It’s been awhile, but this year’s Pan-Mass Challenge was better than I can describe here. My video and the others you can find give some idea, but it really is hard to explain or show the totality of the experience.
As we ride, I am constantly calling out “Thank you!” to people lining the route with signs, many of whom stand for hours, cheering on riders, handing out food and water that they personally purchased. When I’m not shouting out my thanks, I’m giving a “Woo hoo!” as we flash by.
One woman I was riding with as part of team Phat Tuesday said that I was “joyful” and asked me why. I stumbled through many words looking for an answer.
What came immediately to mind was how beautiful the day was and how liberating it felt to roll through it on my bike, across roads that, while technically open to all traffic, were dominated PMC riders. But even if it had been pouring rain, as many had feared, it would have been as beautiful a day.
As I reflected, between “thank you” and “woo hoo” shout outs, I heard again what everyone lining the route was saying, I thought again of all my supporters and I remembered all of those faces on my jersey, the ones I look in the eye every time I ride, the ones watching out over the route as I rolled through it. And that reminded me why it was such a beautiful day and why I felt such joy. It’s all about the people.
We are all there together, and we bring with us all of our supporters and others who can’t make it, and we are all moving forward not just across the land but also across time into the future, and all of us are working to make that future better than the present. Despite having suffered grievous and devastating losses, we are all still hopeful.
That hope is what you hear me shouting out as I spin by. That hope is what keeps me warm in the rain and keeps me pushing into the wind. That transcendent shared hope is what brings me joy.