Sunday, the Gran Fondo came and went and I rode my heart out. It started with a 5:00 AM arrival in the dark to the George Washington Bridge. After a brief ride up the bridge we were sectioned in to corrals by our numbers. I suppose we were about half way across the bridge, where we stood in the dark, in the cold with wind blowing about 20 mph across the bridge. People were crouching down behind the road divider in order to stay out of the wind.
At 7AM we rolled out in to the pouring rain. The peleton was about 2500 riders, which was far less than had registered, but based on the weather (50 degrees and raining hard) I wasn’t surprised. The first 40 miles on the way to Bear Mountain was great. We were feeling full of power, regardless of being out in the pouring rain. We were rolling pretty fast in any paceline we could grab or lead. Then came Bear Mtn. The rain started to pick up at the base and we began our climb. About half way up, I was really suffering. My glasses had fogged up, the rain was really coming down now, and there was heavy fog on the mountain. Visibility was about 20′ but I climbed. At the top of the mountain it was wickedly cold. We grabbed food, and drink and descended immediately. Standing there we started to shiver. The descent was freezing and due to the rain, we stayed on the brakes.
What wasn’t expected was another 30 miles of climbing directly after Bear Mtn. There were two additional major climbs, topping out around 20% grade. With each rest stop, we stopped for less time. We crossed the finish line in style, albeit soaking wet, freezing and tired. Of course the next day was 80 degrees and sunny. Now in less than 2 weeks I will be riding 150 miles from NYC to Montauk in one day, and then the Harpoon B2B. The real event season has begun. I hope it doesn’t entail riding in a lot more rain and cold, but it won’t stop me if it does.