NYC Mayor Celebrates Italian Roots at Gran Fondo Expo

By Catherine Yang, Epoch Times
May 16, 2014 3:34 pm Last Updated: May 17, 2014 5:35 pm

NEW YORK—Thousands of cyclists from over 70 countries are coming to New York for the Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) race on Sunday.

“[It’s] a celebration of cycling, a celebration of New York, an extraordinary international event,” said mayor Bill de Blasio Friday at the GFNY expo, which lasts through Saturday, marking the fourth year the premier cycling competition has been held in New York City.

“For something that’s only been created in the last few years, it’s caught fire. And that is a classic example of the creativity and the entreprenuership and the spark that comes with New York City,” de Blasio said. “This is a wonderful New York story.”

The New York race was created four years ago by Ulrich Fluhme and his wife Lidia. A gran forno is a mass participation cycling event popular in Europe, and this weekend, close to 4,000 cyclists will participate in the city. Coincidentally, it’s Bike to Work day in New York.

Fluhme’s father was a cyclist, and at 14 Fulhme started taking up the sport as well. “And I never stopped,” he said. The event symbolizes his two loves of cycling and New York City.

“I love the speed of a bike—if you’re walking or running it’s too slow, if you’re driving it’s too fast,” Fluhme said. “Bikind is the ideal speed tot take in everything.”

And in New York, Fluhme said, you can get out of the city surprisingly quickly across the George Washington Bridge, and to a bike trail. It’s the standard route for cyclists in the city, and with some tweaks, it’s the race route as well.

Cycling is a social sport, and gran fornos even more so. “We love Gran Forno cycling and we love New York City, so we put the two things together,” Fluhme said. “I like the diversity. I like that there’s the possibility for almost everything. I like to be with people from all over the world.”

“That culture, that dynamic–[the city’s] really never sleeping,” Fluhme said.

Participants agreed.

“It’s so alive,” Australian Shane Morrissey said of the city. Morrissey has been cycling for five years and will be participating in GFNY for the first time this year. “I love the speed, the action, the adrenaline.”