MORRISTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Thanks to Marty Epstein, cycling isn’t just a passion for those who stop by his bicycle shop: The whole town is falling in love with it.

“We like to call ourselves the East Coast center of cycling,” said Epstein.

For decades he has owned Marty’s Reliable Cycle in Morristown, N.J. Eight years ago he started up New Jerseys first “Gran Fondo,” Italian for “big ride” – as in long distance cycling event.

“I decided to do it because it’s the right thing to do for cycling, for health and wellness, for people to get involved with community,” he said.

The ride includes five different routes, ranging from 18 miles to 107 miles. Participants spent their Friday morning registering.

“Its a challenging course with many hills which is what we are looking for,” said David Picascia of Holmdel, N.J.

“We came up this weekend specifically for this ride,” said Chris Huffman of Juno Beach, Fla.
“This will be my second year doing the ride.”

Most fondos are for profit and sponsorship, but Marty’s isn’t. He donates the proceeds to local charities like Laura Lannin’s group, Homeless Solutions

“It’s so inspiring,” said Lannin. “I can’t, I can’t find the words.”

This year, Epstein brought on a major corporate sponsor: Memorial Sloan Kettering.

“We felt like this was a nice symbiotic relationship,” he said. “I can help them, obviously, they’re helping me. Saving my life.”

Four years ago, Epstein was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. He has been running his shop and this fondo while fighting it.

“My point of view, yeah, I have this disease but I want to tell other people about it,” he said. “You know, guys do talk about that stuff. But we need to bring that awareness of early detection.”

He’s a believer in making the best of the situation and setting an example to stay active.

“Gotta always have that positive attitude and everyone is cheering me on,” said Epstein.

Come Sunday, he will be cheering on everyone else, all 2,200 expected to show at his ride.

For more information, see GranFondoNJ.com.