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Accents Make the Heart Grow Fondo

Wed, 05/23/2012 - 8:11am by Andy Shen

By Warren St. John

A few years ago I was near Lake Como in Italy preparing to ride several of the epic climbs of the Giro di Lombardia. I was especially looking forward to grinding my way up the legendary climb to the chapel of the Madonna del Ghisallo – a small church full of bikes that a pope blessed as a shrine to cyclists. I envisioned my arrival at the top of the Ghisallo in religious terms. I was ready to be touched by the spirits of Coppi and Bartali, to light a candle in honor of riders past, and to be cosmically realized as a cyclist.

Before setting out from across the lake that morning, I met a local cyclist I knew to confer about my route.

“Don’t do that stupid Ghisallo,” he snarled, mumbling something about motorcycle traffic. “It’s shit.”

I thought about that moment, and my crestfallen reaction, as I sat with roughly 4999 other riders on the George Washington Bridge just after dawn on Sunday, at the start of the Gran Fondo New York. The sun was rising over the shining spires of Manhattan, and below us, a south-bound tug was unzipping the calm waters of the mighty Hudson. Judging from the cacophony of accents around me, folks had come a very long way to ride the roads we’ve all grown tired of. They were excited, and I wasn’t about to reprise my experience from Como by letting on that a spin up 9W was a New Yorker’s equivalent of a Computrainer ride in a windowless basement. After all, one cyclist’s Bear Mountain is another’s La Montagna Dell’Orso, which, you have to admit, sounds a lot more romantic.

I was a somewhat reluctant Gran Fondee. I’d committed to ride as part of the Transportation Alternatives team (yes, there is a team competition in GFNY), which a) got me up front in the “racers corral,” and b) meant I didn’t have to pay the $250 entry fee. (More on the value proposition of GFNY in a moment.) As the day approached, a number of factors weighed on my enthusiasm. A 110-mile ride didn’t exactly fit into my super-scientific training plan. I was afraid of getting crashed out in the mayhem of ten thousand bicycle wheels (rightly so – more on that in a moment also). I had to wake up at 4:30am, the day after waking up at 4:30am for a park race. And yes, I’ll admit it: as a (little b, little s) bike snob, I felt that a gran fondo might be beneath me, so much so that I’d kept silent about my GFNY plans to most of my teammates.

It didn’t take long though for things to turn around. Maybe it was the music blaring from speakers set on the lower deck of the GWB. Maybe it was seeing so many bleary-eyed friends ready to roll, all of them decked out in matching GFNY jerseys. Perhaps it was the inspiring and slightly terrifying sight of a GWB’s-worth of cyclists clipping in, or the absolutely perfect weather, seventy degrees and cloudless. But pretty soon I was as chipper as the guy next to me, who, by the way, turned out to be former cyclocross national champ Tim Johnson (thank you commenter)– a very amiable Bostonian who was as excited about the route as any European, though a tad anxious about New York’s world-famous potholes. (I assured him most of those were within the actual city limits.) As the sun rose, the national anthem was sung by an actual human being who could actually sing, giving the whole scene an air of officialdom. And then we were off. By this point I’d totally bought in. After all, when you’re sitting at the front of 5000 anxious bike riders, there is only one thing to do: pedal like hell.

A gran fondo has an impossible task: it wants to be all things to all kinds of riders. There are folks at the front who want to race, and folks at the back who just hope to finish. In between, and not necessarily in any particular order, you’ll find pretty much every kind of cyclist there is – including a guy whose rear fender was affixed with a live, begoggled Chihuahua. There were riders with hairy legs, and riders (mostly Italian) with pornographically lubed hairless legs. There were road bikes, and yes, for drama’s sake, there were TT bikes. In a gran fondo, it takes all types.

GFNY’s solution to making everyone happy is a format that is part race, part ride, part multi-stage time trial, part party. The main event is the gran fondo itself, a 110-mile course (the less masochistic can opt for a 60-mile medio fondo) which is punctuated by four timed climbs, tracked by bike-mounted timing chips. If you care about seeing your name up on 8 ½ x 11 at the end of the race, you’re welcome to destroy yourself on the climbs. Overall placement is determined by your total for the four timed sections. If you’re focused on finishing or just riding with your friends, you can ignore the menacing beeps that indicate the start of a timed section and pedal at your own pace.

Racers face a choice. Do you go easy on the untimed sections, saving your energy for the climbs -- a strategy that will put in you in the wind by yourself for much of the day, since most racers will roll on? Or do you try to hang with the lead group, benefitting from the draft of the faster riders while risking that your legs will be shredded by the time you get to the timed sections? I chose the latter strategy, not necessarily by design. After a harrowing trip in the pack down River Road and up Alpine, I looked back and saw empty road. A few hundred riders had vanished, Bermuda Triangle-style. A strange sort of panic set in. I felt like a character in a Left Behind novel facing a choice with eternal implications. Did I want to ascend in glory, or languish in the nether regions? For the sake of the plot, I hit it and fought my way onto the tete de la course, where I remained for the next thirty or so miles.

And that’s where things really got weird. As the peloton passed – very quickly -- through the riverside hamlets of Piermont, Nyack and Haverstraw, police officers, including one who had recently stopped me for running a red light in Piermont, were stopping cars at intersections and waving cyclists through. They were looking out for us. They were even smiling and saying things like, “Have a good ride folks.” It was eerie. Maybe we were in a Left Behind novel after all – for a New York City cyclist, blowing through Piermont and Nyack without slowing was a kind of rapture. The first time I had to stop at an intersection on the GFNY was at roughly mile 75, and that was only a toe-touch because the smiling policeman had just waved through another bunch of enraptured riders. GFNY promoter Uli Fluhme has said he would spend around $500,000 for local permits and road closures. I don’t know about the business wisdom of that expenditure, but from a purely cycling point of view, it was money gloriously spent. It’s one thing to ride to La Montagna dell’Orso and back; it’s quite another to do it uninterrupted. We may have been riding in the New York metropolitan area, but we were rolling like Nebraskans.

Alas, on the climb of the Mountain of Bear, I encountered the bogeyman of gran fondi and bike races alike: crashiness. Two riders in front of me touched wheels on a flat section where the speed had kicked up. Through some puzzle of physics that still confounds me, the second rider flew sideways as if shot from a cannon – right into my escape route. I went down, landing inartfully on my butt. I untangled myself from the other rider’s bike, checked my own -- and more importantly, my new Castelli team bibs – for damage. Good news on all fronts, and rears. I was back in the saddle in less than a minute. And here I experienced another difference between races and gran fondos. As I was pedaling away, the rider who crashed into me called out in what I believe was a German accent: “Ahm sorry!”

By now, I’d fully drunk the Powerade of fondo-ing, because I reflexively responded, “No worries.”

I lost contact with the leaders, but the cool thing about a fondo is: it didn’t matter. All I had to do was crush it on the timed sections, and I stood a decent chance of hanging in for glory on the leader board back in Weehawken. Realizing this, I stopped at the bottom of the (untimed) Perkins descent to top off my water, eat fourteen bananas and to wait for riders I knew, to have some company for the remaining 50 or so miles.

Somewhere along the way, I began to appreciate all the work that had gone into Gran Fondo New York. The route was well conceived, and I even found myself on several unfamiliar roads and on two climbs I’d never ridden before. There were lots of banners, flags and distance markers to reassure you that you hadn't actually taken a wrong turn somewhere back in Haverstraw. There was on-the-road support from the yellow Mavic motorcycle with the cool wheel rack on the back. Rest stops were ready with bike mechanics, race racks, oceans of sports drinks, a plantation’s worth of bananas, palettes of Power Bars, and mountains of bagels, ready-smeared with peanut butter and jelly. Water tanks the size of Volkswagens had been trucked in on flat-beds to each stop. Apparently 5000 bike riders drink a lot of water, which the GFNY team anticipated. Then there were all those municipal governments and police departments cheering us on. There were even random citizens cheering us on too – with GFNY thundersticks, no less. Did GFNY rent strangers just to add to the experience? Who knows? I never saw Deiter Senft, the famed ‘devil guy’ from the Tour de France, but maybe he was hiding out in one of the seemingly hundreds of port-o-lets GFNY had rented when I passed.

There’s been some grumbling from the New York racing scene about the cost ($250), which is certainly a lot of money to ride on roads you might be riding anyway for free. To many – if not most – of the riders, though, that $250 is a drop in the bucket against the airfares, hotels bills and the costs of a weekend in New York City. Many probably paid more than that just to ship their bikes. But whatever your economic frame of reference, you get a lot for your money. GFNY plies participants with all sorts of goodies: a race weekend-quality tote bag, a bottle of red wine, surprisingly stylish Giordana jerseys (which act like wrist-bands at Club Med – they entitle you to all sorts of stuff along the way without requiring you to reach for your wallet). Winners of the overall KOM and QOM got new Pinarello Dogmas. GFNY ended with a kind of party on the Hudson River, with a post-ride meal of penne pomodoro, yogurt and drinks, along with a bike shop's worth of free helmets, shoes and gear, handed out in a raffle-by-race-number. To get back to the city, you just hopped on a chartered ferry with your bike and your magical jersey and you were good to go.

It all amounts to a pretty impressive logistical heave – pulled off with élan by GFNY founders and spouses Uli and Lidia Fluhme. In year two, GFNY was better run than many, if not most, long-established local bike races. (Because the last timed climb was at mile 67, GFNY managed to post results before riders even reached the finish line.) The event also managed to get together the full array of New York cyclists, from the hardcores to casual riders – folks who may not be able to hold a line, but who prop up the bottom lines of local bike shops and who are racers’ allies in the push for better cycling infrastructure and police policies toward cyclists.

So is GFNY worth $250? That’s an individual decision. For one thing, early registration for 2013 is $190. Either way, for what you get, it’s literally a bargain: the total take for GFNY fees doesn’t cover the huge logistical costs of the event. Sponsors are needed to make up the difference and to get GFNY into the black. Fortunately, there seem to be a lot of them.

In the end I finished 40th out of the 2361 riders who completed the 110-mile format – not bad considering I lost a minute or so to my crash. (Just as with conventional races, gran fondoing is an excuse-friendly format.) Team Transportation Alternatives finished 2nd overall, so take that, other teams – whoever you were. Next year, I plan to re-fondo, with an eye toward cracking the top ten, or winning my age group, or maybe just riding and stopping for PB&J bagels every 25 miles – depending on my fitness. I'll happily pay retail. In the meantime, I’ll be out training on the hallowed shoulders of 9W with a bit of renewed appreciation. GFNY was a useful reminder that, as with an ascent up the Ghisallo or any other ride for that matter, a spin up 9W is what you make of it.


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By: Tom Liner
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 9:44pm

You *could* do that, but then again, you'd a) have to get yourself to the Catskills, where you'd b) have to endure condescending looks from of all the actual racers who are laughing at you behind your back for paying Deiter to do a "citizens race," which loosely translates into Italian as "medio fondo" and into vernacular English as "a ride with slow people."

By: Recco Threadlock
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 12:47pm

Suckerzs!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I give this 1 more year before they up the price to $300.

BTW you could do Tour of Catskills (citizens race for non racers) for a fraction of the price and actually have nice scenic and challenging rides. This Fondo is wrong on so many levels...

Fondo article
By: Sha-bling
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 11:59am

I just read the article on the Fondo from CI. Although I didn't participate in the event I did ride 9wS that day in the early afternoon. I must say that I have a new appreciation for USAC permitted races. We can complain about sketchy race courses, inadequate marshaling or unswept corners, but after reading the article I feel like races are much safer than the gran fondo. I almost want to say that everyone doing the Fondo should complete 10 Cat 5 races or somehow gain pack riding and decending experience before they embark on the most expensive hill climbing TT in the northeast.

Nobody wants to hear your
By: Thomas Bottle
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 11:37am

Nobody wants to hear your aggro Nyack ride tales. Take it to the Morgan Stanley Facebook page.

By: Hanging fruit
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 11:26am

Thanks goes to the few guys who attacked repeatedly by blowing the lights on the Nyack ride while others stopped. Way to make us look like a-holes. Kudos to the 4 guys who got away on a long stretch of road without stop lights.

By: Thomas Hammer
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 10:04am

Kind of fun, a decent workout, and pretty sketchy. Between blowing lights and guys swerving suddenly lest they damage their 404s on some of the rough road surface patches and manhole covers.

Rocket Ride
By: Ilias Compliant
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 9:51am

Begins 8am in Nyack and passes Englewood at 9am if you want to sleep in..

Speakingof the Rocket ride
By: Vincent Cogset
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 7:57am

Where does it start and what time in the summer?

Rocket Ride for free or this?
By: Anthony Helmet
Mon, 06/04/2012 - 1:56am

Rocket Ride for free or this? What a joke. No soul to this event.

By: Killian Nipple
Thu, 05/31/2012 - 6:33pm

GFNY from the eyes of the lead moto:

Warren comes out after dark.
By: Andy Shen
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 11:10am

Warren comes out after dark.

Hey Andy
By: Lorenzo Nipple
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 11:09am

Shouldn't that post read "by Warren St. John"?

It's called Turking.
By: Andy Shen
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 11:02am

It's called Turking.

By: Brent Tubie
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 10:56am

Why did Andy write that story in cyclists international? Does Andy write every story that appears on the internet every day?

Dear Admins
By: Warren St. John
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 10:47am

Why is Andy Shen publishing articles under my name?

Out of curiosity, where's the
By: schmalz
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 9:55am

Out of curiosity, where's the results of this independent survey cited? Is the whole survey published?

Nice article
By: Tristan Threadlock
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 9:55am

Now you are not only the NYVelocity photographer but also the feature writer? Nice article Andy!

The $500K figure GFNY has
By: Rivet
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 9:51am

The $500K figure GFNY has been giving in the past, including in an interview for this site, was for permits, road closures and police officers, not p.o.'s alone, which would include things like the GWB closure, the Bear Mtn closure (which they put at $50K). I have no way of verifying the total, but I've never heard them claim it was just for police.

Not so nice article on the GF
By: MagliaRosa
Tue, 05/29/2012 - 9:44am

"After many attempts to contact the organizers to get their side of the story, the editors received an email from the organizers on Wednesday after we had published condemning our article for being “negative,” “sensationalist,” and for doing a disservice to “Gran Fondo.” In addition, they stated that they spent over $500,000 on police officers.

We conducted our own independent survey of police officers and did not come up with the same number."

By: Remi Cable
Mon, 05/28/2012 - 11:28pm


hey elite
By: Brent Tubie
Mon, 05/28/2012 - 10:22pm

thanks for laughing out loud in parentheses, I don't need to hear that. Also, learn how to spell, especially helpful when insulting people.

Mon, 05/28/2012 - 5:12pm

I witness the 60 mile GF guys walking their Pinarello bikes up the state-line hill!! (LOL)

Also are compression socks and the big fat number on the front of the bikes the knew geeky group?!

That wood be hard
By: Mehdi Cage
Sun, 05/27/2012 - 1:38pm

That wood be hard

I mistakenly used my nom de
By: Andy Shen
Sun, 05/27/2012 - 1:12pm

I mistakenly used my nom de porn. Hard to keep the identities straight.

great write up andy. when did
By: allan smithee
Sun, 05/27/2012 - 1:08pm

great write up andy. when did you start using the pseudonym warren st. john?

By: Guillaume Saddlebag
Sat, 05/26/2012 - 7:21pm

For shame

Once again, I merely uploaded
By: Andy Shen
Sat, 05/26/2012 - 4:19pm

Once again, I merely uploaded this article, which was written by Warren St. John, a real writer who writes real good. That be him in the pictures.

Great write up
By: Raphael Drainhole
Sat, 05/26/2012 - 3:17pm

Way to raise your game Andy, looking forward to more first person account like this in the future!

Accuracy, LOL Also, check out
By: schmalz
Fri, 05/25/2012 - 3:25pm

Accuracy, LOL

"Also, check out this much more upbeat, personal, (and subjective) take on the Gran Fondo by Andy Chen."

By: Jordan Tank
Fri, 05/25/2012 - 3:15pm

Great write up, Warren. Pullitzer coming your way.

Hey JB I didn't write this
By: Andy Shen
Fri, 05/25/2012 - 2:55pm

Hey JB I didn't write this LOL. If you look carefully up there you can see the author's name LOL.

no proof on fees
By: Shotz-ha
Fri, 05/25/2012 - 2:34pm

that fee number is being thrown around, but if you add up the costs, I don't think you will reach $500K.
Conservatively, the organizers brought in $1 million. So even if the costs WERE $500K, the net is $500K. The fees are high. If the organizers were not making money, they wouldn't have done it this year. But there is nothing wrong with making money, as long as you get what you paid for.

By: Kevin Cable
Fri, 05/25/2012 - 2:27pm

Hard to believe about the trademark.
BTW there is an attack on the use of "I love BICYCLE (artwork)"--the city is reclaiming
I would also like to question the purported $500K paid for police work. can they itemize?

check out our post too
By: Kevin Cable
Fri, 05/25/2012 - 2:25pm

HI nice write up Andy. I guess you didn't experience the delays at the rest stops that others reported, and since you knew the way, didn't go the wrong way. Check here for a whole other story.
Other than that, could it be you were so happy because (a) you came in 40th out of 5000 people (though counting the medio fondos,) and (b) because you didn't have to pay the $250?

By: Loic Tracknut
Fri, 05/25/2012 - 9:28am


He really got me revved up
By: John Eustice
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:46pm

He really got me revved up for the start

Who is Warren St.
By: Pierre Stiff
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 6:28pm

Who is Warren St. John?

Sounds like a character name straight outta Boogie Nights.

Once again, this was written
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 5:22pm

Once again, this was written by Warren St. John, though I got a Pinarello Dogma with Lightweights and an SRM for uploading it to the site.

Nice story Andy - surprised
By: Bobby Julich
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 5:12pm

Nice story Andy - surprised you had the energy after crushing all comers in the Prestigious Spring Couples Relay. Your row boating must have improved.

20 more races 'til I'm a 5
By: Andy Shen
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 4:28pm

20 more races 'til I'm a 5 1/2.

Is he Hors Categorie? Or just
By: Phil Liggume
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 3:39pm

Is he Hors Categorie?

Or just a Category Whore?

No, he hasn't upgraded
By: schmalz
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 3:16pm

No, he hasn't upgraded

is Shen a Cat 6?
By: cat 6?
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 3:14pm

is Shen a Cat 6?

However there was a
By: Kylian Sealant
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 2:49pm

However there was a competition within the event that you would not have won.

By: Hanging fruit
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 2:24pm

Call it for what it is. A ride, not a race. Gran Fondo is a Cat 1-6 race. You have 1,2,3,4 and 5s plus about 4500 cat 6s.

Shup, Schelck, Not, 32, Toto.

oh yeah,
By: Anonymous Smith
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 1:59pm

And congratulations on a job well-done, Uli and Lidia.

the logisitics must have been overwhelming to sort out.

I am more than "maybe" for next year.

By: Anonymous Smith
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 1:51pm

Thank you Ponce de la Yama, for correctin' the virgin-alpaca-wool bib contingent.

i'm not sure you understand
By: Miles Junk, Esq.
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 1:35pm

i'm not sure you understand trademark law...

NY Grand Fondo (TM)
By: fillet_brazed
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 1:16pm

High entry fees, ephemeral measures of success, mediocre marshaling...and it all linked into a meaning world championship.

This is the very stuff that will destroy cycling as a competitive endeavor.

That you can close a public road in a town that I actually pay taxes in and forbid me to ride on it is absurd.

Thank the Pat and Hein at the UCI. USAC is just the local chapter of the UCI. Cycling is the new golf and absurd Gran Fondo fees are the greens fees.

In true cycling-is-the-new-golf fashion, Uli has paid for and received a trademark for the words "New York Gran Fondo" Why don't you just Trademark "New York" while you are at it. It's just as defensible.

good laughs
By: Remigio Swage
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 1:13pm

LOL! Man I got a good laugh out of all those new Fondo's I never knew about.

Hedge Fundo.
By: Thomas Headbadge
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 10:59am

Hedge Fundo.

Looks like a lot of guys
By: Romain Neck
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 10:36am

Looks like a lot of guys would test positive for private equity

The Fee is Too Damn High
By: anonomiss
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 10:24am

By: Flange
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 10:14am

Don't forget the Foundation Fondo, or Fondation: Hide in the bushes for an hour or so before the start, then jump in the field right at the gun. Free for Foundation riders; $10 for all the suckers. And don't worry - no doping control!

Hahahaha funny!!
By: at Mondo Fondo
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:57am

Hahahaha funny!!

By: Giovanni Torque
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:55am

"Obviously not entirely. The park receives $50,000 from GFNY for the closure. You as a local profit from that year round. It's a half day a year. It was open from 1pm."

Well, if that's the case, I feel better about it. I just hope that money gets put to good use.

I prefer the Flatbush Fondo
By: Lorica
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:38am

I prefer the Flatbush Fondo to and from Floyd.

The only true insane NYC condo.

Mondo Fondo
By: Florian Tracknut
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:24am

Camden Fondo - Food stamps accepted as entry fee - no more than one tire slashed.

Dubuque Fondo - Bring a gallon of Tide detergent and ride for 12 hours in the basement of Schmalz's boyhood home

Transylvania Fondo - Free minute by minute coaching from your favorite Romanian cycling coach

V2MaxOutFondo - One person ride - 20 laps around Central Park

Fondo Shen Macgyver - Ride to Bear and back with every gadget and bike accessory you've ever owned strapped to your bike or self for the entire ride.

FBF Fondo - 50 laps of FBF. Charlie I stands with a hose connected to a tanker truck and sprays every rider with water each lap and threatens to cancel the ride if the course floods AKA - waterboard fondo

Grumpy Fondo - free ride up and down 9W going against traffic

Gonzo Fondo - see V2MaxOutFondo

It was
By: schmalz
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:03am

It was

By: sands testiclees
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:02am

Yes, whatever happened to that claim of riders being tested after the Fondo? was it actually done?

To many peopel
By: Boston is a better city
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 9:01am

To many people with fancy new bikes. Come to Rockleigh for tonight's warm up race and get hammered on by guys with older bikes.

Btw, the Gran Fondo NJ is a $125 fee for the $103 mile ride. HA. I love how eevrything's more expensive in NY.

Is there fondoping?
By: Logan Tubie
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 8:59am

Is there fondoping?

I think the Fondo entry fees
By: fondo
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 8:39am

I think the Fondo entry fees are way too low - $500 would be a better price. I would pay $500 anytime, hey if I can pay $2000 for wheels and $5000 for a bike, and anther $2500 for Di2 shifting, then I can surely pay $500 to enter a well organized ride.-

Fondo Fees
By: Boston is a better city
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 8:20am

If you are considering the fondo for next year, but are hesitant to pay the high fees for riding the most overly ridden routes around you might be interested in one of the may Gran Fondos in other parts of the country.

Namely, the New Jersey Gran Fondo. It probobly costs a bit less and you will learn a lot of great routes within 100mi from the GWB. This way when you're sick as hell of 9w and those NY climbs you can come to NJ where the roads are more rural and just as much fun. The ride is in Morris County (starting in Morristown). I haven't done it, but I know many of the roads and can attest that they are much better than the nes on the way to 9w. Cops tend to be nicer, as they are not sick of seeing cyclists all the time.

fonda jane
By: Dylan Nipple
Thu, 05/24/2012 - 6:45am

what was the difference between the light green jerseys and the mostly black jerseys?

Fee are too damn high!
By: Jimmy McMillan
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:27pm

Fee are too damn high!

fees are high
By: Jacopo Seatmast
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 10:22pm

yes the fee is high. Compare it to the fee charged to do the Bear Mountain race. It's a tiny fraction of the cost and is just about as long.

I too had the same attitude that why would I pay a ridiculous amount of money to ride the same roads I ride for free all the other times of the year. But after reading other folks write ups of their rides, I think I MIGHT do it next year.

The funny part is that I would pay a high fee to do a gran fondo in Europe, but not here. Go figure

Basta Rapha
By: Ponce de la Yema
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 10:01pm

Enough of the Rapha bullshit. William Buckley is dead and nobody gets their collars turned over at Brooks Brothers anymore. Go hump that shit up in the village of Boston.

Fast Fondonneurs go
By: Ralph A.
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 5:10pm
TOur de parc
By: Bling ring
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 5:04pm

Tour de Parc shut down is sad. Kudos to those who have revived Orchard Beach this year. I'm sure Tour de Parc will be back eventually. Even major stage races come and go. In this economy it's impressive to have any races at all.

I wish all my entry fees
By: schmalz
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:56pm

I wish all my entry fees provided wine. I'm in next year, just don't have it on Mother's Day.

By: Flange
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:53pm

I'm curious how you defend some of your assertions. How is a gran fondo "bad for racers"? If anything, it serves as a way for non-racers to get a taste of racing, and probably results in more participation in local racing clubs and races themselves. It can't be bad for people who currently race because if they don't do it, they're not impacted by it, unless they're horribly put out by taking the occasional detour, which any NY cyclist is used to doing. And if it builds good will in communities where racers train, how is that bad for racers?

Also, you call the registration fees "absurdly high." If the article is to be believed, the fees don't even cover the cost of the event, so how can they be high? Sounds like they're low and that the event is subsidized in part by sponsors. Is your argument that the mere charging of $250 -- no matter what is offered in return -- for a cycling event will result in random price hikes at all cycling events around the area. That's not logical. The existence of $10K carbon bikes doesn't cause the cost of beach cruisers to go up. Unless other races in the area start offering bottles of wine, tote bags, ferry rides and lots of free food and drinks, they certainly can't get away with charging what an event that offers those things charges. And anyway 5000 people were happy to pay it, including a lot of New Yorkers. Based on my elementary understanding of economics, that would suggest the price was not "absurdly high."

And as for road closures: you're one person. The GF had 5000 riders, and spread $500K worth of cash to communities on whose roads you ride. Sounds like a good deal for everyone, even you.

What's 'bad for racers' is taking a reactionary view towards a clearly successful cycling event with broad appeal and shitting on it on the Internet. That kind of thing makes people think we're all assholes, and makes them far less likely to help us out when we need a break. And by the way, did you see Charlie's post recently about the Tour de Parc on Long Island getting shut down after 27 years because the community wouldn't grant a permit. That's bad for racers. I wonder what a little good will might have accomplished there.

If you haven't figured out
By: amcgee
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:51pm

If you haven't figured out why you should ride this Fondo, re-read Warren's article. I'm a convert. Some of the best race/training miles I've ridden all season. It really is what you make of it.

By: Uli Patchouli
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:32pm

I am not a fondo'er but I am a racer. What's the appeal of a fondo?
I don't have any issue with fondo's, just puzzled as to why people who race would bother?

Prizes seem ok but odds are you aren't gonna win

By: Wheelie Ferrule
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:21pm

The Freds like to Fondo, Fondo, Fondo,
The Freds like to Fondo, Fondo, Fondo...

Nice write up Warren. It was
By: Marco Supple
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 4:14pm

Nice write up Warren. It was a lot of fun, and as you described.

Hats off to Uli & Lidia. You made a lot of people really happy - and also brought a lot of positive (for a change) attention to cycling in NYC. You can't imagine how many people respect and admire what you've pulled off in a few short years.

It is funny that some people feel the need to come on here and voice their negative opinions. That is fine, this is a forum for all voices, but it probably doesn't matter much to the organizers. They are likely taking a much deserved rest and are already busy with plans for 2013.

Grand Fondo
By: Mark Foundation
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:54pm

Personally I am not interested in riding a Fondo any time soon, but I do understand people who are. Anyway, I wonder why people can not be happy for all who do enjoy riding a Grand Fondo and the couple organizing it. We have 5000 cycling enthusiast visiting NYC (and some locals) to ride their bike. 5000 people waiting on the GW Bridge to start, making cycling more important then motorized traffic. Smiling police officers along the way (yes, unfortunately it is a rare sight for many cyclists), local politicians supporting the organizers and many sponsors willing to contribute to the event to make it happen. These 5000 people go back to wherever they came from and tell their families and friends about their race and how great cycling is in NYC. In my opinion that is not just good for cycling at all levels, but definitely for cycling in NYC. On top the organizers can make a living of it as well.

By: Dyanamico
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 3:43pm

I heard him do the Fondo wearing his own kit. Did he really?
And heard he was the cause of a lot of crashes.

Bear Mtn closure
By: Uli
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:51pm

"I just want to ride my bike in a state park that is paid for by NY state tax $."

Obviously not entirely. The park receives $50,000 from GFNY for the closure. You as a local profit from that year round. It's a half day a year. It was open from 1pm.

Gran Fodo
By: Bling ring
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:29pm

Gran Fodo, I don't think I've heard that one yet. Fodo!!

Wow, you must be a lot of fun
By: Luca Housing
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:09pm

Wow, you must be a lot of fun to hang around.

Good idea Mr. Di2, lemme see
By: Andy Shen
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 2:06pm

Good idea Mr. Di2, lemme see if I can score a Dogma for uploading this write up.

By: Giovanni Torque
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:58pm

Grumpy about this? Yeah, a little bit. I don't like people screwing with my weekends. I don't race anymore, for a couple reasons, among them the travel issue. Getting out on the bike is my time, and it was a beautiful day to ride. For those drawing the parade analogy, it's NA. That's a safety issue.

As for Uli, I'm not denigrating what you are doing, I'm happy it exists. But I don't want to a) eat your food b) use your timing equipment c) ride 100 miles d) wear your jersey e) drive to NYC to ride where I ride anyway. I just want to ride my bike in a state park that is paid for by NY state tax $. I would not call that freeloading. BTW, while my wife was racing in Harriman (at that same time), they weren't keeping people off that loop.

Learn to Read D2
By: Robin Helmet
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:51pm

Did you miss the line under the title stating "By Warren St. John"?

Btw, nice write-up Warren.

F That
By: Rinaldo Supple
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:42pm

for $240 I can get some original UGG boots

Gran Fondo NYC
By: Domenico Saddlebag
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:41pm

I am so smitten by the concept of fondo'ing!!!
As Warren suggests
what other event has so many varied accented athletes that the non-international racer can ride with, against or behind!!

Bravo to husband-wife team Uli and Lidia for bringing true fun and creativity to our ever-evolving sport!!

See many of you in 2013.

Grumpy? Bitter sad soul? No,
By: ...
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 1:14pm

Grumpy? Bitter sad soul? No, not really. In fact I promise you know me and like me. I just think $240 is ridiculous and I listed more than a road closure as to the reasons why I wouldn't do it and think it's ultimately bad for racers. Did it ruin my weekend? No, but it was a pain in the ass navigating around road closures as I had to get to piermont and wanted to ride bear mountain. Certainly not the end of the world, nor does not liking something indicate one thinks it's the worst think ever. Absurdly high registration fees do have the potential to impact registration fees across the board though, and that's something that should concern everyone. And of course the country and the internet is free for all sorts of opinions. We don't have to agree.

hehehe Mr Di2 Shen, did your
By: D2
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:58pm

hehehe Mr Di2 Shen, did your electronic shifters help you, did you get any free schwag for the write up.....ooops I forgot your entry fee was free....heheeh

Fondo, a race?
By: Yuppie
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:50pm

I think the Fondo race aspect should be dropped or turned into a real race. There should be two separate groups, the race and the non-race. It's too screwy right now. The fact that riders can soft pedal in between climbs is pathetic. There's a world championship for this? Granted the top 3 guys are all on cycling teams and good ones at that and have done many races, but the world championship thing is strange. Let's make these guys really ride. A decent P/1/2 road race is around the same distance as this. There's no soft pedaling in the GMSR between the Middlebury Gap, Lincoln and App Gap.

Btw, was there actually testing done for the winners?

Remember a few years back
By: Kevin Rubber Hood
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:32pm

Remember a few years back when a taxi drove on the course at the Harlem classic?

That was marshaling at its finest!

(I was standing there as the cab drove right past and through the barricades as the field was barreling down the back stretch.)

By: Aurelien Fork
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:20pm

There were cops at all the major intersections I went through. It's a 110 mile course so there will be gaps of course; but cars drive onto race courses all the time, usually without incident, although the were car-rider collisions at both Catskills and Housatonic last year. Unless you're riding on a truly closed course -- which we almost never are -- we will encounter cars. Hell - there was an event truck on the loop during Saturday's CRCA race.

I didn't have a marshal in
By: Jamie Dimon
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:06pm

I didn't have a marshal in place and lost $2 billion the other week.

Holdja hedge!

By: Victor Polished
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:02pm

Marshaling? I have heard several racers complain about the marshaling which was not present when it mattered and resulted into a dangerous situation in which a racer got hit by a car (cut of by a driver making a right turn) and had to be taken to the hospital.

Hey Pass
By: Aurelien Fork
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 12:01pm

New York City regularly closes roads for street fairs -- do you feel similarly slighted? Or like the rest of us, do you just go one street over and continue on? And FYI, from reading your post you seem like a very bitter sad soul. Relax, take a deep breath. If you don't want to do a Gran Fondo fine, but if you ignore it it won't hurt you. Now double up on your meds.

And by the way -- bad marshaling, high fees and phony titles for winners? That sounds like every bike race I've ever done!

Hey grumpy guy, do you
By: Enzo Headbadge
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:54am

Hey grumpy guy, do you complain to the city about your inability to ride your bike on closed off roads when the town has a memorial day parade? Jeez, get over yourself.

Besides, there was several months of notice that the roads would be closed. We know you were really counting on that 1 day training block to help make the move to the Pro ranks, but it looks like it just might take another week or two for you. Good luck, we look forward to seeing you in July's Toor Dee France.

Uli, Pass. At $240 to ride
By: ...
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:41am


Pass. At $240 to ride roads that have been available to me for my entire life I'm offended by nearly every aspect of what you're doing. It may be succeeding but I'm rooting against you as it's a horrible precedent for racers. High entry fees, ephemeral measures of success, mediocre marshaling...and it all linked into a meaning world championship.

This is the very stuff that will destroy cycling as a competitive endeavor.

That you can close a public road in a town that I actually pay taxes in and forbid me to ride on it is absurd.

Road closures
By: Uli
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:34am

Our participants pay an entry fee to cover road closures. Piggy backing on their cost is simply rude. We do what we can to provide our riders the course they pay for. Join us!

Was Danilo Fondo there?
By: Romain Seatpost
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:29am

Was Danilo Fondo there?

Road Closure
By: Yuppie
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:21am

I'm surprised you weren't able to sneak on. Who cares though, it's one Sunday out of a lifetime and there are plenty of other routes or hills nearby to ride. That said,I agree that they should have let you on as it is not the TDF or even an NRC or local USAC race. The guys who finished in the top 10 know how to race and ride and can avoid a slower rider ahead. I don't think you would have been in their way.

On normal Sundays the Nyack ride owns Piermont rd, but occasionally we allow cars :-)

I had my eyes on the NYGF
By: mikeweb
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 11:05am

I had my eyes on the NYGF website all fall and winter, but in the end didn't plop down the $200+ to do it. As long as next years doesn't fall on Mothers day like last years did, I'll sign up.

Great write-up btw!

Road Closure
By: Giovanni Torque
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 10:56am

I did the ride last year, and the traffic marshaling was terrific. The ride down River road at the end, and the finish line (no drinks in sight), not so much.
This year I decided not to do it as I have not been getting much mileage. But I live in Northern Westchester, and ride to Bear frequently, as I did on Sunday. But this time I was told I could not ride in a state park as the fondo "owned" the road. Am I being unreasonable for thinking that's total bullshit?

By: Dylan Nipple
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 10:54am


By: Florian Tubie
Wed, 05/23/2012 - 10:19am

Tim Johnson is a great guy, but JPow! is the current cyclocross nat'l champ.

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  • Hangover 10/6/2008 -

    This week we are faced with a "whodunnit". We do know that there were races of all sorts out there, but we haven't the slightest clue who won.

    If you won at the Pete Senia Memorial, the Westwood Velo Cross race, the Hillbilly Hustle, the Campmor Chain Stretcher Mountain Bike, or the Kissena Women's Track Clinic, please let us know.

  • Hangover 9/22/2008 -

    In the CRCA team finale at Central Park, David Taylor of Blue won the A race in a break, it would also seem that Foundation wrapped up the team title, but that's an educated guess.


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