After years of dreams, Mike made plans to spend April and May riding 3500 solo miles across the USA, using the effort to raise money for cancer research at Dana-Farber as a supplement to his regular Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) fundraising. Donations, large and small, are welcomed and can be made via this link.
Then -- COVID. Rather than scrap the plan, a "virtual transcon" -- 3500 day trip miles, carrying all supplies for the day, including a tour through all 351 Massachusetts cities and towns. If you would like to be added to the blog d-list, use this email link.
Father's Day -- daughter Alison agreed that my present would be to serve as "road crew" for one last ride. The original Transcon plan was to spend two days trekking across Massachusetts. I decided to compress that into one epic day, dashing from the NY State Line back to Newton. This ride was not about history, not about pictures - just ride fast and get home. But, in the spirit of the rest of the trip, I chose whenever possible to avoid roads previously traveled -- and to incorporate the first dozen miles of the PMC Sturbridge start -- a taste of "Pan-Mass classic".
With Alison and boyfriend Billy's help, I set a personal solo record for miles, despite temps in the 90's. While thunderstorms stopped the ride a dozen miles short of Newton, I felt great at the finish -- no sense of loss. The final tally -- 3,628 miles ridden. 163,141 feet of elevation climbed (nearly 6x Mount Everest). Both well above what "regular transcon" would have delivered. Success!
Rosie asked me Friday, "so, how will you celebrate finishing the ride?" -- wow, actually a question I had not even thought about. My celebration -- it's not about tonight -- it is about the rest of my life! I get to live the rest of my life knowing:
I can achieve anything I set my mind to doing, as long as I make it a priority and invest accordingly to realize it.
"Achieving" is a process, and it needs to be broken into small steps. Riding 3,500 miles is ridiculous. Riding 70 miles isn't. You just need to do that 50 times. Go!
Making something a priority means giving up other things. I had the luxury in my personal life to be able to make time for this. If you don't ...
Recognize that life is short, and you must make time for things that are priorities. As many of you know, I have lost loved ones in the past few months. Those losses served as a trigger for me making this a "must do" -- while I could.
"Goal" is flexible -- COVID morphed "ride across the USA" into -- what I did. Equally satisfying, in retrospect, more enjoyable (miles across the Plains -- boring and repetitive, miles along the seashore -- not!). Recognizing "what I really was trying to achieve" -- let me achieve!
"Achieving" means more when it is shared, and brings "something greater". This journey began as a personal quest -- it took on meaning when it became a channel for supporting Dana-Farber and something that was shared with over 100 donors and friends. The ongoing emails and texts of support, the outreach I got from so many of you to share some miles, fix broken bikes, just tell me you were thinking about me, how proud you were of me -- all of those things kept me going nearly every day for over two months. Truly, I could not have done this without you, and I am so thankful for you making this possible and sharing the journey with me.
Look forward to one more blog post -- I will be helping to lead the Bain Pan-Mass team through its own "Pan-Mass weekend" August 1st and 2nd. We will offer 200 miles of COVID protocol riding, and we will have a great time and raise lots of money. I look forward to sharing that weekend's journey with you!