PMC riders gathered at the Sturbridge Host Hotel last Friday night filled with excitement, anticipation and maybe some nerves. It was the PMC’s annual opening ceremony celebration and this was the biggest yet, with cycling super star Lance Armstrong in the audience.
Hundreds of PMC volunteers worked all day – and some all week – to make sure the opening ceremony and Sturbridge start went off without a hitch. Inside the ballroom, seats for more than 1,800 were set to accommodate what was expected to be the biggest crowd ever.
Meanwhile, cyclists poured into Sturbridge, dropped off their bikes and headed into registration. The bells rang loudly as volunteers enthusiastically welcomed first year cyclists. Then everyone meandered out back to the food and beer tent.
Riders and volunteers headed into the ballroom early – to get a good seat and photo of Lance Armstrong.
The opening ceremony kicked off with a welcome from PMC Founder and Executive Director Billy Starr and a wonderful video by PMC photographer John Deputy.
Tym Rourke, father of Pedal Partner Declan, wowed the crowd with his inspiring story of how his young son battled a rare and deadly form of childhood cancer – and survived.
Declan brought the room to tears when he road his bike toward the stage.
Seven-time Tour de France winner and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong wowed the crowd and shared his appreciation to be at the PMC for the first time since learning about the event 12 years ago.
“This is a movement,” Armstrong said. “I love bikes and I hate cancer. When you put those two things together – this is a true testament of a community, state and a country coming together and building a peloton. (Cancer) is a complicated disease and we’re going to back here next year, and the year after that.”
Armstrong told rider this first PMCwould not be his last.
Following the traditional PMC opening ceremony celebration, PMC media sponsor WCVB and its fantastic show “Chronicle” took over, giving viewers at home a one-hour, 360 degree look at the PMC – from its start, to its route to the people that make the event so special.
Check out the Chronicle PMC special here.