I am currently in the US and last Sunday my husband took part in the Gran Fondo New York bike race. This is a 100 mile cycle race from New York out to Bear Mountain and back and is a tough ride as I found out when we took a drive up to Bear Mountain and saw first hand the climbs they were faced – eek!
When we ventured into Manhattan to pick up his race pack from the expo I will admit I was pretty jealous that i didn’t have my bike with me and wouldn’t be taking part and vowed to do the ride next year. That was until we drove the hills (mountains) and now I am not so sure – would I be able to do it? Could I try? Should I?
People come from all over the world to complete the Gran Fondo and as the cyclists come over the finish line they announce everyone and the countries they are from and these included Australia, Great Britain, USA, China, Brazil and Colombia to name a few. The faces over the finish line ranged from ecstatic smiles to broken faces! My husband’s name is Brett Thake and as he came over the line it was announced Brent Turk from Great Britain – was very funny as no one ever gets his name right. In Starbucks this goes from the usual Brad all the way to Martin!
Anyway he was all smiles and I was very proud indeed!
My husband completed a write up and I thought I would share as a blog post so here goes, enjoy!
Gran Fondo New York – race report
So I took part in the Gran Fondo New York cycling race. This was the most amazing event I have ever taken part in and the organisation and help from the New York and New Jersey Police department was unreal. They really put the UK events to shame. Other great part was that every rider has to wear the same Gran Fondo New York Jersey, this really made you feel part of a team.
It started on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge (if you didn’t know GW Bridge has 2 levels) with all cyclist having to be on the bridge no later than 06:15. Me being me was on there at 05:30 just in time for the sunrise which was crazy to watch.
7am the race starts and we are off. It’s a fast ride to start with a lot of people getting carried away, me being one of them, but I did put myself in check to settle in. The event has a number of climbs and the total climbing stands at 8000 feet. This was a very daunting feeling to know I had to do it.
Before I go into all 6 of the main climbs there was a number of others that for some reason they didn’t think were worth mentioning, some of them were extremely hard.
The first climb was Alpine Hill, 1 mile in length and 390 feet high, average gradient of 7.4% and max of 9%. As this was 11 miles in it didn’t feel too bad, as the old legs were fresh. The decent was quick.
The Course video states that from mile 12 – 38 is flat, this is not the case, they lied, but it wasn’t a showstopper.
Getting to Bear Mountain, yes MOUNTAIN, was quick as I was in a peloton of roughly 150 riders. This was the most exciting part of the ride and the closest I have ever come to a pro ride. These cyclists were something else. We really were moving and at he bottom of this climb at mile 41 I had averaged 20 mph.
Bear Mountain – this is the toughest climb on the course, not for the gradient, although that wasn’t pleasant, but for the length of the climb. This climb was 4 miles long with 1,000 feet of elevation, average gradient of 5.1% and max of 10%. I’m sure there was a 20% on there somewhere. The climb was tough and not as slow as I thought it was going to be. I completed the climb in in 25 minutes and at the top of Bear Mountain had a race time of 2:28 and average speed of 18 mph, which I was very happy with. The decent made the climb worth doing. The fast speed twist and turns put a massive smile on my face.
Now for the next 18 miles it seemed like I was going up hill all the way. This made 18 miles of the Kentish Killer feel easy. I really didn’t enjoy this part of the ride. These included 2 climbs that were very tough. Remember my legs are now getting tired. The climbs are:
Andrea Pinarello, 2 miles in length, 525 feet elevation, average gradient 4.9% with max of 12%.
Cheesecote – 1 mile in length, 262 feet of elevation, average gradient of 4.6% with max of 18%.
From mile 68 – 84 had some spikes but nothing too bad and were fast. This is where we joined the route that covered on the way out, Alpine hill from the opposite side.
The final climb was at mile 97, why!!!!??? This was Dyckman Hill and was horrible.
1 mile in length, 328 feet elevation, average gradient of 6% and max of 10%.
After this the final 3 miles were a slight climb of 2-3% and then we saw the finish line.
Race finished and what a race it was. In the starting area I noticed a guy with a ‘Tour of Britain’ cycling cap on so I started talking to him. Turns out he was from London as well. This guy was amazing and we rode the whole 100 miles together, which made a massive difference.
The only issue I had was a puncture and once I checked my wheel it was a drawing pin and someone had put loads on the course, there must have been 30 – 40 punctures that day.
I finished 724th out of the 5000 entries, and 229th of 691 in my age group M18-39, yes a strange group I know. Ride time of 05:47 as I had a puncture and 3 rest stops. Official time of 06:18. I am very happy with this time.
Other than that would I do it again, YES I would.
Course video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOGSF_INKKc