In less than two weeks, about 1,500 cycling enthusiasts are expected to ride from Morristown, bound for the twisted, turning, hilly roads of Morris County and beyond.
The sophomore Gran Fondo NJ is scheduled for Sept. 9. Organized by and sponsored by Jamis Bicycles, the now-annual event will offer routes of 18, 44, 64 an 107 miles, with proceeds benefiting three area organizations—Grow it Green Morristown, and .
Marty Epstein, owner of the Speedwell Avenue bike shop since 1978, said $5,000 was donated to each of the organizations last year. Everyone worked so well with each other, he decided to promote the same organizations for the event's second turn.
"All the charities worked so hard last year with us to make the event a success that I wanted to support them again this year," he said. "Our event is run with sustainability as the guiding principle and these charities fulfill the equity portion of our mission along with supporting the environment and the local economy."
New this year is the 18-mile Breve Fondo. It was the ride's 64-mile Medio Fondo, however, that recently received honors from one of bicycling's most recognized media. “We were extremely thrilled this year to have Bicycling Magazine recognize our 64-mile Medio Fondo route as ‘The Best Ride in New Jersey’ and included in their prestigious list of The 50 Best Rides in
America,” Epstein said. “It aligns perfectly with one of our underlying
objectives to showcase the beauty of The Garden State to the world.”
The weekend celebration begins Saturday with "The Mayor's Kid Fondo," a free event for children 5 through 13 where kids will ride alongside members of the Jamis/Sutter Home cycling team.
"One of the key things setting Gran Fondo NJ apart from other Gran Fondos is our focus on including riders of all ability levels,” said Bill Ruddick, executive director of Gran Fondo NJ. He noted the addition of the Breve Fondo, as well as a timed hill climb for the 44-mile Piccolo Fondo.
Last year, by a couple weeks. Still, . Epstein said 1,400 already have signed up this year, with about 12 days before the event.
"Gran Fondo NJ in its inaugural year was so widely raved about after the ride that it was an easy decision to do it again," Epstein said.
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