|Bourne, any given summer day....|
The Pan Mass Challenge has to be moved, either physically or chronologically.
The Pan Mass Challenge is bicycle ride that goes across a lot of Massachusetts. Much like the walkathons you did as a kid, bikers (I know "bikers" makes them sound like Hell's Angels, sorry) get sponsors for their trek. The money that they donate goes to The Jimmy Fund, which in turn kicks it towards the Dana-Farber Institute for cancer research. They have made over $400 milly since they started it 35 years or so ago.
The PMC allows people to strike back at a disease that has touched the lives of everyone. In doing so, it encourages a great, energy-saving form of exercise.
What's not to like?
There are several drawbacks to the PMC, some of which involve cars (some with sirens) and others which involve that great hydrogen bomb in the sky, our sun.
We would have to start with the elephant in the room, the traffic. Bourne is where the bridges are, as well as the rotaries, and it is where the worst traffic on Cape Cod is found. Bourne, which is a Division 4 school-sized town, has traffic comparable to central Boston on any weekend day.
It's bad enough that people in Bourne post a traffic waning every weekend morning on Facebook to the effect of "Don't leave your village." If you do, you enter a strange time warp where "a quarter mile drive to the gas station" may become a two hour-long trip where even teetotalers find it necessary to just pull over into the nearest tavern for 8 or 9 drinks.
If you went resident-to-resident and asked them what is the last thing that Bourne needs on an August weekend, the dominant answer would be "more traffic."
The PMC is a huge event, perhaps the largest of her kind in America. It all falls on Bourne, during what should be a peak of the tourist season. It takes roads that were already overtaxed and makes them essentially impassable. And it brings a different, less-spendy type of visitor than we are used to.
Instead of tourists with SUVs full of families who will need to be fed, entertained, gassed, housed and other things that leave money in the town, we get people on bikes who might carbo-load twice a day. They will then- exhausted- check into hotels that would have been booked full anyhow, and sleep away the hours we need them to be power-drinking in our taverns.
Other than families and supporters of the bikers, there is a negligible audience factor. No one is going to cheer on a wheeled walkathon, even one with Tom Brady in it. That's not to say that the PMC people shouldn't be cheered for- even the author of this slam piece feels that they are admirable. It's just that they won't draw a crowd, a crowd that would patronize our businesses. The PMC actually will drive those kind of visitors away.
That's why they used to have the Scallop Festival in September or October, kids... otherwise, it snarls traffic in the town to a crawl.
On top of all the lost commerce the bikers inflict upon us, they also overtax our emergency apparatus. We'll have to put extra cops on to deal with the bikers. Those cops will be waving traffic along, and citizens may have a bit of a wait if we need one for regular cop-like reasons... and that ETA is before we factor them having to weave their way through our gridlock traffic.
Our EMT service will be busier than a paramedic in a town full of weekend warriors heat-stroking themselves on an 85 degree scorcher of a summer day... oh wait, I'm being redundant.
That's why they have the Boston Marathon in April, kids... endurance events start to kill people in the summer months. The only time reasonable people host these events are spring and autumn.
Again, citizens who pay taxes all year for things like "availability of EMT service" may be in for a bit of a surprise to learn that their needs may not be met because all of our EMTs are giving IVs to people who really should have waited for October to take on an endurance event.
Again, like with the cops, any estimates we give on how long it will take an ambulance or- God forbid- a fire truck to get to a Bourne citizen's emergency here are given BEFORE we factor in them crawling through the bumpa-to-bumpa to get to you.
Of course, it's all for a good cause. The PMC makes $40 million a year for cancer research, raising awareness and letting people have fun while helping a good cause. Of course, these benefits can only be gained by having this particular race at this particular time in this particular town. Otherwise, they wouldn't make a red nickel. Anyone who says otherwise is pro-cancer and anti-charity.
I doubt that the people who presently ride scores of miles and donate millions of dollars would be put off from their efforts if the event were switched to October. There may be a guy somewhere who will only donate to cancer research if people ride bikes in Bourne on an August weekend, but he's probably an ass clown.
There may also be a guy somewhere who was totally unaware of cancer before someone diddled by him on a bicycle. No, check that, no such person exists. The awareness-raising is a myth.
We do have open dorms at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, just like they do in far greater numbers at Bridgewater State University and UMass-Dartmouth. I probably don't need to add that any college listed there that isn't a Maritime Academy doesn't lay across one of two ways on and off of Cape Cod during a summer weekend. I'm sure that UMass-Amherst, with all of the disposable-income kids away for the summer, could use the influx of visitors that they- unlike Cape Cod- would be incapable of luring in summer months.
I'm no urban engineer or highway scholar, but I do wonder if- on a person per person basis- less people would be put off by making a detour on the Mass Pike and isolating a 20 mile stretch of Irrelevantville for the bikers to pedal back and forth along in perfect safety than by shutting down the two roads that fill and empty Cape Cod.
Cape Cod is the wrong place for this event, at least in August.
Why not move it to October?
Like we said before, they have the Boston Marathon in April because it is too hot for endurance events in the summer. That also applies to the PMC, even before we remind you that the roads on Cape Cod tend to get jammed in the summer.
Just remember that I spoke of the safety of the bikers when I start making jokes about running over 5 of them as I look down to light a smoke. The safety issues for the bikers concern both heat exhaustion (85 degrees and blistering sun forecast for both days of the race, BTW) and exposure to Cape traffic. The PMC is big news in Massachusetts, but I doubt that it even makes the newspapers in Connecticut and New York, where half of our drivers will be coming from this weekend. They will drive very much like people unaware that some fool decided to have a wheeled walkathon along both of Cape Cod's main roads during one of the 10 top traffic days of the year.
Don't give me that "people take their vacations in the summer, and can only do the PMC then" nonsense. It's a weekend event, even Bob Cratchit would be able to get time off for it, especially if he is advertising for Scrooge's company as he does the event. If Ebeneezer demurs on that, Bob can burn a sick day.
In October, those roads won't have anyone but locals on them. There will be numerous hotel rooms available, so the cops won't have to chase stragglers off the Canal benches all night. Temperatures will be in the 60s, delightful weather to go pedal something around. The 200 or so people who can fit into MMA's dorms would be displaced, but they would have hotels offering cut rates to lure them in to what would then-and-not-in-August be unrented rooms. There's really no good reason to have the PMC in August instead of October.
Don't think that saying "They should have this event in October" makes a person pro-cancer. The guy behind the keyboard lost both of his parents to cancer. He also probably has his own dance with the Die Slow coming with a few thousand more Newports. He knows the stakes, perhaps better than you do.
The author is also not a man who dislikes charity. If you really, really hate this article, hang onto the anger until Christmas season, and you can walk right up to him outside the Christmas Tree Shoppe and pop him in the jaw as he stands outside for 10 hours a day raising money for a church charity. He hates charity so much, he had his lips freeze together once working for one.
The author does not confuse "move the event to October" with "the author hates the event." You shouldn't do so, either. He's also not writing this because he dislikes cycling and thinks that adults on bicycles look silly, even though he does feel that way.
That's not a bad resume for an agnostic pro-cancer guy who hates charity.
So, why am I writing this article? If you already know that, move on to the "So, what should we do about it?" question.
|The author, doing some tireless charity work with his three nieces...|
Bourne and Gettysburg have one thing in common. Both are little Nowheres that all the roads from Somewhere meet at. That leads some Big Fish into the Little Ponds that are normally towns like Gettysburg and Bourne, and it's never good for the town.
To an extent, the towns are set up to handle the influx. Bourne has hotels, gas stations and other amenities that a small town away from an ocean wouldn't have. Of course, "we bring tenants to hotels that already had tenants" is a poor argument for cementing this mess in August.
However, an October PMC would be a boon to the town. You'd have businesses who are just starting to feel the loss of summer dollars get a weekend rush in October. You could have the town really get behind the effort, angling their businesses to provide things to do for the bikers when they are unhorsed. You'd have cops and EMTs who aren't already overworked policing the town available to provide security for the event. Restaurants of the seasonal bent would be able to empty their inventories, hotels would offer cheaper rates, and every tourist trap would get one more chance to snap shut on those ol' summer dollars before the chill of winter set in.
It would benefit the PMC, as well. They'd be the only game in town, with neither Cape League games nor day-tripper traffic too weave through. People who avoid participating in the event because they don't wish to enter the Trafficpocalypse that is Bourne on a summer weekend may come out for the cause. Their riders wouldn't be struck down by high-80s temperatures or angry and confused New York vacationers. They might make MORE money than they already have.
There is no coherent reason that this event should be held now instead of in October. It presently is a drag on the town, an error that is multiplied by the fact that it would be a boon in October. Don't hate the guy who tells you that the emperor is nude.