My experience at my first Gran Fondo NY
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  1. #1
    Shut up legs
    Join Date
    Nov 2013

    My experience at my first Gran Fondo NY

    Hey guys, here is my story on my first Gran Fondo race. What a ride....

    Bike config during the event:

    - 2014 Cannondale Synapse 105 Carbon
    - Vuelta wheels
    - Continental Gatorskins
    - Continental inner tubes
    - Two cages/bottles
    - Medium saddle bag (two inner tubs, multitool, tire levers)
    - Garmin Edge 520
    - Road morph pump

    Strava history:

    Got some good rest the night before and woke up around 220am, had some toast/banana/oj for breakfast around 3. Arrived near the staging area around 430 or so and just took it easy as they were setting up the road. There was a guy with a fold-able bike that was doing the 100 miler which was nuts. We all made our way to the bridge staging area past security where they had separate waiting areas by rider number. I was number 788 out of 5000 so I was up a head a good amount. Did some stretching in the last 30 min before the start, had an energy shot and nerves were kicking in. They had a good amount of known people there (presidents, olympic winners, etc) which was cool. The president of GFNY made her speech and did the countdown... 3..2..1.. go...

    Made my way down the bridge onto the local streets of Fort Lee in New Jersey. Lots people zipping by and others taking it east as we made our way into the beginning of the Hudson Drive (a road wide enough for 2.5 cars where a lot of cyclists go). Good amount of descends followed by some minor climbs and then the big one of the morning, Alpine. Took it easy, stayed to the right, heart rate up there and in lower gear just making it through. As I got to the top the road leveled out and we got onto route 9 (one/two lane road for us to go down) Took another energy shot right before and kept on drinking the one bottle/hr, started to rain but it was still fast cycling. I was cycling with a few other riders keeping a great pace all the way to the beginning of Bear Mountain where my average speed was around 17mph up to that point.

    The mountain itself... 3-4 miles non stop climbing, the last mile was done in the easiest gear. I haven't done a climb this long/steep ever. It was mentally challenging and at one point I wanted to get off but I pulled through to the top. Avg on the climb 6mph, overall average went down to 16 or so. Took a short break, ate again and rocketed down the mountain.

    Now came the hardest part... those climbs after the mountain. Miles 52-68 were challenging. Cramps started kicking in and the mental part was extremely difficult. On the flats/minor climbs it was ok, high cadence to keep cramps at bay and keep up the average pace. But for the climbs I had to stop a few times either before/during/after a climb because of cramps and the need to stretch.

    Mile 68 rest stop after the two big climbs (Pinarello/Cheesecoat) I was feeling ok. I had the major points of the race and the 10mph min average speed times needed for each point taped onto my top tube with the mile markers for the climbs and the rest stops to know my pace. I was around 1.5hrs ahead of the min time needed and kept that for the remainder of the race. All hills after was done with the lowest gear/second to lowest gear.

    Mile 80 rest stop still same as before, still drinking a lot of water/energy drink, eating energy bars, bananas, energy gels, etc. Making my way back on route 8 that we were on the beginning of the race after the first big hill. Kept a good pace on that road even with the hills and the cramps weren't showing. Once we got back to the top of that hill it was a nice downhill that I used to rest my legs. The subsequent hills took them easy and there were two bigger hills left (one constant climb for a bit and the last BIG climb - Dyckman hill).

    I took the first long steady climb nice and easy but had to rest for a bit before the last last hill because of cramps. Managed to get up the last hill and it was pretty flat all the way to the finish line. Picked up speed, saw the finish line and emotions hit. I can't believe how far I cycled, how many feet of climbing I have done for the first time, that I actually was going to complete a race, a gran fondo. It meant so much to me, I wanted to tear up badly but held back and kept pushing those last 500 meters. The crowd was cheering, that gave me motivation for the last push, made it across the line with no other cyclist around at that time so the announcer said my name as I passed.

    I finished.. stopped and enjoyed this major accomplishment. It was so physically demanding after the halfway mark and as difficult mentally as well. I have learned a lot from this event and I will use it to fine tune my cycling. Using the higher cadence definitely helped and the rides I did before did help me with this event. I definitely need to do more training on these climbs so I will make it my goal to once/twice a month depending on my schedule to do the first 20 miles of the race and back to hit those steep hills a few times. Before major events I will keep doing more training and drive out to Bear Mountain and go up it at least twice per ride maybe three times.

    One thing I did notice is that my eating/drinking was good, maybe had to load up a bit more later on in the ride. Second thing is that after the halfway point while tackling a hill I was feeling warm. The temps were rising rapidly since the clouds moved out before taking on the Bear but I knew I had to get rid of the long sleeve liner I had under my jersey. Once I took it off I felt refreshed, kept the zipper down as I took on climbs to cool off faster and zipped up a bit on hills.

    I already signed up for next years event and will do this every year. I also signed up for the inaugural race in the Dominican Republic ( ) next April, a month before next years NY event. My step father is Dominican btw, so we'll do a family vacation during the time of the race. I'll rent a hard shell case for the bike and fly down with it.
    '14 Cannondale Synapse Carbon 5 105
    '15 Giant Defy 5 (commuter)

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Thanks very nice read.

  3. #3
    I love to climb!
    Reputation: Jwiffle's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Sounds like a great ride. Nice pics
    Stop in at Element Sports.
    Get Out! Have Fun!

  4. #4
    RoadBikeReview Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Cool story.

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