I remember: One rider’s PMC memories

We’ve been traveling through Pan-Massachusetts Challenge history for many weeks now. The PMC has been many things to many people. Here’s one man’s thoughts about his longtime involvement in the PMC cause.

PMC rider John Droney has shared this moving collection of memories with us.

PMC Thoughts and Memories Along the Years

I Remember:

  • My sister-in-law showing me, in June 1987, a flyer for something called “the Pan Massachusetts Challenge.”
  • Hand-delivering my first registration (a few weeks before the event!) to Billy Starr’s Dad’s home in Newton; the entire PMC was laid out on Mr. Starr’s kitchen table.
  • Asking people to support the Cause when it seemed that no one had ever heard of the PMC. Pan what?  You ride how far?
  • PMC Rider T-shirts (not jerseys!)
  • When the Friday night kick-off was pretty much just a slide show. The PMC logo on a glorified bed sheet!
  • Amy and the Aloha women at the Brick Yard.  Soaking my head in waterstop baby- pools filled with ice blocks!
  • Having meals in the actual MMA cafeteria!
  • Finishing the PMC in less than 10 hours. Very fast pace lines with “the boys” out in the dunes.
  • Riding for Dana Ulness, diagnosed with cancer on his 1st birthday and dying at age three – with his Bruins jersey on – way before his time.
  • The after-ride bike parade from the Provincetown Inn to the docks.
  • Riding back to Boston on the ship – with all our bikes on board.
  • PMC rides with my brothers-in-law Jim and Doug and then with my sister Tricia!
  • Paul Tsongas. And his charge to “Create positive action in the face of life’s often difficult challenges.”
  • Check Presentations at the General Cinema in Chestnut Hill with a big cake and, on special occasions, Legal Seafood’s clam chowder.
  • Walking up the aisle at the General Cinema to actually be handed my Heavy Hitter T-shirts!
  • Being asked by prior year’s donors, “Are you doing that Pan Am thing again this year?”
  • The first time it ever ‘rained on the PMC.’  Leaving Sturbridge from a strip-mall with our 10th anniversary jerseys (the first jerseys ever) covered by rain gear.
  • Riding on pace lines with Billy Starr and leaving just a little extra room between us so that I wouldn’t be that year’s event story.
  • Being on another pace line out in the dunes when Billy Starr found out that our Ferry was cancelled (due to rain and high winds) – before there was a bus option for riders and trucks for bikes. Then, within two hours, having enough trucks and busses available to take us all off the Cape by road!
  • Riding with LeMond – for ~ 17 seconds.
  • The shocking increase in riders going over the yellow line and others not pulling in despite multiple calls of “car back.”
  • A Sunday morning in the dark and the rain in Bourne; feeling sorry for myself. Then remembering a child having chemo treatments and riding on – crying – knowing how lucky I am. 
  • 1993: Bringing my 2-month old, Irene, to the Opening Ceremonies in Sturbridge.
  • Dedicating rides over the years to: Adele McNulty Droney, Larry Spicer, Joe Corkery, Myrna Reich, Dana Ulness, Warren Hunt, Charlie Tracy, Becky Callow, Erin Kurtz and way, way too many others. Some have survived; others have not.
  • Hearing Dr. Benz say: “When they write the history of how cancer was conquered, the PMC will be in chapter one.”
  • My daughter, Irene, riding her first (of five) Wildwood Challenges in 2003 when she was 10 years old. (And raising well over $1,200 – every year!)
  • May 2008. My Bride, The Great Colleen Lucas, my finest PMC supporter and the best person I’ve ever known. Learning that cancer had come right into our home.
  • June 2008. Stage II breast cancer. Surgery at the Brigham.
  • August 2008. My daughter Irene, now 15, riding the 2008 PMC with me for My Bride, her Mom.
  • September 2008. Crossing the PMC Bridge every day on the way to “L2” and Radiation therapy at DFCI.
  • The end of radiation therapy, the beginning of Tamoxifen and feeling damn lucky – and grateful. 
  • 22 rides. 22 Heavy Hitter years. Hundreds of supporters. Lots of jerseys, shorts and T-shirts!
  • Sitting on a Cure for Cancer; with still more miles to peddle and dollars to raise.
  • HOPE.


Filed under Riders

2 responses to “I remember: One rider’s PMC memories

  1. Great memories, thank you for sharing.

    I’m only a second year rider, but I get the “Pan Am” thing a lot.i don;t bother to correct them if I can restrain myself (most of the time).

  2. Jane Mingey

    Hi John,

    GREAT write-up. so many memories, so many miles. Fantastic to see you and your beautiful bride Colleen Friday night at PMC HH Din Din Celebration. She looks wonderful, so do you. Happy all the Droneys are doing great and are cancer cured.
    See you in August. Happy training. Stay away from the Fruitlands Bermuda triangle.

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