Sunday, May 15, 2011

Post Gran Fondo

Morning of Gran Fondo
Last weekend's Gran Fondo NYC turned out to be a great tune-up event and a real test of my current training level and overall condition of the elbow.  The event started on the the lower level of the George Washington Bridge at 7am.  I got there at 6am, choosing to not bring any additional clothing other than a cycling vest.  It was freezing!!  What a long hour. With literally thousands of riders lined up and ready to go, the event got off w/o a hitch.  My initial concern with so many cyclists was to stay clear of those who I felt were less competent/confident with riding in such a tight group. (I assume many people had the same idea as I.)
That's George Hincapie 2nd from the left

that's me on the left
After crossing the bridge we wound around on to and into Palisades Park, a beautiful park on the New Jersey side of the Hudson. With many long downhill straightaways in the park, I figured I'd use my downhill skills to pass as many as I could right at the get go.  Although some of the riders were clearly a bit sketched out with the sheer numbers of riders on the road, I was able to clear past what felt like several hundred riders.  Then it was the climb out of the park heading north on to route 9W.  The first big climb and it hit everyone like a wall. Felt good though.  On 9W, everyone kind of settled in to their own pace.  I was taking in as much of the scenery as possible.  I've never really spent anytime on the New Jersey side of the Hudson.  Some of it was absolutely beautiful.  With 4 "timed" climbs (not worth explaining), the event took the riders all the way up to Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain. Bear Mountain was a 4 mile sufferfest.  It wasn't the steepest climb, but was the type that never seemed to end. A true "bear" of a climb. Here are some additional photos of me captured by event photographers. (Don't mind the open shirt- it was hot.)

On the first timed climb

On my way up Bear Mountain (This is where I saw Hincapie for the first time flying downhill)
this is right after the finish of the Bear Mountain climb
Coming down Bear Mountain (top speed- 41.5 mph)
The finish
 Some 7 hours later, I finished.  Best part was that the elbow didn't hurt!  Great sign.  As for my fitness, things are on track, but I've got lots of work to do, both physically and mentally.  L'Etape in July will be another 25 miles longer, with 2.5x the amount of elevation gain.  So, I definitely got my work cut out for me, but looking forward to the challenge.  As always, thanks for the support. Be back next week.

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