The NJ Gran Fondo 2012.
First off, excellent course! I saw nothing remotely similar to all of the wonderful tv portrayals of the denizens of our wonderful state. The officers handling traffic were excellent as were the people whose days were interrupted by thousands of shaven and not-so-shaven legs. Marty’s from Marty’s Reliable must have taken a page or two out of the Grace Spencer’s book, “Making The Cops Work For You” with the the supplemental reader, “I Didn’t Know You Could Do That With an Egg”.
The weather was fabulous! Glad Zeus got it all out of his system Saturday. Looking at the forecast the last couple of days resembled The End of Day’s. Apocalypse or not I trained for this one and planned on completing it. Wouldn’t want to be stuck in purgatory wondering how my life actually had no meaning having not rode the fondo.
I left my house at 5:00am. My body was not pleased with A. Having to be up that early and B. Having to be up that early and preparing to stress it out, yet again. I stopped off in my local Dunkin Donuts fully kitted out. The lady behind the counter smiled, I slyly stepped out of view. Having modesty issues lately. 20 years of Lycra and now I have issues?
There were more middle-aged white men than I could shake a stick at with kits from the mundane to the last years clearance items from Nashbar. “Team Cat in a Hat” had two of it’s members. They rode as strong as could be expected. Team strategy even started up at the line to the bathroom. Team Strictly Bicycles worked out a pretty decent lead-out to porta-potty #3. Those guys didn’t come to play. MTCCNJ brought along a small force. Brian Price, Jeff Crye, The Outlaw Randy Jackson, Andrew Dunberg, special guest star Insuk Diovisalvo (Central Jersey), Tonya Miller (Iron Rider) and myself. Bryan and I started out together. We stayed as a unit until there was separation and we regrouped at the first rest stop. At this point we met up with Insuk. Tonya Miller was just getting started. We spoke, I pee’d she rolled out, not to be seen again. Andy was making the rounds amongst the riders. A patron of the peleton of sorts. Jeff and The Outlaw started 40 minutes after the peleton (loosely used) began. I full well expected them to catch us, but sometimes that’s just how the cookie crumbles. Brian did the 60 miler and customarily shot out his rear wheel. I saw Andy posted up on a bridge taking in some sun and welcoming the troops or maybe he was cramping. Judging from his demeanor he was waiting for those in his pack that found the rotation of his wheel just a little to quick.
White Men Can’t Jump/Black Men Can’t Climb: I know this not to be totally true but didn’t see too many blacks on the road. The Asian contingency was well represented so I played that card for the day. Being Asian for a day wasn’t half bad.
Insuk and I soldiered over the climbs and even kept on the gas on the flatter sections. The entire course is one giant roller coaster. Climbing at 7mph and descending at 50+-. Technically the only portions of the ride considered “the race” were the climbs, each of which averaged somewhere near 2.5 miles. They weren’t entirely steep, but had their pitches right around the time that where oxygen is in great demand. Climb 1: Insuk darted up the first climb partially in her big ring. I watched her ride away and began pacing off those blowing up all around me. Carnage. The horror. I experienced being boxed in by the dying and having to time it just right to get around some guy doing major switchbacks on the climb to get up. Besides one guy, Insuk was the only other person, to climb away from me. I was proud, then sick.
Climb 2 was more my speed. Much less steep and I could see the tree-line. I followed one woman who was diesel. Big legs, slow cadence, dropping fools, left and right. I chased her then paced her. She paused to stoke her engine and I popped around right in time to suck two guys drafting one another. Got popped from that effort but that sling-shot sent me 5mph faster than I would’ve without. Strava was pleased.
Climb 3: Not nearly as nasty as the first one. Insuk took off again. It’s that Central Jersey in her. This time I held her within a distance I was comfortable with. Then she dropped the hammer again. I wondered how many hammers approximately this lady had? She blew by people and I enjoyed the ride till the last pitch were I pulled even with her besting her on the line. Then we recovered by going up hill again
Climb 4: This last climb came right after a rest area. Didn’t really see it coming until we entered the red-lining zone. Did a lot of maxing out with the heart rate this race. 70 miles in, we still hammered with a you rest when you die attitude.
Insuk being of the Central Jersey tribe completely impressed me by not only hammering practically the whole ride, but not sand-bagging the climbs. I know those kids can hit it hard on the flats, but not much is known of their climbing prowess. “If you don’t know you better ask somebody”.
We finished in 7:15 hours, completely spent. Could have went sub 7:00 easily leaving out a rest stop. I feel as though we left it all the road and represented the club properly. The Outlaw Randy Jackson and Jeff came in about 40 min later. A special thanks to Insuk for partnering up with me and making the ride tolerable. Maybe next year we can add some numbers (Central Jersey to). Go for the team KOM category.
Combined with the Danskin Tri posse, MTCCNJ represented the brand quite well.