Category Archives: Pan Mass Challenge

Why I ride in the Pan Mass Challenge

I started riding in the Pan Mass Challenge (a 200-mile two-day bike ride in Massachusetts, USA that raises funds for the fight against cancer) because I had gotten back into biking after a long hiatus, I had friends who were doing it, and because I was now in my 50s and thinking more about how to give back to people rather than getting for myself. Apparently that happens to men of a certain age. Less concern and worry about their place in the universe and more concern about how to help others.

The thinking also went: “I’m going to be out there biking because I like doing it and I like how it makes me feel and how it makes me fit and since I’m putting in all these miles (and time), I might as well see if there’s a way to somehow be helping someone simultaneously.” Enter Pan Mass Challenge. Perfect fit, really.

Then reality sets in. You’ve got to be in pretty good shape to ride back-to-back centuries. (A century in bike parlance is a 100-mile ride.) As a result you have to ride a lot to get in shape for that weekend. You end up riding more than you would otherwise ride just to stay in shape. Which is good. On the one hand. On the other, you end up putting in more time in the saddle than you otherwise might want to. Other things don’t happen or don’t get done. There’s only so much time in a day. As I get older, this is more and more apparent to me. (As I tick off only 3 of the 7 items on my to-do list.) Either I’m slowing down at getting things done, or I just have wildly unrealistic expectations. Or: combination of the two.

But you ride for the cause. Money raised goes to fight cancer. You don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way. Think about that. No one. Everyone you know and everyone that all of the people you know knows doesn’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer. Follow that geometric progression out. As far as causes go, it’s a no-brainer.

But really, the main reason I continue to ride is my presence on the road. And not just my presence. But all those bicyclists out there training every day, every weekend. People see them. Pedestrians see them. Drivers see them. These folks who see the bicyclists–and many of the bicyclists wear Pan Mass Challenge jerseys from past years–will think of the Pan Mass Challenge and the cause it supports and they might think about someone they know who is currently undergoing treatment for one kind of cancer or another. Moreover, people have told me how people undergoing cancer treatments see each of these bicyclists as a ray of hope. Why? Because they care. They care enough to go out and ride their bike and ask colleagues, friends, and neighbors for money to help find a cure for cancer. Person on bike = hope. It’s physical, it’s visceral, it’s emotional. It’s helpful.

There are those Saturday mornings when I’m waking up and thinking, “oh, I’d like to sleep a while longer,” but there’s a group going out at 8 a.m. I want to ride with. So you get up. And as the summer progresses, the rides get longer and longer. Here’s the thing: by the time you get to the first weekend in August and you’re going to ride nearly 200 miles over the course of that Saturday and Sunday, you want a couple of similar weekends under your butt. So you go out and ride 80 miles on a Saturday and then go out again and ride 80 miles on Sunday. And somewhere in there you do a century ride or two as well. Then you’re ready. (Though I’m pretty certain a lot of riders go into the weekend not nearly well enough prepared. But you know, their hearts are in the right place and you hope it hope it isn’t too hot and that they don’t stress their bodies too much.)

Then there are the systems. The PMC has great systems. It’s easy for people to donate online. It’s easy for me to set up. I keep the same link year after year. When someone donates, I get an email right away. (This is a recent development.) Meaning the PMC team is constantly working at improving their website and how it works and how money gets funneled to the cause. (Sidebar: I donated money to a friend who participated in a 2-day cancer walk. Never heard from her. But knew she was the kind of person who would send a thank you note. When I asked her about it, she said she had sent a thank you note via the fundraising website. I never got that email. Bad system. Life’s too short to work with causes that don’t have good systems in place.

One last thing. It’s the people who come out to cheer you on. They are the best fans. Lining the road, clapping. And the best part, the folks who say “Good job!” or “You’re doing great work!” You know, this is the kind of encouragement you never get at work. But that you should get at work. It’s a good lesson, really, for everyone. Encourage the folks you work with. Tell them–out loud!–what a great job they’re doing. Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you’re great. Tell everyone else first. Who doesn’t want to participate in something when you know you’ll get positive feedback from everyone. Everyone! I’ve been thinking about this aspect of the ride for a while now. Maybe this encouragement from the roadside fans has more of an impact on why I sign up each year than I’m willing to acknowledge?

Every year during the hot days of mid July when I’m out there pushing my bike (and my body, 210 lbs!) up a steep hill, I ask myself “Why am I doing this?” A couple weeks later I get the answer when I’m standing in a parking lot in Sturbridge, MA with a few thousand other cyclists and we’re waiting for a State Police officer to sing the National Anthem at 5:45 a.m. and you look around at all the people and think of all their stories and why they ride and, well, it’s a great feeling. A lot of people making a difference in the world.

Then when January of the next year rolls around and it’s time to decide whether to sign up for the Pan Mass Challenge again, it’s always that first weekend in August that you remember, not the months leading up to it. Sign up again? Sure.

You can support my ride at this link:
http://www.pmc.org/egifts/giftinfo.asp?EgiftID=EH0050

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Pan Mass Challenge again…redux

CIMG1088, originally uploaded by erikorama.

It’s that time of the year again. Starting fundraising activities for the Pan Mass Challenge. Pasted in below is the email I sent out to folks asking them to support me in this year’s ride:

Dear Friends,

I’m participating in the Pan Mass Challenge for the fifth time this summer. Last year’s event raised over $30 million for the Jimmy Fund, which in turn supports cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. It is the single largest contribution made to the Jimmy Fund, representing almost 50 percent of the charity’s annual revenue.

The 2-day, 192-mile bike ride (not a race!) from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA, will again take place the first weekend in August. While it is in fact an individual athletic event, it is in spirit a huge community gathering. More than 5,000 riders will participate this year. They are helped on their way by 2,800 volunteers. And all the PMC folks are in turn supported by citizens who line the route across Massachusetts to cheer on everyone. Of course we’re also supported by people like you who have donated money in previous years to help in the fight against cancer.

I hope you can do so again. (And if you haven’t donated before, please consider helping us this year.)

To donate online, go to this address:
http://www.pmc.org/egifts/giftinfo.asp?EgiftID=EH0050

My donor ID is EH0050.

Thank you for your generosity. (100 percent of your donation is tax deductible.)

If you prefer to donate by check, please make it out to “Jimmy Fund” or “PMC” and mail it to me at the address below. If you’ve got any questions, please email me:
erik [at] erikhansen [dot] com

You can get more information about the Pan Mass Challenge at this web address: www.pmc.org

My photos from the 2009 ride can be found here: http://is.gd/bkjUp

Thank you again for your support.

-erik

Shake it for the PMC, the video

I made a short video about Andrew Steinhouse’s Pan Mass Challenge fundraiser at b.good in Brookline, MA.

Shake it for the PMC

(Andrew Steinhouse, a member of the Crack o’ Dawn bicycling club, will be ‘bike-blending’ smoothies as part of his Pan Mass Challenge fundraising this evening at b.good in Brookline.)

—————————————————-

Introducing the Blender-Bike!

I’ve hooked a blender up to my old Bianchi and turned it into the
ultimate cycling smoothie/frappe/margarita machine!
Thanks to b.good, who will be supplying the fruit, ice and ice cream,
I’ll be using the bike to raise money towards my PMC goal.

This Thursday evening, July 9, between 5 and 9 PM,come on down to
b.good, 465 Harvard Street in Brookline (map) and pay ANY AMOUNT you’d
like for a delicious bike blended smoothie!
Your donation will be doubled by my company, TripAdvisor.

b.good will be alerting members of their “family” as well, but I’d
love to see as many of you as possible show up.
Come by bike if you can, but no matter how you come, please come down
and have a smoothie (maybe add a burger and fries to that?) and some
fun!

Thanks,
Andrew

Challenging fund raising

Once you sign up to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge, there are two things you’ve got to do: ride your bike a lot and raise money. For folks who are doing the two-day ride, they must raise a minimum of $4200. (If you raise less than that, the balance comes out of your credit card.) I’ve always managed to raise more than the minimum (knock on wood) but this year, given the economic state of the world, it figured to be harder to raise the same amount of money I raised last year.

Instead of sending out an email blast to my whole network that begins “Dear Friends,” I went the more personal route and sent the email individually to all my friends and colleagues. That was time consuming. (In fact I’m still sending out emails.) The thinking being that a more personal outreach would result in a higher percentage of donations. As to the percentage increase or decrease in donations, I don’t have the answer to that yet.

But one thing I do have the answer to is that, surprisingly, fewer people responded to me via email–just to say hello or whatever–when I sent out the individual emails. Meaning what? It was easier for people to say hi to me when I had included them in an impersonal mass emailing? This one baffles me. Unless it’s that people aren’t going to send money so they don’t want to start a conversation with me. Not sure. But one of the surprises of this fund-raising season.

Pan Mass Challenge 2009

My plea email for the Pan Mass Challenge this year:

I’m participating in the Pan Mass Challenge for the fourth time this summer. Last year’s event raised $35 million (!!!) for the Jimmy Fund, which in turn supports cancer research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. $35 million is more than twice the amount ever raised for a charity by an athletic fundraising event in the country. It is the single largest contribution made to the Jimmy Fund, representing almost 50 percent of the charity’s annual revenue.

The Pan Mass Challenge is a 2-day, 192-mile bike ride (not a race!) from Sturbridge, MA to Provincetown, MA, that takes place the first weekend in August each year. While it is in fact an individual athletic event, it is in spirit a huge community gathering. More than 5,500 riders will participate this year. They are helped on their way by 2,800 volunteers. And all the PMC folks are in turn cheered on and supported by citizens, many of them cancer survivors, who line the route across Massachusetts to cheer on everyone. Of course we’re also supported by all the folks who donate money to the cause. I hope I can count on you to help me further the fight against cancer this year.

To donate online, go to this address:
http://www.pmc.org/egifts/giftinfo.asp?EgiftID=EH0050

My donor ID is EH0050.

Thank you for your generosity. (100 percent of your donation is tax deductible.)

If you prefer to donate by check, please make it out to Jimmy Fund or PMC and mail it to me at the address below. If you’ve got other questions, please feel free to call or email me:
erik [at] erikhansen [dot] com

You can get more information about the Pan Mass Challenge at this web address: www.pmc.org

My photos from the 2007 ride can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/5zue8p
I didn’t bring my camera last year, but I’ll be sure to bring one along on this year’s ride.

Thank you again for your support.

-erik

Erik Hansen

Pan Mass Challenge ride completed

(Reproduced below is the email I sent out to folks after I completed the Pan Mass Challenge ride in August. Yes, this is way overdue. And why am I posting this now? Just for the record, I guess. And maybe to pick up a last-minute donation to the Jimmy Fund.)

Dear Friends,

First of all, thank you again to all of you who have donated to the Jimmy Fund this year. I do appreciate your support.

And yes, the ride is done, all 192 miles. It was a good weekend for riding, and even the rain showers Saturday evening in Bourne were not too disruptive (except for one of the wood beam supports holding up the Big Top tent getting knocked over by a wind gust). I took a short refreshing swim in Buzzards Bay to celebrate the first 111 miles. Salt water, gooood. Mostly everyone made it, 5,390 riders. 2,700 volunteers to help us on our way. A few folks ended up in emergency rooms but I'm told there were no serious injuries. Thankfully.

Once again I was with a group that stopped Sunday morning to have mimosas in Barnstable (an homage to the winner of the Tour de France, who on the last day of the race drinks—sips?—some champagne as the peloton makes its way to Paris for that last torrid bit of racing around the Champs d'Elysee) and we stopped again in Wellfleet to cool off in the pond there. (Clearly we are not interested in an early finish at Provincetown.)

Lots of scenic countryside. Lots of people lining the roads, clapping, and thanking us. And the young boys and girls with their arms outstretched, waiting for the bicyclists to veer towards them to slap hands. You start thinking everyone in the state of Massachusetts is out there rooting for you. Well, maybe not the fishermen we see beside the Cape Cod Canal at 5:30 a.m. on Sunday, their lines casting out into the mist over the water. They had business of their own.

But I have to tell you one story. Last Wednesday I was out on a training ride and stopped at a red light in Newton. A car pulled up beside me and the woman behind the wheel rolled down her window and asked me if I was riding in the Pan Mass Challenge. "I am," I said, thinking it was interesting that this time of year everyone in Massachusetts assumes anyone on a bicycle is training for the PMC ride. And that's kinda cool. Then she said, "My daughter died of cancer two months ago." That was like a kick to the gut. She said it matter-of-factly, but you could see her struggling not to cry. This was a woman in her late 40s, so her daughter was what?, 20-something? "I'm terribly sorry to hear that," I said, and then she related how her daughter had worked at Monster, the job search company, and how her colleagues had raised all sorts of money for the Jimmy Fund. That was such a sad encounter. Your first reaction is to think you've failed this woman and her family. Daughter. Dead. That's so tragic. On the other hand, I think someone on a bike represents hope for this woman and I guess that's another reason why we all continue to do this ride.

So far, $21,000,000 has been raised. The goal is $34,000,000. If you'd still care to donate, you've got until October 1st.

I hope you're all having wonderful summers.

Thanks again,

-erik

(I didn't bring my camera so I don't have any pictures this year.)

To make a donation online: https://www.pmc.org/egifts/default.asp?Add=EH0050