Situated opposite Playa del Carmen in the Caribbean sea, the Island of Cozumel is the jewel of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. The GFNY Cozumel start and finish line are centrally located right in the largest city of Cozumel, San Miguel de Cozumel. For GFNY Race Week – the entire city and island are consumed by GFNY celebrations and riders from all over the World who descend upon the Island for this year-ending celebration of cycling in a location that is often described simply as “paradise”.
But before you can fully enjoy the trappings of this paradise, there is racing to be done, so let’s explore what is ahead of the riders in this unique Caribbean cycling getway.
Be A Pro For A Day in Paradise.
Before the start
Unique to GFNY Cozumel is the start time of 7:30 AM. This is 30 minutes later than most GFNY start times, so riders should take note, but still follow the rider guide for corral time openings and where to be to make sure that the race experience is as stress free as possible.
Riders will need to consume a lot of water to stay hydrated in the hot and humid Cozumel climate. We recommend that all riders use a sports drink mix to make sure that they are replacing electrolytes and stay hydrated even as they wait for the start. Using the GFNY Ice Fly Bottle will help keep your water/sports drink cool during the race.
On paper (or a screen) the GFNY Cozumel course does not look like a difficult course. There is virtually no climbing, and the course is essentially “pancake flat”. But outside of climbing, there are other challenges on the course that riders should be ready for. First, the heat and humidity will require that riders continue to pay attention to nutrition and hydration before the start and throughout the race. Making use of the aid stations will allow riders to keep their bottles full from a large supply of Powerade, water, and tons of ice to keep you cool.
For the first 28 kilometers of the race, the riders will be sheltered by trees on both sides of the road. The wind will not yet be a factor here, and so staying on wheels, and working in a group will allow riders to conserve their energy for when it is needed most, while generating top speeds to stay competitive. As the riders emerge from the trees at 28 kilometers they will begin to ride along the beautiful turquoise Caribbean. Riders looking for a competitive result or a personal best will want to focus on the riders in front of them. This is where the race will really heat up. The first attacks will be put in, and the groups will start to break at several points. The riders will battle mother nature (the strong head wind), for the next 20 kilometers along the seaside. This sector of the race is “The Ford King of the Wind Challenge” where the fastest king and queen of the wind will be awarded special prizes.
After completing The Ford Kind of the Wind Challenge, riders will turn left and have a 14 kilometer straight run into the center of San Miguel de Cozumel. While the riders will be turning away from the wind, the speed will pick up, and so riders will continue to be challenged. Riders that have put too much energy into fighting the headwind may drop back here, while riders that still have some energy will be able to create some separation in the field. Upon entering the center of San Miguel de Cozumel, riders with great technical skills will have a huge advantage and will be able to find their way to the front of the pack by navigating the many turns into the center of the city.
Riders will cover 20 kilometers through the city streets. These are the most important kilometers of the race in the second lap and where GFNY Cozumel is won or lost. The variations in speed will sap the riders energy while cornering at high speeds, braking, accelerating, and repeating this again and again through the city streets. Riders will know at this point if they ate and drank enough during the entire course. Three critical corners will take the riders through the last three kilometers, and that is where riders will need to be in the top ten if they want to have a chance at the podium. WIth 150 meters between the last corner and the finish line, the rider that rounds that last corner with the most power and the highest speed will likely be crowned the winner.
For Medium Course riders, the race ends after one lap of 79 kilometers. The Long Course riders will take a second lap (including a second shot at The Ford King of the Wind Challenge), for a total of 158 kilometers. We cannot emphasize enough that riders should take advantage of the 4 aid stations located throughout each lap to ensure that they are staying hydrated and nourished properly for a strong finish.
At the finish line – one of the epic celebrations of cycling awaits you with food, music and the podium ceremonies.