Monday, August 5, 2013

The Essence of the PMC

Ask any rider of the PMC to describe it and they'll tell you that you can't explain it. I thought about this while I rode 192 miles from Sturbridge MA to Provincetown MA this past weekend and I hope this can give you a glimpse.

Everyone is inspired to do this 2 day ride to benefit Cancer for a reason.   A mother, sister, daughter, granddaughter, grandmother,  father, son, grandson, grandfather, brother, cousin, friend.

Most people that think about the PMC, are concerned about the very large fundraising amount. $4300 is a large undertaking, but this ONE reason pushes you over the edge.  You forget the amount and just put your head down and do what you can.

Friday of PMC weekend rolls around, you walk into the Sturbridge Host Hotel, you see thousands of bikes, thousands of riders, thousands of volunteers, supporters, all there for the same reason, that ONE inspiration.

 Although that ONE inspiration has suddenly become thousands.  You find that you are riding for many.  You think about all your supporters and why THEY supported you, each having a "one" inspiration of their own. You think about all your friends whom you didn't even KNOW fought a great fight. You think about friends or family you lost and weren't your initial inspiration.  The miles don't even matter. You are riding to give people hope, you are riding to give survivors something to cheer for, you are riding to unite humanity, even just for one day.

You walk in to get your packet.  Every few minutes you hear "FIRST YEAR RIDER" - and everyone in the room cheers loudly and embarrasses the first year rider.  You get goosebumps.  You are excited for that person to experience this THING. You are emotional over the number of people here to do the same thing you are.

You attend opening ceremonies. You bring tissues.  You are inspired .

You hear stories of why everyone else is here, you hear stories of battles won, of battles lost, of new battles, of parents fighting for their children, of children fighting for their parents. You suddenly have lost your sense of "ONE" and have become ONE with this Essence, you are a collective unit with 5500 riders, thousands of volunteers, hundreds of corporate sponsors, and thousands of supporters that line the streets of Massachusetts.

You get up at 3AM ready to pedal.  You see thousands of supporters out already lining the streets before the sun is up.  They have signs, they are 'proud of you',  they are inspired, they are thankful.  You think to yourself, "I didn't do anything,  YOU did, you fought, I just feel helpless with this disease and this is what I could actually do. "  You know you can't take the pain away, you can't make a mother feel better, you can't even understand, but what you can do is this little fundraiser.  And at 5:30AM on PMC Day 1, it feels like "that little fundraiser."  You meet others, you see pictures of dedications, you ask about those people.

They talk about it, lovingly, with a tear, but some, for the first time can just TALK.  The PMC ride is a place to talk about their fights, their losses, and their triumphs.  You meet people who's loss is so fresh you cannot understand how they're here, yet you gain strength from them.   They gain strength from you.

You pedal, you climb, you pedal some more.  You watch the signs on the side of the road. "I"m 3 because of you", "I'm a survivor because of you."   You are emotional, you know they are cheering for the collective unit, you don't feel you've done anything. The "YOU" Is the essence of the PMC, you are part of it, but it is more than you.

You find energy in the crowds, people dressing up in costume, people sitting in their pajamas at 6AM to cheer you on, survivors who just want to thank someone for the treatment they found, fighters who just want to have a day to be happy and cheer on the hopes of a cure.  It is the one weekend of celebration for many, it is the weekend to celebrate loved one's journeys.  

You meet up with survivor riders.  They pedal, they fight so no one else has to suffer what they went through.

You think about every rider passing you has raised thousands of dollars. You think about the magnitude of $35 million dollars generated from one weekend. You hope, you are inspired, You pedal.

There will be one thing, it could be large or small, that brings you to tears:

You approach the pedal partner stop, and see posters staring a half of a mile from stop that line the street all the way.  They represent children that many teams ride for who are battling Cancer. They are fighters, their families are here, they are having fun today.  A pedal partner sees his picture on your back and says "hey that's me."  You see courage in his eyes, even though they don't fully understand. For that one day, you see hope in the parents eyes. 

You ride over the Bourne Bridge in the dark and find a family standing there, waiting for the first riders.  They cheer.  You pedal.  You ride past "da hedge", a large group of cheering folks.  You squeak your squeaky toy  and the crowd goes crazy.  They cheer for the collective you, for the cure, for the hope. 

You are overwhelmed at the number of riders joining you on day 2.  We are all still here.

 You find a collective unit to ride in, you find your team, you make a team.  You ride as one.  You are one today.  

For this one weekend, we are all part of the solution. 

**If you would like to read more about my 2013 PMC ride, please visit my  facebook  page, or if you would like to contribute, please donate here:


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