Teens prepare for off-road Pan-Mass Challenge

About 100 volunteers and riders were at the Teen Mountain Bike Ride last year  at Hale Reservation.
Jay Baronowski
About 100 volunteers and riders were at the Teen Mountain Bike Ride last year at Hale Reservation.

Wendy Horn of Wellesley has cycled in the annual Pan-Mass Challenge adult ride for 13 years with support from her family, especially her two children. Her son, Matthew Piispanen, and daughter, Nicole Piispanen, were eager to follow in Horn’s footsteps, and participated in the Kids Rides at young ages.

When Matthew, 17, and Nicole, 15, became too old to ride in the children’s events, they stayed involved as volunteers, but that did not replace their desire to ride in PMC events. So they discovered a way for teenagers to cycle by creating the Pan-Mass Challenge Teen Mountain Bike Ride.

The second annual ride, for cyclists ages 13 through 18, is scheduled for Sept. 29 at Hale Reservation in Westwood.


The foundation of the ride is based on the proposal Matthew presented to the nonprofit organization’s executive director, Billy Starr, in 2011.

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“He explained why he wanted high school kids to get involved,” Horn said of her son. “He wanted to bring kids together from different area high schools, and to bring all teenagers from tons of towns.”

Horn said she and her children looked forward to organizing the ride again after the first teen ride in October 2012 was a success.

Pan-Mass Challenge riders raise donations for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. In 2012, Horn said, students from about 20 high schools raised $13,000 to donate to the institute through the Jimmy Fund.

Teens can ride on mountain bikes or hybrid bikes suitable for the 1.7-mile off-road terrain on the Page and Sadie trail at the reservation.


Riders must wear helmets, and a number of volunteers and an emergency medical technician will be on hand.

Horn said the biggest draw of the ride for many teenagers is the chance to earn community service credit or hours for graduation requirements or merit societies, and a post-ride party with music, food, and raffle prizes.

The teen participant who raises the most money will receive a new mountain bike, courtesy of Buchika’s Ski and Bike in Salem, N.H.

Online preregistration for individuals and teams is available at for $10.

The mandatory fund-raising minimum is $25, and riders must arrive between 9:15 and 9:45 a.m. on event day to check in before the 10 a.m. start time.

Nicole Leonard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter at @NicALeonard.