Blazing saddles, Holy Cannoli! Another Gran Fondo NJ rolls into the record books

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How does it feel to pedal nearly 108 miles on a bicycle?

“Ever cook eggs on a skillet?” Michael Petrosino of Queens, NY, asked after completing Sunday’s Gran Fondo NJ. “That’s what my saddle is like right now.”

Michael Petrosino of Queens, NY,  shoehorned training rides between family time and his recycling business to prepare for the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Michael Petrosino of Queens, NY, shoehorned training rides between family time and his recycling business to prepare for the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Ann Lebreton, one of nearly 100 cyclists from Team Merrick on Long Island who came to Morristown for the day-long event, admitted wavering ever so slightly around the 85th hilly mile. But she was glad she persevered.

“When you get to the top of a hill and see what’s behind you, that feels amazing,” said the office manager, proud of her average speed of nearly 15 mph.

Petrosino and Lebreton were among 2,400 riders from 30 states, nine countries and five continents who signed up for scenic rides into the New Jersey countryside ranging from 18- to 107 miles.

Slideshow photos by Kevin Coughlin

Rider Ann Lebreton of Long Island has a hug for Marty Epstein at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Michael Petrosino of Queens, NY, shoehorned training rides between family time and his recycling business to prepare for the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Approaching the finish line at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Cyclists finish the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kim Ekstroem of Morristown and Torben Pedersen of Denmark at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Bella, 11, and her mom, Tina Bologna ,and Paul Miller of Just Jersey at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Dave Stowers and former Morristown Councilwoman Rebecca Feldman logged more than 170 miles between them, at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Monica Stickel of Bedminster and Gary Daluisio of Basking Ridge after riding in the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Mayor Tim Dougherty, First Lady Mary Dougherty anf activist Bill Byrne at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Dining tables at the 'Gran Fondo Village,' Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
NJ 11th for Change brought a guest to the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Vegan entrepreneur Kendra Arnold and Mary Dougherty of the Morristown Women in Business, at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Sponsor tents at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
eam Merrick leader thanks organizer Marty Epstein at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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P1630030 - Rider Ann Lebreton of Long Island has a hug for Marty Epstein at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
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Established seven years ago by Marty Epstein of Marty’s Reliable Cycle in Morristown, the Gran Fondo NJ isn’t only about cyclists’ health, said Mayor Tim Dougherty.

“It’s definitely a boost to the economy,” he said, asserting that the Hyatt Regency Morristown and downtown bars and restaurants were packed with cyclists.

Ann Lebreton of Long Island hugs Marty Epstein after her 107-mile ride at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Ann Lebreton of Long Island hugs Marty Epstein after her 107-mile ride at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

A portion of Gran Fondo proceeds are earmarked for five charities: Grow It Green Morristown, Homeless Solutions Inc., the Seeing Eye Inc., the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, and the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.

Cycling teams representing corporations and nonprofits also raised money for favorite causes. The Gran Fondo NJ has generated more than $1 million for charity so far, according to Epstein.

Jim Daniel of Freeport, L.I., described his 107 miles as “fabulous,” from the weather to the Boy Scouts and other volunteers helping along the way.  

“The course is beautiful, it’s challenging, the climbing is incredible,” and so was the pizza at the final rest stop, Daniel said. All the rest stops were well provisioned, which taught him a valuable lesson early in the ride:

“Don’t eat cannoli before the first climb!”

Kim Ekstroem of Morristown and Torben Pedersen of Denmark at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Kim Ekstroem of Morristown and Torben Pedersen of Denmark at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

Torben Pedersen came all the way from pancake-flat Denmark to do the 62 mile loop with his brother-in-law, Kim Ekstroem.

“It was fantastic, very well organized,” said Pedersen, echoing a common refrain. And how was he feeling? 

“After six beers, okay!” said the accountant, flashing a weary grin.

Was Pedersen inspired to attempt the 107-miler next year?

“Definitely not!”

MORE FROM THE 2017 GRAN FONDO NJ

Approaching the finish line at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
Approaching the finish line at the Gran Fondo NJ, Sept. 10, 2017. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

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