By Chris Villani, Town Crier Columnist · August 06, 2010
Riding for a Cure, the 2010 Pan Mass Challenge heads through Mendon [back]
Right around the time I topped 30 miles per hour, I started to think this was a really, really bad idea.
Despite having not ridden a bike since I was a kid, I thought a solid foray into the world of cycling would be to ride in this year's Pan Mass Challenge (PMC), a series of rides crisscrossing the state to raise money for the Jimmy Fund and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Raising money for cancer research is something that had recently become a more personal issue for me, but that was the farthest thing from my mind as I went through my first ride with a small group. I had already crashed...twice..., was wearing a helmet I dug out of my parent's attic (I was called on that by one of the cute girls in our group who remarked she had the same one when she was 14, talk about ego crushing), and was now going downhill at what I felt to be a break neck speed on a 20-year-old borrowed road bike way too big for me.
Luckily, I made it to the bottom of the hill on both wheels and through the 25 mile training ride. I traded in the borrowed bike for a brand new Cannondale, and my riding group and I reached the peak of our training recently with a ride from Boston to the top of Wachusett Mountain and back, about 118 miles in a single day.
Far more important than the training, however, is our fund raising and the cause the 5,000 riders will all be supporting when we take off from either Sturbridge or Wellesley on August 7. This year, in the 31st PMC, our goal is to combine to raise $31 million for the Jimmy Fund.
Every one of the riders who will be out there on the road and likely every one of the readers currently reading this column has been touched by cancer either directly or indirectly. All three of my living grandparents have been diagnosed with various forms of the disease in recent years, but it truly hit home for me when I received a phone call from my college roommate and he told me he had lymphoma.
The fact that they caught it early coupled with his positive attitude, some great doctors and only being 24-years-old collaborated to put him in remission as of this spring and I'll be there to see him get married in September. Still, it was a sobering reminder of how cancer can be all too indiscriminate and enough to get me on a bike and out there raising money to support the cause of finding a cure and helping make the lives of those suffering from this disease a little brighter in the process.
I'll be riding in the two-day Sturbridge to Provincetown, route which totals about 190 miles over the weekend of August 7 and 8. It also means I'll be passing through Mendon around mile 30. I may be tough to spot; all 5,000 riders wear the same jerseys and bike shorts as a show of unity on the first day. But please come out and support the riders passing through and by making a donation to the Jimmy Fund. All riders will be accepting donations through September.
To make a donation to my ride, please visit: www.pmc.org/CV0042
Chris Villani practing on a country road for the upcoming Pan Mass Challenge. He will be riding through Mendon on August 7 to help raise funds to fight cancer.