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Super Funnest Ride Yet

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Super Funnest Ride Yet

Old 05-18-15, 05:00 AM
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Super Funnest Ride Yet

So, yesterday was the Gran Fondo New York. Although I could tell the story, a few bullet points on what made it so great may be simpler.

- Mandatory Jersey. Whatever the organizers' reasons may have been, effectively what it did was make it seem like everyone was on the same team, even though it was a competitive event. Everyone was in it together. Super friendly atmosphere.

- Controlled roads. Some of the roads were completely closed to traffic, but the best part was going through intersections where it wasn't. There were cops on hand, of course, and it was very, very cool to be racing down a hill, see them block traffic, and have them wave you through an intersection where cars were all backed up. Even cooler was when they cheered you on.

- Cheerleaders. And the folks who set up refreshment stands in front of their house. How cool is that - racing past someones house and the kids want to give you water or lemonade?

- International draw. Colombians were well represented - on the podiums in particular. Big contingent from Brazil, folks from as far away as the Philippines. Folks from all over Europe - talked to a guy from Sweden. When people fly in from all over the world for something, you gotta figure it's kind of a big deal.

What also made it great for me was that I'd been on all the roads a few times before. But never SO FAST! No flats (though I saw many), not even a dropped chain. And the start and finish were close to home. Having participated in group rides organized by and for the event helped make it enjoyable, too, as there were familiar faces along the way, and plenty of folks to chat with at the aid/refreshment stations.

How'd I do? Not as well as over half the riders, or even those my age, but better than over a thousand others. Official time 7:28:43, 1491/2590 (a couple thousand more only did the 50 mile) 212/372 in my age group.

People complain that it's expensive, and that other Gran Fondos are better supported or somehow more pleasant, but I thought the whole thing was FANTASTIC - can't recommend it highly enough.
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Old 05-18-15, 07:13 AM
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There is one gran fondo around here, and I wish there were more. I look forward to it all year. Like you, I was surprised by how many people along the route came out to cheer us on or who brought out coolers of water for the riders. I also enjoy the sense of comraderie, where you are riding along with strangers and cracking jokes about the heat and the hills like old buddies.
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