The, Italian-inspired Gran Fondo New York is set to return to the city and Lower Hudson Valley on Sunday when 5,000 cyclists from more than 70 countries will pedal 110 miles through some two dozen towns along the Hudson River.
The tour begins 7 a.m. Sunday on the lower level of the George Washington Bridge, which will be closed to traffic overnight Saturday until 9 a.m. Sunday. Though the Hudson Valley is a long way from the spectacular vistas of the Alps or Pyrenees, riders are challenged to a near four-mile climb up to Bear Mountain in Harriman State Park at an elevation of 8,500 feet.
After descending, the course will wind its way back, hitting two more timed climbs before finishing in Weehawken with stunning views of New York City.
Husband and wife Uli and Lidia Fluhme, founded the event, which in its second year has more than doubled its participants.
Uli, who raced professionally in his native Germany, said he considers it a marathon on bikes.
“You don't just jump into the marathon and do it. You also have to train for it," he said.
The King and Queen of the Mountain – crowned after the race -- will receive $8,000 Pinarello racing bikes at an awards ceremony and party. Many will be celebrating the fact that getting back to New York City will be a lot less exhausting: organizers offer riders a free trip back to Manhattan on New York Waterway Ferries.