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.