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The Gran Fondo New York 2013

T. Edward Wines, New York wine importer/distributor, Gran Fondo New York 2013

Ryan (friend of TEW), Joe B., PC, KU, Rain, JP

Yesterday’s Gran Fondo New York ride was epic. Not because of the 100 miles, nor the 8,000 feet of climbing. We’d been there and done that last year.  What was missing from yesterday’s journey was the spring time temps and the sun and blue skies, which would have felt like the “Second Coming” had either appeared, if only for a second, during yesterday’s ride.

After waking at 4:45AM on Sunday, I dressed for the forecast: 10-20% chance of rain with high temps reaching 64 degrees–in shorts and thin base layers with a light spring vest.  When I stepped outside my door it was already raining, but I/we expected that it would stop.  Riding up the West Side, there were scores of other crazies in their official lemon-green Gran Fondo jerseys.  And our Team TEW of five found each other near the ramp leading up to the George Washington Bridge, where we then made our way to the first coral to wait for the 7:00AM start.

T. Edward Wines, New York wine importer/distributor, Gran Fondo New York 2013

Roads wet. Rain falling. A chill in the air made colder with the constant 15mph “breeze”.  We started at the end of Lidia’s countdown and regrouped at the first stop in Piermont, when I wanted nothing more than to go home to a warm, dry bed.  But home turned out to not be an option; all of my teammates were in: Joe, JP, Rain, and after a moment’s thought, PC was also wholly committed.  Not wanting to be the lone quitter, I had no choice.  And so in that moment, I too was in ’til the end, but clearly, I wasn’t the only one with second thoughts.  With over 5,500 participants registered, only 2,230 started and/or finished.

T. Edward Wines, New York wine importer/distributor, Gran Fondo New York 2013

PC, wide-eyed, at the start

Following the pit stop at Piermont, we splintered until we met again at the top of Bear Mountain (Montagna dell’Orso), a 4.68 mile climb.  We’ve only one photo from the top, as only Joe had the mind to shoot a self-portrait (see below), one that doesn’t quite capture the soupy fog, nor the nonstop rain.  But the fact that we haven’t any other photos of us there, is enough to illustrate exactly how terrible the conditions were.  And when we write that we much preferred the climb to the decent, we really mean it!  To say that the decent was hell is a huge understatement.  The cold was so unbearable (PC’s computer generated an average temperature of 48degrees for the entire ride!!!), and the road surface so dangerously wet. One had to maintain enough frozen finger pressure on the breaks to manage a safe decent, and each and everyone of us would have preferred to go back up and climb again, in lieu of going down.

T. Edward Wines, New York wine importer/distributor, Gran Fondo New York 2013

Joe B at the top of Bear Mountain

The remaining 50+ miles demonstrated the capacity of the body’s potential and the human spirit.  That decent undid us all, chilled raw to the bone, but there was no where to ride but upward and on.  No way to get home, other than on two wheels.  No way to avoid the remaining miles.  Sure, we could have bypassed the remaining two timed climbs:  Colle Andrea Pinarello and Col Formaggio, and perhaps found an easier route, but that’s not how we ride….

T. Edward Wines, New York wine importer/distributor, Gran Fondo New York 2013, Karen Ulrich for T. Edward Wines

KU at the start on the George Washington Bridge

We continued on, up the remaining hills, along the half-mile of torn up road, on the shoulder of 9W from Piermont to River Road, while cars and trucks sped by, spraying from puddles and adding to the pools of water that’d collected in our shoes, and straight to the finish on River Road, joining the other HCMF-ers who’d finished.

Congrats to everyone who weathered the storm, battled the elements and beat the mental dips that whispered–I can’t go on– each and every time the wind gust through our thin, wet kits. We hope that you all feel the calm after yesterday’s surge, knowing that if you can get through yesterday’s Gran Fondo NY, then you can accomplish anything you wish.

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Stephanie Carroll #

    Amen, sister.
    I remember descending Bear Mountain, so cold that I knew if anything happened requiring reflexes, they wouldn’t be there. Have never been so cold in my life, but so happy and proud to carry on and finish. Congrats to everyone who kept on rolling.

    May 21, 2013
    • Thanks Roberto!
      And cheers Stephanie! Congrats! What a day!

      May 21, 2013
  2. Congrats! You all are brave!

    May 21, 2013
  3. Carol Ulrich #

    What a ride! Enjoyed seeing the pictures and reading your thoughts of the ride. Glad it is over!

    May 21, 2013
  4. Great blog and well done for completing the ride – don;t forget to visit http://www.granfondoguide.com

    May 22, 2013
  5. Simon Whyte #

    Good summary of how it was. The Bear Mtn descent was brutal for the cold. I had a very dark middle third of the ride, including a spell where I actually briefly went to sleep whilst pedalling – probably hypothermia-induced. Made it to the end with a flat 200m shy of the finish line that I just rode in on. Epic day. Congrats to anyone who finished, & thanks to all the police & volunteers who endured it all as well.

    May 23, 2013
    • Thanks Simon! Glad you finished safely. What a crazy day. Congrats! And yes, big thanks to everyone who made it happen, including all the riders!

      May 23, 2013
  6. Your words here captured the day perfectly. I can’t remember how many times I said I wanted to keep climbing just to avoid the hypothermia inducing descents.

    May 25, 2013
  7. Congrats to you all ! You just said it all , and what about the 40mph downhills “very wet corners” . Sometimes going down was so difficult because of the fog , that I have to slow down just to see what was coming in the road . But as you said , home was so far away . In our case more than 2, 000 miles away , that quit wasn’t an optioon . Later that day after a hot tub and after a nice cogñac I feel very proud of myself ……..It was just EPIC!

    May 27, 2013
  8. Marty Gee #

    But it was a great day wasn’t it! It must be a fantastic ride on a sunny day. Agree, never been colder in my life, hope never to be again!
    Came all the way from Sydney, and I must say, very impressed with the scenic course – road closures, police presence and the ambulances were better than I have seen at any other event. Food stations were also far beyond anything I had experienced.
    Some big gas powered heaters at the finish would not have gone a miss! But it was unexpected weather, and we all battled through it and are better,stronger, and more waterproof layers wiser. Ride safe.

    May 28, 2013
  9. Thanks Jim! Hopefully your recovery was as swift as the descent.
    Fidel, lucky you for the hot tub/cognac finish! Brilliant!
    Marty, last year was quite sunny and warm, with a lot more climbing. Glad your trip from Sydney was worth it!
    Cheers!

    May 28, 2013

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