What was so great about the Mayor’s Kids Fondo on Saturday?
“I liked the mac and cheese,” said cyclist Claire Behnke, 7 1/2, of Randolph.
Her brother, Emmett, 5, enjoyed decorating his bike with a number and sticker. He wasn’t as crazy about the smooth driveway around Morristown’s Vail Mansion, however.
“I like going on rocks,” said the future mountain biking star.
About 50 bikers between ages 5 and 12 came out for the seventh annual Kids Fondo, which is a precursor to Sunday’s Gran Fondo NJ, a series of long scenic rides for grownups that starts and ends in Morristown.
The Kids Fondo was free, with a casual ride around the Vail lawn, bike decorations, and food donated by Morristown First Lady Mary Dougherty, the South & Pine restaurant, and the Gran Fondo NJ.
Mary filled in for her husband, Mayor Tim Dougherty, to help Marty and Jesse Epstein of Marty’s Reliable Cycle start the kiddie ride.
The Mayor arrived a few minutes later, from a health fair across town.
“This is where health and well being start,” the Mayor said, as tykes on training wheels skittered behind him. “It’s all about healthy living, exercising, and being a community. I am Marty’s biggest supporter.”
Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin
The Gran Fondo (Italian for “Big Ride”) founded in Morristown by Marty Epstein has been ranked among the nation’s top three such gatherings by the Gran Fondo Guide. Epstein anticipates more than 2,400 cyclists — his top turnout so far– will roll around the historic Morristown Green at 7 am on Sept. 10, 2017.
They’re coming from 30 states, nine countries and five continents, he said, for rides ranging from 18- to 107 miles.
As in the past, rest stops along the routes will be stocked with tasty food–an Italian festival at the Chester stop will feature wood-fired pizza, cookies from the Artist Baker and ice cream topped with hot espresso (affrogato), Epstein said.
“It may be the best rest stop in America,” he said, adding that more than 90 percent of refuse will be recycled.
A portion of Gran Fondo NJ proceeds will be donated to Grow It Green Morristown, Homeless Solutions Inc., the Seeing Eye Inc., the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
Over the years, the Gran Fondo NJ and fundraising cycling teams have raised more than $1 million for charity, Epstein said.
In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene forced Epstein to reschedule. With hurricanes dominating the news lately, was Epstein nervous about Sunday’s forecast?
“No,” he insisted. Then, cracking a big grin, he walked it back.
“I’m lying. I’ve been watching it like a hawk!”