On Sunday, 26 members of Team TEW (including 12 TEW riders and 14 family members and friends) joined a total of 5,000 riders to participate in the Medio Fondo NY–a 60 mile ride from the George Washington Bridge to Upper Nyack and back again–and the Gran Fondo NY–a 110 mile ride with four timed climbs and 8,500 feet of climbing. Neither event was for the faint of heart, regardless of one's fitness. And while the degrees of training might have varied, everyone worked hard to complete the race, and all 26 of us finished. It was an amazing day for everyone; an event that we're very proud to have sponsored. We all look forward to riding it again in 2013.
At around 5:00 AM, our residents of Brooklyn and Downtown Manhattan met at the office, where Mario was waiting with a van (and two rentals), to drive everyone up to the start line. Those of us who live uptown met them there, and by 6:00 AM, we were en route to the lower level of the George Washington Bridge to find our corrals.
With 10 of us who rode the Gran Fondo, and 15 who rode the Medio Fondo, we decided to share our report in two posts. What follows is the experiences of our members who rode the Medio Fondo. Congrats to everyone! What an amazing ride!
Jorge at the start
I started this year determined to do the Gran Fondo, training with spinning classes and cross-training with running. Things were looking great until my herniated disk started acting up. After one month of physical therapy, I was still in some pain, but I decided to go for a long ride with Peter Cassell to see how my body would react to longer rides. We did 62 miles that day, and the next day I had an extremely sore back, and wasn’t able to get back on the bike for over 3 weeks.
It’s frustrating to accept when an injury takes control of your physical life, but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to be able to ride the Gran Fondo, so I accepted the challenge of the 60 miles instead, and I was determined to do that.
Race day came and it felt great to be out there with everyone; we could have not asked for better weather. We all rode together in the beginning, experienced some tough climbs and some fast downhill’s; it was great. At mile 30, all of the sudden I was alone. I had to make my turn back while everyone else continued to Bear Mountain. It was tough to see us go our separate ways. And while I wanted to continue onward, I know my back is in better shape today because of that turn.
I’ll come back next year for the 110 miles. Gran Fondo 2013 will be my year!
Laura & Scott
Before the race I was daunted by the thought of riding with over 5000 riders and doing down hills. After the ride, it wasn't as bad as I thought–people don't want to crash into you, so everyone was pretty courteous. After the ride, I looked forward to the down hills, but still braked for most of them. I was thrilled that the climbs were manageable and I attribute that to all of the spin classes. I took it as a ride and not a race and enjoyed connecting with Patty. This was a great event for my husband and I do together and we are going to continue to ride and improve. Perhaps next year I can aim for a time in the 60 mile. Perhaps for a far reaching goal I can strive for the 100 mile ride. I am hooked on this outside riding now.
John & TB
As a sales person on commission I start at the bottom of a hill at the beginning of every month, competing against myself to surpass last year. The Gran Fondo is yet another metaphor for life, a seemingly insurmountable prospect. This year I trained hard and was ready to climb the 100 but had set backs with an AC injury and a bone spur in my right shoulder. I didn’t ride for a month, hoping to heal enough to ride at least the 60, which I did. I got swept up in the moment from the start, and in a dream-like state I was in standing on the GWB at 5:30 in the morning. The 60 miles we’re very painful. I grunted, cursed and laughed through the pain, determined to keep moving forward just like I do every day in sales, and at the end I was smiling, surrounded by people I care about. It’s about the effort, the journey. Newton Laws of Physics says it best: a body at rest stays at rest a body in motion stays in motion. I’m moving forward every day. It’s the way I’m built. See you on the hills.
Georgia & Brian Robinson of Gnarly Vines
It was a great team bonding experience with friends. The ride was tough, a real test of endurance, but I feel great knowing I (and all of us) completed it!
Bushwick car service was 35 minutes late causing me to barely make the van uptown to the race. Incredible. That got me pretty heated.
Note to self: walking around Bushwick with an iPhone fully dressed in cycling kit with flip-flops on is not a good idea...
Right before the race began on the bridge I was feeling pretty stoked. There were incredible views, cool people all around. I blinked and even though I had picked up my bike to walk by glass and had to get off my bike two other times because of a slow bottleneck, I was at the first rest stop, where I joined up with Coyle and his buddy Ryan from Dinex, and we finished up the ride basically together. There were some climbs I felt like shit on, and some others when I felt good. Sometimes I found myself in the wrong gear at the wrong time.
In general I kept it going pretty well and didn't lose too much. My neck bothered me a little from mile 22 on, but my pedals kept going around and around.
I did hate the descent on River Road and the finish in Weehawken; it was super dangerous, I saw several riders splayed out and many ambulances.
All in, I think the Gran Fondo is a great race. I had some fun, and even though I wish I had trained a little more, I think that all members of Team TEW who got up early and made it through deserve big time applause. I was super proud to be a part of it.
Danielle & Zach
In true "weekend warrior" form, I did not train at all for last Sunday. In fact, I was exactly who Peter was describing as someone who should not do the race. I didn't back down. I ran a half marathon with zero training in respectable time and a month before the race I hopped on my '79 Bianchi and did an easy 55 up to Piermont and back. That was the only training ride I did before Gran Fondo. One. It was gonna be a piece of cake. What was I thinking?
It's a good thing that I didn't really know what I was getting into because maybe I would have backed down. Maybe if I had known I would have to walk my bike up- and down- some treacherous hills, I might have backed down, but probably not.
I don't actually like going fast on a bike, so the reward for climbing up was usually a slow coast with hands in full death-grip on my brakes. And I have the blisters to prove it. I thought for a while that everyone in the entire race was passing me, then I started to see the same faces over and over again and realized that I had found my pace and the people I would ultimately finish with. The flats were really where I shined. Snapping my down-tube shifters into high gear I pedaled as fast as I could, leaving my friends in the dust far behind, only to meet them again on the next hill. Time and again the hills robbed me of life, time and again the flats invigorated me. I didn't mind having to get out and push, it still burned like fire in my calves. I was still applauded by onlookers for trying and I was never the only one in my company thinking "not this one". One fellow rider actually joked "You're saving yourself for the timed climbs, smart move." No shame here. I had a fantastic time, finished strong and feel great two days later.
As far as next year goes, I will only do it if I train more aggressively for the hill climbing, and if the last 8 miles are somehow magically not met with 8 red lights like this year. That was a bummer. Nothing like squeezing past a city bus on your way to the finish line.
It was extremely intense at the beginning. I did just fine ...rode the 60 miles in just under 5.5 hours .. I had to put the bike in the granny gears at least 6 times. But I was graceful getting up each hill. Passed quite a few people on their road bikes ha ha ha and some people walked up those hills...YIKES.
In the 5.5 hours I bet there was only half an hour of flat.
I actually considered calling the friend waiting for me in Weehawken to come pick me up when I only had half an hour to go.. You get delirious that last stretch. Some Londoner rode with me the last part and said "too many bloody hills."
But I made it. And I was graceful. That's what I wanted.
I'm glad I did it. Met some amazing people.
Danielle, Laura, Georgia & Patty at the finish line
To our fearless leader - Inspired as ever. EXCELLENTE! Not enuf ice for 110 this year, but savin up for next. I hope the gravel at the finish line turn didn't screw any of you like it did the woman in front of me…