What does wearing spandex have to do with building a brand new CAD system from scratch? More than you might think.

For the second straight year, Onshape is participating in the Pan-Mass Challenge – a two-day, 190-mile bicycle ride from Central Massachusetts to the tip of Cape Cod – to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. On August 1-2, this year’s participants will come from 38 states and five different countries.

“Cycling is different from most other sports,” says Onshape co-founder Scott Harris, who will be riding in his 16th consecutive PMC. “When you talk about group rides and the team, it’s not simply about the psychological benefits of getting to know people and encouraging each other. There’s actually a real benefit to riding in a group because you can draft off each other. The most important thing about riding in a tight group is that you need to learn how to do it.”

“You have to become very comfortable with the people you are riding with for it to become effective,” he adds. “That feeling definitely carries over to the workplace.”

Beyond the camaraderie of cycling, several Onshapers training for this year’s event have deeply personal reasons for participating. Engineer John Rousseau is inspired by his wife Beth, who had breast cancer surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatment in 2009. She recently celebrated her fifth year anniversary of being cancer free. Rousseau is also riding in memory of his Aunt Sherry, who died from pancreatic cancer earlier this year.

“It seems that for every success story we celebrate, there’s another story that reminds us how much further we still need to go,” he says.

Co-worker Greg Guarriello’s mother-in-law, Earline, was also diagnosed with breast cancer last year.

“Thankfully, she’s fully recovered, though it is still premature to say she is in remission,” he says. “I have every reason to believe that she directly benefited from the knowledge, techniques and treatments developed from Dana-Farber research.”

Team Onshape (L to R): Michael Lauer, Bob Miner, Scott Harris, John Rousseau, Diane Amadeo, Paul Chastell, and Greg Guarriello.

This will be the first Pan-Mass Challenge for Guarriello, an endurance athlete who has conquered 8 Boston Marathons and more than 80 (!) triathlons over the years. Fellow triathlete Diane Amadeo, a technical writer, will also be riding for the first time in memory of her mother, Sylvia Ann Civittolo.

“I have been a supporter over the last few years from the sidelines,” she says. “When my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away, I felt helpless and of course, immense loss. The idea of riding the PMC suddenly became a compulsion.”

“Riding became a way to DO something, help SOMEONE – maybe someone else's mom, husband, child or best friend. No matter how difficult it may be, riding the PMC cannot compare to what my mom went through,” Amadeo adds.

Onshape’s Pan-Mass Challenge team this year has representation from various departments across the company:

Clicking on a team member’s name above will take you to his or her profile page, which includes their personal reasons for riding. Donations made to the Team Onshape page will be shared amongst the team to help make individual fundraising goals.

According to the PMC, 100 percent of every rider-raised dollar is donated to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute through its Jimmy Fund.

The back of Team Onshape’s jerseys are dedicated to 8-year-old Riley Fessenden, a current patient at the Jimmy Fund Clinic. The back of the jersey is more visible than the front during the ride.

Through the PMC Pedal Partner Program, Onshape riders will also be honoring 8-year-old Riley Fessenden, an elementary school student and cheerleader who is being treated for esthesioneuroblastoma, a rare form of cancer impacting her nasal cavity and brain cavity.

As a Pedal Partner, Onshape employees have become cheerleaders for this cheerleader as she undergoes various surgeries and treatments. Riley and her family recently visited company headquarters in Cambridge, Mass. Although she frankly wasn’t enthralled by the nuances of full-cloud CAD, she was impressed by how 3D printers work and the abundance of complimentary snacks (Pirate’s Booty, Goldfish) in our cafeteria!

Several Team Onshape members also met the Fessenden family at a PMC party at Fenway Park.

Although the PMC attracts thousands of experienced athletes, it also offers various shorter routes for cyclists of all abilities – with five different finish lines. Some participants opt for riding just one day and can stop after 25 miles. Riders range from ages 13 to 80, with the average participant being 45 years old and training for three months.

Incredibly, last year’s Pan-Mass Challenge fundraising total of $41 million accounted for 53 percent of the Jimmy Fund’s annual revenue.

Harris says there are two especially memorable stretches of the ride that he looks forward to every year.

“In the town of Brewster, there’s the Cape Cod Sea Camps, where hundreds of kids line up along a hedge and scream as you go by. It’s pretty cool. It’s just like the Wellesley College ‘Scream Tunnel’ at the Boston Marathon,” he says.

“As you ride into Lakeville, they have big posters of all the kids being treated at Dana-Farber, and the pictures line the road for like a quarter mile. That’s probably the most emotional moment of the ride.”

“There’s all these people you meet on the road,” adds Harris. “Riders who are cancer survivors, people pedaling with prosthetic limbs, people riding with pictures of loved ones who they are remembering or honoring. There’s always a deeper personal element – which is probably the reason I keep coming back.” 

Support Team Onshape's Ride for Cancer Research