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,

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