Sometimes it is important to just sit back and think about what life is all about. If anything, riding in the PMC gives you that opportunity over the course of three days (and more if you take into consideration the letter writing campaigns and conversations). PMC 2009 did not let down in that area.

Phil’s Phriends 2009 was made up of 15 riders with 15 stories.  But among the individual efforts was one goal — the eradication of cancer.  As Jeff Nutting indicated in an e-mail to the team, there is a feeling of synergy on this team.  And as he noted, “We ride to try and make a difference and we ride for hope.”

Here are some of the things that stand out in my mind from the 2009 ride:

Meeting up with the team in Sturbridge and then riding together is key.  Julie phrased it best saying:  “These last four years have really taught me the meaning of the word team. I can’t stress enough how important you all are to me, laughing on the road, waiting for each other at the water stops, sitting together for our meals. I am always blown away by what a team can accomplish — there is no way I could ever pull this off alone.” 

Of course, in our sophisticated discourse, we learned and shared a lot of new phrases along the way.  Among them were: “More cowbell”; “Dropping the kiddies off at the pool”; “pain is temporary”; “Don’t draft me”.  They’re all colorful new additions to our vocabulary.

Seeing Phil’s wife Mary, their two children, and our other phriends and phamily at the Franklin water stop is a special moment.  We are reminded of our loss, but we see their growth and strength.  Brian will be playing football next year, and like his Dad, I’m sure he’ll be the most liked player on the turf.  Kelsey is going into 5th grade and has blossomed into a beautiful young girl.  And Mary continues to keep the MHS students on the right path.

The ride down Cherry Street is always memorable.  The street was colorful as ever, and the energy that is emitted by the people there makes the 27 mile ride to the lunch stop seem easier.  It was also a nice touch seeing that the band on the street has moved into acoustic rock.  I did miss not seeing Jean dressed up in her clown costume.  She was ill on the morning of the ride and couldn’t be out there, but we were thinking of her.  All of her signs made it out to the side of the road, however.

And speaking of signs, a lot of great people put messages out there for us along the way.  Some hold signs while others post them on their lawns or mailboxes.  Whereever they are, it’s nice to know that people are thinking of the ride and take the time to make the pathway brighter for everyone.

Meeting up with our pedal partner Emily and her family was rejuvinating.  We were about 85 miles into the ride and exhausted when we saw Emily in a Phil’s Phriends shirt with a bright smile and matching straw hat.  She was surrounded be her family in orange.  Michelle summed it up nicely noting that our being fortunate enough to get to know the Taylor family has been huge.  We look forward to staying in touch and watching as Emily continues to thrive and crank through her treatments.  We received a heartwarming note from Emily’s Mom at the end of the ride:

WOW… We are so very proud !! You guys are our ultimate inspiration. Tears are welling as I type. Please give a huge hug to everyone for us. Em felt like a princess yesterday… We love you all and feel like we’ve know you for years. Thank you for all you do….team emily oxox

Watching Ethan grow as a rider and participate with the team was encouraging.  As his Mom wrote:

I can NOT tell you how much it meant to me that my Phriends accepted Ethan, a 13-year old, into the fold of our team.  I was so nervous, writing that first email back in March, asking if Ethan could tag along on our Sunday team ride.  I really wasn’t sure if I’d be dragging the team down, or changing the dynamic, or breaking an unspoken team rule by adding my kid to the mix.  He’d never ridden before, wasn’t used to riding such a skinny, light bike, and was probably as nervous about the whole thing as I was.  This is a kid that has been taken under the collective wing of Phil’s Phriends. 

The isolation on the roads on the Sunday morning ride from Bourne to Wellesley was different from our experiences in the past along the Cape route.  Those gaps were filled in nicely by our teammates.  And when we did catch up with pockets of people along the way, the parrot squeezes were in full force.

The one downside of the weekendwas meeting up with the doctor (I’ll affectionately refer to him as the “order-giver”) on Sunday morning.  We were riding a nice paceline led by Michelle when we were approached by a 3-pack of riders led by one obnoxious order giver who was riding in the caboose position.  They proceed to pass us, pulled in front of Michelle, and then slowed down.  Of course we were perplexed and Michelle maneuvered into a re-pass, and got out in front of the group.  The hoots and hollars from the order-giver resonated.  With Michelle in front, the 3-pack slinked in to a paceline to draft off of Michelle.  I, being next in line, proceeded to nuzzle up to the back tire of the order-giver and enjoy the draft.

Within seconds, the order-giver turns around to tell me not to draft.  “I don’t like people near me,” he barked.  I couldn’t help but wonder what he was doing on a group ride with 5,000 others if he didn’t want people near him.  It turns out that Denise had a similar experience when she attempted to “draft” the order-giver.

As luck would have it, the order-giver turned out to be the same obnoxious person who turned us off during the opening ceremonies with his comments about smoking and obesity. 

Despite that one downer, it was a great weekend.  And we were even able to turn that event into a laughable story.  As Neil Young sang:  “Don’t let it bring you down, it’s only castles burning.  Just find someone whose turning, and you will come around.”

Kris’s note from Sunday night was a touching conclusion, and good way to wrap it up:

I also wanted to say I am so proud of all of you. This weekend has two meanings for me and the first being for Phil.  He and Mary became part of our life back in 1990 with their friendship and then the ugly cancer piece.  Becoming part of Phil’s Phriends had a huge impact on Bob and his desire to help erase cancer and the personal goal to get in shape.

The second part for me is the anniversary of Bob’s death.  It is ironic that he passsed away during PMC time.  He was so happy doing the PMC and that always gives me great comfort.  The weekend is a struggle of happy and sad emotions but I cannot imagine not spending the weekend with anyone else than Phil’s Phriends and famly.

I am so proud of all of you for riding hard and doing good for the world of cancer!!! 

PMC 2009 was another memorable weekend and I thank everyone for being a part of this effort and touching my life.  Billy Starr said it best when he wrote that a “unified force of people made whole by the belief in a single mission has the ability to improve the human condition.”

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