Race A Gran Fondo

"Italian cycling culture meets the world's greatest city."  That's the inviting premise of New York City's second annual Gran Fondo Ride, Sunday, May 20.

This NYC ride is modeled after the popular 100-mile gran fondos of Italy, which are defined by vehicle-closed roads, well-equipped aid stations and mix of professional and amateur riders.  The rides feature "the kind of fanfare and entertainment that you see at the Tour de France," according to Hunter Ziesing, executive director of Echelon Gran Fondo. 

The Big Apple's 100-mile Gran Fondo takes thousands of riders across Manhattan's (motorist-free) George Washington Bridge, north along the Hudson River to the summit of 1,284-foot Bear Mountain and back. The course climbs 8,500 feet with four timed uphills (and features a King and Queen of the Mountain competition for the mountain goats) as it winds along rural roads and through scenic towns. After you've completed your century ride, refuel with a complimentary plate of pasta and enjoy the post-ride festivities, including an awards ceremony and raffles. 

If you dig the culture but can't commit to a full 100 miles, sign up for the Medio Fondo, which follows a similar course, but tracks only 65 miles and takes away the element of competition (post-ride party still included).

Even if you can't make the race, be sure to roll into the NYC Bike Expo (there's free indoor bike parking, after all), happening at Penn Pavilion on May 18 and 19 from 11am to 8pm. Peruse the latest bikes and accessories from dozens of cycling manufacturers and outfitters, then get to work training for next year's ride.