.

Within seconds, my phone buzzed and Rob told me they were waiting for me in the beer tent. Note: If you’re attired like a biker, you can walk into the riders-only area -- at least this year. I told them not to feel guilty -- their big contributions to the PMC/Jimmy Fund plus their ride earned them a donated Harpoon. We hung out for a while and they departed. I reconnected with Joe, Lisa my classmate, and Lynda the Brevet rider who, quite literally, can ride 400k in a weekend.

After a relaxing afternoon, I ambled off to the Party Boat for the trip home, thinking that Joe Parrish was ahead of me. I walked out as Lynday did and then found Lisa. As we were walking, I called our classmate, Marie, who had told me she'd be in Provincetown too. When I called, she was about two blocks away and came to meet me and Lisa. We visited, briefly, then headed to the boat.

The Party Boat had, as usual, a great band that was tons of fun. As we arrived in Boston Harbor, the Boston Fire Department boat welcomed us, as is the tradition, with full water cannons -- always a spectacular site. The band tried to say "that's all folks" to raucous cheers of encouragement and came back about 5 minutes later saying "Billy Starr says the tradition is to play to the dock, so we're going to play to the dock."

After a long wait, during which I drove the bus a few feet forward, and then the sillies route ever through Weston and Wellesely, we arrived at Babson to gather our bikes and put a close to the weekend. Ros -- of course -- jumped on the bus and said, in her Scottish accent, “Ok, you’re my last! Find your bikes and go home. Then I can too.” It was a fitting end to a wonderful weekend. Again. Thank you for supporting me and the PMC.

PMC Trip Report- Saturday

Saturday started early when Joe’s alarm rang at 3:15 a.m. I had encouraged him to ste leave it until 3:30, maybe even 3:45, but he was eager to be on the first bus to the start. When we walked outside to catch the bus, Karen McKillop was getting into her SUV as her husband David hopped on his bike to ride to the start. She gave us a ride - pretty sweet. David had taken one of the two extra rooms I had at the Green Acres Motel.

I grabbed some breakfast at the Host Hotel and sat down. Joe Andruzzi sat down next -- the dude is one of the few who makes me feel small (which is kinda nice). Very funny guy. I asked if the gawkers ever stopped after the 25th person stopped by to say “hi” and “congratulations” and “you were great last night in the opening ceremonies. Had he not been on the stage the night before, he said, there would have been more “walker stalkers.” He’s used to it, which isn’t to say he loves it.

Ted, Joe and I made our way to our bikes, where Billy Starr did some talking, most importantly telling us our start was on a “Fog Hold” for the first time ever. At about 5:45, the massive crowd of red spandex-clad riders inched out of the parking lot and headed southeast deliberately. We stopped three times in the first mile to adjust various attachments, tires, computers, and then headed to the hills.

For 30 miles or so, there’s almost no flat -- all rolling hills, with the steeper, longer pitches being down. Within the first 10 miles, there’s a long, fast hill with turns near the bottom and, that Saturday, wet spots. One of them claimed a rider a few minutes ahead of us, so as we descended at 35 MPH, we came upon a roach choked down with less space and hundreds of riders frantically braking. With substantial momentum due to my svelt figure (Not!), I had to brake aggressively. My nice road tires combined with the foggy wetness to make it great for skidding. I pumped the brakes, just like on snow in a car without ABS, and muttered “Oh crap! Oh crap! Oh crap” as I gained on the riders in front of me while moving toward the less crowded space to the right. “Whew!” I thought and said as I passed the crash, saw only a little blood, and moved into more open road.

Joe, Ted and I struggled to stay together, first because of the hills, then because of rider traffic, and once because Joe inhaled a bug. He coughed, hooted, and made that gross old man sound to get it out, to no avail. That’s right, only projectile vomitting did the trick. Very happy I didn’t see, hear,or smell that one! On the upside, Joe felt much better after that.

After that, the ride was pretty uneventful for the morning. As always, water stops were great and we met fun people with compelling stories, as well as the wonderful volunteers (who can be a bit odd, as you can see).

As we arrived at the lunch stop, I reminded Joe and Ted that I had to look for my classmate Lisa, a first-time PMC rider, and Colleen, a friend who was a year behind us at Dartmouth and was volunteering at the PMC lunch stop again. As soon as I walked into the tent, I asked the first volunteer I saw “Where’s Colleen?” “Who?” was the reply (of course!). All they could say was “She’s wearing purple” -- just like every one of the 300 volunteers. We collected lunch and Joe spotted some open space at one of the very long tables. He and Ted sat on one side, I on the other. I put down my plate, sat down. As I hit the seat, I turned to say hi to the woman on my left as she turned toward me. We both screamed as we realized I had sat down next to Lisa! 4,000 riders moved through that lunch stop and that’s where I plopped my butt after 60 miles! She’d come from Wellesley and the chances of finding each other were pretty slim. Just about as slim as the chances that I’d found her in the first place.

Back in December, I was thinking about blogging about my PMC experience, and so I went searching for PMC blogs. I found a post entitled “To PMC or Not to PMC” on “Lisa’s Biking Blog” and commented on it, encouraging her strongly to do it. When she saw my comment, she thought “that’s nice of John to encourage me.” Then she thought “I don’t think he could know it’s me; my last name’s not there, and especially not my maiden name” which is how I would have known her. She sent me a note saying “John, it’s me, Lisa W-K. Did you know that when you encourage me to ride?” My response: “Holy crap!” I had no idea! And so, of course, we sat down next to each other under the massive lunch tent and had a delightful visit. Near the end of lunch, I said “I gotta at least try to find Colleen. I wonder where she is.” Not 30 seconds later, she walked behind Joe. I yelled “Colleeen!” She was terrified for a moment, then smiled. She and Lisa were sorority sisters. And that’s how lunch ended.

The rest of the ride down to Bourne was largely uneventful. Not more than a mile from the Mass Maritime Academy, I saw a sign in front of a house saying “Free Chiropractic Adjustments.” I yelled to Ted and Joe as I peeled off. They rode on with looks on their faces that said “What’s he doing now?” I stopped, filled out paper work, and relaxed on the table. As the doc did an assessment -- they can tell a lot by lifting and dropping your feet back to the table -- I said “Why are you doing this?” He said “Why are you doing this?” Right, that makes sense. He worked my hips, back, shoulders, and neck. I saddled up and felt great, so much so that the massage therapist at MMA, appropriately named “Joy” said “how come your body’s not as messed up as the other people I’ve been working on?” I’m going back to the Doc on the road next year!

Arriving through Bourne to the Mass Maritime Academy, there’s a delight that comes over me as people in the village cheer while going about their business and, inevitably, a kid drops an ice cream cone which is promptly eaten by a shaggy dog. People line the streets and the entry to MMA. They crowd both sides of the road in the Tour de France way (though much less intensely). And you know that, at the end, there’s a shower, a beer, and a massage waiting. Hard not to smile like a fool with that in mind. I found Joe and Ted in the bike parking area, we grabbed our bags and headed into the heart of the PMC encampment, agreeing to meet 50’ in front of the band in an hour. I found a random shower in the closest dorm, then decided to change in the closest room, which was uninhabited at the moment, but reserved for David McKillop, whose wife Karen drove us to the start 11 hours earlier. Funny!

After getting clean, fed, beered, and massaged, Joe and I rode out to meet Jane Douglas, who’s been our Team Avanti Savior since the 2nd year. She drives in from Osterville, takes us to her house, shares her family, air conditioned room with soft, thick mattresses, feeds us, and then gets up at 4:30 in the morning to get us back. Jane, and her entire family, have been best friends since the day my mother met her younger brother as a volunteer in the nursery at the community hospital in Montclair, NJ on December 30, 1964. Hanging with Jane, Gary, Ashley, and Robert is just awesome. Robert, however, wasn’t there. He was off at Rik and Sandy’s house -- great friends of their family who’ve ridden and volunteered for years. Jane thought about taking us over to introduce us, but didn’t push it because we looked a bit wiped out. (Duh! We’d ridden 110 miles and had three beers!) Saturday came to a close within seconds of closing my eyes. Couldn't have been any later than 9:30.

PMC Trip Report - Friday

Sturbridge on Friday was an all-new experience, starting with leaving Babson by on a bus for Sturbridge. Arrived at the very odd Host Hotel, which seemed to have been built by pilgrims with additions made every decade since. The result is a quirky maze of corridors and rooms that reveal mini-climates at every turn, from the bustling registration area to the cool theater to the kitschy main lobby and the indescribable bar/pool/function/marketplace space. Wonderfully, many teams were conducting fun fundraisers, leading me to get a PMC tattoo on my calf and a “192 miles; Ride it if you can” t-shirt that will entertain PMCers and Mad River skiers alike.

The highlight was the Opening Ceremonies. I happened to sit next to Mark Houston, who started the PMC in 2000 ten months after Kathy, his wife, was diagnosed with Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. “From that day forth, their lives changed forever. Team Kathy was formed and they have been riding ever since. This year, Team Kathy will pass the $500,000 fundraising mark.” It got even more poignant from there.

Billy Starr and NECN, toured the history of the PMC with photos, videos, and a handmade map from 1980. The tour included stops with conflicting emotions that are inescapable with the PMC, introducing us to riders from the early days, patients who are winning their battles, and angels who fight no more.

Billy Starr - My Road to the PMC

Joe Andruzzi amazed us with his terrifying story and amused us with his chuckling humor. The story of Andrea Moore, NECN’s 2007 Pedal Partner who passed away this spring, accompanied by soulful music, quieted the audience while soothing music pulled emotions that led to painful tears of loss.

Patrick Byrne, CEO of, brought the laughter back when asked what he was looking forward to during the PMC. Byrne, who has cycled cross-country four times, said “Drafting. That sounds really cool.”

Sarah Bourges sang extraordinarily, as did a guy from Philadelphia who also had the joke of the night: “Where I come from, you have to get all Tour de Franced in spandex and whatnot, or everybody talks: ‘It’s all Oh, you don’t have a car, lost your license.”

The last vignette of the NECN broadcast was the story of a cancer nurse at MGH who worked for 2 years with a dedicated PMC rider. The rider asked the nurse to ride the PMC. The nurse said “That’s a long way, and I don’t even have a bike. I couldn’t do that on my daughter’s Barbie bike.” A few days later, the rider gave the nurse her bike, and the pearls she was renowned for wearing during the PMC. The rider passed away two days later, and the nurse has ridden the PMC since. As we learned this, the rider’s family and teammates, all wearing the pink colors of their team, came on stage.

And then NECN ended the broadcast...with 3,000 people blubbering in their tears. A bit of a rough send-off, but I guess that’s the “cost” having a live broadcast.

The lowlight was the Green Acres Motel; aptly named by Joe as “the most expensive hotel ever on a cost/value basis. On the positive side, it made it all that much easier to get up at 3:45 in the morning to get to the start.

I’m getting a bit ahead of myself: 3:45 a.m. is Saturday.

"Thank you"

Being a part of the PMC makes me a better person in more ways than I understand, and now I understand more than I did before this weekend. This recognition (?) was triggered by great friend Adrienne who said: "Good job!, and thank you - in all sincerity - for making the world that much better for the rest of us by your efforts. Way to go!" Each word resonates in different ways, creating a melody that soothes my tired legs and body.

"Thank you" is on my mind. I heard it, quite literally, a thousand times or more this weekend. Everyone was thankful. Volunteers, spectators, sponsors, friends, patients, and bus drivers thanked riders for riding. Riders thanked sponsors for funding, spectators for cheering and coming out (you can't know how great it is to be cheered energetically about 100 feet from the top of a hill!), patients for sharing themselves, volunteers for pouring water or making the most delicious peanut butter and banana sandwiches. DJs thanked riders and riders thanked DJs.

There were a lot of "Pleases," and ten times more "Thank yous."

Saying "Thank you" makes me more thankful, and I can always recognize more objects of gratitude.

Here's a starter list of ten...

"Thank you" for sharing your loved ones with me. I'm getting "verklempt" just thinking how thoroughly your loving words and beautiful pictures of survivors and angels made it easy to hammer up the hills, descend safely, and speed across the flats. Ask Joe, Ted, Rob, or Rob -- I was stronger than ever this weekend.

"Thank you" to more than 75 people who have already donated to the PMC/Jimmy Fund. Wow! You all pushed me through the fundraising minimum of $4000 before I left for the opening ceremonies on Friday, and now I see that we are $326 $301 short $199 BEYOND the $6000 line to make us Heavy Hitters. I get all the glory from your work -- hardly seems fair -- gotta address that! Wonder if $8006 is possible, just to go beyond the $8005 from last year.....

From those 75+, "Thank you" to the 52 people who have donated online to the PMC/Jimmy Fund. (FYI: the fundraising deadline is at the end of September, so please feel thoroughly encouraged to donate, or to invite 30 friends to join you. (33 friends * $33 = $1,000 more to fund life-saving research.))

"Thank you" to the 16 people who put riders on my PMC PaceLine. I love seeing you there, reading your notes, and knowing that you joined me that way. (Andy, Alison, Stephen and Rob, what were you thinking about with those color choices?! Christy, you look hot! Stephen, you are wearing the Team Avanti blue!)

"Thank you," Jane and Gary, for embracing us in the warmth of your home, family, and friends. It's a highlight.

"Thank you," Rob and Rob, for getting up so early and meeting us at mile 52. The last 25 was funner and faster because of you. And so much more.

"Thank you" to the PMC staff for having Tylenol, ice, antihistamines, vaseline, and sun screen. Whatever we need, they've already thought of and put right where we need it.

"Thank you" to the chiropractor who did free treatments about 7/10 of a mile from the finish. I'm doing that every time I ride from here on in!

"Thank you" to Joy, the massage therapist in the medical tent who takes great delight in finding and exterminating knots in riders necks, shoulders, and backs.

"Thank you" to Harpoon Brewery!

That's ten and I could go on for hours. Thank you for reading this far!



PS: I'll write a "trip report" soon. This was a very amusing weekend of coincidences and meet-ups.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm Riding to Honor Robin. Who Else Will Come Along on the Ride?

This is part of a note I wrote to my friend's younger sister, who's a woman of strength and grace who has faced an unspeakable challenge just the way I would hope to. THIS is why I ride the PMC -- to honor the fallen and, I hope, make this experience less common. To share someone in your life who we can take on the ride, please add a comment to our post "We Ride the PMC to Honor Survivors and Angels." To donate to the PMC, please join my PaceLine.

"I learned just a week ago today that Robin's memorial service was held the day after I sent your mom a note about my plans to ride the Pan-Mass Challenge again to honor Eve, Helga, and countless others who have battled cancer. I was so sad to hear that Robin had lost her battle, and not at all surprised to hear your mom say you are a rock and an angel. I can't imagine the difficulty of watching either of my older brothers battle and suffer, and I also hope that I'll rise to the level of grace, generosity and love you gave if ever I'm faced with the challenge. Larry and Clarence were amazing, as I can easily imagine you were in the face of suffocating anguish. Let's believe that Robin has joined such lively, just, funny women as Eve and Helga, and that they all are comfortable and content as they watch over us.

"On Saturday, I'll mount my bike and join 5000 riders in a trek from Sturbridge and Wellesley out to Provincetown on the tip of Cape Cod. If possible, can you email me a picture of Robin to carry with me?

"I'm riding 192 miles over the two days, and the miles roll more quickly when I carry the names, images, and stories of people who have battled cancer. Any physical discomfort of riding (mostly on my most posterior point!) evaporates by thinking loving thoughts of loved ones lost too early. It's also an inspiration to push so very hard on the last miles through the softly swaying grass of the dunes of Provincetown. As some sort of gesture, it feels appropriate to push myself as hard as possible those last miles and put everything into finishing strong and fast.

"One paragraph I wrote to your mom felt so true, I'll paste it here: I didn't really realize how special a place Robin and your whole family occupy in my image of my childhood until this week. Robin was the elegant, kind, gracious, gorgeous "older sister" who was really nice to me and the other little kids who I recall buzzing a round her at Lake Valhalla. My memories of those times are painted with pictures, warm sunlight, and fond feelings. Robin, Jenny, Jimmy, Robby, you, and Dwight were anchors of that summer experience, as well as fun times in and around your Elston Road house.

I am so sorry for your loss, and so grateful to have shared wonderful parts of life with Robin and you.



Monday, July 20, 2009

A Season of Firsts

This has been a season of firsts for me.

It's the first time I'm riding the Pan-Mass Challenge without my buddy and Team Avanti co-founder, Rob Rodgers.

Last week was the first time I'd ridden farther than the 84 miles of the first day of the Pan-Mass Challenge when I rode 86 miles to reach Mike Moody, my Class of '86 buddy, in Rye, NH.

This Sunday, I rode my first century when I completed the 101-mile "Climb to the Clouds" from Concord, MA to Mt. Wachusett and back. (See the map and elevation chart below.)

Today, I learned that the first of my childhood friends, Robin, lost her battle with cancer. Images of her and her family will dance through my mind and flow through my tears as I roll over the coming miles.

In less than two weeks, I'll ride the original Pan-Mass Challenge route from Sturbridge to Provincetown in this, the 30th PMC. The first 29 have generated $239 million to support the life-saving research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Could this be the first year you support my fundraising efforts for the Pan-Mass Challenge? And/or join my PMC PaceLine where you create a rider/avatar to ride along with me? Or increase your support to $192 (or a multiple) -- a dollar for each mile I'll ride? Or contribute $30 and invite 30 of YOUR friends to support the ride -- a dollar and a friend for each of the 30 years the PMC has been conducted? I hope so!

Climb to the Clouds Map and Elevation Chart (Click to see a larger image.)

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Friday, July 17, 2009

My First Century Ride

Please donate to the Jimmy Fund and fund more lifesaving research by clicking the PMC logo. You can also join my "PaceLine" when you donate.

I think the 86 miles I rode to Rye, NH last week was the longest ride I'd ever done. This week, on Sunday, I'll do my first "century" ever -- 100 miles on a bike. It's even got a name, "Climb to the Clouds," which suggests "you're going to climb hills, suckah!" don't you think? That we'll do, climbing part way up Mt. Wachusett. The summit is closed, sadly, but I'm not sure I'm devastated by that. We "lose" the opportunity to climb 700 verticle feet in about two miles. Translation: steep and long.

The map below shows the route.

I'm doing this so the 110 miles on the first day of the PMC won't loom quite so large, and to see how I feel the next day. 'Course, I don't have to ride another 82 miles on Monday ;)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Wildlife Impact on PMC Training

Please donate to the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber through my Pan Mass Challenge PaceLine.

Riding through the western suburbs of Boston is fraught with wildlife encounters you might not imagine. Last year, on an early morning ride, two squirrels launched themselves from the woods alongside the road in front of me. The first was 20 feet ahead of me and caused me to wonder "how likely is it that I'd ever actually hit a squirrel? My wheels aren't really very big -- a squirrel could go in front or behind the wheel, and if I did hit it, I wonder if it would knock me off my bike."

Not 50 feet later, squirrel #2 beat all the odds and actually put its poor little head INTO the spokes of my front wheel. Neither the squirrel nor the wheel survived the encounter, though I didn't crash.

My buddies teased me mercilessly every time I flinched when a squirrel or chipmunk so much as peeked from behind a log.

This spring, we were riding along Rice Road in Wayland, approaching a picturesque spot near a pond with picturesque Belted Galloway cows -- think of a cross between an Oreo cookie and a cow. "Look, there's a cute calf frolicking with it's mamma!" Frolicking right up until it saw our Spandex-clad Posse coming along at 17 MPH. Startled, it jumped like a bucking bronco, which startled the gaggle of turkeys -- about six of them. They jumped off the historic stone wall into the air in something approximating flight and headed across the road -- right toward our heads!

All five of us ducked in our saddles and were grateful to be upright. As we made the next turn, I got to see a huge dump of turkey poop on Rob's shoulder just as he said "Ahhhhh, that turkey shat on me!"

So, when riding your bike, look out for chipmunks, squirrels, cows and turkeys. They can have quite an impact!

If you chuckled, or not, please support the life-saving research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute by contributing to my Pan-Mass Challenge PaceLine ride.

Friday, July 03, 2009

We Ride the PMC to Honor Survivors and Angels

Each year, we ride the Pan Mass Challenge to "honor" people who have battled cancer. Some have won the battles, some are winning, and some have passed away. Reading the stories from friends, and their friends, about loved ones is a highlight that brings us closer together. I hope you'll add your friends, family, and loved ones to our growing story by commenting to this post, and by joining our PMC PaceLine, a cool fundraising tool in which you can create a rider who'll join my "PaceLine." Please click to make a donation to our effort to fund cancer-curing research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

To start, let me introduce a few people we'll think of as we ride this year. If you'd like to read (a lot) about some very special people we focused on last year, please visit the Team Avanti site.

Ernest H. Bluman
was my grandfather who died too early for me to know him well. Because I lost him at the age of 6, I really never knew any of my grandparents. It makes me sad to have missed that and angry at cancer to have taken my last grandparent. And I'm sad and angry that my kids never got the chance to know my Mom. On the other hand, I also have a great appreciation that we live just 3 miles from my kids' wonderful, generous, funny maternal grandparents, and that they got to spend as much time with my dad as they did before he passed away. ....from John Marchiony

for Bootsie and Charlie Carothers, as well as my aunt, Sally Windle (died of breast cancer at 43), my aunt, Dicker Ryder (ovarian), and several friends who've survived breast cancer: Elissa Wolf-Tinsman, Susan Gallo, Meg Hausman.... from Lalla Carothers

Debi Finnerty was an angel on earth, brightening the day of children, their families, her friends and colleagues. The world was brighter every day that she shined her happy smile and loving heart. She battled valiantly, but lost in 2006.
…from John Marchiony

Jennifer Kay: After a valiant two-year battle with renal cancer, Jennifer Kay, Dartmouth '86, succumbed to the disease on May 1, 2006. In 2001, Jennifer decided that she wanted to use her math abilities to help young, underprivileged women. Without any training as a teacher, Jennifer joined the math faculty at Holy Family Academy in Bayonne, New Jersey and later at St. Aloysius High School, in Jersey City, both inner-city Catholic schools. One former student attended Dartmouth and credits Jennifer with teaching her the skills and fostering the drive needed to be successful at Dartmouth. Jennifer was truly devoted to the goal of promoting and improving the study of math and science by young women....from John Marchiony & Gary Greene

for Eve Marchiony, my Mom, and her best friend Helga Strowbridge. They were quite a pair, playful and just throughout their lives. ....from John Marchiony
They -- Eve and Helga -- both color my life with their acts of generosity and humor.
...from Judy Siegel
Ride for your Mom! I think your rid noble and therapeutic. Good luck and carry your heart high!
...from Jane McKee Douglas

Ev May was one of the greatest friends I have ever had. In a very real way, he saved my life....from Rob Rodgers

for Patrick Rafter, who confronted a cancerous brain tumor ten years ago. He lost half his hair to the chemo, shaved the rest, survived having his skull opened up and yet lost none of his humor and grace, I assume, 'cause he's damn funny and thoroughly genuine.....from John Marchiony

Thanks for sharing! Please add my mom, Nancy Woodbury and four classmates who are surviving and I hope thriving - Sue Garrat, Lois Burrill, Judith Sallet and Emmy Marks. Three of them were part of Junior year Abroad in Geneva. ...from Betsy Rowe

Thursday, July 02, 2009

I'm Riding for Charlie and Bootsie

Joe and I rode 40 miles on Wednesday on a route through Sherborn and Dover that he had raved about since last year. As soon as we turned on "Farm Road," the beauty intensified. Then Strawberry Hill Road, and then Wilsondale. He described a fun descent and a gorgeous traverse. "Wilsondale" sounded familiar. I recognized it by the feel of it, knowing that Charlie and Bootsie Carothers, both angels I work to honor when I ride the PMC, raised a most spectacular brood of wonderful people -- Sarah, Mike, Lalla, and Matt. Charlie and Bootsie were spectacular friends and parents when they lived, and inspirations now. Sarah was one of the first PMC riders we sponsored, and Lalla is a godmother to our daughter.

I choked up as I passed their lovely yellow house with the barn on the curve of the road behind the stone wall, remembering warmth and friendship that never, ever waned.

Please support the live-saving cancer research by joining my PMC PaceLine and empowering the incredible doctors at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

Do it for Bootsie! (It just rolls off the tongue, don't it? ;)

Gaining By Losing

Just a month from the PMC and I'm wondering what this year will be like for me. In 2006 and 2007, I rode the PMC with Rob Rodgers and we formed "Team Avanti." In 2008, Joe Parrish, Rob Mosher, and Matt Schulman joined us. In 2009, Rob, Rob, and Matt were unable to ride, leaving our team at 2. I've felt a sense of loss when thinking about riding without them, and when I've been riding with, or without, any of them.

So what will I gain through this experience when it's so easy to dwell on what I've lost?

I don't know, specifically, but I'm sure there will be something spectacular. Perhaps it will be the chance to get to know Joe that much better. Or to ride with my college classmates, Walter and Lisa the rookie. Or Lynda, who I know only through Facebook email, and whose dedication to cycling may be unrivaled in my world. Or someone who I just happen to pedal next to....

Through loss, there will be gain. In that I have faith.

Please support my ride in the PMC and join my PaceLine.

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Monday, April 06, 2009


108 days to the 30th Pan Mass Challenge

Please support our ride in the Pan Mass Challenge by donating to fund research at the Dana
Farber Cancer Institute via the Jimmy Fund. 
Any help of any amount is appreciated, and 100% of your donations go to the Dana Farber Cancer Center.

To contribute this year, click on the bike logo or  cut-and-paste:

Thank you!

It's been a long way from there to here -- more than a month! As a blogger, that'd qualify me to lose interest from any readers.  As a dad, skier, professional, and non-profit board member, I banked some extra points, I hope. 

A big phrase in my daily experience is "so that....".  So I'll apply it -- or reapply it -- to this blog and the PMC.  I blog "so that I'll capture and share my experience of the PMC from early-on through the post-ride rampdown."  I blog "so that I'll have a mechanism that helps me focus on the great, broad opportunity that being a PMC rider provides."  And I blog "so that I'll have an obligation to meet." can you help, if you'd like to, or you are willing to?   

Please comment "so that I'll have motivating feedback."  I am energized by it, whether it's provocative, critical, humorous, or a shared story. " 

Please ride your bike with me "so that I'll have another person to get to know better, which always happens, and so that I'll have another person whose willingness to ride will make it all that much more enticing to get on the bike." 

Please think how you could support the cancer research at the Dana Farber through our ride in the PMC "so that fewer and fewer people will face the challenges of fighting cancer."  You could donate directly, provide a raffle item, co-host a humdinger of a party we're thinking about, and invite your friends to join you, me, and the thousands of contributors who make the PMC the single most productive athletic fundraiser in the world. 

Fantastic!  40 days "off" and writing this one post has me all torqued up again to get back in the blogger saddle, and get back on the bike, and get back to asking to ride the PMC in honor of friends and family. 

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Wordle My Pan Mass Challege Blog

148 days to the 30th Pan Mass Challenge | 200 Days to the PMC Blog
Please donate to fund research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute via the Jimmy Fund/Pan Mass Challenge.
Any help of any amount is appreciated, and 100% of your donations go to the Dana Farber Cancer Center.

To contribute this year, click here or or cut-and-paste:

Thank you!

Wordle is a fun free service that automatically creates a visual from the words on a web page, or in a blog like mine. Here's the Wordle of my blog. Click to see it in higher resolution.

Wordle: Team Avanti Pan Mass Challenge Blog

Monday, March 02, 2009


150 days to the 30th Pan Mass Challenge | 200 Days to the PMC Blog
Please donate to fund research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute via the Jimmy Fund/Pan Mass Challenge.
Any help of any amount is appreciated, and 100% of your donations go to the Dana Farber Cancer Center.

To contribute this year, click on the bike logo. Or, here is the URL, spelled out for easy cut-and-paste:

Thank you!

My Avanti teammate Rob shared a wonderful essay on the power of "attachments" over us. To paraphrase, "we are attached to something, or someone, if we believe it is the source of our joy, pleasure, or happiness. Only by enjoying it without clinging to it can we be happy."

That's really, really hard.

Can I love my wife, children, family and friends and enjoy them thoroughly without clinging to them, without having expectations about my relationships and the "outcomes" of our interactions?

That's really, really hard.

But by thinking about it, considering it, and setting the intention to resisting "clinging," it becomes easier and easier to do so.

Friends were talking about attachments, and most identified spouses, children as the attachments they cling to most fiercely. They experience, or expect to experience, tremendous pain at the thought of the death of a nuclear family member. And yet, I am a son whose parents both have died, and whose friends have died, and yet I still can and do live joyfully. I know several parents whose children have died so very prematurely, and they are joyful. That's not to say their hearts aren't broken. I can hear my friend John's voice crying "My heart is broke!" over and over after his son died. And yet, he is resilient and lives and loves.

And so can I, and so can you.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Frustration vs. Living in the Moment

156 days to the 30th Pan Mass Challenge | 200 Days to the PMC Blog
Please donate to fund research at the Dana Farber via the Jimmy Fund/Pan Mass Challenge - click the bike.

156 days to the 30th Pan Mass Challenge, and I am teetering between frustration and living in the moment.

Having four of five family members battling the flu-ish bug is frustrating. It made it much more challenging to be enchanted by the present moments that presented themselves over the February vacation week. Like a fun ski race, two beautiful, snowstorms, a day with my brother and his boy, lovely drives with my daughter and an excellent meeting with a client who wants us to do more.

Great moments teetering on the other side of the see-saw trying to overcome the weight of frustration.

Frustration has a strong hold on a part of my professional life. The economy presents challenges for my financial services startup, but also is the driving force behind the need for our products and services.

And today I found a posting what looks like a dream (FT) job for me - the title has four of my favorite six business words. I was flying high with excitement, and then I heard that the company had not secured anticipated funding and downsized drastically.

I can only imagine the frustration of battling cancer, and then I remember how many battlers have been grateful for the shock that leads them to learn how to live fully in the moment.

I'm looking forward to the moments of the coming 156 days!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"Degree of Difficulty"

My daughter has a hideous, hideous cold, complete with fever, cough, congestion, and sore throat. She feels yukky and thinks life couldn't get worse. Wrong-o, babycakes, but that's a 'feature' of being a blessedly healthy 13-year-old.

My friend Geoff broke his neck ski racing three weeks ago. Clean break of a cervical vertebrae. He was pretty loopy and really sore, but not paralyzed. Ended his ski season, but not his life, and not his mobility. He'll recover with no fear of relapse.

Cancer is tough, and deserves to be defeated. Please join the fight by doing what you can. Some suggestions.
1) Give blood.
2) Give platelets.
3) Fund research.


Friday, February 13, 2009

A favorite PMC photo...

This is one of my favorite signs, and thoughts, of the Pan Mass Challenge.

From PMC 2008

Sax: Meg's Angel

168 days to the 30th Pan Mass Challenge | 200 Days to the PMC Blog
Please donate to fund research at the Dana Farber via the Jimmy Fund/Pan Mass Challenge - click the bike.

Each year, Team Avanti rides the PMC to honor cancer survivors, thrivers and angels. Here's the first share from a friend. We look forward to hearing from you about the special people in your life who have been touched by cancer.

Jim Cummings-Saxton, a.k.a. "Sax." Sax was my boss when I first entered the world of Environmental Consulting. He had come to environmental consulting out of pure conviction, via NASA and consulting to Harley Davidson. He was a 6'5" piece of work ... and on one of our first commutes to DC together, we figured out that he was a class ahead of my dad at Mt. Lebanon High School in Pittsburgh, PA. I love the small world thing, but it only got smaller! He handed me a doozy of a client at the EPA, apologizing profusely b/c the guy had a reputation for being "challenging." I was brand new to consulting and nervous as all get out ... but I jumped in feet first w/ my first conference call, and discovered that my client was a big sailor (I have sailed all my life) and had been my brother's economics professor in college (not a great outcome there, but hey, it was a connection). The client and I became a good team and Sax was happy. Sax had another problem. He was short-staffed. So he bucked company procedure and staffed his project w/ associates (as opposed to senior associates). We loved Sax and we cranked. EPA was happy and we travelled the country preaching the "cleaner, cheaper, smarter" mantra for EPA. Trying desperately to merge the private and public sides of environmental protection.

I went through two maternity leaves w/ Sax and threatened to leave each time. But I always came back. When I did finally leave the firm, I stayed in touch. A few years later, our youngest was born w/ some medical complications and I decided to stay home. Shortly after, Sax became sick w/ a brain tumor. I was stunned. I had two friends whose daughters were diagnosed w/ brain tumors. I felt completely helpless and began to take Sax to some of his treatments at Mass General. Afterward, he and my 1 1/2 year-old and I would have lunch. He was changed by his cancer and his treatment, but he was still my dear dear Sax. Those trips were so logistically difficult to pull off, but they were worth every mile.

When Sax became too sick, he went into Hospice. Those visits were even harder. My "challenging" EPA client tracked me down and asked if I would help him visit Sax one last time. There were still a few things he wanted to talk over w/ Sax. I picked the client up at Logan and drove him to the hospital. Sax had just stopped talking the night before, so we just sat there and held his hands for an hour or so. Then I drove the client back to Logan and we said our goodbyes.

A few days later, Sax left us. His memorial service was in a packed-to-the-gills stone church on a hilltop in Nahant. It was November, and it was honking windy and pouring rain -- like a scene out of a movie. I read a memorial piece as well as a piece from former colleagues of mine who could not be there.

I think about Sax all the time. He taught me more than I could ever convey in a paragraph or two. I feel that so many of us were robbed by his cancer-induced death.

I think that this ride is a way to pay tribute to so so so many like Sax and also to promote A CURE. Ride safely and fast and thanks for honoring these tremendous men, women & children.

Thanks John.

Sunday, February 08, 2009


173 days to the 30th Pan Mass Challenge.

Yesterday, I felt out of "sync" because I was out of my normal, winter Saturday routine of skiing. Body and mind were unbalanced, and I felt disoriented until I recognized "why." Only then could I rebalance and get synced with myself.

If I got knocked out of balance from such a relatively small disturbance, what must it be like to be whacked, thwacked, shoved and pummeled by something big, like a cancer diagnosis, or having a loved one lose the battle with cancer?

It's huge, I know from experience, and my way through relied on contemplation, expression, and relying on others who had strength I lacked at that moment. Then, it took me years to regain my balance. Fortunately, I'm wiser now and faster to turn to my trusted tools.

How do you get back in sync?

Losing my mom, Eve, and then her best friend, Helga, disturbed my balance for years.
From PMC 2008

Jen Kay's death, so offensively early, brought focus to "doing good."
From PMC 2008

Debi Finnerty was an angel on earth, brightening the day of children, their families, her friends and colleagues. The world was brighter every day that she shined her happy smile and loving heart. She battled valiantly, but lost in 2006.
From PMC 2008

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


As I considered blogging through the 200 days of my 2009 experience, I wondered if I would create 200 entries. Of course I wouldn't -- I wasn't fully committed to that as a goal. Blogging over the course of the 200 days, and through the range of experiences, was, and is, my commitment.

23 days closer to the PMC -- 172 days from today -- and I more clearly understand what I am committed to for this PMC campaign:

-to acknowledging the fragility of life while appreciating the innumerable blessings of my fortunate existence, whatever it may hold;

-to encourage and invite people to help fund more life-changing and life-saving research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute well beyond the minimum requirements of PMC riders. To donate to the DFCI via the PMC and the Jimmy Fund, please visit my PMC eGift page.

-to deepening relationships with anyone who is generous enough to allow me to ride in honor of their friends, family, and loved ones who have faced cancer. If there's a cancer survivor, thriver, or angel that you'd like to share with me and Team Avanti, please email me with a favorite story, a fond memory, or just a name.

-to give platelets as often as every two weeks, and to encourage others to do so. It's easy, no more painful than giving blood, and it allows a cancer patient to have a treatment that otherwise must be postponed. Here's info on donating platelets in the Jimmy Fund building at the Dana Farber.

-to embrace the PMC experience as a meditative practice that allows and requires me to be aware of the ebbs and flows of thoughts and feelings through the season. Hence this blog!

Image of the snow bike from the Desert Rose Press Gallery:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Kicked By An Angel

"Kicked By An Angel" is a moving blog, subtitled "My thoughts on life as I struggle through breast cancer"

Frances bade 2008 "Good riddance!" with the following lessons:

I am not the same person I was before my cancer diagnosis. I can’t say that I am better or worse — just different. I look at life, my children, daily tasks from a different skew. I have a better appreciation regarding the passing of time and a renewed respect to really try to live in the moment. I can’t say that I now live every day as if it were my last but I do think about and cherish the small intricate details more often; especially regarding my children.

So on this snowy New Years Eve at the end of 2008 here is a list of things that I learned:

1. Pettiness and Drama have no place in my life and I learned to cut out all the people who perpetuate those energy-sapping qualities.

2. I have absolutely no control over many things in life –including many aspects of my own health as well as the actions of others.

3. Most people are generally well-meaning, well-intentioned, and kind.

4. Everyone, including myself, feels jealous and resentful at times. We must have been given those emotions for a reason. I think it’s OK to feel them as long as we admit it instead of feeling ashamed. Maybe jealousy is there to spur us into action.

5. People can change, and they do, all the time.

6. Relationships enter our lives when we need them and stay while we continue to learn and grow. When we no longer learn and grow then that relationship passes;not to be mourned, but to be celebrated, and remembered fondly.

7. Forgiveness is the most important gift we have to give each other; because nobody is perfect (not even my mother!)

See the rest of the post, and many more, at Kicked by an Angel.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Snow Days"

Snow days were so much fun when I was a kid. They were so different, so free...truly days off.

There were no snow days in college, and I declined to embrace one that came my way when a Nor'easter flooded New York Harbor. In Boston, the 35" April Fool's day blizzard kept me home, and that was fun.

Now with three kids, snow days are less irregular, but require more creativity, especially when the snow turns to rain.

How many days do we get that are the snowdays of our youth or of our untethered adulthood? Can I enjoy snowdays when they are less free, require more logistcs, and require shovelling three times a day?

Yes I can, and I will, find a way to live every single day fully. That's the challenge and opportunity of snow days.

184 days to the PMC. 2009 miles: 20.
"200 Days to the PMC" Blog

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Different Muscles"

Just back from a weekend in south Texas with 14 classmates/fraternity brothers. I rented a "beach bike," complete with a wide saddle and honkin' big handlebars. I got outside on a bike for the first time in 2009 -- probably got about 3 hours of riding time. The ride required different muscles, from my feet up to my hands and shoulders. Working my legs was familiar, everything else was different. I was upright, and exposed to the wind, which I caught well.

The weekend was similar. Spending the weekend with 14 good friends I last saw together in 1986 also required different muscles, most specifically a nimble mind and quick, acerbic tongue. Great fun, and wonderful memories.

Coming home requires reactivation of different muscles, as does donating platelets to those who battle cancer with very, very different muscles, perseverance, and talents.

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Although he keeps a journal, a friend was befuddled by my plan to blog through the PMC season. And I didn't have a good answer at the time.

Today I concluded that blogging is a reminder to remember why I'm committed to contributing to the campaign to eradicate cancer.

Remembering family and friends who have been touched by cancer. Remembering those we have lost, and reminding myself that the $35 million that riders raised last year, which - without question- has advanced treatments that have saved and extended lives into 2009. Furthermore, I'm committed because the PMC delivers more to the Dana Farber than any other athletic fundraiser, and it does so at 100% efficiency, which is unprecedented. These charts tell the compelling story another way: Top Fundraising Events in the USA and Massachusetts.

Pan-Massachusetts Challenge Gives $35 Million to the Jimmy Fund
PMC Founder Billy Starr on the success of the event

Please click the PMC logo
to donate to support the research at
the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

190 days to the PMC (0 miles ridden this year)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


(Written Monday, January 19, 2009)

I want this to be the most productive PMC season I've had, and I know that I don't have all the answers and skills I'll need to contribute more. So, I've asked for help.- probably the first of many times I'll do so.

My first request was to Paul Gillin, who knows social media cold. I asked for guidance and he gave it quickly, thoroughly, and enthusiastically. I'll implement everything I possibly can from his list of recommendations. It was easy for him to do - it was "frictionless."

When people ask me to do things I do often and easily, it's easy to say yes. If more people, and organizations, asked more people to help in ways that are easy for them, there'd be more volunteers.

What do you do well? I'd like to be able to ask you for help that would be ask for you to provide.

193 days to the PMC
(January 19, 2009)