By HIRA HUMAYUN, Gazette Contributing Writer
Tuesday, July 7, 2015
SOUTHAMPTON — Three-time cyclocross national champion Jeremy Powers and his nonprofit organization the JAM Fund will hold their sixth annual “Grand Fundo” charity event this month, with the day-long ride raising money for the organization’s mission of supporting aspiring cyclists.
The event, set for 9:30 a.m. July 25, features three cycling courses — the 38-mile Mini Fundo, the 68-mile Grand Fundo and the 88-mile Grand Hundo. The rides begin and end at Black Birch Vineyard and Winery, 155 Glendale Road.
Powers, of Easthampton, created the JAM Fund in 2003 with his longtime friends Alec Donahue and Mukunda Feldman. The fund offers financial assistance to young cyclists in an effort to break down some of the barriers to entering the sport. The organization also offers guidance and support in order to help athletes become better cyclists and better members of the community.
“I grew up in Connecticut and came to western Mass. — there was already a good cyclist community in the area,” said Powers, who has won over 60 Union Cycliste Internationale events and is currently the top-ranked American cyclocross rider. “It’s hard to make a name for yourself in this sport. My two best friends and I created this event as a permanent fundraiser which will also showcase some of the best training roads and routes.”
Powers said the event typically raises about $40,000, and has grown from 150 participants in its first year to an anticipated 500 cyclists this year.
“It’s been such a great success — dozens of cyclists come to participate,” said JAM Fund spokeswoman Vicky Sama. “Jeremy is such an attraction. He is such a nice guy. That’s what makes him successful and makes the event successful. People like to be able to hang out with him.”
Powers said he rode all the routes for a month to test them.
“It’s hard to make a new route without making it infinitely harder,” Powers said of new additions to the routes for this year’s event. “People who have done this before will recognize the beginning part of the route, but the last two-thirds of it is totally different.”
Powers added that he believes participants will enjoy the scenery along the routes, which also feature rest stops serving snacks and refreshments. This year, the JAM Fund also partnered with bicycle manufacturing company SRAM, which will provide support vehicles to follow the cyclists and repair any breakdowns.
Grant to Amherst cyclist
In partnership with SRAM, the JAM Fund this year introduced the Young Women’s Cycling Grant, awarded to 19-year-old Ellen Noble of Amherst. As part of the grant, Noble — a national champion in the under-23 division of the world cyclocross championships — will receive three SRAM group sets for the upcoming season. The bicycle components can run hundreds of dollars for each set.
“A grant like this is important,” said Noble, a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst who will be among the riders at the Grand Fundo event. “It’s a really fantastic because it’s a guarantee that a young girl will have a large level of support. It’s a step toward equality.”
Powers said the grant is tailored to the needs of the winning rider.
“It’s particularly exciting and very cool for Ellen to receive this and represent this grant,” Powers said, adding that it is often “very difficult” for young women to find support in the sport of cyclocross.
“She is an amazing cyclist and an amazing woman,” Sama said of Noble. “She is such an inspiration and is very deserving of this grant.”
The registration deadline for the event is 5 p.m. July 24. Online registration is available athttps://www.bikereg.com/jam-fund-grand-fundo
Entry fees range from $75 for the 38-mile course to $95 for the 88-mile course. Additional registration options are detailed on the website.
A barbecue, raffle, and live music at Black Birch Vineyard will follow the ride. Raffle prizes include Powers’ own limited edition Focus Mares bicycle, which he rode during his national championship victory.
Powers said his team not only wants to raise money, but also to create an experience.
“We feel very fortunate to have all this support,” he said.