Cyclists remember 9/11 at start of 2016 Gran Fondo in Morristown

AND THEY'RE OFF! Start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
AND THEY'RE OFF! Start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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AND THEY'RE OFF! Start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
AND THEY’RE OFF! Start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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.

Marty Epstein, left (in blue) and Mayor Tim Dougherty, right, observe moment of silence for 9/11 victims, before start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Pamela Babcock
Marty Epstein, left (in blue) and Mayor Tim Dougherty, right, observe moment of silence for 9/11 victims, before start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Pamela Babcock

“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.

MYSTERY WOMAN? Who is that lady on the reviewing stand for the Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start? Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MYSTERY WOMAN? Who is that lady on the reviewing stand for the Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start? Photo by Kevin Coughlin

“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.”

Flags at half-staff for 15th anniversary of 9/11, at start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Pamela Babcock
Flags at half-staff for 15th anniversary of 9/11, at start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Pamela Babcock

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin

Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
MYSTERY WOMAN?  Who is that lady on the reviewing stand for the Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start? Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Gran Fondo NJ 2016 start. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
AND THEY'RE OFF! Start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cyclists awaiting start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Sea of cyclists awaiting start of 2016 Gran Fondo NJ. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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