By Kevin Coughlin
With a moment of silence, followed by a rousing duet of the national anthem by a two blind tandem riders, the 2016 Gran Fondo NJ paid tribute to the victims of 9/11 before 2,400 cyclists rolled into the Jersey countryside from Morristown on Sunday morning.
“It’s amazing that it’s 15 years” since the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001, said Marty Epstein, who started the Gran Fondo NJ six years ago.
“Our community was very impacted by 9/11, this whole area was, obviously. We’re very honored that we could bring that many people–similar to the number of people who we lost–together. It’s a really interesting symbolism there,” said Epstein, owner of Marty’s Reliable Cycle.
The Gran Fondo consists of scenic rides ranging from 18 to 107 miles. Throughout the day, bikers will return to Morristown for live music, a barbecue, massages and general post-ride camaraderie.
“People are excited. You can just feel it. And being on such an important day, 9/11, it really had a lot of meaning for a lot of people,” Mayor Tim Dougherty said after the cyclists hit the road.
Everything went smoothly at the 7 am start, near the historic Morristown Green. Epstein already had put in a long day.
“I’m exhausted. My feet are killing me!” he said.
The only mystery: Who was the woman who joined Epstein and the Mayor on the reviewing stand?
“I have no idea!” Epstein said, flashing a huge grin. “It just added to the ambiance.”
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin