There are now eight routes, with different mileages, starting points, and endings. The longest ride starts at Sturbridge on Saturday and ends 190 miles later on Sunday morning in Provincetown, the riders sweeping past the dunes in a sea of color, their jerseys and helmets flashing by in the morning light and into the town, as the crowd cheers as if they’ve done something heroic. “You pedal for 200 miles for that last 50 yards,” Starr says.
What they’ve done is to keep pushing one pedal down, pulling the other pedal up, going from water stop to water stop, not questioning whether it matters, because they know it does. Because this is what is possible: to fight back. “The weekend builds hope, and hope is very powerful,” says one rider, whose team includes his wife, who has survived two bouts of cancer and one bone marrow transplant. They know why they do this year after year: because this is one ride we all are on.
Dates for the 30th annual Pan-Mass Challenge are August 1-2, 2009. pmc.org
VIDEO: Pan-Mass Challenge