As followers of Smart Marathon Training know, I favor cycling as the go-to crosstraining for runners. While I still consider myself a runner first, I have started participating in various cycling events for fun and competition.
On May 20, I rode in the second annual Gran Fondo New York (“GFNY”). Gran Fondo events originated in Italy, and are long-course competitive rides that include timed hill climbs as well as an overall time competition. Much like the marathon, they are what the participant chooses to make of it – a fun participatory event, or a serious competition. I’m not an elite cyclist, but I was determined to ride as hard as I could.
On race morning 5,000 cyclists from 70 countries arrived at the George Washington Bridge on took part at the Gran Fondo New York International 2012. Conditions were ideal – blue skies and 75F temps at the start. The ride would be 110 miles up to the top of Bear Mountain and back, including four timed climbs, with a total elevation gain of 8,500ft.
The ride turned out to be as hard as I expected, but far more beautiful than I’d imagined. Riding up along the Hudson river was a great experience, even with the sometimes broken roadways (supposedly scheduled for repaving later this summer) and a less-than-ideal 5-mile stretch through traffic to the finish line at
Weehawken, New Jersey. But the beautiful NYC skyline backdrop to the podium, and some post-race pasta helped set things right. to refuel the depleted bodies.
GFNY raised money for Operation Smile, a charity that provides children with facial deformities a normal life through surgery. GFNY 2013 will be on May 19.