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:
DON’T WORRY, YOU CAN NOW SIGN UP FOR CAMPAGNOLO GFNY 2016!
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:
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.
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.
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…..in 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!
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!
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
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!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!