PC with Uli Fluhme of the Gran Fondo NY
While our fabulous teammates were lining up for the Medio Fondo, ten of us, including four members of TEW and six dear friends, were readying for the Gran Fondo, a 110 mile ride to Bear Mountain and back, with 8,500 feet of gained elevation. And while one could potentially complete the Medio Fondo without much training, there was no way to tackle this one without time spent on the bike.
The Gran Fondo NY included four timed climbs, the first of which began at mile 35, the Passo del Daino, a one-mile ascent with the steepest grade at 14%. Seven miles later, at mile 42, we arrived at Montagna dell'Orso, the four-mile climb up Bear Mountain. With 1,033 feet gained, topping out at 10%, this climb was steady, but not without the climb before the timed climb. In fact, it seemed like most all of the four timed ascents required some climbing to reach the start of each timed event. After descending Bear, we climbed some more, and at mile 60 we began the misleading ascent up Colle Andrea Pinarello. Two-miles long, with 548 feet gained, and a few false flats, we all felt deceived as we climbed. Some how, most of us had read the sign as an indication that this was a one-mile climb, and so this indeed felt like the climb that would never end. But it did bring us closer to the fourth ascent, Colle Formaggio, a true one-mile climb at mile 67,with 466 feet gained in elevation. Not a particularly difficult climb, Colle Formaggio was still pretty challenging because the quads (or at least my quads) at this point, were burning with lactic acid.
JP & TB at the first rest stop
Out of the 3,058 who started the Gran Fondo NY, only 2,359 completed the four timed climbs, and made it across the finish line, which ran back along River Road and finished with a few hellish miles in bumper to bumper traffic, on a one-foot shoulder along Port Imperial Blvd., in NJ–most definitely our least favorite part of the ride.
What follows are a few re-caps by our Gran Fondo riders. Congrats Team TEW! Out of these 2,359 riders, Team TEW came in 13th place!
You can view the race results here:
Excellent ride today Team T. Edward. Our quality of life quotient just notched up - thanks to Peter for organizing all the details and making today beyond successful on many levels. Great seeing everyone today...great ride / congratulations - see you this week.
PC at the top of Bear
It had been 32 years since I rode over 100 miles in a day, and honestly I wasn’t sure if I would be able to do it.
I trained a long time, but I did not train a lot. Only two rides a week for the most part with the maximum mileage being in the mid 70’s and the max vertical of about 5000 feet.
I needed to get to 50% more mileage and almost 100% more in climbing.
The day of the ride – out of bed at 3:15. In the office by 4:30. At our spot on the bridge at 6:15.
I knew by mile 17 that I would cramp at some point. I rode cautiously after that just waiting. And waiting. And waiting.
Then came mile 64. OUCH.
Had to pull over and start to rub the cramp/spasm out of my upper thigh.
Spent the next 45 miles in fear of the cramp. Trying to stay hydrated and fed.
But having a great time just cruising the back roads with my music and bouncing on the pedals.
I had a few different incidents of cramping that necessitated my stopping which put a damper on an otherwise glorious day.
At the end, it was 110 miles, 9764 feet of climbing. Averaged 14.8 mph (when I was riding). 7h26 minutes of riding. But 10hrs 10minutes from start to finish with stops.
Great day. Great experience.
I said NEVER AGAIN. But I have a feeling that will only be the case until next time…
Team TEW at the top of Bear Mountain: Fernando, TB, Sean, Leigh, JP, Tim, PC, Rain & KU
PC & Leigh (of Bike Express, who rode up and down Bear Mt. twice!) on ascending Bear Mt.:
Peter said to Leigh, at the base of Bear Mountain: “I love you…I don’t want to ride with you….so go the F—k away.”
The next day Peter tried to justify his reaction to the thought of riding up Bear with Leigh: " Well… It was Bear Mountain! I needed some “alone” time!"
To which Leigh responded: " Alone? I felt many things on the ride…Alone was not one of them."
KU at the start
It had been five years since I stopped racing, and nearly five years since I'd really spent time on the bike when I decided to start training for the Gran Fondo NY at the beginning of March. For 11 weeks, I rode over the bridge once a week, increasing my miles and climbs until I'd maxed out at 81, and riding 5 laps in Central Park two times a week. For 10 of those weeks, I was training just to finish. There were points in time when 110 miles seemed insurmountable.
And then a week before the GF I spoke to my friend Alex about his experience of riding the GF last year, and I decided that I was going to go for the climbs. I'd done a lot of climbing on my rides (repeats on River Road, Bradley/Tweed, and Old Mountain Rd), because I love the meditative grind, but I hadn't done any speed work. None. As luck would have it, a few days before the race, the back pain of 3 herniated discs began to set it. Upon waking on the morning of the race, I could barely stand up straight. In the corral with PC, I was freaking...would I be able to complete the ride? And then we started. And the body on the bike felt relatively fine...We rode together to the first stop, JP, PC and I, in a pace-line, taking turns on the front...it felt good, this team work...
Our teamwork provided the most memorable moments of my ride. At every rest stop, we waited for each other so that we could regroup (stretching the back and refueling). We pace-lined, and gave each other shout outs. On Bear Mt., Sean and I started together, and then we paced each other until the last mile or half (who knows), when I lost his wheel. Fellow riders were encouraging, shouting 'You got it, you're almost back on', as I rode by. Once I caught him, he slipped away, but that's the beauty of it...encouraging your teammates to ride harder, so that there's nothing left on the field.
At the top of Bear we waited until we were all together again. We worked together on the climbs, and after the 4th climb, I had nothing left to give, so I slowly made my way to the final rest stop at mile 85, where they were all waiting. We regrouped and rode mostly together, playing cat and mouse on River Road, to the finish line. And believe it or not, for a few hours then, I was finally felt fine!
Many thanks to PC for orchestrating this whole event, and to my fabulous teammates, without whom I wouldn't have had such a successful ride.
I'm already thinking about incorporating speed work up hills for next year's event.
Rain at the start line
What a great day! A big Thank you to PC who road with me every Saturday and put up with my lagging behind him for most of the time! I am a different rider now. Congratulations everyone.
It was great to be part of 5000 riders. I don't know if I was happier to finish or happier seeing the T. Edwards team members finish. Besides my wanting to kill the guy who said the next climb was only a mile long, it was pretty great.
Lastly how great were those shorts?!?! Just passing them, or in my case seeing them ahead, kept me going! It's pretty Tops on my most memorable experiences. We all busted our tails!
TB, Sean & JP at the top of Bear Mountain
Over the years Tom and Co. have provided myself and many others, a wide array of opportunities to disregard limitations that others would have gladly accepted or embraced.
Sunday was no exception.
Through the careful planning and care of Captain Cassell, this year's Gran Fondo may have been the biggest and most satisfying call to push aside any and all limitations that nagged at our collective subconscious as a whole.
I look forward to the journey of riding down this road with y'all ( hills & mountains included ).
JP & Tim
The happy ride home!
Here's another rider's perspective on the event, as featured on NY Velocity.