On Sunday, May 21, more than 5,000 riders from over 97 countries lined up in the lower level of the George Washington Bridge to participate in the seventh edition of the Campagnolo GFNY NYC Championship. For the second year in a row, I lined up to conquer the most challenging event that I have participated in, spanning 100 miles and over 8,500 feet of climbing in a race against the clock. But what happens during the days leading up to Sunday?
With the experience gained last year, I knew that in order to achieve a better result I needed to prepare myself a lot better and add more miles. I knew that it was going to be challenging both physically and mentally, so making sure that my legs were better prepared would at least give me an added sense of confidence that I lacked last year. With the addition of Zwift, I was able to add extra sessions that allowed me to work on building my base. In total, I was able to more than double last years’ mileage by the time GFNY NYC Championship arrived, reaching 1,000 miles the Friday before the race.
Being a Science In Sport ambassador helped me gain a deeper understanding on the benefits of fueling each ride properly and how to properly fuel. An aspect that I completely overlooked, it definitely provided me with an advantage in comparison to last year. Thanks to Ted Munson, Performance Nutritionists at Science In Sport, he created my race day fueling strategy to ensure that I was properly fueled throughout the entire event and avoid bonking.
Campagnolo GFNY NYC Championship Weekend
The week leading to the race, you can feel the excitement all around. Riders from all over the world start arriving in NYC, bringing a lot of energy and filling social media with pictures of their rides around NYC and the GFNY course. This year, a lot of group rides were created to continue building the excitement and help prepare riders for the big day. Rapha had a few group rides, while the GFNY Gruppo Sportivo leaders put on a few rides throughout the week.
With Science In Sport increasing their presence at the event this year, Lewis Black, Marketing Manager at Science In Sport, flew from London in order to participate in his first GFNY NYC Championship. Having never ridden the initial part of the course, I took him out to River Road to experience the first few miles of the race in order to familiarize himself with some of the conditions he would encounter. With a mass start and the excitement running through people’s bodies, River Road can be tricky, with rough sections and being easy to get carried away and waste a lot of energy through it.
GFNY NYC Bike Expo
The official start of GFNY NYC Championship Weekend begins with the Bike Expo. A requirement for every single participant of GFNY NYC Championship, each rider must attend the expo in order to pick-up the race packet, which includes the required GFNY NYC Jersey, the number plate with the tracking chip, the wristband as well as a goodie bag filled with GFNY accessories and sponsored products. After picking up the packet, the expo provides an opportunity to interact with other riders, discover the other events of the GFNY calendar and browse a large selection of products by the official sponsors of the event and local retailers.
The Last Ride
Having never really ridden around NYC before, I took Lewis out to River Road to allow him to ride the first few miles of the course. After crossing the George Washington Bridge, we entered River Road and began stretching the legs. While beautiful, River Road is a pretty challenging road due to the different changes of elevation that make it nearly impossible to find a constant pace. With a few hills, it’s very easy to waste a lot of energy on race day before even reaching 10 miles, a mistake I made the previous year and wanted Lewis to avoid. By the time we reached Alpine Hill, the first hill on the GFNY NYC Championship Map, Lewis took off and I was left behind spinning at a comfortable cadence that would get me through the 1 mile hill without burning myself out. As the hill started getting steeper, I started catching up to Lewis while his breathing increased. Thankfully, this wasn’t race day and after reaching the top of Alpine Hill, he was thankful that we rode through River Road and got to experience Alpine Hill before the event, helping him tackle it differently on Sunday. In total, 44 miles that showed me that I was ready for Sunday and the KTM was working perfectly.
On Saturday, I met up with Dani and Andy, the rest of the Science In Sport team responsible for the SiS tent at the Finish Village. After visiting the Expo and introducing them to a few people, I took them on a quick tour of NYC and finished off at Giovanni Rana to carb up before the race. After a great dinner, it was time to head home and finish up all the last minute preparations before the big day. After all, the alarm clock goes off at 4:00 in the morning!
Stay tuned for the recap of the big day, the Campagnolo GFNY NYC Championship…