TD 5 Boro Bike Tour NYC

by Joanne on May 8, 2012

May 5th and 6th marked the weekend of a big event for Ted and I.  We would travel 4 1/2 hours to tour New York City on bikes with 32,000 other folk.  Proceeds from the event go to educational programs which promote safe cycling in New York.

We arrived in New York at 2:30 pm and immediately left on foot to get to the expo where we would pick up our packets, bibs, and check out all other goodies.  It was a fun 2 mile walk through a city that is filled with interesting people, buildings, faces, places.  The expo had its own variety of fun

bike expo clowns

They SO wanted their picture taken.

bike expo cycle entertainment

There wasn’t much in the goodie bag, just a tour booklet and the required bib plus our numbers.  I bought my own goodies for the bag which included an official tour shirt and cycling capris. 

For road races, I’m meticulous about planning the proper nutrition but for this event, I completely forgot about packing snacks.  I knew there would be rest areas and depended on those to offer carbohydrate fuel. The few goodies snagged at the expo included:

Some orange honey stingers – came in handy on the ride.

and something new…

Rebootizer” is a detox drink.  If you happen to have a glass too many the night before, too much caffeine, if you’re a smoker, imbibe in too much junk food, allow the stress of the day to get to you, or you get down and funky with too much aerobics, this drink will help.  The package contains the detox powder at the top and the detox liquid in the bottom.  You simply give it a vigorous squeeze and shake to mix the two, pour it down your throat, go to bed and feel fresh in the morning.  Cool! We tried to drink too much so we could see if it really worked but our natural STOP safety mechanisms kicked in and we contained our selves to one glass of wine and/or beer (depending on whether you follow me or Ted).

The Tour

Our day began at 6 am with a bagel, banana and peanut butter.  We took off to get our bikes from the car at about 7 am and ended up in line to start WAY too early.

It was a staggered start. Wave 1 left at 7:45 am, Wave 2 left at 8:30 am, and Wave 3 at 9:15 am, about 11,000 cyclists per wave.  We were in Wave 2.  It was going to be one of those hurry up and wait kind of days. There were folk setting up tarps to sit and enjoy breakfast.  Others celebrated  birthdays with cupcakes.  We were obvious “newbies” standing there, hanging on our bikes, people watching. 

We took photos of our selves to pass the time…

NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour7

and had our picture taken by others….

The temperature started out at about 60 degrees and warmed up to about 68.  It wasn’t warm enough for me at any point along the ride to remove my jacket which was disappointing since underneath, I had on my cool, brand new 5 Boros Tour Bike Shirt.

Slowly we progressed to the official starting line at Church and Franklin.  When the gun went off, it was a very slow start.  In fact, one of the most difficult aspects of this 40 mile bike ride was maneuvering around other people AND being able to stay on your bike at such a slow pace.

We made our way through car-free streets from lower Manhattan through the heart of Midtown to Central Park, historic Harlem (where a stage with singers was set up ), the Bronx, and returning on FDR Drive along East River.  We crossed the Queensboro bridge, which was one of the most difficult parts of the ride due to people not being able to peddle up the incline and stopping along the narrow ramp.  Trying to get around that many bikes in such little space was tough.

We went into Brooklyn and took over the highway before climbing up the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Once over the bridge, the Finish Festival was on Staten Island at Fort Wadsworth. 

We crossed five bridges:  Madison Ave. Bridge, Third Ave Bridge, Queensboro Bridge, Pulaski Bridge, and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.   We saw all five boroughs, Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.  After the festival,

NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour9

we rode our bikes 3 more miles to the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride back to Manhattan.  A total of 44 miles. My longest bike ride ever.

More views from the ferry…

feeling like a sardine…

Finally caught a glimpse of Ms. Liberty…

There were plenty of rest stations all along the route but one forced rest area where everyone was required to get off their bike, grab food, water, etc. before continuing on.  This was at the 19th mile.  Up to this point, there was so much stopping and starting, soreness from riding wasn’t an issue.  The second leg, the last 20 miles, we were on our bikes actually riding at a good speed most of the time.  The Verrazano bridge was a little tough since it’s such a long incline, not steep, just long.  The entire trip, from start to finish took us just over 4 hours. That’s one hour longer than anticipated but we didn’t foresee all the delays.

I was a bit nervous about the ride since I had very little cycle time, the longest being 1 1/2 hours all winter.  Sure there were challenging parts, riding in a pack of so many people, bike failures beyond ones control but all in all, a terrific event.  There was only one very bad accident:  A woman riding down one one of the short hills had her front tire lock up, her bike flipped right over and she fell directly over the handle bars.  Guess that’s why helmets are required. 

All in all, a great ride.  It IS a family ride, kid friendly.  If you don’t have bikes, you can rent them and drop off at the ferry.  This is a recommended event for anyone wanting to see New York City.  Entertainment, sites, costumes, a lot of fun.

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  • At 2012.05.08 08:09, Heather said:

    This is fantastic – congrats on hitting your longest ride yet! What an amazing way to see the city – I would do this in a second. Just too bad it wasn’t a little warmer…..I’m a freeze baby, too. 🙂

    • At 2012.05.08 10:03, Lori said:

      What a fabulous ride! I don’t know if I would like being with all those people, though. I love riding in my open space.

      Organized rides are nice, though. Congrats on the mileage!!

      • At 2012.05.08 10:46, Ali @ Peaches and Football said:

        Years ago I did the inaugural 4mile cellcom Green Bay event (now they’ve switched it to a 5K along with the 1/2 and full marathons). I remember how it was kind of scary being sandwiched in with so many people – all with different pace times plowing over people. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to try and bike with so many other bikes around!!

        Good for you to try something different and what a terrific workout with all the amazing scenery!

        • At 2012.05.08 11:59, Beth @ Realist Mom said:

          That’s my hometown! I took that ferry about a zillion times when I lived in Staten Island and worked in the City. That sounds like a great time!

          • At 2012.05.08 14:30, Laura said:

            That must have been such a great experience! I’ve been at the critical mass movement in my hometown, but this one seems to be much greater and more fun! I wish I could have been there…

            • At 2012.05.08 21:20, Pam said:

              Sounds like a great event! I’m glad you had a good time, what a way to experience New York City 🙂

              • At 2012.05.08 23:39, Jane said:

                My husband and I did the ride also (2nd year for us) Our experience was MUCH better this year than last when we spent a good many hours sitting on the BQE stuck in traffic. Staggering start times was a great idea. We were in the first wave, were across the Start line within 15 mins of the start. We were held up for a short while in Central Park due to an accident but most of the time moved along although we did have some starts and stops till we got out of the park. After we hit the FDR it was smooth sailing. If the slow people would stay to the right there would be plenty of room to go up the ramps and across the bridges without having to slow down. I didn’t like the forced stop in Astoria…didn’t plan to stop till mile 30 in Brooklyn. We had a banana for breakfast, a banana at the forced stop and my power bar of choice was 1/2 a chocolate chip cookie at Jacque Torres in Brooklyn at our one ‘rest’ stop for 10 mins. Then it was smooth sailing to the finish line (except for that pesky Veranzano bridge that goes on FOREVER). dressed in layers but was down to my short sleeves by the time I hit Brooklyn…was even sweating going over that last bridge. Weather was perfect…not too cool and not too windy.

                • At 2012.05.09 14:09, Sophie said:

                  Waw! You & your husband & so may other bikers did a great job: well done to you all! It looked like a great, lovely ride & so many places to pass by! Lovely pics & an interesting day in 1 post!

                  Thanks for sharing! You should be proud of yourselves!

                  • At 2012.05.09 16:09, Cucina49 said:

                    Wow, that sounds like a fabulous race–I’m definitely not good enough on a cycle to do it, but my husband would love it. Congratulations!

                    • At 2012.05.09 16:48, CJ at Food Stories said:

                      You guys look like you’re having so much fun 🙂

                      • At 2012.05.10 09:04, Darlene McCarthy said:

                        Thanks so much for sharing and the encouragement for me to get a new bike and sign up for this for next year! I was born and raised on Staten Island and have many fond memories of growing up there. I cannot believe I didn’t ride this race sooner! Thanks again!

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