Rainlove, PC & Karen at the start on the GWB
The weather was perfect for yesterday's Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York! And this year, we had 16 TEW members, friends and family riding both the 50 and 100 mile courses. Some of us had done the GFNY a few years in a row, while others had never ridden it before. Congrats to everyone who lined up on the George Washington Bridge at 6:45 AM yesterday, that alone is an amazing feat. Everyone finished safe and sound, accomplishing an awesome goal on the heels of our 20th Anniversary Tasting less than two weeks ago. Nice riding team!
The thing about being on a bike and doing a ride like the Gran Fondo NY is that while it’s an individual ride where it’s just you, your bike and the road/mountain in front of you, there is also a team aspect to it with the teaching, training, encouraging, pushing, pulling, and suffering that you all go through to get to that point and beyond.
Yesterday I had my ups and downs. I had a great ride to Bear Mt. I rode with Rain and we cruised there at 16 mph and we were at the top of Bear by 10:05AM. But at mile 52 my legs started to spasm and then they relaxed and then spasmed again so it made for a very uneven ride over the last 48 miles. When I rode, I rode fast. But then I had to pull over and let the spasms subside and then off again I rode. And Rain stayed with me the whole time. There was a point where I told him I was done with Gran Fondos. I would ride shorter Fondos but no more 100’s for me. But by the end of the night, I was back in it for next year. 100 again for me in 2015.
I am very very proud of the 12 other TEW riders for their great accomplishments yesterday. I am thrilled that they all completed what they set out to do, and that was to conquer Bear. They showed great fortitude, dedication and passion and in a weird way it defines who we are as a company.
Rain & Heather
It was a perfect day. Part of riding is playing support for your partners. This was the first time I ever had to play support for Peter who has supported and trained me from when I was a beginner. He is hauled me back on days I had nothing, physically pushed me up and down hills with a broken chain on the bike and a slew of other times. I wouldn’t have traded yesterday for anything in the world, even if the Big guy is pissed. We made it to the Top of Bear at 10:06AM
With that said Peter cramped at the bottom of Bear Mountain and decided it would be easier to go another 4500 feet and 50 miles than head back to the bus stop a mile up the road. It was a long day out there for 2nd 50 miles.
In the dictionary next to the word stubborn is a picture of Peter Cassell. But I love him.
As the rose sun over Harlem, I made my way to the start on the GWB, an inspiring sight with thousands of riders spinning through dawn with their eyes on the same goal--climbing Bear and completing their Gran Fondo. And though this was my third GFNY in a row, it certainly wasn't my best. I started out with PC and Rain, but wasn't feeling great from the get-go, so I kept my own pace. The base of Bear arrived surprisingly soon, and at that point it seemed plausible to be home by noon with a beer in hand. With my legs on the 50, just half of the prior two years' 100 mile rides, I felt ready, but not at all prepared for the spasms that stopped me in my tracks just a mile from the finish line. Forced off the bike, I stopped and waited for them to subside before hopping back on and climbing to the finish, in time to see PC and Rain at the top. Perhaps I shouldn't have spend the days before lugging grout and running up and down the Bowery looking for light fixtures…Note to self: In the future do not schedule kitchen renovations to "compliment" the Fondo. It's a terrible pairing! (Ha!) That said, I'm super proud of my teammates who accomplished what at times seemed like an insurmountable goal. You guys rocked it! I look forward to riding next year's with all of you and more!
Georgia & Will Sugarman
It was a great feeling getting to the top of Bear Mountain. We were all so proud of each other for training hard and completing the 4 mile climb.
I’ve been OBSESSED with Soul Cycle lately and was certain I could train for this race entirely in 45 minute increments, fueled by a collective estrogen shared in these hot, grapefruit candle-lit rooms and to the soundtrack of what you’d think was an East Berlin dance club.
Sort of yes, sort of no.
The spin classes coupled with longer weekend rides over the GW bridge (albeit few) were enough to get me over the hills and up Bear Mountain feeling good, but only just ahead of the sweep mobile. Having done a handful of half-marathons, 5 and 10Ks and the 65-mile Fondo 2 years ago, I knew I hadn’t trained hard enough and was prepared to suffer appropriately and push through with the race-day energy of my fellow competitors. I was pleasantly surprised when the first uphill push on River Road went so quickly. They kept coming, and I kept turning my legs over. Four hours, four pit stops and countless Power Bars later, Melody and I reached the base of Bear Mountain, a feat I have never before had the privilege of facing. Looking up, it seemed the 100-milers coming down were going way too fast for their decline (my incline) to be a gentle one; I was terrified. I choked down a caffeinated, berry-flavored sticky super goo, said a prayer, put on some girly rock and started pedal-pushing. On the way up I passed several riders who had decided to attack on foot (a technique I’ve embraced in the past), I panted heavily and audibly as I passed them so they would know I too was suffering. They cheered me on, “You got this! You got this!” I gave a nod and moved on. 40 minutes later I came around the final corner and heard the finishing music. Having zen’d out the entire climb I decided now was the time to get aggressive and I pushed as hard as I could the final stretch to the finish. Against all odds, I was alive. I’d lived to fight another day. The long bus ride to the finisher area was enough time to rest and take a physical inventory: knees stiff, shins sore, “saddle area” ahem… tender. But all was well and my fellow TEW riders and I shared success stories over apples and (more) Power Bars on the way back to Fort Lee. As fate would have it, a rock slide prevented those leaving the finishing area from riding back to the bridge so one by one we slung our bikes onto our back and climbed the 250 or so stone steps out of the park and up to the freeway, to civilization, to freedom.
I would happily do the same course again next year, and with the goal to shave off a good chunk of time. In fact, I’m already excited for my next ride. It will be a while before I eat another Power Bar though.
Waking up at 3:45am as the bars are still raging and the streets are filled with blaring stereo beats and distant drunken cackles, I set out to embark on the most remarkable physical challenge of my life: The Granfondo. As the sun rose on the GW Bridge, we waited at the gates. The brisk May wind all too apparent as we shivered in anticipation. Psyching ourselves out for the impending doom of climbing Bear Mountain. Eager to get started, and not sure what to expect, 7am rolled around and off we went!
There are no words to describe the experience, but here are a few… Rolling hills, through mountain towns and harbors lined with sailboats and soaring birds. Thousands of neon jerseys to remind you of your course, and the run-in with friends to share the turning of our legs, and the timing of our paths.
The last climb, felt almost impossible but I just kept hearing Peter’s voice in my head saying “You are strong enough to do this, just be patient, relax your shoulders, and focus”. I am so proud of this accomplishment, and feel so blessed to work with some of my favorite people in the world. A shout-out to Danielle Hilty for being my trusty standby, through training and the race, I’m so glad we kept the same pace and stuck together! Can’t wait for next year!
Rafael on the GWB
That was awesome!
It was GREAT riding with everyone today.
First time, amazing time and looking forward to the 100 miles next year.
The perfect end to a perfect Grand Fondo day was a couple of hours at the King Spa & Fitness with a hot shower, an hour long massage and 20 mins in the hot tub to make you right as rain.
The experience was incredible!
I must have spoken with people from all 50 states and 20 countries. This was a destination ride. How many times as an adult do you get to drink syrupy coca cola and dip pretzels in peanut butter with a group from new Zealand, Puerto rico, brazil and Germany and laugh about how great it tastes.
I probably took me an hour to get up the mountain (I stopped a lot to drink and psych myself up) but the top of the mountain made me believe in a higher power. Funny how it takes you 5 minutes to get down.
The beauty of the scenery was unsurpassed, and, yes, I would do this again in a heartbeat.
I will say my hybrid isn't fast but I passed a lot of folks walking their road bikes. Last 2 miles was in the granny gears.
JP at the top of Bear
Greg at the start
Danielle, Melody, Georgia, Conner & Rafael
Kevin of North End Grill with Melody
Post-rockslide climb from the (100 mile) finish line on River Road
TEW Sponsors the GFNY Goodie Bag!