Pan Mass Challenge – A Beginner’s Guide

2015 will be my second year riding in the Pan Mass Challenge.  I absolutely LOVED every second of last year’s ride (check out my recap here), and there was no question that I would be signing up again this year.

There’s no doubt that signing up for an event of this magnitude is pretty intimidating.  The fundraising, the ride itself… EEEEk!  

Don’t fret… I made it, and so will you!  And to help, I wanted to share some do’s, don’ts, and tips that I found helpful in my journey to my first PMC. (In no particular order… other than what popped into my head next).  So without further adieu….

1.  COMMIT…. YOU’LL FIGURE IT OUT

Seriously.  The fundraising commitments are no joke.  This is a fundraiser first…. athletic

event second.  If you want to do it, then you will.  But you have to COMMIT.  Be ready to get creative and dedicate yourself to raising that money!  It’s going to take some hustle for sure.  The biggest deterrent for me was the fundraising minimum.  I hemmed and hawed for a few years before I finally took the leap.  I was scared!  But I decided that 2014 was my year.  I was going to do it.  And I mentally committed to doing whatever it took to get ‘er done.  And you know what??? It freaking worked.  I exceeded my goal.

2.  DON’T…. BE AFRAID TO ASK

No one is going to donate to your ride if they don’t know you are riding!  So, get over yourself.  No, really.  Get over that “I don’t want to ask them for money because they might say no”  thang you’ve got goin’ on and just ask.  Send an email.  A handwritten note.  A phone call.  Torture your facebook friends and twitter peoples with reminders about the ride and links to your donation page.  You’ll be surprised at how generous people are.  Really.  Donations came out of the woodwork, from people I hadn’t expected.  Such awesome surprises!  Contact local businesses for donations.  If not monetary, gift cards or goods to use in raffles or auctions.  Ask if you can put a donation jar on their counter for loose change.  It all adds up!  Be sure to do your research so you can tell everyone where the money goes. 

3.  DO….. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE, and USE WHAT YOU’VE GOT

And use what you’ve got to your advantage.  I work in a large hospital department.  With lots and lots of hungry people who don’t always get a chance to eat meals.  And who (for the most part…. I think…. I hope) like me and support this cause.  So I used them to my advantage by bake-sale-ing the sh*t outta them.  I have some AMAZING coworkers who helped me and we had mini “break room” bake sales almost every month.  Themed for every holiday and occasion we could think of.  We put on a big hospital-wide cafeteria bake sale and basket raffle that raised over $800 bucks.  We couponed candy, got a donation of free chips from a local business and put out donation jars.   I had a Valentine’s Day themed bake sale in the hospital cafeteria already this year, and raised nearly $700.  Don’t have the luxury of a built-in donation center at work?  Have an event at a local business, use family and friends’ workplaces….. get creative!

 


4.  DON’T….. BE INTIMIDATED

Besides all of that fundraising you will be doing, there is the little task of the ride itself. 

There are a LOT of logistics that go into this thing.  Don’t be scared. There are also a LOT of volunteers to help you along your way.  If you can pair up with a buddy who has done it before, all the better… that makes it super easy…. especially if they are willing to hold your nervous hand through the whole thing.  If not?  Don’t worry!!  There are people everywhere to tell you where to leave your bike, where to check in, where to leave your bag, where to find the food, etc, etc, etc.  They are friendly, helpful, and on your side.  There are lots of local hotels with a shuttle bus service running between them in the morning to get you to the start (be early!).  So dive in and fear not.  There’s always help when you need it.  The ride itself is extremely well marked and there are lots of aid stations stocked full of food/drinks and support vehicles out there to help if you need it.  Mechanical?  They’ve got ya covered.  Need any kind of medical help?  There is never anyone too far away.  

5.  DO…. BE PREPARED TO RIDE

While this is a fundraiser, don’t forget… you also have to ride your bike.  Pretty far, if you choose the Sturbridge to Provincetown route with me!  So make sure that you and your bike are ready to go.  Get ‘er a head to toe check-up at your local bike shop, and make sure your lovely bike is tuned up and ready to rock.  And then… ride.  Because you’ve got 200 miles of rolling hills to cover, baby!  Practice eating and drinking on the bike too, it might not be as easy as you think.

 

6.  DO… BE READY TO RIDE IN A CROWD

Being ready to ride your bike the distance is one thing.  But remember – you’re not going to be alone!  The start is crowded, and you will likely have company for the duration of the ride.  So no, I repeat NO squirrely riding.  Hold your line.  Translation?  No weaving around. No sudden movements.  Inadvertently swerving into another rider’s path could be disastrous.  Call out what you are doing, loud and clear.  Passing someone?  Let them know you’re coming and what side you’re on.  Worried about how to ride with a group?  Seek out help.   Your local bike shop is a great resource – those girls and guys ride, and can help you out!  They also most likely have group rides, usually of a variety of abilities and levels, which is a great way to practice.  Get some friends together.  Seek out a PMC training ride.  Practice makes perfect! 

My riding partner and teacher 🙂
PMC training is better with buddies!

7.  DO…. BE PREPARED FOR THE WEATHER

And then remember you will be riding in New England.  And be prepared for anything.  Seriously, with the Winter we are having, there might still be freaking snow on the ground.  (probably not… but you never know.)  Be ready to ride in hot, sweaty, humid August weather.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!  And then remember that it is entirely possible that you will end up riding in a torrential downpour with temps that barely break 60 degrees.  Because that may or may not have happened last year.  It makes for great stories!! (and blue lips).

Aid station at mile 100.  Fro-zen.

8.  MISCELLANEOUS SURVIVAL TIPS

  • The PMC website (www.pmc.org) is a GREAT resource for info.  As is the ride handbook.  You’ll have all of the information you need for success 🙂
  • Chamois butter is your friend.  Your reeeeally good friend.  
  • If the forecast calls for rain, bring spares.  Of everything.  gloves, socks, anything you will need to use the next day that might still be sopping wet and freezing cold in the am
  • If you are staying in the ship at the Mass Maritime Academy… it is an actual ship.  With tiny little sailor bunks.  I did not realize this until the week before the ride.  It was super cool.
  • Said ship may be cold.  It’s usually not, so I hear.   I will never go there without my down sleeping bag ever again.  Just sayin’.
  • There will be free Harpoon a’plenty.  They even had a special PMC brew.  Enjoy! (in moderation, of course)
  • If you have a special dietary restriction, bring your own snacks.  They have an excellent selection of stuff to choose from, but they will likely not be able to accommodate your macro-raw-pesco only on tuesdays-vegan-gluten free diet. Pack your own organic heirloom hot pink and green striped carrots. 

9.  BE PREPARED….TO BE OVERWHELMINGLY INSPIRED

This is easily one of the most emotional and inspiring events I have ever done.  EVER.  The streets are lined with people cheering on the riders.  Thanking us for riding.   Telling you that they are here because of the care they received at Dana Farber…. that they are here because of YOU, and the money we have raised to support their research and programs.  Forget tissues… just let the tears flow.  You will ride alongside survivors – the “Living Proof” of the impact of this ride.  It is amazing.  I’m tearing up writing about it… you have NO idea what you’re in for.  Spoiler alert – it’s great.  And you will be back.  

2014 Living Proof photo (www.pmc.org)

 

 

So, there you have it.  My ramblings and musings on some helpful tips from my first PMC ride.  I hope you found it helpful (or at least mildly amusing).  It seriously is an amazing experience, and I highly recommend getting involved.  As I mentioned above, I will be back for 2015 – and I can’t wait.  

Found this post to be witty, helpful, and amazingly awesome?  Not able to ride yourself, but want to support the cause??  Consider a donation to my ride!  Click the PMC badge below to be directed to my fundraising page…. NO amount is too small or insignificant.  Every penny counts.  Thank you for reading!

www.pmc.org/CS0302
CLICK THE PMC BADGE TO SUPPORT MY RIDE!




 

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