Story by Vicky Sama
Photo above by Meg McMahon
It was a picture perfect day at the Sixth Annual Grand Fundo on Saturday. A record 400 cyclists rode in the one-day charity ride through the Pioneer Valley that started and ended at the Black Birch Vineyard in Southampton.
"There was so much energy at the start," said vineyard owner Ed Hamel, who has also ridden in all six Fundos. "The energy was magical. Everyone was in a great mood."
Cyclists from all over Western Massachusetts and as far away as France came to the Grand Fundo including pro riders Brad Huff, Stephen Hyde, Tim Johnson, Jeremy Durin, Gabby Day, Anthony Clark, Ellen Noble, Mo Bruno Roy and of course, event founder Jeremy Powers. Most participants rode the 68-mile Fundo while about 40 rode the Mini Fundo and almost 100 braved the 88-mile Hundo with 9,000 feet of climbing. Everyone had to conquer the challenging Kings Highway, a steep grunter, but then riders were able to take a break at the first rest stop in Chesterfield and refuel on sandwiches made with peanut butter, Fluffernutter, blueberries and bacon.
"Some sweet, some salty, it's an awesome sandwich with beautiful alliteration," said JAM Fund rider Dylan Lerner.
One of the newest additions in this year's ride was the swimming hole rest stop at Ashfield Lake House where riders cooled off at the JAM Fund's famous ice cream truck packed with ice pops, ice cream sandwiches and cones. A handful of riders took a dip in the lake including Brad Huff who had enough energy to do two front flips and a back flip off the diving board, (without his bike).
After riders finished the ride, they feasted on a giant pig roast, grilled herb chicken, barbecue tofu, baked beans, corn on the cob, coleslaw, grilled tomatoes, refreshing watermelon more ice cream and plenty of water and beer. JAM co-founder Mukunda Feldman cooked everything to perfection on site in an open pit fire that he started up the night before.
Mary Ruane from Winthrop has been to the Grand Fundo several times and said this year's tofu was unforgettable.
"The marinated tofu was the best part of the Fundo," she said.
The afternoon capped off with a raffle where Don Powers (no relation to JPow) won the Focus Mares bike that Jeremy Powers rode to victory at January's Cyclocross National Championships in Austin. Other folks won raffle prizes such as Oakley sunglasses, Rapha jerseys and jackets, a Pactimo cycling kit, WD-40 Bike lube and degreaser, a Thule bike stand and backpack, Nuun hydration tablets, Giro gift pack with shoes, helmet and gloves and a lot more valuable things to support the JAM Fund cycling development program. Lesli Cohen, a longtime JAM Fund supporter, screamed for joy when she won a one-of-a-kind T-shirt designed for and signed by pro cyclist Anthony Clark.
"Wananana!" Clark shouted.
The Fundo wrapped up at about 6 and riders were invited to listen to live music at the Black Birch Winery grounds while the JAM Fund Cycling Team, event organizers and volunteers cleaned up the venue and had some more fun taking pictures and arm wrestling.
It was a great day all around.
Photos by Vicky Sama