First off, HELLO! Where has the time gone? I have no clue. However, I am so happy spring is here and I can take part in some outdoor activities. To kick off the spring fun, I participated in the Bike New York TD Five Boro Bike Tour. (You may or may not know that I rode on behalf of a charity.)
My awesome boyfriend woke up after 3 hours of sleep and drove me to the starting line as I didn't want to jump on the MetroNorth and the subway that early in the morning. The meeting point for charity riders was Worth St and Church St. There were muffins, juice, bananas, and apples for us to choose from. I decided to ride alone. Not entirely my decision. I couldn't find anyone to do the ride with me. I've wanted to do this tour for so long, I figured "what the heck" and did it alone. I'm kind of happy I did and I'll let you know why in another post (this one is long enough).However, I must say EVERYONE I met was so nice and willing to help me out.
As soon as I arrived, I realized my front tire was low on air. I asked the guys standing next to me if they had an air pump I could borrow and instead of just lending it to me, they checked the pressure of my tires AND pumped air in both tires. How sweet!
Secondly, I made friends as soon as I lined up. The charity riders for the Nature Conservancy were so polite to me. I can't remember all of their names, but I do know one of them was Madeline. Hi MADELINE! They offered me the opportunity to ride with them but they were on road bikes and much faster than I. Besides, you'll see by this post I STOPPED A LOT.
Once I realized how awesome it was to ride my bike in a car free environment, I stopped in every borough to take it all in AND to take pictures. It was breathtaking. Thank you to everyone who makes this ride possible year after year. From the organizers to the volunteers to the men and women from the police department and other armed forces....THEY ALL ROCKED! And even though this was the first big event after Boston and nerves were high, the security did not feel like a burden at all.
So here's my recap:
This was my view from the starting line. We had a moment of silence for Boston and I said a little prayer. The ride started right on time and it was very smooth. I had been told by people who participated in the past that it's very slow and daunting to get through all the people at the starting line. They funnel you through two starting point areas on either side of the stage but I didn't have a problem. The worst part is dealing with the people who treat this as a race. They make it so hard to TOUR. I was grateful for their speed so they can leave me to my pictures.
We headed north to Central Park.
It was a very cold morning and we spent most of the time in the shade. Not until 11am did I feel the rays of the sun. I wish I had stopped in Central Park and enjoyed the sites but the crowd of riders is still very heavy at this point and at the one point I stopped to take this picture, I was toppled over by my first encounter with speed riders! No worries, a very nice volunteer helped me up. No scrapes or bruises either.
I made it a point to stop in Harlem. There was a beautiful gospel choir singing for us and I wish I had taken a video. The streets were still so quiet in Harlem. It was 8:15am and many stores were still closed. Just bikes on the streets of Harlem. Really awesome.
We arrived in the Bronx via the Madison Avenue Bridge and back out the Bronx in 5 seconds via the Third Avenue Bridge. I wish we could have spent more time in the Bronx. It's a tease really. I'm going to do the Tour De Bronx in October to enjoy my borough on a bike.
This was an awesome band playing in the Bronx near the 3rd avenue bridge. I wanted to stop and dance! I took some video of them as well. They were great. Fyi, I was born and raised steps from here, this is why I am so partial to the BX!
So, after we left the Bronx, we jumped on the FDR drive. Probably one of the most exciting things I have ever had the opportunity to do. I've driven on the FDR a number of times but riding on it is so different.
The best part was going under the overpass at the FDR that feels like a tunnel. Everyone screams, rings their bells, and honks their horns. It was so fun to take part and hear the echoes. I wanted to turn around and do it again! However, in that tunnel area was where I saw the first person who became ill during the ride. He was lying face up and it appeared as if he couldn't move. Paramedics were at his aide immediately. So sad though. Hope he feels better now.
This sign is huge! I tried taking a picture in every borough. This is me on the FDR right before heading over to Queens.
Crossing the Queensboro was harder than I thought it would be! Those unexpected hill climbs are crazy but the view at the top is always wonderful. I stopped here to take it all in. "I am in Queens on my bike!" A very friendly rider stopped to make sure I was okay. I really appreciated that. I told him I was great and was just taking it all in. He said, "god bless you." Right back at ya dude with no name! On that same bridge a man died of a heart attack during the tour. Read the story here. Bless his soul and prayers to his family.
We had a mandatory stop in Queens at the 20 mile mark. Everyone had to get off their bikes and either walk to the bike path or enjoy the rest area. I decided to enjoy it. Here I met some really awesome ladies who were kind enough to take pictures of me and chat it up. I wish I had names to put to the faces and generosity but I can just hope someone finds this blog. They had free snacks, lots of water coolers, bathrooms, and music. Not sure how long I spent here but it was a welcomed rest. You have no idea how thirsty you are until you take a sip of water.
Queens was pretty but my favorite borough was Brooklyn. You definitely spend more time in Brooklyn than you do elsewhere and there is so much to see. Like great street art.
Btw, the Verrazano Bridge IS A KILLER! Right before jumping on the bridge, there's a guy with a bull horn announcing that its time to set your gears to one on both the left and right. Thank goodness I listened to him. That's an uphill climb like no other on the route. Half way into it, a woman with a bull horn yells "it's all worth it when you get to the top" and she was right.
Although there were signs everywhere telling us not to stop on the bridge. Everyone stopped to take a picture. The view is gorgeous. Me, being a rule follower, I prepared myself not to take a picture until I saw a member of the NYPD taking a pic himself. Sorry to shout you out man but if you're doing it, so am I.
And then, just like that, it was over. The festival at the end was great. Music, food, and shopping. I bought myself t-shirt and hung out for a bit at the charity area. Met some riders and learned about the other charities people were riding for. I didn't stay too long because we were warned that the Staten Island Ferry was a 3-mile ride and a 15-minute wait. Plus someone told me there was an amazing look out point that I needed to see.
A few of my thoughts while in Staten Island (my 2nd time in Staten Island EVER):
- The ride to the ferry wasn't too bad. After 40 miles, what is?
- Staten Island isn't much of a dump. Kind of pretty actually.
- The wait for the ferry was definitely less than 15 minutes. People exaggerate everything.
- The Staten Island Ferry reminds me of the Joker's Social Experiment.
After the ferry, I chose to avoid the subway crowds and rode my bike back up to Grand Central Terminal on the bike paths along the East River. To my surprise my legs don't hurt - just my booty. I love that I was able to see the city in this way and I love my body for allowing me to do it. If you've never been on the tour, I highly suggest it.
And if you want to donate to my charity, there is still time.