Every time that Darien resident Beth Crump rides in the Pan-Mass Challenge, she thinks of her late brother, John Nichols.

Nichols, who lived in New Canaan, died in 2017 from stomach cancer at the age of 54. He is survived by his wife and teenage daughter. He was her youngest sibling and only brother.

Crump was one of 11 Darien residents who participated in the 40th annual Pan-Mass Challenge in Massachusetts, a bike-a-thon that took place Aug. 3 and 4.

More than 6,000 riders rode 192 miles with the goal of raising $60 million for cancer research and treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through the Jimmy Fund.

Since the Pan-Mass Challenge was founded in 1980, the PMC has raised more than $700 million. The event donates 100 percent of all money raised directly to the cause.

Cyclists participate from 43 states and 12 countries. There are 12 different routes to take, which pass through 47 towns and range from 25 to 192 miles. There are one- and two-day routes. Riders are all ages and all abilities.

Participants are required to raise between $600 and $8,500, depending on their chosen route, though the average cyclist raises more than this.

Fundraising for this year’s Pan-Mass Challenge continues until Oct. 1. To contribute or learn more, visit pmc.org.

Darien riders

The 11 Pan-Mass Challenge participants from Darien were: Terry Bock, Perry Boyle, Anne Burleigh, Jonathan Burleigh, Tucker Burleigh, Beth Crump, Matthew D'Andrea, Peter Franchetti, Joe Garofoli, Dan Murphy and Warren Pullen.

This is the third year that Crump, 61, and her 26-year-old daughter Emily have participated in the Pan-Mass Challenge.

This year, mother and daughter rode in the Sturbridge to Bourne ride, which is 109 miles. They rode as part of Team MG, which is named after a woman who died from stomach and esophageal cancer. Team MG is on target to raise more than $85,000 this year.

“I have ridden my whole life,” said Crump, who is co-owner of House of Needlepoint in Darien. “My husband and I like to go on bike riding vacations.”

She described the challenge, which took her about seven hours of actual riding time to complete, as “an incredibly emotional” experience.

“Many of the people you are riding with are cancer survivors,” she said. “There are also a lot of family members and friends that are riding for people who have cancer.”

Crump’s brother battled cancer on and off for two years. “He was a bright guy,” she said. “He had a great sense of sarcasm and wit.”

Crump’s brother’s nickname was Chuzz. When Crump rode the first time in the challenge, her daughter designed rubber bracelets for the team members with the nickname. “We called ourselves Chuzz’s Cruisers,” Crump said.

One “cool” part about the ride, she said, is cyclists passed through a small lane where people wearing kilts holding bagpipes and kettle drums were playing Scottish music.

At registration, riders get a tag they put on the back and the side of their bicycle, which has their first name in big letters along with how many years they participated in the challenge.

This year, Crump was trying to find someone in the challenge who has ridden the longest amount of years. At one point, she rode next to a couple who had 35 and 36 years on their tags.

“I was blown away,” Crump said.

Anne Burleigh, a 60-year-old mother of five, started riding in 2002, while her husband Jon started in 2007.

Burleigh is in remission from a cancer called multiple myeloma and has been treated for it at Dana-Farber.

Burleigh trains for the ride all winter, taking spinning classes at her gym and riding on her peloton. She also takes a 25-mile bike ride in June and a 40- to 50-mile bike ride in July.

She rides with a team called the Spacely Sprockets. Since the team began riding in the mid 1990s, it has raised over $1.5 million for cancer research.

This year, she rode the Sturbridge to Provincetown route, which is 193 miles. Three of her children and a son-in-law rode with her.

The ride went smoothly, she said, except for two flat tires, which were fixed in about 10 minutes by her son-in-law.

“I thought last year would be my last but when the sign up came in January, I signed up again,” said Burleigh, who is on the board of At Home in Darien and Fairfield County’s Community Foundation.

“My children encourage me,” she said.

This was Terry Bock’s 13th year in the Pan-Mass Challenge. He initially decided to participate after getting a badly broken leg from an accident, and having a number of surgeries as a result.

“I wanted to do something dramatic from an athletic perspective to recover from that,” said Bock, 46.

He has also had a few friends and family members who have been affected by cancer.

Bock’s experience in the challenge varies from year to year based on the weather and the amount of training he can do for it. He balances his career as a managing director at Deloitte with raising four children.

To train, he tries to ride at least three or four days a week for the three months leading up the event.

There are water stops every 20 miles with food such as bananas and peanut butter. Later in the ride, he has chips since he likes the salt.

While he said this year the weather was “perfect,” last year, “I had three flat tires and three broken chains in the pouring rain.”

One of his most unforgettable parts of the ride, he said, is that for the approximately three miles leading up to the Lakeville water stop, “there are pictures of children cancer patients to whom the benefit of this research goes.”

There is a “tremendous” amount of energy around the event, Bock added. “There are almost 7,000 riders together, thousands of volunteers and thousands of people cheering us on for hours,” he said.

No matter how much he struggles during the ride, he said nothing is “as hard as it is for these families” who are directly affected by cancer.

sfox@darientimes.com