It’s cool when two parts of your life collide. I’ve been invovled with the Pan Mass Challenge for three years. It’s a two-day cycling event here in Massachusetts that raises millions of dollars for cancer research through the Jimmy Fund on behalf of thd Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Millions? The goal for this year is $24 million. That’s a lot of money even for 4,500 riders, 2000 volunteers and a just a handful of full time staffers. (99 cents on the dollar goes to Dana Farber of which the organization is justifyably proud!)
The news this year, via Tele Atas is that TomTom (the GPS navigation guys who use TA data in their devices) have arranged to (1) put the route on a TomTom device in the “sign car” and (2) make the route available for download for those who want it to have on their TomToms. The “sign car” goes out early on Saturday morning to mark the route. (If you put up signs earlier they can get knocked down by weather and other forces.) The route is available for download at TomTom blog.
Rob Donahue of TomTom explained that after the company president rode some years ago, he wanted to “give back” and this year that’s come true. Not only will the device be used, but TomTom will have a team of ten riding in the event. That’s nine employees (including Rob, a multi-year rider already) and his dad, who turns 70 today. (Happy Birthday!) The team already passed its goal of $50K and rides for a Pedal Partner (a child with cancer). Sydney Jo can’t meet them at the big tent at the lunch stop set up for that purpose as she’s not up to it due to treatment this week.
Rob noted that riders who got off the route in the past have gotten into accidents so having the route on a GPS will be valuable. Further, he offers that the mileage from the GPS will be more accurate than estimates from maps and that the device can help route not only riders, but their family, to points of interest along the way for meet ups.
Now, the bizarre part of this is that TomTom doesn’t currently off a GPS device for bikes. But, Rob notes, his colleagues have retrofitted the motorcycle version (TomTom Rider, extra tough for the elements) for their bikes. In the future? Who knows? We even discussed using a forthcoming product in future PMCs to track all the support vehicles.
I’m hoping the TomTom/PMC relationship will be a long term one. Most PMC relationships are longterm - several of the original riders from 27 years ago are riding tomorrow and have every year since!
Lots of intersting people are riding this year: many wives of Red Sox players, John Kerry [our senator] and Greg LeMonde. Even five members of the Wednesday Wheelers, “my” cycling group! How do I know? I stuffed some of their packets last week! Tommorow I’ll be at the lunch stop on beverage and trash duty. Next year I’ll ride for the second year, in honor of my friend Bob and my running coach Steve, who passed away two months ago.