Recently, I had the pleasure of speaking with Ana Paula Cavalcanti, the organizer of GFNY Portugal. A cyclist herself, after her experience in the 2014 GFNY Championship NYC, felt that she had to bring that experience to Brazil, and now that she is in Portugal, she is bringing the experience there. In the city of Cascais, on the Portuguese Riviera, the first ever GFNY Portugal will take place on September 9, 2018. A dream for Ana, realized through her love of cycling, her passion for the GFNY mantra of “Be a Pro for a Day” and her ability to connect the right people at the right time, and to leverage a regional love of cycling, to produce a top-tier cycling race for over 1,300 cyclists.
With the time differences between NY and Lisbon in play, I spoke to Ana via a Facebook messenger call while traveling home from a time trial in Upstate New York, on a Sunday afternoon, at close to 10PM Lisbon time. Ana’s patience for taking a call at that hour was very much appreciated. I wanted to make the best use of her time and to get right to it.
I asked Ana about the course — what are the challenging aspects, what were the high points?
The course has a beautiful combination of the ancient and the modern. While seeing castles and medieval history along the way, you will also pass one of the most modern and advanced universities in all of Europe. Riders will also get to experience the beautiful coast lines, and get their fill of climbing throughout.
How about the climbs? Are the climbs challenging?
Oh yes, there are climbs that punch up for 10–12% in some places, and take you through winding old European roads, as well as through beautiful forest land.
Our read of the course shows an undulating profile, where you are really never finished climbing, but with some fast, and some technical descents that will challenge the most experienced riders looking to get to the front of the pack.
What would you say the most challenging aspect of the course is?
For sure it will be the elements. The course goes through varied terrain, and while going in and out of shadows and forests, into sun, and down to the coast line where the wind will surely challenge every rider, keeping your temperature managed, and being able to ride against a headwind will be key to a great performance in the race. You will heat up on the climbs, and need to be ready to cool down some on the descents. 8,100 feet of climbing over 100 miles, you will be challenged throughout the course.
Support for the Race
Listening to the Daily Cafe with GFNY you can hear how the support of the town, region, and country of the race, is critical to it’s success. Portugal’s cycling culture is ready to roll out the red carpet for the event. Ana, tells us how the various governments are ready to support.
We will have professional Moto support from the same group that provide moto support for the Tour of Portugal (Volta a Portugal), they are the professionals who love cycling, and know how to provide safety during a race of this type. The Portuguese Cycling Federation is also in full support of the race. Riders should note, some, but all roads, will be closed to traffic, so we remind riders to obey our local traffic laws at all times.
We will also have amazing ambassadors for the race, such as mountain bike rider/teacher Beto Liber, who is an accomplished triathlete, mountain biker, road cyclist, and ultramarathoner. Daniela Reis, the Women’s Time Trial champion will also be an ambassador, as well as many of cycling’s elite from across Portugal and Europe.
I was grateful to gain some insight into the race via my phone call with Ana. As a follow up, and in preparation for writing this, I was excited to learn more about how she got involved with GFNY, and how the ideas for bringing GFNY to Brazil, and to Portugal came about. As it turns out, we both raced our first GFNY’s in 2014. That was my best GFNY result to date — but it’s early days yet. After speaking with Ana, I am focused on taking a deep dive into Portuguese culture and history, possibly learning to surf in Cascais (where do you think #SurfGFNY came from), and to ride and race the beautiful and historic roads of GFNY Portugal through Cascais and back to the ocean, where we will all celebrate a fantastic day of racing at the team villa!
Hopefully, we will see you there. If you are coming — please get in touch with me through Facebook, or through Medium, and we will get you connected with the rest of the group.
Next up — the GFNY Deutschland, Special Edition.