When I first signed up for the Pan-Mass Challenge, I believed the biggest challenge would be the ride itself – 2 days, almost 200 miles, traveling from Sturbridge to Provincetown on my bicycle. (A trip, it’s worth mentioning, I wouldn’t normally be happy to take in the car, even if it wasn’t the peak travel months on Cape Cod).
But it turns out the biggest challenge may be the training.
In the weeks leading up to the PMC, I have logged multiple miles and hours on my bicycle – more, in fact, than I have ever done in my life. Take this past weekend as an example, on Saturday I rode 70 miles with a group from the Velo Studio, followed by 30 miles in hilly New York with Steve on Sunday.
It hasn’t been easy – I have sacrificed time with our children, missing out on Saturday morning snuggles and trips to the Farmers Market. We’ve been forced to skip gatherings with friends because I have to eat right, rest my legs and get to bed early. I have had to take a pass on other rides, races and time with non-cycling friends because I’m training. What we eat, when I sleep, even what we do with our free time is influenced by my training.
That’s not to say there has not been significant benefit. While on my bike I have had the privilege to lead an amazing group of riders also preparing for the PMC, celebrating each mile traveled and hill conquered. I have made new friends, deepened existing relationships and connected with a larger community of riders.
There has been pain – saddle sores, swollen knees, and exhaustion – but there has also been a reminder that those who are fighting cancer don’t get rest days. They can’t fix their pains with an ice pack, cold beer and ibuprofen.
There have been hard rides. Days when the mind was willing but the body was not able; when I’ve been passed by every single rider in a peloton, when the bike moved slowly despite my best efforts that I was sure my tire must be flat (it never was).
But there have been amazing moments of accomplishment as I’ve turned the pedals, no matter how slowly, to the top of a challenging climb, with smile and sense of humor intact.
Or, in other words, how to “just keep pedaling.”
I can’t wait to see what other lessons are waiting for me on the road to Provincetown.
Will you help me raise $7,500 with 100% of rider raised funds benefits the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.