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!

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