The Gran Fondo NJ is a great event that depends on everyone working in unison to pull it off. My job was to give mechanical service at the start line and then drive the SAG Van on the Breve and Medio routes. Although I would have liked to ride the Gran Fondo, I enjoyed driving around and helping people out. I ride my bike enough, so this is my day to give back and help others.
The day started at 4:00am when I hit snooze accidentally and my day then started at 4:30. This wasn’t so bad because I literately live a mile from the start line. I picked up my preassembled repair kit and cruised over to the registration area on the Surly Big Dummy.
Early Morning Registration
I must have changed 10 flat tires and adjusted a bunch of derailleurs. Thankfully I didn’t have to deal with any trainwreck situations. The first year I had to assemble and tune a tandem bike. I got it done, but I wasn’t expecting that to come my way. Any time you get 2000 cyclists together there is going to be a bunch of random things that go wrong with their bikes.
As 7:00am rolled around I was churning out the flat tire fixes and got to meet George Hincapie. That was cool. He seemed like a nice guy.
I was able to get everyone on their way before the the start of the ride. 2000 riders rolled out of the center of Morristown. It was quite a sight to see. I quickly grabbed my repair kit and hopped in the support van and began my SAG driving work.
I started by transporting a woman back to the start. Her friend had a broken spoke and she let him take her wheel. I guess she wasn’t that interested in riding, because I offered to get her a wheel, but she said it wasn’t necessary. After getting her back to the start I picked up 3 people in one shot. Two had destroyed their derailleurs on the first steep climb. They were about 10 yards apart and it made it easy to pick them up. The third was a friend, and I gave them all a ride to the first rest stop. John Nicholson(marty’s mechanical wizard) was working there he was able to get them on the road again. I stopped by Marc’s rest stop next and made sure all the riders had cleared the first section of the Breve Fondo.
Marc’s VW Rest Stop
I then starting patrolling the Medio Fondo route. It was my job to make sure the last medio riders had made it to Califon and tell our logistics guy Dan that the first half of the Medio course was clear of riders. This didn’t take too long. There were 2 ladies out there and I waited at the Califon stop until I thought they would be getting in. I drove out, and saw them come in and drove the van over to the Chester rest stop. I almost made it there when I was dispatched out to a chain issue. On my way there I passed by a woman who recently crashed. She didn’t look so good, being that she was face down in the grass and half over a curb. The local emt squad showed up and checked her out. I think she was a bit bruised up but ok. I took her bike back to the store for her to pick up later. On my way back I found my guy with the chain issue. He had a broken link so I slapped a quick link in his chain and sent him on his way.
I was getting hungry and all I had to eat was some cannoli from the first rest stop. I had some brownies too, but I needed some real food. It was now my mission to get to the Chester rest stop.
Dexter and Marc figuring out how to put away this flag thing
I heard my coworkers were there grilling steak and wings with some cold beverages. I kept trying to get there and then I would be constantly dispatched to another bike pick up. Eventually I was able to make it there just in time for the wings and the clean up of the rest stop. The wings were especially good and I commend Dexter on his grilling abilities. I got a slice of steak too and it was also super tasty.
We gathered up the rest stop and put everything back in the COW(container on wheels). It was a great way to distribute and clean up each rest stop. The next day all of the COWs were back in the Marty’s of Randolph parking lot ready for us to unload them.
After we cleaned up the Chester rest stop, I headed back to the start to enjoy the cleaning up there as well. Cleaning up is probably the most fun thing after any event. Right when you might feel like going home and resting…. its time to keep going and put everything away. Thankfully it was a nice evening and most of the volunteers stuck around and helped load the van with an assortment of tents, pint glasses, chairs, banners, chocolates etc…
We finally finished up around 8:00pm and called it a day. I enjoy helping out at Gran Fondo NJ and maybe next year I will get to ride it.
Gran Fondo NJ on a stick!