32,000 cyclists took the streets of NYC this past Sunday for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour. I was fortunate enough to join the herd and participate for the first time.
The turn-out was not only appealing to the eye, but also gratifying to know people want to bike New York. There was a clear message made to the people of this city (if not all of America) - a bicycle culture is present, growing, and not leaving here any time soon.
Riders of all types were welcomed and ranged from amateur to triathlete. Moreover, some of these riders noticeably differed in age (from small children to golden seniors), which resulted in a greater sense of community .
I had the pleasure of riding with an experienced road cyclist, Kevin Toomer. Despite the day's undesired gloomy and windy conditions, having Kevin as a bike buddy in this massive wave of wheels was encouraging and definitely kept me pedaling a little harder throughout the boroughs than most of my commutes and leisure rides.
40 miles wasn't too intimidating, but certainly enough to put your legs to work. I was only concerned about potential accidents. My local bike repairman, Andres, gave me a fair warning the day before that accidents can happen at the Five Boro; It didn't take too long to understand why.
Not to take away from the experience, but there were riders who treated it like a race, took selfie photos while in motion, abruptly stopped, cut you off without warning, or were shaky on the handlebars. As long as you were 100% attentive and alert of other cyclists, you would've been just fine.
The ride, itself, was worth it without any doubt. You simply cannot match having miles upon miles of city streets, the FDR, BQE, Queensboro Bridge, and Verrazano Bridge reserved for your cycling pleasure.
A lot of work went to this event and it showed. Participants felt taken care of. We were fed and entertained all along the way. Complimentary tacos (thanks Chipotle), fruit, snack bars and water kept your energy up and the live street bands every couple of miles pushed you to continue pedaling forward. TD Bank, Bike New York, all the sponsors, and volunteers deserve all the credit for their efforts.
Along with many of the city's advocates, I hope the FBBT inspired a few more New Yorkers to bike their city.