Another Year, Another Ride

Company Culture Posted Sep 30, 2016 by Liza Vilnits

It’s been almost two month now since I completed my second Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC), and let me tell you, it was no less exciting, rewarding or exhilarating than the first time around….and I’m basically a professional cyclist now. Ha!

img_1648As you may recall from a blog I wrote last year, I decided to take on the PMC in an effort to raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/The Jimmy Fund, in memory of my uncle Rudy and the many other incredible individuals we’ve unfortunately lost to cancer.

This year was a little different than last though. I decided to up the ante a bit and take on a longer (the longest, actually), route option available – 190 miles. According to the PMC website, “the original first day route, Sturbridge to Bourne is the longest and most difficult leg of the event. The first 50 miles are quite hilly; riders face long grueling climbs as well as very fast descents….This ride begins at 5:30 am and depending on pace and rest times, can last from 4 hours to 14 hours.” If you ask me the reason why I decided to sign up for the longer ride, I can think of the answer quite quickly, actually: peer pressure.

Those 190 miles were no joke, but I’m so happy I decided to push myself to do it. The entirety of the PMC experience is difficult to really capture and explain in words. That’s why I’d like to give you a quick snapshot of some of my best and worst moments/memories, lessons learned and observations as a way to way to capture what 2 days on a bike and 190 miles really feels like.

Favorite spots along the course:

  • Bourne Bridge — Picture this: its 5am, it’s quiet, you feel that crisp morning air and the sun is coming up. Cruising over the Bourne Bridge to start day two is not only picturesque but also euphoric.
  • Cherry Street in Wrentham – Cherry Street is amazing. I unfortunately wasn’t able to capture any photos (safety first!) but picture banners, balloons, signs, live music, chalk drawings and smiling faces at every house along the way. We were even lucky enough to be greeted with the powerful sounds of the King Philip Steel Drum Band and the Colonial Bagpipe Band of Norwood – talk about getting pumped up!


Favorite signs:

  • “No one fights alone”
  • “I just turned 18 because of YOU”
  • “SURVIVING for 26 years now”
  • “COLD BEER: 5 miles to go”
  • “Nice bike shorts” :p


Worst part:

  • Getting on the bike Sunday morning as you start day two. As padded as your bike shorts may be and as “comfortable” as you think your bike seat is, you forget all of that because after 8 hours on the bike the day before, your bum is screaming, “Really?! You’re going to make me do this for ANOTHER day?!”


Lessons learned:

  • Sit on the ice benches, they’re incredible!
  • There is a such thing as too many peanut butter and fluff sandwiches. Pace yourself.
  • Stop kidding yourself and just know that you’re going to be emotional, especially when crossing the finish line.
  • Talk to random people, you’ll hear some incredible and inspiring survivor stories.


img_1701Hope that helps paint a small picture of what the experience is like!

To date, the PMC has raised $43 million this year alone and over half a billion in total, an incredible feat. I’m honored to be a part of it and can’t wait to do it all again next year! Thanks for taking the journey with me.