Riders Pedal for Cancer Research

A training ride for Laguna Beach resident Mary Lou Mooney includes traversing Camp Pendleton.

Mary Lou Mooney, an 18-year Laguna Beach resident, next week returns for the third consecutive summer to Massachusetts to ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge, a benefit for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.

She is one of 77 riders from California who will cycle up to 192 miles in the race from Sturbridge in central Massachusetts to the end point in Provincetown on Cape Cod.

“Everyone’s lives are touched by cancer,” said Mooney, who is dedicating this year’s ride to three friends who were recently diagnosed with cancer relapses.

The Arch Beach Heights resident trains year-round by riding in spin classes and running. About three months before the race, she steps up her training with longer weekend rides, such as the 75 miles round trip she makes to Oceanside. To avoid what she describes as “treacherous” Coast Highway, Mooney drives her car and bike to the Gelson’s shopping center at Crown Valley and then hops on two wheels to take advantage of dedicated bike lanes in Dana Point, residential streets in San Clemente and lightly trafficked roads of Camp Pendleton.

As Mooney professionally designs clinical trials for medical device makers, her avocation pedaling to improve treatment options for cancer victims isn’t a big leap. She’s raised $8,100 in pledges towards the race so far and set herself a $9,000 goal. Indy readers can help her cause at http://profile.pmc.org/MM0678.

This week, Mooney shipped her Specialized light-weight bike east and will depart herself next Thursday. With a 5 a.m. start on race day, she expects to be in the saddle for 10 hours covering 110 miles the first day. She anticipates taking advantage of rest stops along the way filled with enthusiastic volunteers before she rolls into the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Bourne, Mass., to bed down.

The second day is a mere 80-mile jaunt.

Local Mary Lou Mooney next week joins cyclists for the Pan-Mass Challenge in Massachusetts.
Local Mary Lou Mooney next week joins cyclists for the Pan-Mass Challenge in Massachusetts.

Over 6,300 cyclists from 43 states and 10 countries gather in Massachusetts to participate in the race, which last year raised $52 million for cancer research and patient care.

The race offers 12 different routes, varying in mileage and difficulty, that pass through 46 towns. Cyclists are required to raise between $600 and $8,000, depending on the chosen route, though the average cyclist raises more than $7,000.

In 2017, the PMC gave a record gift of $51 million to Dana-Farber, bringing it’s 38-year contribution to a total of more than $598 million since its inception in 1980.


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  1. 6300 riders will ride 190 miles emitting a grand total of ZERO carbon emissions. But as Mooney knows ordinary bicycle use or training is “treacherous” because our roads are unsafe for cyclists. There is irony in a remedy for traffic congestion and carbon emissions.


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