Thursday, May 23, 2013
With the Gran Fondo NY under my belt, I continue raising awareness and funds for 16-year-old heart transplant recipient Johnny Damato as I cycle in the New Jersey Highlands Gran Fondo on June 9, which is part of the Gran Fondo National Championship Series.
This 100-mile course offers some of the most beautiful rolling farmland and scenic ridge lines you'll see in NJ/NY area. And with over 9,000 feet of vertical elevation, it's sure to be a challenge.
Stop by the Wendy's table during the Fort Lee Arts & Musical Festival so I can tell you more about it. Wendy's will be donating proceeds from lemonade sales to benefit COTA for Johnny D. We'll also have cash donation boxes. The festival will be
The festival will feature vendors, crafters, Fort Lee Artist Guild Juried Art Show, food court, Farmer's Market, two stages of free entertainment, Harley Davidson Motorcycle Show, free bounce rides, rock climbing wall, free Palisades Amusement Park photo booth, and us. The event will go on rain or shine.
So keep following us this summer as we produce a variety of events to help make a difference in Johnny's life. If you can't make it to the festival or the race, make a donation here. You can make a difference in his life too.
Stay healthy. See you on the road.
Monday, May 20, 2013
|Maxim Almenas at top of Bear Mountain|
The cold, rainy, 105-mile race was really tough. Just a mile or two into the race I fell at the entrance of Palisades Interstate Park in Fort Lee and got a slight gash on my leg and hand. But within seconds I was back on the bike and trekked through the hills before getting onto 9W.
The first half was all physical, the second half was mostly mental. But the cold rain that never stopped ran so deep into everyone's skin, I saw big men (think football players) shivering like little girls. Especially those wearing shorts. Very humbling. I'm glad I wore long undershirt and long tights on my legs. It made the experience almost bearable.
The hills never seemed to end. And climbing Bear Mountain seemed more like Kilimanjaro with the mystic fog, rain, and layers of clouds that got thicker as we climbed. (I thought I heard monks chanting)
Going down the super steep hills I had my hands on the brakes the entire time because I didn't want to fall again. Too many cliffs! After getting off the Bear, the hills kept rolling for what seemed like forever. I stopped at almost all the designated rests stops for food and refills of water.
With 20 miles to go I hit an almost spiritual state of high where I knew I had conquered my demons and it was just a matter of time.
Seeing Joanna Cedeno Gutierrez and other from Strictly Bicycles at the end of Alpine hill and members of the Fort Lee Chamber of Commerce like Margaret Maclay and other Fort Lee residents volunteering at the finish was like drinking a bottle of spring water after crossing the Sahara.
The little conversations I had with friends and strangers along the way reminded me why I put my body and mind through these challenges - if we don't push ourselves beyond our capabilities, we'll never know what we're capable of.
Attach that effort to helping someone like John Santino Damato through a fundraiser to help improve someone's life and it brings everything full circle.
That to me is the secret of life. Anyone can breathe and go through life doing the minimum. But my name won't allow me do life life that way. I've wasted too much time in my life. I must try to give more than I thought I ever could to inspire my son and those with little or no hope.
There is always hope, but you have to reach out and deep within the darkest places to find it. That's what makes life worth living.
So if you're wondering why I do these events and raise money for causes, that's my answer. So get out there and live. And if you can, please go to the donate page here and give what you can to help 16-year-old heart transplant recipient John Santino Damato. You don't have to cycle 105-miles - just click and give. Thank you...
The Gran Fondo NY was just the beginning. Next stop? The NYC Triathlon in July. See you on the road.
Web Content & Social Media Manager
Saturday, May 18, 2013
I'm hitting the sack soon. I have to be up 4am for 105-mile Gran Fondo NY cycling race tomorrow morning. I want to thank everyone who has made a donation to help 16-year-old heart-transplant recipient John Santino Damato.
If you haven't yet, you can still go to: http://www.thehumantriumph.com/ and make a donation online or send check to: Children's Organ Transplant Association Attention: Lauren Wilmer / Regional Development Manager
2501 West COTA Drive
Bloomington, Indiana 47403.
Make your check payable to: "COTA". The memo line on the check should read: "In Honor of Johnny D". You also have the option of donating as an individual or family.
Whether you own a business or not, any donation is tax deductible.
BTW, if you want to follow me (or any of your friends) during the race from start to finish, you can do it through Facebook, Twitter, Google or Yahoo at this link: https://register.bazumedia.com/event/tracking/eventID/3985?&lc=en
I expect to cross the finish line at Port Imperial in Weehawken around 2pm or 3pm. Join me for some free pasta and cycling stories!
Thanks and wish me luck.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
If you're wondering what the Gran Fondo NY experience is like, here's a video to give you a taste. Of course nothing is quite like being there.
But if you think 105 miles sounds long distance, you're right! And the hills leading to and after Bear Mountain is just half the battle. The rest is psychological.
If you can't be there in person, watch this video than go to to make a donation for heart transplant recipient Johnny Damato here. Your generosity It will help me get through the race, but it will help Johnny for the rest of his life.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Cyclists will trek from the George Washington Bridge (GWB), up to Bear Mountain, and circle back again, before arriving in Weehawken, New Jersey with a stunning New York City skyline view at the finish line.
After a year of preparations, organizers Uli and Lidia Fluhme are ready to welcome over 6,000 riders from 70 countries as they take on approximately 7,000 feet in elevation, making the Gran Fondo NY one of the most challenging cycling events in the northeast.
“Everything is starting to come together. The expo will open in a week (May 17 & 18),” said Uli Fluhme. “Good Times.”
One of the major differences between this year and last year’s Gran Fondo NY is the elimination of timed hills. According to the Fluhmes, Gran Fondo events should be start-to-finish races.
“It’s always been our goal to make Gran Fondo New York be the same [as true Italian gran fondos],” Fluhme explained. "It was a three-year process. We’ve been begged and questioned by thousands of cyclists from all over the world, ‘When are you going to do it?' [start to finish timing] We’re not going to participate because a Gran Fondo has to be start-to-finish timed.”
The start will still be timed at the lower level of the GWB and the timing finish will be in Fort Lee when cyclists return from Bear Mountain. The final 5 miles from Fort Lee to Weehawken will be a neutralized roll to the finish line and the last 3 miles will feature a lane designated for cyclists and barricaded to increase safety for participants.
Fluhme said several local governments along the Palisades route were also more comfortable with the changes, especially given the influx of cyclists, volunteers and spectators.
Cheesecote climb (Colle Formaggio) will be traversed from the north instead of the south compared to the 2012 event with hopes of making the crossing of Route 202 less traffic congested for the locals.
“We come out now a little further west, there’s less traffic than closer to the entrance of the PIP [Palisades Interstate Parkway]. And the third change is at [Route] 303 in Orangeburg. We’re not crossing the road. We get on the road. We have a lane closed for the cyclists then we get off the 303 again onto a rail trail, so it’s a fantastic solution, having worked with the police department to make it safer.”
While elite amateur cyclists will likely complete the entire course without stopping, many age-groupers and less experienced riders will take advantage of designated stations along the course to refill their hydration bottles and consume energy products. The first designated nutrition station is located in Piermont, NY, followed by Haverstraw, Bear Mountain, Pomona, and West Nyack.
Due to the popularity of the event, organizers are finding it easier to acquire the necessary permits and complete other logistics to make the event a success. And while the GFNY has always worked with the Port Authority NY/NJ and local law enforcement to keep the event safe, the April 15th bombing at the Boston Marathon has forced them to make new adjustments to their security protocols.
"What we changed for this year is that we will have only clear bags for the bag check in," Fluhme said. "No one will be able to check in a backpack. Participants will get a clear bag at the expo if they want to check in something for the race."
"And at the finish area there won't be any bags allowed," Fluhme added. "So if you're a spectator and you want to come to the finish in Weehawken, leave your bag at home or you won't be able to get into the [finish] area. And everyone will be checked to make it as safe as necessary."
Despite security concerns for large endurance events, GFNY continues to attract volumes of spectators and volunteers to assist participants with hydration, energy products, and motivation.
“Without the volunteers, none of this would happen,” Fluhme said. “And this year we were able to recruit a group of on course marshals with flags and whistles. It’s a great addition we've been trying to get for the past two years and that’s really going to make a difference for the riders.”
In an effort to portray the GFNY as a local event with global reach, organizers created the Town Challenge program. Various cyclists were selected to represent their hometown with the incentive to raise funds for a local charity.
"We have people living along the course who actually ride the event and we wanted to give back to the communities and have the town challengers raise money for local causes that help the community. And Gran Fondo New York is supporting those causes as well."
On a global level, the GFNY has partnered with Operation Smile, a mobilized force of medical professionals who perform reconstructive surgery and related medical care for children born with facial deformities such as cleft lip and cleft palate.
"It's been fantastic working with Operation Smile," Fluhme said. "We have a lot of riders raising money for them. We're positive we'll raise as much as $100,000 for Operation Smile through Gran Fondo New York."
Story by: Max Almenas
Web/Social Media Specialist
Photos by: Sportograf.com
For more information on the Gran Fondo NY go to: granfondony.com
Check-in will be May 17 & 18 at the NYC Expo: granfondony.com/expo
*Max Almenas is participating in the Gran Fondo NY as Town Challenger for Fort Lee, New Jersey. He is currently raising funds for 16-year-old heart transplant recipient and Fort Lee resident Johnny Damato. To learn more and make a donation go to: COTAforJohnnyD.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Great article in The Record to raise awareness for Fort Lee resident 16-year old heart transplant recipient Johnny Damato:
Please read and give from your heart at http://www.cotaforjohnnyd.com/ orhttp://
If you don't feel comfortable making online donation, you can send a check to: Children's Organ Transplant Association, 2501 West COTA Drive, Bloomington, Indiana 47403.
Make checks payable to: "COTA". Memo line on the check should read: “In Honor of Johnny D”. Your donation will be fully tax deductible and 100% of funds raised in Johnny’s honor will go toward his transplant-related expenses which are enormous and ongoing.
Your generosity will be appreciated for many miles. Thank you.
Saturday, May 4, 2013
A few days ago I was hired to develop and produce content for the upcoming Strictly Bicycles website. I'm joining a great family/staff that have put a really nice spin on the sport and community of cycling in the area.
As the website content manager/social media strategist, I will be responsible for developing the voice for all aspects of Strictly Bicycles online presence.
In addition to writing, editing, and publishing site content, I will also work closely with management and the sales team to maintain site standards with regard to new developments in sales, services, inventory, and events.
As Social Media Strategist I will also be responsible for crafting site promotions, writing and encouraging customer product reviews, building client profiles, writing and publishing email newsletters and producing online outreach campaigns through the website and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Echolocation, Google+, tumblr, reddit this and others.
On the creative side, I will also shoot and edit photos, how-to videos and podcasts to be used as content for the Strictly Bicycles site. I will encourage clients to submit their own photos/videos for contests and giveaways.
The next goal is to create a new source of revenue online and increase overall sales every year. Last but not least - make Strictly Bicycles the main hub /destination for shopping and socializing with the cycling community in the northeast.
It's a dream job that combines many of the things I'm passionate about. Fortunately, I can continue to blog at TheHumanTriumph.com and raise funds for heart transplant recipient Johnny Damato. I'm lucky to have a growing team of volunteers who are also developing other fundraising events to help us reach our $15,000 goal for this summer. More on that in the next post.
In the meantime, please donate here. Your generosity will go a long way to help the Damato family with their overwhelming medical expenses.
And if you're a cyclist or you're in the market for a new bike for you or your kids, please "LIKE" the Strictly Bicycles Facebook page for special incentives, events, and more. Join the cycling revolution and help reduce our carbon footprint by riding your bike more and driving less.