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 1990. 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
It started on the Sunday morning as riders made their way into Provincetown after completing 200 grueling miles in the 1990 Pan-Massachusetts Challenge.
The winds were howling. The skies were grey. The forecast was not good.
But everyone was enjoying themselves at the Provincetown Inn. Food and beer flowed in the banquet hall while the Judy Wallace Band performed.
PMC founder Billy Starr was relaxing after completing the 11th PMC when the call came in: there would be no ferries back to Boston that day.
The Provincetown to Boston ferry was THE way riders, their bikes and their luggage got back home at the end of the ride.
“I knew cancelling the ferry was a possibility. If a big wind comes east, it’s too dangerous to cross the Cape Cod Bay,” Starr said.
Starr, his one full-time employee and his dedicated volunteer staff got to work trying to figure out to get about 900 people off the tip of Cape Cod on the steamy August afternoon.
“We got together to crunch the numbers and we told riders to try to find their own way home if they could,” Starr said.
Buses were called in from as far away as Maine. Bikes were put on garbage trucks and shuttled back to Boston.
“Luckily we had food, music and beer so at least people were stuck in a comfortable situation,” Starr said. “We made it work. We plan for everything. But things happen that you just can’t anticipate. That’s the charm of the PMC.”
Barry Davis recalls rolling into Provincetown around 11 a.m. that day and hearing Billy search for an alternative way home.
“I remember seeing all types of earth hauling trucks arriving,” Davis said. “I decided that I would do my part by organizing the loading of the trucks with bikes.”
Davis remembers a chaotic scene of riders scrambling to get onto the truck and then get themselves on to the next available bus.
“It was quite hectic at first, until the riders began to cooperate by gathering at the closed end of the Ptown Inn parking lot and moving forward,” Davis said. “It wasn’t pleasant loading the bikes. It was still raining and I was cold and wet. I don’t remember when the last truck and bus left, but I was on it. I was last to load my bike on board the truck. I got home to Dudley near midnight.”
Rider Brian Richards said: “I will never again complain about the ferry after that bus ride.”
The famous bus ride was not forgotten. That year, the Heavy Hitter t-shirts – which each year was designed around a particular (usually comical) PMC moment – said “Provincetown or Bus” in honor of the cancelled ferry.
PMC 1990 facts
211 Heavy Hitters ($1,600 fundraising minimum)
190 total miles