32nd PMC a Star-Studded Success
By Chris Villani Sports Reporter/Columnist · August 22, 2011
I'll admit it; I had visions of keeping up with Lance.
I figured if I worked hard at the beginning of the Pan Massachusetts Challenge, I might have a chance to dash my way up to the front of the nearly 4,000 other riders who began their PMC journey in Sturbridge in the early morning darkness on August 6 and ride in the same group with the seven time Tour de France winner. Maybe I could impress him with my climbing ability or give him some pointers on his descending.
Sadly, I was done in by a wayward high-five. A gentleman riding in front of me swerved left to high-five a woman in the crowd as we rolled out to the blasting tones of a Lady GaGa track. I stopped short just a bit when he cut in front of me, as did the few hundred riders behind me in the tightly packed group. We laughed off the near-collision at the beginning and I will fault that two second delay for keeping me behind Lance's pace. Sure, he may have rolled into Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne about three hours before I did, but I will maintain those two seconds made all the difference.
Armstrong 1, Villani 0.
Still, the real winner in the 32nd PMC is, once again, the Jimmy Fund. It seems as though 5,300 riders are well on their way to the goal of raising $34 million for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. As of August 9, more than $24 million had already been donated. That's an increase of 9% from the same date a year ago, according to PMC founder Billy Star.
This was my second year riding in the PMC, and I was once again blown away by the scope of the event. The 5,300 and change riders represented 38 different states. There were more than 3,000 volunteers who filled water bottles, made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and made sure the ride as smooth as possible. How they managed to summon so much energy and enthusiasm, particularly at 4 a.m., as we were arriving at the start line in Sturbridge, I'll never know.
Once again, my favorite part of the route was riding through the Blackstone Valley area and particularly through Mendon. It's familiar territory for starters, I pass the place where I used to get my yearly physicals and one of my favorite breakfast spots from back in my high school days. It also means the biggest climbs of the day are behind us. Once we cruise through downtown Mendon and ride down the hill into Bellingham it is smooth sailing all the way to the ocean.
The riders of the PMC still have more than $10 million to raise in order to make $34 million a reality for 2011, and I still have a little more than $1,000 to achieve my personal goal. For those who wish to make a donation to my ride, just visit PMC.org/CV0042. You can also log onto PMC.org to donate to any of the riders who made the 32nd Pan Mass Challenge another win in the ongoing battle against cancer.