Team Amanti Vino Rides the NJ Highlands Gran Fondo
Team Amanti Vino at the finish line
This past Sunday, Team Amanti Vino rode the 60 mile NJ Highlands Gran Fondo. Training and riding with Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino, Terence and Mark– our NJ sales reps–climbed 4,820 feet in 58 miles, but at least their day was sunny and warm, much unlike our experience a few weeks earlier suffering the cold, wet path of the Gran Fondo NY.
What follows are three short recaps of the event from Sharon, Terence and Mark. Thanks for the photos and congrats on the great finish Team Amanti Vino!
Sharon Sevrens of Amanti Vino
I’d just gotten my bike, a hybrid, last July. This spring, a friend of mine who organized the ride Tim Dougherty, suggested that I ride a road bike, so 7-8 weeks ago, I rented one and spread the word to my customers and got a team of 16 members, including Chris Cannon of Marea and Alto, Michael Trullinger of La Panzanella, Brian Sweeney, the NJ Sales manager at Polaner and Will Sugerman a Sales Manager at Skurnik.
Team Amanti Vino started riding only 6-8 weeks before the race so our plan was to just survive this thing. We weren’t going in to break any records. Terence was our tour guide, mapping routes for us. He knew the route cold and the location of every hill. By the end of our training, we’d ridden 40 of the 60 miles, and had hit both huge hills along with rolling hills throughout.
On the race day, we figured it was all down hill after the 40 mile mark, but that turned out to not be true.
Most of Team Amanti Vino met up at the first rest area, climbed the second hill, met at the second rest area, and thought that it would be easy riding until the end. But then there was a big climb that hit Team Amanti hard. In my mind, I thought that if I hit it slowly I’d just die, so I just took off. I don’t know where I got this energy from. I was alone for 8 miles until Will and Michael came along, and accused me of juicing. We rode together, laughing and feeling confident until we hit the final super hill. It was a challenging way to end the ride, to say the least.
There were so few women that I came in second in my category. I figure I should quit while I’m ahead, because I’ll never place like that again. It was hands down, the most difficult physical challenge of my life. I’m thrilled that I did it.
Terence at the finish
When Sharon of Amanti Vino mentioned the first annual NJ Highlands Gran Fondo back in February, I thought sure, I can do that and actually have enough time to train.
However, with the winter being so cold and so long, my time on the bike was limited to an indoor trainer.
I really didn’t take to the road until the first week of May. At that time Sharon had organized Team Amanti Vino and recruited wine trade people, AV customers and some people whom she doesn’t even know. They just wanted to be part of Team AV.
For a couple of days each week, Sharon, restauranteur Chris Cannon, cheese and fine food purveyor, Mike Trullinger and myself would drive out to the course and ride 20 to 40 mile sections, thinking that if we practiced the two toughest climbs that we would be okay for the rest of the ride. Man, were we wrong.
With the days leading up to the ride being so rainy, and with the war stories from the Gran Fondo New York still fresh on our minds, we definitely began to feel a bit of nervous with anticipation. However, as luck would have it, Mother Nature was very good to us and gave us a beautiful, sunny day with temps in the high 70’s.
It was a tough course for us weekend warriors, with five climbs ranging from 1.7 miles to 5+ miles, with two timed climbs of 2.3 miles and 5+ miles.
Overall, there was roughly 4,800 feet of climbing and only a few sections where we were on a flat surface. On the ride, I had some cramping in left calf early on (mile 29), which made the second big climb (5+ miles) difficult. Then I had serious cramp (or knot) in left thigh around mile 40…so I just had to suck it up for last 20 miles.
It’s amazing how mentally challenging it is to keep going when your body is telling you to stop. That’s where being part of a team really makes a difference, having that support to help you power through.
It wasn’t a 10 Best Day, it was a 5 Best Day. Last Sunday just being outside was a treat. Riding a Gran Fondo with the Amanti Vino riding team in the Ramapo Mountains surrounding Craigmear Ski Resort in Newfoundland, NJ (and it does look like Newfoundland) was the icing on the cake. What world overcrowding? This ride was rural, secluded, verdant and picturesque with a 17-year Sicada soundtrack. We passed more lakes than I’ve ever seen in one day and as many hills in between each of them. Much tougher than the NYC Gran Fondo. But simply beautiful. Good to be alive, and off that seat. I actually ended up with the best climb times for my age group. I KNEW everyone looked pretty young…