North Attleborough man virtually bikes against cancer

Robert Cote of North Attleborough has taken part in the Pan-Mass Challenge since 2013 and will do so this year in the virtual version. Courtesy photo

Bob Cote thought bicycling was a great way to lose weight and keep it off, and it proved to be the right way for him to lose over 85 pounds. What he didn’t know is that bicycling is also a great way to fund research and treatment of cancer.

In 2013, Cote thought the Pan Mass Challenge was a goal he could reach—raising the mandatory minimum funds plus enduring the training for a 90-mile ride from Babson College in Wellesley to Mass Maritime in Bourne on the first Saturday in August. In 2014-2016 he continued to ride, keeping up his endurance year-round at the Hockomock Y in North Attleborough and on local roads. When the weather is (barely) above freezing, he hops on one of his bikes and starts outdoor training and starts asking for contributions.

In 2017 Cote decided to do the two-day ride, spending the overnight in a dorm at Mass Maritime Academy along with thousands of other riders and heading to Provincetown on Sunday. He did it again in 2018 and 2019.

Then came COVID-19, and the PMC has gone virtual. Each rider will create his/her own course and ride the total distance they would normally ride. Bob will bike roughly 160 miles on Aug. 1 and 2.

So few of us have been totally untouched by cancer,” said Cote. “I ride for the people we know who have fought cancer, the family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers that have beaten it – and sadly, to remember too many who haven’t.”

People who would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to Cote’s ride can do so through the Pan-Mass web site at Many companies will match their employee contributions to events like the PMC.

Dana-Farber is an important organization, and 100% of the money raised by the riders is used in cancer care and cancer research,” said Cote. He also noted that PMC weekend “is usually on or near our wedding anniversary but my wife Louise never complains, and continues to be my biggest supporter.”

Since its inception in 1980, the Pan-Mass Challenge has raised money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and The Jimmy Fund. In 2019, the PMC presented a $63 million gift to The Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber; in total, the event has raised $717 million. The event has grown considerably and consistently from its modest beginnings into an event that draws 6,000 cyclists from 41 states and seven countries. The PMC generates more than 50 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue and it is Dana-Farber’s single largest contributor. Over the past 36 years, PMC cyclists have ridden to raise and contribute more than a half billion dollars for cancer research. Since 2013, Cote has raised over $40,000.

Contributions can be made at Those wishing to pay by check will find the instructions on the PMC site. Check with your employer for matching opportunities.