In honor of the 30th anniversary Pan-Massachusetts Challenge, the PMC blog will take you on a ride through history. Today we continue 30 years in 30 weeks with a look back at the PMC in 1984. We’ll coast through the event’s history, featuring a new year each week, as we lead up to the 30th annual ride on Aug. 1 and 2.
Check out past 30 Years in 30 weeks posts here.
Send your PMC story to Stephanie@teakmedia.com
30 years in 30 weeks
Rick Luppy was on an Appalachian Mountain Club bike ride when he noticed a fellow biker wearing an interesting shirt that read “Pan-Massachusetts Challenge.”
When Rick asked the man about his shirt, the cyclist was eager to share all the details about the event. Within two weeks, Rick was signed up for the 1984 ride.
It turned out to be a life-changing decision. Ever since, Rick has been a PMC cyclist and beyond that, he was one of the early volunteers who did everything from managing food and beverages to helping founder Billy Starr set up to the PMC’s first computerized database.
For Rick, 1984 was memorable. After the ferry landed in Boston, Rick and about 30 or so other cyclists hopped aboard a bus back to their cars in Sturbridge. On the bus, Rick met Todd Kurland. They talked the entire bus ride.
Rick and Todd would form a life long friendship because of that September evening ride. They would hit the singles scene together, and later, each served as the other’s best man in his wedding.
“We just hit off and we’re best friends ever since,” Rick said.
The connections formed in the PMC year after year help transform the event from a charity bike ride to a lifestyle.
“I don’t think a conversation was had for 10 years during our 30s without the PMC being a part of it; either planning, enrolling, training, volunteering, working, etc.,” Todd says now.
In 1984 PMC ridership grew 26 percent to 366 riders. The event also had a title sponsor for the first time: Bud Light. The donation to the Jimmy Fund in 1984 more than doubled the previous year.
The Heavy Hitter category was introduced in 1984. All riders who raised $1,000 or more became Heavy Hitters.
1984 was also a turning point for the PMC. Michael Forbes, a 24-year-old cyclist riding his first PMC died from head injuries he sustained in fall while riding. The young man’s death was a shock to the PMC community and created a wave of change to come.
Billy Starr wrote:
“While I was meeting with the police, the Jimmy Fund, the family, and lawyers, my entire head volunteer staff quit.
They were overcome with confusing emotions and had lost the vision of the PMC. We had created this event with so much positive energy and enthusiasm, yet we ended up with this singular horrible result.
We couldn’t make sense of this tragedy. So, it became part of my mission to restore their vision and faith in the dream we were fulfilling.
The cyclist’s death took the innocence out of the event. I had no insurance and no event coverage. We we’re vulnerable. But it was important for the PMC to continue.
The incredible upside to the PMC was that the money we were raising was going to save thousands of lives or more. I knew the PMC was capable of generating so much more good for the common whole. The challenge was to help my staff make sense of the emotions and regain the vision.”
Billy’s passion and commitment to the PMC and its success never waned. His head staff followed his lead and would return for the 1985 ride and lots of changes were made, including mandatory helmets for all cyclists.
PMC 1984 facts
Event date: Sept. 8 and 9
$350 fundraising minimum for two day rider
191 total miles
Start: Old Sturbridge Village
Finish: Provincetown Inn