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 1985. 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.
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30 years in 30 weeks
The Pan-Mass Challenge in 1985 was a turning point. The event, which almost lost its footing after a tragic death in 1984, came back with 100 more riders and $100,000 more raised to fight cancer.
“If we’d stopped that year, the PMC would have served as an example of what NOT to do to raise money, instead of what it is today — woven into the fabric of New England and a model of efficiency for nonprofits and athletic fundraising events across the nation,” Billy Starr said.
Rider safety was improved. Helmets were made mandatory and headphones and walkmans were prohibited.
In the mid-1980s, riders like Bill Cantor and Samuel Zoll, chief justice of the Massachusetts district court system, joined the PMC. Bill and Sam biked long distances with the North Shore Cyclopaths. On one of the group’s rides along the North Shore, a woman asked them if they would consider riding the PMC.
“We used to swim at the Jewish Community Center, but it was closed on Saturday, so we went biking,” Bill told the Swampscott Reporter about how he started biking. “That got me back on a bike after many years.”
Bill did his first PMC at age 60 and came back for his second ride in 1985. Zoll was with him and they have been involved ever since.
“I used to get up at all hours and drive” to Sturbridge on the morning of the ride, Bill told a newspaper reporter. “When you leave at 5 a.m., it doesn’t take that long.”
Bill was 84 during the PMC 2008, earning the title of oldest rider. Bill has cut back from his days of riding 200 miles and did the 47-mile one day loop in 2008. In 24 years, he’s raised $130,000 for the Jimmy Fund.
1985 also introduced riders to Mass Maritime Academy as the ending point for day one.
“The event had clearly outgrown the camp concept,” wrote the PMC 10-year retrospective book. MMA “became the ideal location with its many dorms, huge dining hall, auditorium and unparalleled water views.”
To enjoy the use of MMA, the PMC was held in August, when the cadets are not in session, which gave riders more daylight hours to ride but also added summer heat to contend with. MMA eliminated some of “rustic” qualities of camping during the early years of the PMC, but it proved beneficial in its amenities, especially as ridership grew.
Photo Caption : Courtesy of Tammy Cronin
Sam Zoll, Avram Hammer, Bill Indresano, Marge Zoll, Sue Redfield, Marti Marean, Sheldon Brown and Bill Cantor participating in the Pan Mass Challenge in 1985.
Check out more PMC photos from the NS Cyclopaths.
PMC 1985 facts
Event date: Aug. 10 and 11
$350 fundraising minimum for two day rider
188 total miles
Start: Old Sturbridge Village
Finish: Provincetown Inn