Suffield group cycles 245 miles in three days during 'Pan-Mass Challenge'
By Calla Vassilopoulos - Staff Writer
Suffield - posted Thu., Aug. 8, 2013
“It was unbelievable” – those were the first words which came to Patrick McMahon's mind as he described his first Pan-Mass Challenge bike ride from Sturbridge, Mass., to Provincetown, Mass. The 190-mile, two-day trip took place Aug. 3 and 4.
“The group out of Suffield was actually glutton for punishment, so we actually went a day before on Friday, and left from the Town Green,” said McMahon, Suffield's director of economic development.
The group pedaled 55 miles to Sturbridge, where the founder of PMC, Billy Starr, was having a welcome presentation for the riders. Aly Raisman, a 2012 Olympic gold-medal-winning gymnast, was one of the speakers at this year's orientation, according to McMahon.
After a well-rested night, the cyclists were up at 5:30 a.m. to begin their 110-mile journey to Bourne, Mass. Once participants reached the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne, they were rewarded with an all-you-can-eat buffet and a massage. The second day was a slightly shorter trip, which included an 80-mile ride from Bourne to Provincetown.
“It's a tremendous experience,” said McMahon. “It's like 5,400 bike riders, about 500 are cancer survivors, pedaling trying to raise money for others. It was very inspiring.” He said those who survived cancer wore tags on their shirts, which read “living proof.”
One of the most memorable parts of the ride was a young girl, about 8 years old, standing in front of her mother. All you could see was her face and legs, said McMahon. The mother was holding the matting from a picture frame around her face with a sign that said, “I survived cancer.”
McMahon said along the course there were many people standing in their driveways and at intersections cheering the cyclists on by saying, “Thank you and good luck riders,” and “You're almost there.” McMahon said the course was beautiful and there were a lot of interesting things to see along the way.
“I have a new appreciation for the Cape,” said McMahon. “I've always loved Cape Cod, but riding along 6A on a bike was quite special. I saw the sunrise over the Cape Cod Canal, and that was fantastic.”