Cycling Community Mourns the Loss of Leading Light Marty Epstein
Visionary Gran Fondo founder and community leader, Marty Epstein, passed away this morning at the age of 69 after a six-year battle with cancer
Marty spent the past five decades of his life making Morristown home for one of the most vibrant and diverse cycling communities in the nation.
The Garden State Fondo, founded by Marty as a way to bring thousands of cyclists together was one of his achievements he was most proud of. This year the global cycling community celebrated Marty's lifelong contribution to cycling by awarding him the Gran Fondo Guide Lifetime Achievement Award (see below).
Marty, an avid cyclist, and activist who inspired thousands of people to ride passed away on the second day of bike month. His passion for life and cycling will continue to inspire everyone and the community for generations to come.
"Marty has touched many lives over the years and his passion for life and cycling will continue to inspire the community for generations to come. We thank you all for your love and support during this incredibly difficult time," the Epsteins said in announcing Marty's death Thursday morning.
Garden State Fondo are committed to honoring Marty and by making the 2019 edition of Garden State Fondo the best to date.
The Garden State Fondo will be held on September 8, 2019. Register now to secure your spot and the best prices or please ride on in honor of Marty and consider joining the battle against cancer by donating money for rare cancer research with Cycle for Survival at https://bit.ly/2DF6Qpp
For more information, please visit granfondonj.com
VIDEO: We’ll miss you Marty!
Marty Epstein's Lifetime Achievement Award
Gran Fondo Guide was honored to announce earlier this year that Marty Epstein had won a Lifetime Achievement Award.
In nine years, Marty Epstein’s annual cycling event in Morristown, the Gran Fondo New Jersey, has raised over $1.5 million dollars for local and national charities.
As the owner of Marty’s Reliable Cycle, Marty had been the public face of cycling in Greater Morristown for more than four decades. His passion for cycling have won him near-cult status with generations of fans.
He started Marty's Reliable Cycle in March, 1978, and grew the business from a small store to a three store chain which is consistently rated by the bicycle industry as one of "America's Best Bike shops."
Marty had ridden RAGBRAI too many times for anyone to count and thousands of cycling events including the 212 mile NJ Y-axis ride two years running. Marty was a strong proponent of Cycling Advocacy both through the shops and as a board and lifetime member of the New Jersey Bike & Walk Coalition, a founding board member of Bike Walk Morristown and Sustainable Morristown too.
Unfortunately, in 2014, Marty was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer and battled with an advanced form of the cancer, Marty went public about his condition at last year’s Garden State Fondo (formerly known as Gran Fondo NJ) in September 2018.
In true Epstein family tradition, Marty didn't let his condition stop him, he recently helped raise even more money to help Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center find cures for rare cancers. Donors took turns pedalling indoor bikes during Sloan Kettering’s Cycle for Survival, on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019 and Team Marty went onto to raise over $50,000 dollars.
On Saturday, March 2, 2019, Epstein went futher and donated a portion of proceeds from sales at his bike shops in Morristown, Randolph and Hackettstown to Sloan Kettering’s Cycle for Survival program.
All proceeds were earmarked for research into “drastically underfunded” cancers of the brain, pancreas, ovaries, stomach and pediatric cancers, among other rare forms of the disease, according to Sloan Kettering.
Since 2011, thousands of cycling fans from all over North America and internationally have discovered northern New Jersey’s bucolic countryside thanks to the Gran Fondo, consistently rated one of the best Gran Fondo’s in the USA by both Bicycling Magazine and Gran Fondo Guide.
In 2014, the Garden State Fondo was the first cycling event to Earn Gold Certification from the Council for Responsible Sport for its implementation of Sustainability practices, with over 90% of the waste generated from the event being diverted from landfills to composting or recycling facilities.
So many worthy causes have benefited - even been transformed - thanks to the generosity of the Gran Fondo.
In coordination with Garden State Fondo’s executive director Bill Ruddick, here’s just a few of the many commendations we received on behalf of Marty’s Lifetime Achievement Award:
Jim Kutsch is the CEO, of The Seeing Eye, which raises puppies to become Seeing Eye dogs, trains Seeing Eye dogs to guide blind people, “The Seeing Eye has been privileged to be a beneficiary of the Garden State Fondo since its inception. We applaud the vision of Marty Epstein for creating this exciting event for New Jersey, and, specifically, Morristown. Through our relationship with Gran Fondo NJ we have been able to share our mission with a vast new audience and raise much needed funds.”
Stephanie Cicale is the Chief Development Officer of Homeless Solutions, a charity offering shelter, services, and supportive housing to the homeless and working poor in Morris County, New Jersey, “We grew our team from three riders the first year to 75 last year and the event has raised over $345,000 for HSI. This would not have been possible without the vision of Marty and the Garden State Fondo.”
Dan McGuire, CEO, Homeless Solutions went on to say “We are grateful to Marty for his vision and passion to Give Back Through Cycling and we are honored to be one of the beneficiaries of the event. He has given us a platform to raise awareness about homelessness in our community and generate much-needed funds. This has become a signature event for us and our ‘Riding for Homes’ bike team continues to grow and make an impact on the needs of the homeless in Morris County.”
Since being diagnosed, Marty had become an evangelist for regular check-ups, prostate exams, colonoscopies, and the like, “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” said Marty, 69, “People need to be vigilant about detection, no matter what their age.”
Marty said at the time “I never expected that the Gran Fondo would generate so much money and I am very happy and proud to have helped support these worthy organizations”
Rest in peace Marty, our sincere condolences to your family and friends, you will be sorely missed.
A funeral service is planned for 10 am on Monday, May 6, 2019, at Temple B’Nai Or, at 60 Overlook Road in Morristown. Afterward, cyclists are invited to join a bike procession to escort Marty to his final resting place, Beth Israel Cemetery in Cedar Knolls.
Photo: Mayor Tim Dougherty (left), Italian cycling star Ivan 'The Terrible' Basso (middle) and Marty Epstein (right) at last years New Jersey Gran Fondo