Having spent summers in Barnstable, Mass, for the past 35 years, local restaurateur Jody Adams watched cyclists pass through town on road bikes season after season, and by and large thought the lot of them were crazy. But about 10 years ago she found herself starting to get the bug to get on the iron horse, and when one of her sisters was diagnosed with cancer about five years ago, she found that last push she needed to get serious about cycling.
So after she spoke with her partners at her restaurants Rialto and Trade about putting a team together to ride in the Pan Mass Challenge, a charity competition that raises money for adult and pediatric cancer care and research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, her life on the bike began.
This past year was her fifth year doing the PMC, and as far as she’s concerned there’s nothing better than the experience. “You can’t imagine what it’s like to ride 200 miles along roads that are lined with people holding up signs saying ‘I’m only here because of you’ or ‘You’re riding in honor of my son who died,’” she says.
How did you get into riding?
I spent summers in Barnstable for the past 35 years, and watched all these people come through on bikes. In the early years, I thought the bikers were crazy. But in the last 10 years I started thinking “I want to do that.” About five years ago my sister was living with cancer, and it just made so much sense to me to do the PMC. I started talking to my partners and we all agreed we should put a team together and ride. This year was our fifth, and we trained our little butts off. Two years ago my sister rode with me, and then my other sister did, so now it’s a big family effort.
Tell me about your team.
We have a great team, people from our staff at Rialto and Trade. Both of my partners ride. One of them, Sean Griffing, is a serious cyclist and competes. One of the others, Eric Papachristos, is a reluctant cyclist (laughs). [The PMC] is his only long ride he does all year, and [he] jokes about dusting off his road bike just do it. But he wouldn’t miss it for anything.
How did this past winter affect how you trained?
This year was horrible for training with all the snow so we’re just starting to get out. I was out the other day for 30 miles, and did a couple of back to backs the other weekend, so I’m feeling confident.
What’s it like competing for charity?
It really feels like every pedal stroke we do makes a difference. We can’t do anything for loved ones who are living with cancer besides accept it and support the organizations that are making a difference and figuring out ways to combat current cancers, or actually find a cure. And what the PMC has done is raise over 400 million dollars and you know that they’ve made a difference at Dana-Farber. The work they’ve done is unbelievable. Where we are now versus five years ago, between treatments, medications, and therapies is unbelievable.
And that comes down to the funds raised through things like the PMC race.
It’s all in the money. In order to do the research and do these treatments it takes money. And 100 percent of the money we raise goes to Dana-Farber. All other costs are absorbed by sponsors and fundraising that PMC does, but as far as riders are concerned, I know that if you give me five dollars, that’s going straight to Dana-Farber.
What are some of your favorite local rides?
I live in Brookline and work in Cambridge and there are rides from both places. From Brookline I ride out to Dover, Sherborn, that area, even Natick. From Cambridge my favorite is a 40-mile ride through Concord, Acton, Carlisle, and back to Lexington and Cambridge. I do longer rides out to Harvard and Bolton, and there are also really beautiful rides through Wellesley and Weston. I did the Boston Marathon ride a couple weeks ago, but there are lots of options without getting in a car.
Best part about cycling?
As Robin Williams was quoted as saying, who used to ride: “It’s the closest thing to flying.”
ON WHERE TO FUEL UP
“They have a great coffee and English muffin and egg sandwiches.”
“Last year they were selling little ‘biking sandos’ as I called them. Basically tennis-ball-sized rolls filled with Italian meat or roasted eggplant, and they fit perfectly in the back of my cycling shirt.”
“I go there all the time. It’s a cafe and coffee shop, and friendly to bikes. The owner Rob is one of the owners at Seven Cycles in Watertown, and the other owner is competitive cyclist and they sponsor all sorts of rides. It’s such a great starting point for lots of riders, and [the owners] were intentional about creating a hub for a community of people to gather before and after rides.”
“They make all kinds of sandwiches and soup and coffee, very green in terms of how they process things, and it’s very welcoming to cyclists. They have loads of bike racks out front, which is always a good sign.”
“You gotta do hills. Belmont has a horrific hill on Concord Avenue that’s a great training hill. Very steep, not very long.”
“You can’t escape the clothing. You just gotta get over it. You have to wear the tight shorts with the diaper if you’re doing a long ride. People just gotta get comfy with Lycra and the tight shirts, and all that.”
ON HER BIKE
“I have an amazing beautiful custom-made bike from Seven Cycles in Watertown. I never thought I deserved such a good bike, and once I did I had to honor it by becoming a cyclist.”
ON PROPER FITTING
“You want to make sure [the] bike is fitted properly, and that you know how to sit on [it]. The thing that most people complain about is back problems and neck problems. When you’re gripping the handlebars and leaning on your hands enormous tension develops. You want to, as much as possible, use your legs and your core, and your hands should just be resting on the handlebars gently, not leaning.”