Race Report: Weekend of May 19th and NY Gran Fondo

NJBA Team Challenge and Tour of Syracuse
Saturday, 5/12 was the NJBA Team Challenge in Trenton which is a points race with sprint points on every 4th lap. The format is for five-man teams but Scott Hodder was the only entry for our team in the 35+ race and finished an impressive 4th place. Sunday was the Tour of Syracuse, and once again Scott Hodder brought home a solid placing at 5th in the combined 35/45+ masters race.

JerseyMan Duathlon
Mikael H did his first Du of the year (2m/20m/4m format) and was once again foiled by 2 very fast 20 something year old brothers from NJ (who have beat him for something like the 10th time over a 3yr span). He was 5th after the first run and moved up to 2nd on the bike (catching one of the brothers), but being nearly twice their age, he can’t quite seem to run those sub-6 minute miles on the 2nd run! Mikael finished 3rd overall.

NY Gran Fondo
Lucia D’s experience at the Gran Fondo:
This is for me the hardest ride of the year, but also one of the most fun. The Gran Fondo is 110 miles with 4 timed climbs. I heard there were over 5000 participants (some of which did the Medio Fondo – 60 miles) and there were 2359 “finishers” of the 110 mile route. Not sure how many actually started the 110 miler, but I saw many walking up the hills and getting on SAG buses and vans towards the latter portion of the ride. Also, I know of at least one Gran Fondo-er who was DQ’d for exceeding the speed limit of 30mph descending Perkins. It was a beautiful day to start and got really warm towards the end. The roads were definitely more crowded as compared to last year. It’s really fun to hear all different languages spoken around you throughout the day, and it’s certainly fun to pick off people to pass on the timed climbs. Especially as a woman (there were only 204 of us out of the 2000+ finishers), I often heard some variation of, “look at that girl going so fast!” and took it as a compliment. One of my riding partners mentioned that she now knows what it feels like to race for Asphalt Green (given all the matching black and green jerseys). Some of the down-sides to this ride: lack of food/drink options at rest stops (good idea to bring your own nutrition if you are picky at all), understaffed rest stops (there were long lines), bad choice of finishing party (in Weekhawken, requiring a 7 mile ride with heavy NJ Sunday afternoon traffic, and having to wait for a ferry back to NYC). Otherwise, the overall organization was very good. They do an excellent job managing the course – cops directing traffic at every intersection, so you basically never have to stop at lights. There are spectators cheering along the route. At one point on Kings Highway, some kids were standing in their front yard and ran out to high five us as we rode by… this was a great morale boost, since at 90 miles in every little bit helps! I came in 15th out of 77 in my age group among women. Saw some fellow Rockstar riders out there. It’s a really rewarding day and is extremely challenging if you are riding it competitively. Hope everyone gives it a try at some point!

Peter N’s Gran Fondo recap:
On to Sunday, I did GFNY with a couple of friends, One of which was an exceptional climber (guy weighs 135lbs soaking wet) so, after racing on sat I decided to ride in support of my buddy. During the initial roll-out I was in the lead group along with Tim Johnson (who is a really nice guy by the way) he’s a beast, it was a tough pace to keep on alpine, and he looked like it was a recovery ride. I set the pace for our little group the entire day, then gave him a lead out for each timed climb, all-out effort then I settled in at FTP for each climb. He took 24th and I took top 10% overall. It was a beautiful day for a ride, sunny, not too hot until the afternoon, but all the climbs were done before it got really warm out. Now for the bad news… Descending Bear I shredded my back tire getting away from some super sketchy people, took a wheel from the Mavic car shortly after the bottom, the guy was really nice and gave me a cosmic Carbone ultimate to save my carbon brake pads (they usually give a ksyrium) I repaid Mavic’s generosity by failing to completely bunny-hop a pothole and de laminating a little spot of the carbon on their rim. Then with 5k to go I had a big puncture on my front wheel, and before it even finished deflating I railed a pothole while just trying to stay upright, and put a tiny crack in my rim’s brake surface. I finished the last 5k without brakes and on a flat front tubular (pit stop failed to seal the puncture). All in all, I’m pretty happy with top 10% and not crashing.

Pete N and Nick L lined up in the C field, which was pretty slow for the first few laps. Pete and 2 or 3 other guys took a flyer and caught the pack sleeping. Unfortunately, they caught the next field in front of us, and so our race was neutralized which let the C pack catch back up. It was a good attack but a little bad luck. On the last lap, Siggi’s cranked up the tempo going over Harlem Hill which dropped the back half of the pack. We predicted this, so we made sure we were up front when it happened. The tempo increased even more going by the Reservoir on the run-in to the Tavern finish. There was a crash, which Pete had to slow down to avoid. Nick managed to stay clear as I was towards the front on the other side of the road. About 20 guys contested the sprint, and I came in about 12th or 13th spot.