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 1986. 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 McKeowns of Norwood joined the PMC in 1986, bringing a new level of family involvement to the ride.
Five McKeown brothers all signed for the 190 mile, two-day ride. Four of the boys heard about the PMC after mom, Carol, picked up a flyer in a local bike shop. A fifth brother, Chris McKeown signed up when he came home from the Navy.
“I was on a submarine in the Navy,” Chris McKeown recalled. “I got home, bought a bike and rode the PMC two weeks later.”
Carol and her husband Frank joined the effort as volunteers, where they ran water stops during both days of the event. They have been volunteers ever since.
Even though one of the McKeown’s children was treated for and survived a brain tumor as an infant, the family got involved more because it was a fun, athletic challenge and way to give back.
“Doing something for others was an important part of how we were brought up,” said Chris about his family’s passion for the PMC. “I don’t think we even thought of a brain tumor as cancer back then. Today, we all have a much deeper connection to cancer.”
There were 737 riders who jumped on their bikes for the Pan-Massachusetts Challenge in 1986 – nearly double the number of riders in 1985. It was clear that the PMC mission was catching on fast.
With so many more riders, the PMC needed to increase its support system – water stops were larger, as was the demand for the now famous peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Some 1,200 PBJs were made the night before the PMC by Stuart and Laurel Silverman of Easton. According to the PMC retrospective: “together with 20 of heir friends, the Silvermans set up a workshop in their garage where they finally finished their sandwich creations (packaged with a cookie and napkin) at 1 a.m. the morning of the PMC.”
Road coordinator Jim Billings introduced a “water horse” system which proved to be the most efficient way serve water to many bikers as quickly as possible. And Rick Luppy, water stop coordinator for the first time in 1986, started a long-time effort to enhance the quality and quantify of food at each stop and helped increase the number of corporate donors to supply food and beverages.
To accommodate the new riders, the PMC chartered a special ferry from Provincetown back to Boston at the end of the ride, creating the “official party boat” of the PMC with music, performances and a triumphant return to families and friends on Boston Harbor.
The PMC also continued to grow beyond a one weekend event. In September 1986, Billy Starr presented the annual donation check to Jean Yawkey at Fenway Park when the Boston Red Sox hosted an exhibition game with the New York Mets. The game served as a preview of the World Series, but we won’t talk about that here. The good news is that Jean Yawkey accepted a $400,000 check from PMC riders.
PMC 1986 facts
Event date: June 21 and 22
$400 fundraising minimum for two day rider
188 total miles
Start: Old Sturbridge Village
Finish: Provincetown Inn