Tuesday, November 19, 2013

GWB Cable Restoration Could Disrupt Cyclists For Decade

Story by Max Almenas Photos courtesy of John Ford & NJBWC

In 2015, hundreds of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians traversing the George Washington Bridge (GWB) could experience dramatic changes if the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) moves forward with their cable replacement project. The 1.2 billion dollar effort, which is expected to last 8 years, will replace all 592 suspender ropes and clean all four main cables on the GWB.

The cables are 10 years overdue for replacement. But in order to replace the cables, paths to bicycle, walk, or run across the bridge will be closed or rerouted. The PANYNJ will close off the north path while the south path is repaired, and vice versa for safety precautions.

While it is not clear which path will be closed first, the north path is clearly the more difficult of the two to traverse. Cyndi Steiner, Executive Director of New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition (NJBWC), is concerned the closures could have widespread effects for pedestrians and cyclists who utilize the GWB daily for commuting, leisure, or training for world class cycling events such as Gran Fondo New York.

"The south side is bike and wheelchair accessible,” said Steiner. “There are 171 steps on the north side spread out over more than a handful of staircases. Some of the staircases are on the New Jersey side, and some are on the New York side.”

The staircases on the north path are steep and covered with metal grating, which could be particularly difficult for cyclists attempting to carry their bikes up multiple sets of stairs while wearing cycling cleats. During inclement weather, the metal grating can provide less than perfect traction.

“So the concern is when the south path is closed, many cyclists are just not going to come across the bridge or carry their bikes up those steps,” Steiner said. “As of 2012, there are 500,000 cyclists who cross the George Washington Bridge every year. “And that number doubles every five years. That’s going to be severely limited once this project gets started.”

Everyday, hundreds of cyclists cross over the GWB onto Hudson Terrace and pedal past Strictly Bicycles with friends or in group rides enroute to 9W, the most traveled cycling route in the United States. In February, members of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Transportation Alternatives (NYC), and New York Cycle Club attended a PANYNJ board meeting on behalf of non-motorists.

"We made them aware that this was an unacceptable situation for us. We [cyclists and pedestrians] are valid users of the bridge, we’re a constituency also, and they need to think about us,” Steiner explained. "Two weeks later, the PANYNJ contacted the advocacy groups and arranged to spend a day in April walking the north and south paths with bridge engineers, planners and operation managers."

Representatives from PANYNJ, Planning Corps,
the Institute for Transportation & Development Policy, and the engineering firm of Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. attended the meeting. They brainstormed to find solutions that could move the project forward without impeding cyclists and pedestrians.

“We had a bike with us and showed engineers what it’s like riding a bike on both sides of that bridge,” Steiner said. “And in the afternoon we brainstormed solutions mainly focused on removing the steps on the north side because that seems to be the biggest barrier.”

The groups also pointed to the low visibility at the towers, crowded ramps leading to the bridge, tight squeezes where the paths narrow at gateways, and standpipes, all which the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition believes is a clear and present danger for thousands of bicyclists daily.

While the advocacy groups were expecting the PANYNJ to get back to them with a set of potential designs this summer, Steiner says she expects to hear from them in the coming weeks and hopes the general public will connect with the advocacy groups to mainstream the communication channels without disrupting the efforts.

“The Port Authority asked us to keep the advocacy among the organizations that were already involved, because they said, ‘Look, we’ve never done this before, we’ve never worked with a group of advocates, this is new to us, we want to do this right,’” Steiner said. “So if you look at that list, you’ve got a recreational touring club on each side of the bridge and you’ve got advocacy groups on each side of the bridge, so we feel we’re adequately represented.”

Anyone concerned with how their cycling to and from 9W and New York City will be impacted, is encouraged to visit websites for the following organizations: New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, Transportation Alternatives (NYC), Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, and New York Cycle Club.

"Sign up for our (NJBWC) newsletter, let us know that you’re interested in updates on the bridge, provide us with any feedback or any ideas you have, and we’ll keep you informed as to what’s going on,” Steiner said. “But it does help to hear from cyclists so we can count you in our numbers.”

“We have a rough idea who our constituency is but the more numbers we have, the better when we work with the Port Authority,” Steiner added. “What we don’t want is a barrage of communication directly to Port Authority because we’re trying to abide by what they asked us to do, and that was to funnel all of the communication between the two advocacy groups.”

To stay informed on developments regarding the cable restoration project, sign up for the Strictly Bicycles newsletter.

Friday, November 1, 2013

From Kona With Love: New York Triathlete’s Dream Comes Full Circle

Story By Max Almenas     Photos courtesy of Paul Dauber and Cervélo

Triathlete Paul Dauber is experiencing fatigue and constant hunger after completing the GoPro Ironman World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii October 12, arguably the most challenging one-day endurance event on the planet.

While the Kona event is virtually the same distance as other Ironman races, 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a full 26.2-mile marathon, the Hawaiian version comes packed with its own set of challenges including an emotionally-charged mass swim start with approximately 2,000 triathletes, intense trade winds across the Hawaiian lava desert in the bike segment, and blistering heat and humidity during the run.  

“I can eat all day and nothing happens,” said Dauber. “It’s hilarious. But I’m pleased with the whole thing and how it all turned out. Tired, but happy.”

Dauber, who qualified for Kona after a strong finish at Ironman Mont-Tremblant this summer, admits he went a little too hard on the bike segment, and had a little less “fuel” than he would have liked for the marathon segment.

This was not Dauber’s first trip to Kona. Nine years ago during his honeymoon, Dauber, still a newbie to the sport, had the New York City Triathlon and a half Ironman in Rhode Island checked off. But after witnessing the “great race” he was forever hooked.   

“I had no aspiration at that point until I saw the start line to think about the possibility of ever getting to Kona,” Dauber said. “It never really crossed my mind that someday I could actually have the opportunity to race Kona.”

Transitioning From Ironman Distance to Kona

Dauber, who turned 50 during Ironman Mont-Tremblant, came into the sport as a runner with ankle issues and a friend recommended he purchase a bike to minimize impact during workouts. Shortly after purchasing a road bike, he completed several triathlons and within a few years, five Ironman races.

Dauber believes the trick to finishing well in an Ironman is recognizing the race is not made up of three separate components but one entire experience requiring the greatest emphasis on the bike segment.

“If you’re going to run a marathon after the bike, you have to be so strong on the bike, that the run training doesn’t mater as much,” Dauber explained. “So I spent the bulk of my time training on the bike, getting lost somewhere near Bear Mountain, spending a lot of time on Route 9W, working on the hills and doing some interval training on the flats and going fast.”

“And of course, I was thrilled to buy a new Cervélo P5 at Strictly Bicycles and started riding from the time I knew I was going from Mont-Tremblant to Kona,” Dauber said. “So I spend a lot of time on the bike. That’s probably the most important thing because if you’re not strong off the bike, the rest of the Ironman doesn’t come through so well.”

Making Connections With Local Bike Shop

While Dauber trained for Ironman Mont-Tremblant, he was also transitioning from a home in Chappaqua New York to his new residence in Englewood, New Jersey. When he decided it was time for a new bike, he visited Strictly Bicycles.         

Before the Cervélo P5, Dauber trained on the Scott Plasma 3 Premium, a triathlon bike that set a new world record during the 2011 Ironman championship in Kona, packaged with 11-speed Shimano Durace components.

While he enjoyed the bike, it was a little long for him due to his short torso, and with 35-inch inseam and long legs, he needed a taller yet shorter frame.

“I was interested in going back to Cervélo. My first tri bike was a Cervélo P2 carbon, so I knew the fitting on the P5 was a little bit less aggressive than the old P3s,” Dauber explained. “When I came in [to Strictly Bicycles] to meet with Nelson, get fit, and work with Gato [de Leon, mechanic], it was a no-brainer for me.”

After purchasing the P5, Dauber realized he was more comfortable and could remain in the aero position longer. Now he is generating more power and cycling faster.

According to Cervélo, the P5 landed seven Ironman wins within the first six months of launch with outrageous records in the bike split. Other milestones include David Zabriskie’s win in the U.S. Time Trial Championship, Caroline ”Xena” Steffen’s first place finish in the 2012 Ironman European Championship, and Ryder Hesjedal’s win at the 2012 Giro d’Italia.


“And I’m proud to say that my bike split in Kona was in the range of 5:25, so I averaged close to 21-miles per hour over the whole course, which can be windy with both cross and head winds,” Dauber added. “The bike made a big difference for me, plus I like it, it looks cool, it makes me faster. I’m so glad I made the switch.”

If you're interested in the P5 or any of our triathlon/time trial bikes, email max@strictlybicycles.com or call Max at 201-944-7074.

You can also listen to the full interview at our new podcast station: Strictly Bicycles Cyclecast


Friday, October 25, 2013

GFNY Kicks Off 2014 With New Course, Bike, & Family Member

Story by Max Almenas   Photos Courtesy of Gran Fondo New York

Aspiring cyclists who have only dreamed of riding from New York City to Bear Mountain on roads closed to traffic or with moderated traffic can now train for the GFNY BEAR, a 50-mile event, which will be part of the 4th annual Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York on May 18, 2014.

While 100-mile and 50-mile riders will start together on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge and cycle to Bear Mountain, century riders will ride back to the finish line, while 50-milers will cross their finish line at the top of Bear Mountain, then receive transportation back to the GFNY finish line.

“We always like to give people a taste of Gran Fondo New York with a not-so challenging option as we had in 2012,” said Uli Fluhme, co-organizer of the GFNY. “In 2011 and 2012, we offered the Medio Fondo, which was a 60-mile ride with the same start and finish as the 100-mile Gran Fondo. But we had trouble with people using the 60 mile as a race, even though the 60-mile is really meant for beginners and less hard core riders.”

While the GFNY BEAR celebrates Bear Mountain’s 100-year anniversary, it also provides cyclists a climatic finish, ending with a 4-mile climb to the highest peak in the New York City metropolitan area.

“The finish at the top of Bear Mountain will be very unique,” said Lidia Fluhme, co-organizer of the GFNY. “In 2011 and 2012, the Medio Fondo participants rode only the first 30 miles with the Gran Fondo.

After that, they turned around and rode 30 miles to the finish, and at that point they were not part of the main event anymore because the Gran Fondo makes up 80 percent of the field. But in 2014, GFNY Bear participants will be surrounded by the entire field of participants start to finish and getting the full Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York experience.”

Upon completing the race, all participants and their supporters are invited to the pasta party and tents featuring GFNY swag and apparel from sponsors at the GFNY finish area.

At 3pm, awards will be distributed to overall podium, age groups, teams, and him and her category winners.

De Rosa Creates Protos GFNY Frame

According to Lidia Fluhme, GFNY is the first event in the world to feature its own bike frame designed specifically for an event.

When the opportunity presented itself, the Fluhme couple didn’t hesitate on the choice for manufacturer - De Rosa.

“This is so exciting for us,” Lidia said.

Founded in 1953, De Rosa has been associated with professional pelotons in Italy since the early 1960’s, and quickly became the preferred bike manufacturer for legendary cyclists including Raphael Geminiani, Gianni Motta, and eventually Eddy Merckx, arguably the greatest cyclist ever.

Lidia and Uli Fluhme met with Cristiano and Danilo De Rosa, sons of Ugo De Rosa, as well as the founder himself over the summer in Milan, Italy, and a deal was struck to design a De Rosa Protos, their most successful road frame to date, designed with the official Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York logo and colors.

“The De Rosa family is very friendly and very excited about working with Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York,” Fluhme said. “We gave Cristiano a little goody bag and he reached in and took out our Gran Fondo baseball cap, put it on, and was wearing it the whole afternoon. We met again a month later and made a deal.”

While the decision to choose De Rosa as the official bike frame of GFNY stems from the company’s influence in the history and tradition of cycling, the seed was planted when Uli Fluhme was just starting to take cycling seriously at the age of 16.

He said the pure designs and the company’s true understanding of how bikes should be built inspired him. Fluhme would go on to cycle for 20 years and competed for an Italian cycling team, racing gran fondos through the late 90s.

While he never had the opportunity to own his own De Rosa, the bikes remained on his radar, and in his heart.

“If you look at a bike today, you can’t really see what angles and tubes lengths are used because they’re deviating in slightly different variations from the diamond frame,”

Uli Fluhme explained. “It’s harder to tell how the bike is built and it can make a huge difference to how it rides, whether it’s a more American traditional frame that rides well on the flats and straights or a reactive Italian frame, which is more built towards attacking and cornering.”

Winners of the GFNY will be awarded the De Rosa Protos GFNY bike. Join the Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York Sunday group rides at 9am, starting from Strictly Bicycles on December 8, 2013 to see the official bike, which will be ridden by members of GFNY’s Gruppo Sportivo.

New Family Team Member Expected Soon

While the Fluhme family has been busy working on the logistics of the GFNY, and their new De Rosa Protos, they’re also preparing for another life changing event – the birth of their first child, a baby boy, which is expected any day now.

While Lidia Fluhme has not been able to cycle during her pregnancy, she has spent a considerable amount of time exercising in the pool.

“I miss cycling. It made me appreciate cycling a lot more. I miss it,” Lidia Fluhme said. “Can’t wait to get back. I started as a runner and then became a triathlete, and now I'm more of a cyclist who does triathlons. The pool was my home for the whole summer and continues to be now.”

“She put in one legendary 8km swim, which is 5 miles, one day this summer,” Uli Fluhme added. 

While the Fluhmes are both avid cyclists, they’re not expecting their first born to be a future Tour de France or Ironman World Champion.

“I don’t think it’s realistic that he’s going to be Tour de France or something because we’re big people,” Lidia Fluhme explained. “That level in pro sports is for someone with a smaller frame than us. So genetically, we’re not quite there for pro sports.”

“We certainly hope he’s going to do some sort of sport and have fun with it, whatever it's going to be,” Uli Fluhme added.

GFNY fans can expect a GFNY baby apparel line in the future.      

Strictly Bicycles is the exclusive bike shop to build and sell the De Rosa Protos GFNY bikes. Bicyclists will be able to purchase the frame-only at the GFNY shop.

To register for GFNY events, go to GFNY event site.

For alerts announcing launch of the GFNY De Rosa Protos, sign up for the Strictly Bicycles newsletter.

Watch the official 2013 Gran Fondo New York video.

Watch De Rosa frame production from start to finish video.

Friday, October 18, 2013

NYC Cyclist Wins World Cycling Tour Despite Broken Pelvis

Story by Max Almenas   Photos courtesy of Ann Marie Miller

NYC Cyclist Wins World Cycling Tour Despite Broken Pelvis By Max Almenas Photos courtesy of Ann Marie Miller When Ann Marie Miller arrived in New York City (NYC) from Seymour, Indiana to become a professional actor, she never imagined she would trade the stages of Broadway for world championship podiums in cycling.

 Miller, who had already won the UCI World Cycling Tour in her age category twice in the last two years continued her streak on September 22 earning gold in the women's 55-59 road race, and women's 55-59 time trial during the UCI World Cycling Tour in Trento Italy – adding to a career that includes 11 United States National Master’s Championships.

“I qualified to go to the World’s last year in South Africa and I won the time-trial and road races, so I was really motivated to go back this year because if it was in Europe, I knew it would be more competitive,” said Miller, adding the tour ended with a 12 -mile climb to the finish line. “How could you go wrong racing in the hot bed of competitive cycling?”

But the road to victory would not be etched in stone this year. On May 5, the 55-year-old fractured her pelvis during the Putnam Cycling Classic.

“It’s a great event, but it was one of these mishaps where I was riding in a group of 20 guys, someone swerved and took out the rider in front of me and I went down,” Miller explained. “Tim [Snell] [boyfriend] was riding me around in a wheel chair and I didn't know what that would do to my season.”

After consulting with NYC orthopedic surgeon Claudette Lajam, a fellow cyclist who was more optimistic of Miller’s potential for recovery than she was, Miller began water therapy.

“Doing anything at that point was intimidating, but it was great because it was just what I needed,” Miller said. “I could still keep my legs moving without the impact or weight. Based on her encouragement, I did things I wouldn't have gone to. I had from July 5 till September 20th to whip myself back into shape.” Miller would go on to finish the Green Mountain Criterium with the front group, which instilled her confidence to continue to the UCI World Cycling Tour and victory.

Life Transformations 

Miller made her transition into fitness after enrolling in Marymount College’s first fitness program and later earned her Master’s in Applied Physiology at Columbia University, which led to a career as a fitness instructor and eventually a cycling coach.

“What had attracted me to performing was communicating and sharing a message to people and when you’re in fitness or education, you’re also sharing information, Miller explained. “I was called to spending more time helping people instead of pouring all this energy into show business. I enjoy motivating people and helping them take their fitness to the next level.”

Although Miller owned a bike at the time, she was afraid to ride on the chaotic streets of NYC. But after enjoying a ride in Central Park one afternoon, she decided to commute via bicycle everyday. After a friend convinced her to enter a duathlon, and she won second place in her age category, Miller entered multiple events and joined group rides, which led to her enrolling into the Special Interest Group 12-week program with the New York Cycle Club.

“They start out with 40-mile rides and get progressively longer which ends with a graduation ride to Bear Mountain,” Miller said, adding she was 42 at the time. “And then a friend said her bike handling skills improved when she started racing. I had no illusions about bike racing. It looked terrifying to me having watched CRCA [Century Road Club Association] races in Central Park.”

After winning at Bear Mountain, Miller transitioned from a cat 4 to a cat 2 within 6 weeks. Miller, now a cat 1 racer, has 5 road race championships, 4 criterium championships, and two-time-trial championships under her belt.

In the UCI World Cycling Tour, Miller topped the women's 55-59 podium after crossing the line in 2:41:16.4. She was one of 16 Americans who earned medals.

In addition to racing, Miller coaches cyclists and provides lactate threshold testing in NYC.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Cycling Program Transforms Lives One Child At A Time

Story by Max Almenas    Photos Courtesy of CYCLE Kids

A boy named Toby was born with Hepatitis C in a home where there was a prevalence of drug, alcohol, and physical abuse in the family. He lived in a home for battered women with his mother in Boston.

In addition to being socially awkward and suffering from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Toby was overweight and didn’t perform well scholastically. But after enrolling in CYCLE Kids, an after-school program designed to teach children how to ride a bike, wear a helmet properly, and eat healthier, Toby’s life took a different direction.

“His mother said, ‘I don’t know what this program is but now he [Toby] comes home and talks to me and does his homework,’” said Julianne Idlet, founder of CYCLE Kids, a school program designed to fight child obesity and promote healthier nutrition through the love of bicycling.


Idlet was a marketing executive for technology startups who left the corporate world in 2004 to develop CYCLE Kids. While conducting research as a coach for the Harvard University cycling team, she realized how prevalent diseases common with adults were becoming more prevalent among children. 

“The more research I did, the more I realized children don’t exercise. They’re not doing the things I did when I was a kid, which was going out playing and riding my bike,” Idlet added. “They’re going to after-school programs and they’re much more sedentary.”

After designing the cycling curriculum for after-school programs in Cambridge and Boston, and hiring several fourth and fifth grade teachers, it was evident children were embracing the program. CYCLE Kids has worked with the American Heart Association to ensure the program is appropriate for each age group.  

“Kids loved the program. They wanted to ride bikes. They just didn’t have the access to it,” Idlet said. “And it was really important children understood the necessity of eating well. I grew up in a family where everything was made fresh. We had our own garden we picked our own food. It was a healthy lifestyle.”


At the start of every school year, Idlet transported over 60 bicycles to schools, which were stored in the backyards and basements of friends and parents. But when it became evident she couldn’t scale CYCLE Kids as an after-school program, Idlet repackaged it as a physical education program to be sold or implemented to schools nationwide through fundraising to provide books, bikes, and helmets.

With the help of students from the Harvard Business School Social Entrepreneur program, she was able to launch CYCLE Kids in Cambridge and eventually expanded to other states including Atlanta, Texas, and New York. 

Through the support of community leaders in New York City (NYC), such as Dr. Ed Fishkin and Charlie McCorkell, CYCLE Kids setup programs in Brooklyn schools, with the NYC Children's Aid Society, the Police Athletic League, and the YMCA in Chinatown. 

CYCLE Kids has also teamed up with the Citibike program to make it easier for parents and children to learn the benefits of cycling together. To date, CYCLE Kids has reached over 1,500 children in NYC, and is expected to reach an additional 400 children in 2014.

On October 17, at 7pm-9pm, CYCLE Kids, with help from cycling legend Evelyn Stevens and teammates from the women’s pro cycling Team Specialized-lululemon, will be holding a fundraiser to expand the program.  

You're invited to join them at the offices of the Wasserman Media Group, 444 Madison Avenue, 10th Floor, New York City.  You can purchase a ticket by going to their website, cyclekids.org.

Idlet is also searching for celebrity sponsors to get involved in CYCLE Kids and Breakaway, the flagship annual cycling event, which celebrates the core values of CYCLE Kids: nutritious food, fun on bikes, and vibrant community. 

To introduce CYCLE Kids to your school district, sponsor the organization, or learn more about their events, go to CYCLEKids.org  

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Strictly Bicycles Helps Ride 2 Recovery Continue 440-Mile Trek

Story by Max Almenas  Photos Courtesy of Ride 2 Recovery

Thousands of cyclists traverse the George Washington Bridge on a daily basis, but last week veterans from Ride 2 Recovery crossed over from Fort Lee to New York City to continue their six-day, 440-mile ride from Boston to Philadelphia during their annual Minutemen Challenge.

Ride 2 Recovery utilizes the sport of cycling as the key method to rehabilitate veterans who have lost limbs or suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and other injuries.

When Scott Moro, Chief Engineer and Equipment Director for Ride 2 Recovery, stopped at Strictly Bicycles to get a bike computer repaired for a quadruple amputee, he explained how he and his wife helped founder John Wordin get Ride 2 Recovery on the road. 

“We used to run a professional cycling team called Mercury Cycling and we applied what we know towards creating a cycling program to help the mental and physical rehabilitation of these veterans,” said Moro. “We don’t just teach them how to ride – we teach them how to ride in a group.”

Once cyclists learn to ride in a group, they enter the next level of the program – peer to peer therapy, where they discuss the difficulties of physical and mental recovery, loss of friends during combat, and transitioning back into civilian lifestyle.

“Now they [veterans] can talk to someone else who’s been through the same thing in an atmosphere where they’re exercising, having fun, and they can let their guard down,” Moro explained. “It also gets them off their meds [medications]. The goal is not to get them off their meds – it’s just one of those things that happen. It helps them heal. It changes their lives.”

The multiple city ride included stops at the Empty Sky 9/11 memorial in Liberty State Park in Jersey City and the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center in New York City where veterans paid their respects.

In addition to the Minutemen Challenge and other multi-day events, Ride 2 Recovery employs hundreds of retired veterans who worked as bike mechanics before joining the military, and trains them to apply the Ride 2 Recovery rehabilitation methods at military bases nationwide.

“Their experience with bike repair combined with their understanding of the physical and mental benefits of cycling make them the perfect conduit for our programs,” Moro added.

Ride 2 Recovery also organizes one day events designed to raise funds to help support the organization.         

A week after the Minutemen Challenge, several members of Ride 2 Recovery joined bicycle industry organizations and bike shop owners such as Nelson and Joanna Gutierrez of Strictly Bicycles at the 2013 Interbike convention in Las Vegas.

Through the “Interbike by Invitation” program, which allows registered retail bike shops to invite their most loyal customers to the final show day at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, Race 2 Recovery was able to attend for the first time.

Interbike, the largest bicycle industry trade show in North America, partnered with Ride 2 Recovery on the new 25-mile Ride 2 Recovery/Interbike Honor Ride at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center where veterans, troops and all attendees were invited to ride to the OutDoor Demo site in Boulder City, Nevada.

Next stop? The California Challenge, where veterans will cycle down the scenic Highway 1 while enjoying stunning views of the Pacific Coast through cities such as Carmel, Big Sur, San Simeon, Pismo Beach, Solvang and Ventura. The ride will leave Palo Alto and will finish at the Santa Monica Pier.

Ride 2 Recovery is produced by the Fitness Challenge, a (501C3) in partnership with the Military and VA Volunteer Service Office to benefit mental and physical rehabilitation programs for our country’s wounded veterans and healing heroes that features cycling as the core activity.

Held in partnership with the Fitness Challenge Foundation, R2R raises money to support cycling programs at military and VA locations around the U.S. to help healing heroes overcome obstacles they face.

Cycling is important part of the recovery process because it’s an activity that everyone can do, no matter the disability and cycling helps speed up the recovery process.

To learn more about Ride 2 Recovery, click here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

8th Tour De Fort Lee Paves Way For Bigger Races

Story By Max Almenas  Photos by John Ford

If the significant increase in registrations is a sign of what is to come, the Tour de Fort Lee could become one of the must-do criterium races for area cyclists every summer.

A sea of cycling jerseys, bikes, and spectators converged on Abbott Boulevard in Fort Lee, New Jersey Sep 8 as the 2013 Tour de Fort Lee got underway. Over 200 cyclists pre-registered for the USA Cycling sanctioned multi-criterium event, compared to 160 in 2012, featuring some of the fastest juniors, women, and men in the tri-state area.

At least 100 cyclists registered on site on race day as the weather provided ideal conditions for fast turns on dry asphalt. With registrants coming from as far away as Florida and Arizona, the Tour de Fort Lee, organized by Bergen Velodrome and Cycling Center, L.L.C., demonstrated it could attract elite cyclists from across the country.

The strongest pro cyclists in the Men Cat 1/2 race wasted no time breaking away from the pack on the fast, mostly flat course with one hill on Forrest Avenue that slowly ate away at the weakest riders.


“It was a good course because it had some wind and that little hill,” said first place finisher, 27-year old Calixto Bello, a Cuban-American who competed in a 100-mile race with 8,500 feet of climbing the day before. “It [Tour de Fort Lee course] was suited for me. Instead of being a flat, fast race, it was a strength course. You have to be strong to ride there. A lot of fast guys quit because they sprint.”

Bello, who started as a mountain biker at 16, and transitioned into road racing by 18, has traveled around the world to race, from Trinidad to Austria, his favorite country to ride in due to the pristine air, water, and roads.
Euris Vidal, the professional cyclist who took second place in the Cat 1/2 race, started as a BMX racer in the Dominican Republic at the age of 13 and by 15 decided to train and eventually go pro.

“This is a beautiful sport,” said Vidal, who at 27 has already raced in the Caribbean, Mexico, South America via the Pan American Games, and venues in the United States such as Madison Square Garden. “The easiest thing you can give a kid is a bike.”

Vidal was originally trained by members of his family including his mother and several uncles, and was picked up Geico Columbia, his first professional team. After arriving in the United States, he raced with Champion System for a year before joining Foundation.

Vidal is now training for the Tour de Tobago and was recently asked by the Dominican Republic Cycling Federation to represent the country in the Campeonato Centroamericano y del Caribe.

But while the racing and winning has transformed his life, Vidal misses out on the everyday experiences many take for granted.

“The hardest thing about this sport is not being able to enjoy time with family and friends,” Vidal said. “But cycling has been very good to me.”

Nelson Gutierrez, co-owner of Strictly Bicycles, raced in the cat 5, a first in 15 years, while his wife and business partner, Joanna Gutierrez, raised over $2,000 for the Fort Lee Education Foundation (FLEF), the benefiting foundation of the event, which awards scholarships and grants to students and teachers. 


“I felt great. I broke up the pack in the first lap to give my buddy Marcos [Franco] a shot at first place,” said Gutierrez. “He got second, but he still did great. I’m definitely doing more races.”

Strictly Bicycles donated three Cannondale frames and one child Specialized bike in addition to other cycling equipment and apparel. Sponsor Benzel Busch provided a $10,000 sponsorship to the FLEF.

The top prize money increased significantly over last year, coming in at $1,999, which was split between the first 20 places in the men 1& 2 categories. The other categories also featured prizes for top riders. Vendor prizes included (2) sets of ZIPP 30 wheels, (3) CADD 10 Cannondale frames, Giro helmet, (1) pair of Shimano road shoes, various pairs of Tifosi sunglasses, and cycling gloves. Other prizes included the 50/50 raffle payout of $5,000 as well as dinner for two from various local restaurants, New York Yankees tickets, and certificates from local businesses.                 

Gutierrez was extremely pleased with the turnout by local residents and cyclists from both sides of the Hudson River as he prepared for a trip to Las Vegas to attend Interbike, North America’s largest gathering of bicycle industry professionals gathering at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center to discover the latest innovations and trends affecting the business of cycling.

Gutierrez will be a special guest speaker at Interbike along with local cycling legend George Hincapie on behalf of American Express Open. 

Winners of all the races are listed below in order:

Men cat 1/2: Calixto Bello, Euris Rafael Vidal Paulino, Scott Savory.

Men cat 3, Rene Herrera, Sammy Moseley, and Raymond Reisen.

Men cat 4: David Leibowitz, Leon Lyakovetsky, Chares Patton.

Men cat 5: Matthew Moocarme, Marcos Franco, Lazaro Delgado.

Masters 35+: Louis Schimmel, Oscar Pineda, Juan Pineda.

Masters 45+: Eugene Boronow, Gary Steinberg, Thomas Cipolla.

Women 1/2/3: Amy Cutler, Emily Spence, Caryl Gale.

Women 4: Sara Yancovitz, Christiane Tibbs, Anna Janas.

Junior men 10-14: Abe Latorre, Matan Sopher, Christian Pineda.

Junior men 15 - 16: Justin Strauss, Kaan Sarci.

Junior Men 17 - 18: Sammy Moseley, Andreas Katehis.

Junior women 10 - 15: Peye Wong.

Check back soon or sign up for alerts on release of videos from the 2013 Tour de Fort Lee.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

State To Paint 9W For Cyclists, Education Needed For Safety

Thousands of New Jersey and New York City cyclists traversing the George Washington Bride 
daily en route to 9W, arguably the most traveled cycling route in the northeast, will soon have improved visibility this fall after the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) begins repainting the road shoulder lines and adds new signage along Englewood Cliffs, Tenafly, and Alpine up to the state line.

“There’s a study we’re looking at to see what is feasible in terms of longer term improvements for the 9W corridor,” said Joe Dee, spokesperson for NJDOT, who is also an avid cyclist. "We’ve been interested in addressing this issue for some time now due to the volume of cyclists. It’s a very popular area.”

While the project is designed to make the road more visible and safer for cyclists, Dee says motorists need to understand the road is to be shared by a variety of users. Nevertheless, cyclists need to do their part as well.

“I think it’s awareness,” Dee said. “Cyclists can make themselves more visible by wearing bright jerseys. But I shake my head at the recklessness of cyclists when they go two abreast on a highway that doesn’t have a shoulder. And clearly, they’re on the highway for a short distance, they’re trying to get off it onto a country road, but they absent mindedly or arrogantly decide to take over a section of the road and it just doesn’t make sense.”

“I always look at little stretches of highway, and even county routes where there’s no shoulder, and I’m on those periodically like Route 579 in Hunterdon,” Dee added. “That’s the time for a pace line. If you have a bunch of riders, get in the pace line and grind it out.”

According to the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, bicycles have the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicles. Cyclists must ride on the right side of the road, travel in the same direction as motorists, obey all signals, and ride no more than two abreast when traffic is not impeded, but otherwise ride in single file.

Narrower sections along 9W are posted with signs requiring cyclists to ride in a single file. Cyclists under 17 years of age are required to wear a bike helmet approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, although bike shops, groups, and clubs advocate the use of helmets regardless of age.

Organizers of Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York (GFNY), a timed race that utilizes 9W for much of the 105-mile course, has developed a “sixth sense” for what’s improved and what requires more focus, including speeding cars, distracted drivers due to texting, and the 3-foot distance rule motorists should maintain when passing cyclists – all of which require additional education for both cyclists and motorists.

“While speeding and distraction will have to be enforced by ticketing drivers, passing cyclists appropriately requires education because many drivers are not aware of the danger that comes from passing cyclists closely,” says Lidia Fluhme, who has successfully co-organized the GFNY with her husband, Uli Fluhme for the last three years.

Group rides meeting at Strictly Bicycles every Sunday at 8am not only provide a supportive training environment for cyclists training for the next GFNY and other events, they also educate cyclists on road rules, etiquette, and how to properly share the road with motorists, other cyclists and pedestrians.

But Fluhme believes non-cycling motorists needs to experience the road from a cyclist’s perspective to better appreciate the potential for disaster.                 

"Ideally, before anyone is granted a driver's license, he/she would have to be on a bike and have cars, trucks and motorbikes speed by with 3-12 inches of distance while riding their bike from A to B,” Fluhme explained. “Experiencing that fright firsthand would show drivers how horrible it feels and deter them from doing it and, hence, avoid terrible accidents.”

For more information regarding cycling tips, bike safety, and to view digital maps, go to the Road Rules section under Community @StrictlyBicycles.com.  

Want to learn proper cycling? Join one of our FREE Sunday group rides. We meet at Strictly Bicycles 8am (when store opens) to stock up on hydration, nutrition, and last minute tire checks. Rides depart SB parking lot approximately 8:30am. All levels welcome!

Join the Strictly Bicycles Strava club to follow Nelson Gutierrez, the Strictly Bicycles staff, and all your friends on Strava. See where and when they ride, who is King of the Mountain in your area, plus personal records and other fun stats. Join our Strictly Bicycles Strava Club today!

Signup for our newsletter to receive alerts on part three of this cycling news series and other cycling news.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Tour De Fort Lee Returns For Eighth Annual Cycling/Walk Event With New Categories, More Prize Money To Benefit Fort Lee Students, Teachers

Cyclists race down Abbott Blvd during 2012 Tour de Fort Lee
Photo by John Ford

The Tour De Fort Lee will play host to some of the most exciting criterium (crit) cycling races in the northeast on September 8. The community friendly event, now in its ninth year, will also feature a 5-mile family ride and a 2-mile walk.  

The event benefits the Fort Lee Education Foundation (FLEF), which raises monies to fund innovative programs for students and grants for teachers in the Fort Lee school district due to budgetary constraints. 

“Nelson [Gutierrez] from Strictly Bicycles really wants to get the spectators out,” said Harvey Sohmer, President of the FLEF, and councilman of the Borough of Fort Lee. “And the [Fort Lee] mayor and council, and the [Fort Lee] police department are very supportive of the event.”

Harvey Sohmer (left), Tony Clores (center), Peter Rossi (right)
Photo by John Ford
The student population has increased tenfold since graduated from Fort Lee High School’s (FLHS) class of 1959 with his wife, Roberta Sohmer, who graduated class of 1962. He attributes the popularity of the four-corner crit events to the fast, spectator-friendly course. 

This official USA Cycling event draws some of the most experienced riders in the tri-sate area, and organizers have added several new categories (cat) including a combination junior and women cat 4 race, and women cat 1, 2, and 3 races.

In an effort to draw a younger demographic into competitive cycling, organizers broke out the juniors into different age groups for prizes including junior men 10-14, junior men 15–16, junior men 17-18, junior women 10-14, and junior women 15-18. Separate medals and merchandise prizes will be awarded for each age group.

The men categories that made last year’s criterium races a success, including men cat 1 and 2, cat 3,4,5, and masters 35+ and masters 45+ will return. 

Photo by John Ford
The races start and end at the intersection of Abbott Boulevard and Tremont Avenue in Fort Lee. Cyclists will race north on Abbott Boulevard and make their first turn heading east onto Riverdale Drive. At the next intersection they turn south onto Oleri Terrace, then head west to attack the steep hill up Forrest Avenue before turning north onto Abbott Boulevard again. 

The top prize money has increased significantly over last year, coming in at $1,999 to be split between the first 20 places in the men 1& 2 categories. The other categories also feature prizes for top riders.  

Tony Clores, Vice President, another graduate of FLHS (class of 1958) and past president of FLEF, said the event doubles as a class reunion for alumni who return every year from near and far to catch up with friends, take in all the outdoor excitement, and support a great cause.

“I wanted to give back to the community,” said Clores, who continues the work of the foundation with his wife Julia Clores (class of 1960) after Bunny and Michael Feiler started the foundation in 2004 with a $30,000 donation from a local church.

But while sponsors such as Benzel Busch and Strictly Bicycles have been very supportive of the Tour de Fort Lee, he hopes sales of the 50/50 raffle ticket sales, on sale for $20, increase significantly before the event. 

“I hope we at least achieve what we achieved last year,” Clores added. “That’s all going to depend on the raffle.”

If 1,000 raffle tickets are sold, the winner walks away with $10,000. The winner will be announced at the end of the event.  

Agusto Sanchez-Winner of 2012
Tour de Fort Lee
Photo by John Ford 

To purchase 50/50 raffle tickets, visit Strictly Bicycles, 2347 Hudson Drive, Fort Lee, New Jersey. Go to StrictlyBicycles.com for store hours. For more information regarding the Tour De Fort Lee, contact the Fort Lee Education Foundation or call 201-638-5294. 

The Tour de Fort Lee will be held rain or shine. There will be an additional $10 late fee for race day entry. To pre-register for criterium races, go to the BikeReg event page.

Pre-registration closes Sept 7 at noon. To view categories and prizes, click the Race Flyer near the bottom of the BikeReg event page.

Photo by John Ford
Those interested in signing up for the family ride or 
walk events can register the day of the event at the intersection of Abbott Boulevard and Tremont Avenue in Fort Lee, New Jersey starting at 7:30a.m. The events start 9a.m. 

The Tour de Fort Lee is sponsored by Benzel Busch, Strictly Bicycles, Zipp Speed Weaponry, Cannondale, and is presented by Bergen Velodrome and Cycling Center

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Borough Convinces County To Make More Room For Cyclists

For years, Englewood Cliffs officials have attempted to convince the Bergen County Department of Public Works (DPW) to install bike lanes on Hudson Terrace, a county road used by thousands of New York City and New Jersey cyclists on a daily basis.

Due to the lack of space, bike lanes were out of the question, but two weeks ago the county proposed an alternative to meet cyclists halfway without shortchanging motorists - widening the shoulder.

On August 8th, the county began milling, repaving, and repainting the shoulder lines and widening them from 3ft. up to 5ft. in sections.

“We’re trying to do something to accommodate cyclists and accommodate our residents,” said Melanie Simon, councilwoman for Englewood Cliffs and liaison to the Borough’s DPW, who was particularly concerned of rude motorists and cyclists who sometimes ride three or more abreast on the narrow roadway. “Everybody is trying to get somewhere and the idea is for everyone to get there safely.”

The wider lanes are expected to make it easier and safer for cyclists to navigate around debris, sewage drains and deep potholes without having to weave into vehicular traffic. New lines were added near catch basins to give cyclists advanced warning of the obstacles, and motorists maintain 12 ft. or more of road, the minimum allowed.   

One of the most difficult aspects of getting the project started was getting officials from various agencies in the same room simultaneously including Bergen County DPW, Palisades Interstate Parkway (PIP), the Englewood Cliffs Police Department, Englewood Cliffs DPW and Borough officials.  

The other challenge was county budgetary constraints.

“We have to work within our budgets,” said Tom Connolly, County Road Supervisor at Bergen County DPW. “We have very limited resources to maintain our roadways. The first three years a road is laid down, it’s smooth and beautiful. Afterwards, it starts to deteriorate. Water and asphalt don’t mix at all, and we have a lot of poor drainage areas.”

According to Connelly, Englewood Cliffs Superintendent Mark Neville agreed to coordinate a cleanup of the buffer zone with the PIP twice a month if the county widened the shoulder.

Simon credits all agencies and Borough officials who came together to get the shoulder extended including Englewood Cliffs Borough Administrator Lisette Duffy, Police Chief Michael Cioffi, Deputy Police Chief Michael McMorrow, Superintendent of DPW Mark Neville, and Englewood Cliffs Mayor Joseph Parisi.  

Build It And They Will Come
White line extends beyond original width of shoulder

Many cyclists crossing over the George Washington Bridge (GWB) from New York City stop at Strictly Bicycles, the only bike shop on Hudson Terrace in Fort Lee, to stock up on hydration, nutrition, and other bike products and services before continuing north towards 9W.

For Nelson Gutierrez, proprietor of Strictly Bicycles with his wife Joanna Gutierrez, a safer road equates to a more enjoyable experience, regardless if the rider is a beginner cyclist joining one of the Sunday group rides out of the Strictly Bicycles parking lot or a veteran cyclist.              

"Creating greater separation between riders and cyclists means a safer experience for everyone on the road,” said Gutierrez. “Cycling promotes a healthier lifestyle. The safer we make it for everyone, the safer and healthier we’ll be.”

Event organizers also rely on safe roads to deliver the best possible experiences for cyclists, especially when they host anywhere from 2,000 to 6,000 participants during events such as the Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York (GFNY). The GFNY is a timed 105-mile pro-am race that draws professional, intermediate, and beginner cyclists from 70 countries around the globe.

“Enhancing road safety encourages people to get on bikes to ride,” says Lidia Fluhme, who co-organizes the GFNY with her husband, Uli Fluhme for the last three years. “Many people cite speeding cars and unsafe road conditions as the top reasons why they are too scared to ride a bike. [When] initiatives like this help foster healthy lifestyles in the community, more people start riding bikes and take on a challenge like Campagnolo Gran Fondo New York.”

Fluhme believes widening the shoulder on Hudson Terrace is a good step towards safer cycling.

“Granting more road to cyclists creates a better awareness and awards cyclists with more equal rights to be on the road as cars,” Fluhme added. “Cars that travel along Hudson Terrace are used to cyclists and generally give space, respect the cyclists and are good at sharing the road. But any additional infrastructure, like a wider shoulder, also helps.”

State officials plan to address the cycling issue on 9W next month. Go to StrictlyBicycles.com to follow this series and more cycling news.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Next Stop? New Jersey Highlands Gran Fondo

In an effort to provide more cycling outlets for new and experienced bicyclists, and to help make cycling a more user friendly sport, the Gran Fondo National Championship Series (GFNCS) was created.

With the Central Florida Gran Fondo, the inaugural event, and Tour of Georgia Gran Fondo on the books, the series continues to the garden state with the New Jersey Highlands Gran Fondo, making it possible for Tri-state area residents to sign up for the scenic yet challenging multi-tier event.

Before the Italian style of racing known as gran fondo or "big ride" came to the United States, according to race director Reuben Kline, average cyclists typically registered for a criterium in the category 5, or as he puts it, a "crash 5", where cyclists race short distances on closed streets.

"The Gran Fondo provides an outlet where people can get into cycling (races) in a safe way," said Kline.

Unlike other gran fondo events, all GFNCS events have multiple timed climbs as opposed to start-to-finish gran fondo races. The 100-mile route will feature four timed sections, two timed sections for the 60-mile route, and the 30-mile route carries one timed sections.

While non-professional riders have the opportunity to pace themselves and enjoy the view, professional or competitive cyclists can "show their strength" at every section.

"When the riders are in these timed sections, they're going hard against the clock, and those times are recorded and then compared to other riders," Kline said. "When they're outside those timed sections, they have an opportunity to look around and enjoy the beautiful scenery, relax, stopat aid stations and regroup with friends."

According to the event website, the New Jersey HighlandsGran Fondo course is set against a scenic landscape of environmental importance. The course traverses an area featuring "rolling farmland, hilly ridgelines, and winding roads that weave up and down the lush green mountains".

Riders will gain 9,000 feet in vertical elevation as they ride through three counties within New Jersey and New York regions in close proximity to the metropolitan area.

While the New Jersey Highlands Gran Fondo will go through areas more populated than the Central Florida and Georgia races, Kline said the New Jersey course takes advantage of as many back roads as possible to minimize exposure to traffic.

As for recommendations for race day, Kline says riders should conserve their energy throughout the race in order to tap into their reserves in the timed sections.

"The route is very stimulating,” Kline said. “So we feel the route will inspire people to make it through."

While cycling has given Kline more in life than any other outlet, be believes cycling has gained popularity with the general public due to multiple factors.

Reuben Kline cycling through Palisades Interstate Park

"The world is so stressful. So many things are tying us down," Kline said. "When you get on a bike you literally 'leave' things behind you. When you get that bike out for a 40-50 mile ride on a Sunday afternoon, you get a chance to remove yourself from that stress you're in."

"Certainly the technology and the performance of the bike have something to do with it," Kline added. "But I really think it's the stimulation that we get from being on the bike, being healthy, and being able to get outand see some beautiful landscapes and explore new areas."

By Max Almenas
Strictly Bicycles

SPECIAL PROMOTION: Strictly Bicycles has 4 free entries for the June 9th New Jersey Highlands Gran Fondo. Click here to our Facebook page and tell us why you would like a free entry into your choice of the 25-mile,60-mile, or the 100-mile scenic race and we'll enter your name into the raffle.

Winners will be selected at random by Friday, June 7th. Packet pickup is Saturday, June 8th at Strictly Bicycles, Fort Lee, NJ. The New Jersey Highlands Gran Fondo is Sunday, June 9th.

For a description of the event and to register, go to NJ Highlands Gran Fondo site.
Don't forget to go to our Facebook page and post your comments on our timeline to enter raffle and possibly win. 

Good luck!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

It Takes A Community To Make A Difference

Welcome to the new Strictly Bicycles community blog. Strictly Bicycles is a full service shop specializing in custom builds, repairs, and sales of major components, accessories, apparel, nutrition, and hydration for all your cycling needs.

We just went live with a soft launch of our new website, so make sure you subscribe to our blog and LIKE our Facebook page to receive updates on our full launch instantly. You can also follow us on TwitterGoogle+InstagramPinterest, and Foursquare.

American Express recently featured Strictly Bicycles in a commercial for their latest national campaign for OPEN, the American Express small business credit card. Radio ads are currently running and the television commercial should air nationally in the coming days on most major networks and YouTube. Here's the online ad. We'll have a clip of the commercial on our new website as soon as it goes live.  

If you're passionate about cycling or want to learn more about biking in the Northern New Jersey/NYC area, our community blog will be a rich resource for the cycling and triathlon communities featuring bike advocacy issues, educational and cultural events. We're also featuring cyclists and triathletes raising funds for local charities while participating in major endurance events.  

Are you obsessed about cycling or the sport of triathlon and interested in blogging for us? Email me: max@thehumantriumph.com for more info.

Feel free to check out the new website, share our blog and our social media links with your friends and family. We're going to every length to expand our cycling and triathlon community and give our customers the best service and products possible. Thank you for your patronage. See you soon.

Max Almenas
Strictly Bicycles