After a weekend of battling intense heat, thousands of cyclists on Sunday finished the Pan-Mass Challenge, the annual distance ride that raises millions of dollars for cancer research.
The two-day ride began Saturday with 5,450 cyclists, and the overwhelming majority finished despite sizzling temperatures, said spokeswoman Jackie Herskovitz. One rider was treated at a hospital for dehydration Saturday, Herskovitz said.
As of Sunday, riders had raised about $22 million for the Jimmy Fund at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Herskovitz said. Organizers were hopeful they could hit their $36 million goal by the fall deadline.
Billy Starr, who founded the ride in 1980, said his 33d PMC left him feeling tired but inspired.
“It really has morphed into something very huge,” he said. “In my opinion it’s the best of human nature on display.”
‘It really has morphed into something very huge. In my opinion it’s the best of human nature on display.’
Riders chose among multiple routes for the ride, which bills itself as the largest single athletic fund-raiser for charity in the nation. The most popular route started in Sturbridge and finished in Provincetown, covering a distance of 192 miles.
Among the riders was Peter Corbett of Shutesbury. Corbett, whose brother is a lymphoma survivor, chose a particular challenge for his first PMC: riding the entire Sturbridge-to-Provincetown route on a unicycle.
“I wanted to do something that seemed a bit crazy, that seemed a little out of reach,” he said.
Since unicycles travel far slower than a bicycle, Corbett chose to start his ride six days early, on July 29. Riding at an average pace of about 7 miles per hour, he cycled 25 or 30 miles a day, he said.
His son Noah, 16, drove along behind him.
After days of riding by himself, he completed his final leg Sunday in a sea of PMC bikers, many of whom shouted encouragement as they passed.
“That sense of camaraderie and community spirit carrying you forward was really powerful,” he said.
Corbett said the 192 miles left him feeling sore. He wouldn’t, however, rule out a repeat ride in the future.
“Ask me in three weeks,” he said.