Monthly Archives: May 2015

My Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY 2015 Experience (s)

My previous posts began with “Don’t worry, if you haven’t signed up for GFNY 2015, you still have time!”.  Ten days have passed since the event however:


and the great part about that is that you can train for the event from now until May, 2016.  The GFNY training rides that run December through May, led by our Gruppo Sportivo GFNY, are free to all enrolled participants; prior to that I lead group rides, typically from Strictly Bicycles on Saturdays and Sundays at 9AM, and you are welcome to join us as well.  The rides I lead are social training rides, we require everyone to follow safety rules, and there is always a great place to stop for coffee, pie, and or a muffin!  So please sign up for GFNY and join us for a ride so that come May, 2016 you will #BEREADY!

Campagnolo GFNY 2015 – January through April

I can’t describe the event without telling you about the experiences during the months prior during which I developed some really great friendships and benefited from the support of some really great people!  This is them:

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The photo at the top left is my wife Melanie who is unbelievably supportive of my passion for cycling (By the way, Melanie participated in the Bear Challenge and her time riding up Bear was approximately 1:43 better than mine, and of course more importantly to Melanie, approximately 1:58 better than Amani’s; please look for Melanie to either ride the full Gran Fondo in 2016 OR try out for the wide receiver position on the Giants!).
Top right is the gentleman known as “Senor”; Ektor, who embodies the word gentleman, and I rode together all winter and if it were not for his inspiration AKA “what time are we riding tomorrow?” and his sheer determination I don’t believe I would have been as ready for GFNY as I was.  We had so much fun during our winter rides – three of which included getting caught in snow, one of which had 4″ on the ground by the time we got back to Strictly Bicycles.
Bottom left are Uli and Lidia – as if you didn’t know.  During one of our training rides it happened that the C Group and the B Group merged right around Alpine on 9W and the group of us rode together at a fairly rapid clip.  It was the only time I have been able to ride together with both Uli and Lidia – a great memory for me!  Where would we all be if it were not for Uli and Lidia and their crazy idea to start a Gran Fondo in NY?
Bottom right is Frank Lee – Don Francesco!  Frank is a superb cyclist and yet is always happy to ride with me and/or our C Group; his enthusiasm for cycling and for helping people is infectious; if you see him in a group ride please say hello and jump on the ride – I guarantee you will learn something great!

Campagnolo GFNY 2015 – Bike Expo and The Race

Bike Expo is one of the real highlights of Gran Fondo NY.  The energy and excitement created by the participants, their family and friends, our sponsors and the non-racing visitors is really incredible.  Working at the information booth gives me an opportunity to speak with a variety of people, many of whom don’t speak English and yet seem to understand my answers to their questions (although I often wonder if there is some poor rider who, weeks after the event, is lost somewhere in Tucson, due solely to the directions I provided…..hopefully not!)…..
What I enjoy most is to hear people’s personal stories about why they are doing Gran Fondo and then to see those people again after they have finished the event; to see the excitement in their eyes prior and to hear the joy after they have completed the event is such an inspiration to me.

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Melanie and I signing in for the race (Melanie loves to dance).  I met this young man at Bike Expo – he loves cycling, found out about the event and had his mother bring him over to see if he could sign up for the 100 mile race…..he is 7 years old and a cycling enthusiast – I gave his mother my contact information and asked them to stay in touch – it was really great to meet him, so polite and enthusiastic about cycling….why not introduce him to the best possible bikes right away!


In the Strictly Bicycles parking lot getting ready to ride to the start line on the GWB.

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At the start line with friends – left photo with Adhemar; right photos with Amani, Nelson, Ektor and who’s that peeking through?

The race took off really fast, as we expected.  My goal was to ride with Melanie and some friends through the park, see how people were feeling, then decide together how we would go from there.  Amani is stronger than he knows; in his prior career if more than two guys tackled him at once they referees would hopefully start blowing the whistle… GFNY the cyclists were flying by him from all directions at crazy speeds…by the time he got to the ramp at the end of the bridge I could see he had settled in and off he went.  He had a great ride and next year is going to be a force to be reckoned with!  Melanie, John and I got together in the park, I got to say hello to so many of our participants while we made our way up to Alpine, John had to regroup a little, Melanie and I rode together for a bit and then we decided ride our own pace.  The three of use ended up together at the aid station in Piermont, I left John and Melanie to ride to Bear together and I went off to see how I could do.

It was a beautiful day for a ride and thanks to all the winter riding I felt really good.  I had a little mishap making the left onto 4th street in Nyack – I missed a shift and had a slow fall but thankfully didn’t get in anyone’s way.  My friend Rob happened to be right nearby and made sure I got back on the bike without any issues and off we went.  I got to see my friend Peter from T Edward Wines in Haverstraw, rode with small group up and over Baby Bear and made what was for me a really good time up Bear – I did the GFNY timed climb in 34:38 (not as good as Melanie’s 32:55!) but still a good time for me and the Strava segment from 9W in 40:25, a PR for me!
I got to the top of Bear and saw Cristiano and Ektor so stayed with them for a little bit then headed off for the back part of the course.  I felt good, had enough water and food with me and looked forward to the rest of the day.  At the Pomona aid station I ran into a couple of guys who were considering taking a ride back…but after talking to them for a few minutes they decided to continue on…..we finished right around the same time.  I also ran into a couple of friends from the winter rides – Eldy, Henry, Ricky – and also a new GFNY rider named Vanessa who was considering stopping; I invited (convinced/coerced/forced/talked into/bribed) her into riding with me…we crossed the line together to cheers from the crowd.  How professional did it feel to ride through the finish line right in front of Strictly Bicycles and hear the announcer say your name over the speaker system!

One of the many stories of the day – John Cohen.  I met John this past winter and we rode together several times.  He has been focusing on his personal health for the past year and courageously signed up for the Bear Challenge.  We all agree that the real winner of GFNY is John; we rode together in the park and the heat got to him, he kept going; he rode with Melanie along 9W, did the climbs in Nyack and baby Bear, he kept going; it took him an hour and 30 minutes to climb Bear……he kept going, he never quit!

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From left to right – John signing in, John riding the course and what I believe is John’s motto!  This is the spirit of GFNY and people like John are the reason I believe so much in the GFNY experience; it provides people with an opportunity to do something they never imagined they could do – especially me.

Please let me know if I can help you in any way – join us, be part of this life-changing cycling event!

A BIG Thank You to our GFNY Sponsors!

A big thank you to our sponsors, especially Cristiano DeRosa with whom I was able to spend some time during the GFNY weekend, and whose family has been building bicycles and supporting cycling since 1953!

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Top left – Cristiano with Camila Cortes of Colombia, two-time winner of the GFNY women’s catagory and a member of the worldwide DeRosa Community.
Top right – Don Francesco’s DeRosa Protos in GFNY colors
Bottom left – Vintage DeRosa
Bottom right –  an early DeRosa sign from their showroom and factory in Italy

image(11) - Copy image(6) - Copy San Marco at Eurobike Wade Limar 1 Elite Real Training at Eurobike

Top left – Biemme provides some of the best custom clothing on the market – their winter gear has kept us warm on some really cold days (we rode when the temperatures were below 20 degrees F) those are my and Melanie’s jersey’s for this year’s event – numbers pinned and ready to go
Top right – Campagnolo makes THE finest components available anywhere in the world, second to none; I am fortunate and have never had to make even one shift on anything other than Campagnolo and have been riding their wheels since I began cycling in 2006 – there is no finer product available anywhere.
Middle left – Selle San Marco has been owned by the same family since 1935 and currently manufactures approximately 600,000 saddles each year.  By Hand.  In Italy.  In the same town in which they first opened for business.  They have a great mobile app – DiMA – that, based on 5 simple questions, allows you to choose the perfect saddle for you; stop in at Strictly Bicycles and ask to test the saddle that’s right for you – try before you buy!  I have ridden a variety of San Marco saddles since 2006; as my cycling ability has developed changing saddles has made sense – I am currently riding the GFNY Mantra.
Middle right – Limar makes the lightest helmet in the world.  One of the little known facts about Limar is that they are in the polycarbonate business and therefore produce not only the lightest helmet but one of the most ergonomically designed and impact resistant foams available for the inside of a bike helmet.  I have also been wearing their shades since 2012 – they are super comfortable and never an issue with the lenses, no matter the weather!
Bottom left – Elite provides GFNY with their water bottles which we of course love; in addition I have been using their Real Axiom trainer for approximately three years – it is what allows me to train during the winter weekdays when short periods of sunlight don’t allow for outdoor riding!

Your Story

I would love to hear your story as it relates to GFNY; I will not make any reference to it if you tell me not to.  My email address is

If you haven’t signed up for GFNY 2016 – the date is May 15, 2016…..please join us for the cycling experience of a lifetime!



Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY 2015 (T-6 and Counting)

If you have been out of touch and just recently heard about Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY 2015 or, like my friend Danny, have been thinking about signing up but just haven’t been able to get yourself to hit the “SEND” button for the registration – there is still time and there are spots available.  Although he doesn’t admit it my friend Danny is independently wealthy, having made his first $1 million investing in the stock market at the age of 4, and his plan all along was to come over to the GFNY kickoff event back in the Fall of 2014, get super excited about GFNY, buy all the clothing ahead of time…….and wait until the absolute last minute to sign up so that he could pay the highest possible price.

Danny – time’s up – the entry price can’t get much higher; sign up and if you feel as if you left something on the table buy some socks and gloves at the Bike Expo this week (but hurry up because those run out as well)!

Our Group C completed its last training ride yesterday
We had our last official training ride this past Sunday; as usual our Group C was a lot of fun and there are always a couple of people who provide us with some comic relief (you know who you are!).  It was an easy ride to Nyack where one of Heidi’s friends invited us to sit on her lawn, have some iced tea and lemonade, and relax mid-ride; the benefits of being part of the C Group (we have so much fun that we actually have A level riders in our group).  If you are not cycling yet but are interested in getting started there is no better way than to set GFNY 2016 as your goal – you can participate in either the 50 mile Bear Challenge or the 100 mile course; if you are at all interested feel free to contact me and I will gladly help you make the right decision, from course length to bike (if you don’t already have one) to getting started with cycling – I love helping people become part of our cycling lifestyle and cycling community – just ask.

What a difference a year makes
My training this year has been much better and I have felt really good during our rides.  I was lucky to have a couple of inspiring people around me throughout the winter, specifically my friend Ektor who rode with me in sub-freezing weather, my wife Melanie who is unbelievably supportive of my rides, my friend Nelson who quietly inspires me (I know, those of you who know Nelson can’t believe I would attach the word “quiet” to him but its true – no, really, its true) and all the cyclists we met on our rides so far this year who are always so happy to exchange greetings and say hello.  I took the following photo on Saturday at a specific location in Stony Point immediately before we turn left to go up to 9W while Ektor, Thomas and I were on our way to Bear Mountain; for me it was the second time to Bear within the past two weeks.  It was on a training ride with our Group C last year that I was dropped off the back somewhere on 9W near Rockland Lake (yep, great ride leadership on my part) and quickly found myself out of sight of the group; this is the spot where I caught them.  The group had already been there for a while so it was only a few minutes before the group had to leave and I quickly lost sight of the group, again.  I rode solo, barely making it to the corner of 9W and 304; I got off my bike and called my wife to come over and pick me up.  Tough day, tough few months, tough lots of things; we all have them and need to work through them as best we can and keep in mind that no matter how tough we think it is, most have it much, much, much more difficult than we do.  This year is better is better in many ways, tougher in some, but the better is in categories like life, health and happiness – where it really counts.  I am thankful for the the support of my friends and teammates on the Gruppo Sportivo for the opportunity to continue to ride with them.


Stopped in Stony Point prior to Liberty Climb      At the top of Bear with Thomas, Don Antonio, & Ektor

This is Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY Week

Please leave yourself lots of time to visit Bike Expo; there are so many interesting people in the booths, many of them visiting from outside the US.
Cristiano DeRosa and perhaps his son Nicholas will be in the DeRosa booth on Saturday – please stop over, say hello and talk to him about cycling.  His father Ugo DeRosa started the company in 1953. Cristiano and his brothers, Danilo and Doriano, were basically raised in the company showroom and factory; they would come home from school and their mother would be working in the office while their father was hand building and hand fitting bikes for Eddy Merckx (you may have heard the name once or twice before) and many other professional cyclists – the family lives, eats, breathes cycling – they orde as young men and still ride as adults.  I am expecting to ride up Mont Ventoux with Danilo one day….but first, more training so I can keep up!  Go over and say hello, they absolutely love talking about cycling, cycling history and DeRosa!
There will be representatives from Selle San Marco; the family has been hand crafting saddles since 1935 and still make all of their cycling saddles, approximately 600,000 annually, by hand in Italy.  They make our GFNY saddles and have a phenomenal 5 question app that you can download to your smartphone that, by answering 5 simple questions, allows you to choose the right saddle.  The application is called DiMA; give it a try.
Elite always sends their US distributor over to the Bike Expo; visit their booth and you can learn about the latest indoor trainer technology as well as their other cycling supportive products – chamois creams, bottle cages, etc.
Dare we have a conversation about cycling without using the word (with great reverence) CAMPAGNOLO; visit Campagnolo at Bike Expo and learn why we refer to it as THE Gruppo.  Without the Campagnolo family’s innovation we would still be having to get off our bikes and reverse the rear wheel in order to go uphill.  Please stop by their booth and speak to Tom so you can understand why Campagnolo groupsets are the ONLY way to ride.

There is always way more to see, do and talk about.  Take some photos with your family, friends and fellow participants and please stop over to the GFNY area and say hello to members of our Gruppo Sportivo – feel free to ask us anything you like about the race, the event, the training, what to look for – we are happy to simply say hello, talk to you and wish you well!


I would like to wish everyone a really great event – Friday to Sunday – ride safely and ride strong!  Remember that on Monday you WILL talk to yourself and say one of two things:

  1. I gave it my best, OR
  2. I wish I had given it a little bit more

GFNY 2015 Poster

Go give it your best, whatever your best is – just you and your bike – YOU ARE READY!!!

Strictly Bicycles
If you have an opportunity, please visit Strictly Bicycles this weekend; it is without a doubt one of the finest bike shops you will ever visit and the finish line of GFNY 2015 is directly in front of the store (as lawyers say, in the interests of full disclosure, the owners Nelson and Joanna are my very good friends and clients – but if you know me you know that I say what I believe or I don’t say anything at all).  Anyway, the shop carries a full line of bike brands and accessories and has created a line of Strictly Bicycles branded clothing – bibs, jerseys and t-shirts.  Please stop in if you have an opportunity prior to race day; or on race day after the event!  It is worth visiting just to meet Nelson – there is always a cycling story to listen to!

This is what he looks like on Thanksgiving Day

nelson at his best

This is what he looks like on race day

Nelson GFNY

Same smile – there is a lot to be said for consistency!  See you this weekend!

Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY 2015 (Less than two weeks away, now its serious!)

And still, if you haven’t signed up yet…..well you know by now all you have to do is go to (actually, just click on this LINK) and complete the registration to be part of a life changing cycling experience.  Please see for yourself by taking a couple of minutes to watch this video:

Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY 2014 Video

And this is the Campagnolo Gran Fondo NY 2015 Route from Map My Ride:     Route

I promised to take you through the second half of the course.  By now, you have beaten the Bear and you are either rewarding yourself for accomplishing your goal and getting ready for your bus ride home to the finish line at Strictly Bicycles in Fort Lee OR you are psyched about having reached the summit at Bear Mountain and are ready for more effort, more joy, more suffering and more victory:

1 Minute for you to Remember as you make the descent down Bear Mountain

As you rode your way toward Bear Mountain I am sure you enjoyed the descent off Baby Bear; guess what, time to pay it back!

Descend off Bear, Make the right turn onto 9W South (don’t forget to say “thank you officer” to the gentleman holding the traffic just for you!) and then it pretty quickly becomes 2K at 5% – yes, up!  Keep riding along and at approximately the 89K point you see where the road veers off to the right in a very steep way – this is where you decide what happens for the rest of the day – it is either an AHA moment or and UH OH moment, you decide right here –  because when you get home from the race that night you will talk to yourself and say one of two things:

  1. I gave it everything I had, OR
  2. I wish I had given it a little more

“You have to want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe!”

The rise is short and very sharp; make the turn wide from the outside and cut across back to the right after the crest of the hill, that will remove some of the steepness and help you up and over onto the road.  Get up and over, shout out a loud AHA, and start riding, the race is ON!  (If you read my last post you will realize that this is where you begin to think of Uli and Lidia in a completely different way….that feeling will not end until you are at the finish line, don’t worry, it’s normal…..).  You will start seeing signs on the road like “its ok to cry now”, “53 x 11”, and “how were your winter rides?  Oh, you stayed indoors.  Yeah we know, and so do your legs!”

The road goes up and down, more up than down and about 8K in you have 1.5K at 6% (I believe this is Colle Andrea Pinarello) and then 3K later another 1.5K at 9% (where you meet the Angels of Pomona).  I am highlighting the tough parts, basically the road just keeps going up and down, up and down; did I say up and down?

Still, be patient with yourself, stay in the moment and enjoy the feeling of your muscles powering you through the climbs even if you are using the easiest possible gear, and then use the big ring on the descents; you will gain some momentum and feel really strong while you ride.

Inspiring Descent

Please drink before you are thirsty.  I know some people are camels and only need 1 ounce of water per 100 miles but that doesn’t apply to everyone so unless you trained yourself to be such a camel please stay hydrated!  Carry scratch envelopes or Nuun tablets – unless you are Nairo Quintana (I’m certainly not) the extra little weight of the tablets or Scratch singles won’t affect you negatively.  Fill up again at the stadium and then push yourself a little bit from here until State Line (about 140K – 20K to go!!).

Two little bumps and then some small undulations and you are in the park.  Remember that Alpine Climb you weren’t too fond of on the way out?  Uli and Lidia were kind enough to leave it in on the way back; but please be careful, it is a fast descent and the rocks on the right jut out a little bit – at this point better safe than sorry, you are almost home and you are starting to think of Uli and Lidia in a positive light, until:

Dyckman Hill – only and assassin (or two) of a race organizer would put this climb in at the 156K mark on a 160K race – 1.5K at 4% AVERAGE – I stress the word AVERAGE….but get up and over this switchback, make the left at the top and you are on Hudson Terrace and just about home – except for what is called Unnecessary Hill – it is short, if you create some speed on the descent you can just about momentum yourself through it; once you do and get to the top you will see the Finish Line right in front of Strictly Bicycles calling you…..go for it – you earned your finisher medal and the right to be called “PRO FOR A DAY”…..

ribbon cutting

A little over 11 days to go – I’m looking forward to seeing everyone for our training ride to Rockland Lake this Sunday, at the Bike Expo on Friday and Saturday prior to the big day, and of course as you pass me on the road on May 17th please say hello!

Campaganolo GFNY 2015 Training Ride to Bear

Two weeks from tomorrow – if you have signed up and you are on time, this is what you will be part of at the entrance to the GWB:

Start of 2014 GFNY

Keep moving forward and get to your starting corral and this is what you will be part of:

2013 start line

Hopefully we will have great weather so you wont see this:

1-1888797_10152006232473247_202371694732691085_oSnowy rideMelanie training for her half marathon

Of course when you get to your finish line you will see this:


OR this:


In order to be part of this you need to sign up – if you haven’t, there is still time and don’t wait (“procrastination is the thief of time”)!  If you are signed up, this is tomorrow’s ride, courtesy of our good friend Heidi…..

GS-GFNY ride to Bear May, 2015

It is going to be a really great ride tomorrow, with the world famous Don Francesco joining our C Group for the day.

See you at Strictly Bicycles tomorrow – we leave at 9 AM, you are late at 8:50 AM!

(Less than) Three Weeks to Go – Gran Fondo NY 2015

There is still time for you to sign up for GFNY 2015; Henry sent me a message that he just signed up – it is a life-changing cycling experience……join us and then get your family to join the party at the pro finish line at Strictly Bicycles on Hudson Terrace.  In case you missed it, there was a ribbon cutting yesterday with Mayor Sokolich, members of the Fort Lee Council, Uli and Lidia and other VIP’s like Nelson Gutierrez and Ektor SIlva!

ribbon cutting

When last we spoke I believe I left you when you were about to make a right turn onto 9W heading North toward Baby Bear and Bear Mountain – I thought I would show you the elevation profile (in meters & kilometers of course)

Stony Point to Top of Perkins

Baby Bear begins at approximately 6.5 kilometers, rises 90 meters over 1.5 kilometers and then descends for another 1.5 kilometers – so average about 6% grade.  For most of us it goes like this – slide forward a little bit on your saddle, use a gear that allows you to ride with power, and work hard for that 1.5 km!  If your goal is to be as fresh as possible for Bear then use the small ring in the front, one of the three easiest gears in the back, and focus on your breathing until you get to Bear.

You will see the left turn onto the South Entrance – it looks like a sharp grade change but it really isn’t bad and then the road flattens a little bit to the circle; that’s where the fun begins – 7 km of climbing!  The first half averages less than 5%, then you veer right onto Perkins Memorial Drive – for those doing the Bear Challenge this is what you worked for – 3 km or so of steady climbing with beautiful views and your opportunity to finish strong.  Ride steady, ride strong, push and breathe and keep going no matter what!  Get to the top and celebrate with a loud shout.

The first time I ever climbed Bear Mountain I did it on my own – it was pre-GFNY and I was riding my aluminum red and silver Merckx – I wanted to ride up Bear as a birthday gift to myself (my wife thinks I am a lunatic – I always say maybe….).  When I got to the Perkins part of the climb I kept passing small groups of teens on hybrids, with pie plates for gears in the back, taking it nice and easy; with what was probably close to my last breath I asked if they were all together – turns out they were part of the incoming freshman class from Columbia and chose to do this as part of their group orientation – great inspiration!  As I got right near the top where the road kicks up one last time there was a large group of them cheering on all their friends and they started yelling “look, a real cyclist!”  (This reinforced my belief that if one shows up 15 minutes early and wears the right clothing people begin with the impression that the person knows what they are doing…..)!

Blue skies and green jerseys at the top of Bear!

Uli and Lidia being the kindhearted people that they are created the “bus back to the finish line concept” in order to offer an opportunity to newer riders to participate in GFNY; the great thing is that the buses are parked at the bottom of Perkins so you get to do a professional descent to get to your bus!  take your time, be safe, enjoy the view, and PLEASE keep to the right unless you are passing!

For the rest of us that are continuing on to complete the 100 mile course, the fun begins (and we begin to use other words to describe Uli and Lidia!!!

More on that later – just want everyone to know that one of our VIP cyclists – Veronica Contreras of Telemundo – successfully completed her first climb of Bear Mountain today – please make sure to congratulate Veronica this Sunday during our group ride!

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend – see you all Sunday morning at Strictly Bicycles, we leave at 9AM – you are late at 8:50!!

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