When 16-year-old Zachary Temple wanted to join his father on a two-day, 190-mile bike ride with more than 5,000 participants, his mother was understandably apprehensive.
However, having a teenage boy show interest in philanthropy made saying no impossible. Zachary’s father, Mark, came up with the perfect solution. They would take on the Pan-Mass Challenge together, on a tandem bicycle.
Although neither Mark nor Zachary had experience riding a tandem, they bought the bike and started training. “This way I could take the reins, but Zachary could still participate,” says Mark. “It turned out to be a lot of fun.”
For the Temples the Pan-Mass Challenge became a family affair after Mark rode his first PMC in 2005. A friend asked Mark to join him in the PMC to support a young girl with cancer. Although he didn’t own a bike and had no road biking experience he said yes because as Mark put it, “How do you say no to a little girl with cancer?”
After borrowing a friend’s bike and making it through his first PMC, Mark was hooked. He immediately recruited his family to get involved in the next year’s ride. His wife Cheryl, son Zachary, and daughter Tricia all volunteered at the Wareham water stop in 2006.
For the next three years the PMC was a Temple family tradition with Mark riding and his family volunteering.
Then, Zachary changed the game by asking to ride with his father. The pair set out to learn how to ride a tandem.
“The difference between riding a single and a tandem is like the difference between driving a Ferrari and a Mack truck,” says Mark. “The turns are wider, you need more space, and you gain more speed downhill which can sometimes help get you up the next hill.”
Although the new mode of transportation proved challenging, Mark and Zachary loved their PMC experience and signed up for the 2011 ride. Zachary, now 17 and going into his senior year at Nashoba High in Bolton, plans to ride a single next to his father some day, but for now he will sit back and give his father the control.
“We could probably switch spots this year, but I think I’ll stay in front,” says Mark. “Zac has a lot of fun squirting the crowds with a water gun I keep in the back of my jersey.”