Riders in Sturbridge and Wellesley geared up early Saturday morning and pedaled off toward Provincetown as the 35th annual Pan-Mass Challenge got underway.
Participants, who have taken to their two-wheeled transports all in the name of helping to raise funds to help fight cancer, will ride through a total of 46 Bay State towns during the course of a 192-mile route that spans two straight days.
The course is comprised of two routes, with each one based on riders’ skill levels.
The “single largest athletic fundraising event in the country” held its opening ceremony Friday night.
“Why we ride and raise money is as important today as it was 35 years ago,” event founder Billy Starr told a packed auditorium in Sturbridge.
While most riders have prepared for the grueling trip using traditional bikes, at least one participant trained for and planned to ride the entire Pan-Mass Challenge route on a Hubway bike, reported Boston Magazine.
Scott Brown, the former US Senator from Massachusetts who is seeking the same office in New Hampshire, looked happy to be taking part in the rainy bike ride. His wife, Gail Huff, not so much.
Many riders posed while holding signs emblazoned with names of cancer patients whom they are riding for.
And this year, for the first time in the event’s existence, Pan-Mass Challenge has released an app to help track the riders’ progress during the trip. Proceeds from the app go toward raising funds for life-saving cancer research and reportedly had raised $65,000 as of last week.
The Pan-Mass Challenge has raised $414 million and counting for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.