While there are plenty of reasons why someone would feel blessed to be able to participate in an event that will top the $400 million dollar mark in funds raised this year to end cancer, for me personally there are some specifics that I wanted to share. Below is a partial list in no particular order:
- Randomly hearing ‘Antelope’ while you’re packing up your bags (gotta love the East Coast)
- All of the many beautiful “hey howahya’s” (read: how are you). And for that matter “watah”
- Being able to reconnect with areas of my youth, especially on the Cape and riding thru the beach towns including Orleans where I spent many a formidable youth weekend with my family
- To that point, riding past Maco’s bait shop where we used to get out and grab a flat of worms for fishing the stripers on Nauset Beach.
- Cherry Street and all the other communities that come out in support. I can’t tell you how many times someone said “thank you” to me. And we as riders back to them. The communities and supporters make this ride what it is
- Not to be outdone by the communities, the volunteers with name tags indicating how many years they’ve been participating, are on you with whatever you need at each stop
- The peanut butter and fluff sandwiches from the volunteers at the “watah” stops
- The “Because of you, I’m 22” sign that a girl had on the side of the road while cheering the riders on
- Seeing the names of riders on their saddle bags and the number of years they have ridden in the PMC
- The number of “California --nice!” comments I received personally and the “ex-masshole” banter that followed
- How people on the East Coast have it in their DNA to either A) make fun of themselves or their friends or B) Come up with hilarious comments when you might be struggling (“seriously, who put this hill here?”)
- Talking to the rider whose wife just finished up a treatment but also rode the first day with him
- The rider with one leg (no prosthetic -just one leg cranking) who always seemed to be in front of me. I’m not sure he stopped at any water breaks. Fittingly enough, I watched him cross the finish of the first day in front of me. What a sight.
- The Star Spangled Banner and Sweet Caroline to kick off the start of the ride at 5am on the first day
- Being one of the last riders to get going on the second day and getting lost but actually finding a short-cut in the end so it wasn’t that bad. Yes, that really happened.
- Asking your teammates “what took you so long?” when they finally made it to the water stop after I found said short-cut.
- The Hedge!
- My favorite police officer who stands at the town line rain or shine and provides an emphatic “Welcome to Brewster” encouragement to each rider
- Having the dj’s playing a Springsteen song every time I pulled into a water stop. Not sure how they did that but it worked. :)
- Crossing the finish line together as Team Headstrong with our Captain Steve Bonnell bringing us in.
Finally, seeing my son Jack with arms fully extended and proudly holding the sign welcoming me back into port and being able to have both my kids jump in my arms when I got off the boat and kissing my mother on the cheek after a job well done.
It truly is a blessing to be a part of the PMC. Thank you again for all your support.