Jon Nevosa knew he wasn’t going to win any trophies when he set off with his brother Matt on the scenic 20-mile ride at Sunday’s Cycle Craft Tour de Lake. He was just glad to be on his bike, a wedding gift from his wife, and its maiden voyage.
Diagnosed with stage II bladder cancer in January, Nevosa has been battling the effects of chemo treatments, which he gets every other week. His last treatment is Monday, he said.
Starting and finishing at Memorial Park in Mount Arlington, the Tour de Lake offers two races. The 20-mile scenic route which loops around Lake Hopatcong and the more challenging 40-mile ride, which leaves the lake area at the north end, goes into Sparta, then comes back down into the Oak Ridge section of Jefferson and then to the east part of the lake.
During the weeks Nevosa does not have a treatment, he said he tries to get to the gym “to spin for about 20-30 minutes.”
“I feel good today,” said Nevosa, a resident of Short Hills. “I want to finish. I want to feel good at the end. It’s an awesome day and I’m excited to just go ride,” said the thirty-one year old. If it weren’t for the cancer, said Nevosa, he and his brother would have been doing the 40-mile ride.
Nevosa began riding only a year ago. Brother Matt, 27, had picked up the sport the previous year and had been bugging his older brother to join him.
“He made fun of me at first,” said the younger Nevosa who lives in Rockaway. “Then he joined the band wagon. It’s good exercise, the people are great, everyone is always so nice at races,” he added.
“I gently rode him off my wheel,” said Joe about beating his brother, who are seasoned veterans of Tour de Lake.
“Today was nice. It was warm. It was nice and hilly. This is always one of my favorite rides of the year,” said Joe who took the lead from his brother and another Watchung Wheelman teammate on the hills on Weldon Road.
For Patty Cinelli and Kim Walker, both Budd Lake residents, today’s ride was meant to be a training session for an upcoming High Point to Cape May, 220-mile one-day ride. The women came in first and second respectfully, in the 40-mile race. They were in no way trying to push their times, said Cinelli, especially since they were hanging back with another friend, Lloyd Tiger, who was on his bike for the first time since before the winter.
“We were doubling back sometimes, we stopped once to fix something. We had no idea we would be first or second,” she said. “It’s an awesome course. It’s got everything-scenery, steep hills, steep climbs, nice views. I’m going to ride this again, use it as part of my training,” she added. Twelve women started the 40-mile ride but only Cinelli and Walker finished, said ride chairman Keith Licata.
Walker Finlay, a 16-year old from Mendham, was the first rider to cross the finish line in the 20-mile race, completing the race in fifty-nine minutes. Last year he finished fifth in the same race. He said he wants to race in the 40-mile race next year.
“I love this race. These are great roads,” said Finlay.
According to Licata, there were 142 riders in the 40-mile race and 71 in the 20-mile race. The event raised about $4000, $2500 of which will go to the Mount Arlington Fraternal Order of Police and $1500 to the Police Unity Tour.
“With the help of great volunteers, this has become an annual event that runs itself now,” said Licata.
Licata, who has organized twelve Tour de Lake races over the years, hooked up with Cycle Craft four years ago, after a three-sentence conversation with Cycle Craft co-owner Brendan Poh.
“He asked if we’d be interested in sponsoring the race, about the same time I asked if they wanted someone to help sponsor and we had a deal,” said Poh. “Being a sponsor is a way of giving back to our customers and the sport. It shows we are out to support them, not just sell them stuff,” he added.
Riders in the 40-mile race head out on Howard Boulevard early Sunday morning.
Riders speed around the curves on Northwood Ave. in Jefferson.