By Tomas Hamudis–New York, NY–May 5, 2014
Sunday at dawn, I started riding through a dark and deserted midtown Manhattan to the starting line downtown at Franklin and Church Sts. for my first Five Boro Bike Tour–formally known as the TD Five Boro Bike Tour.
I’m 26, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and I moved to New York three months ago.
I own a Specialized Tarmac and ride a lot around Central Park, and I had heard a lot about the famous Five Boro Bike Tour. So I was really looking forward to this.
I work in financial services–work hard–stay up late, so I was tardy to the start, and even with a press pass I probably had at least 3,000 riders in front of me.
At 7.45AM, the ride took off and immediately I knew that it was going to be pretty crowded with a wide variety of skill levels – I unclipped for the first 3 miles with a real fear of crashing or hitting a careless rider.
To get away from the crashes, I outsprinted a significant number of riders past Bryant Park (on 40th St.), but then the road narrowed again as we approached Central Park.
In fact it was very crowded again: a guy caught a wheel, another one failed to unclip and crashed his shiny Cervélo on the ground.
The picture didn’t seem very promising. Fortunately a number of volunteers reminded people time and time again to slow down and be careful.
At about the Engineers’ Gate on 90th street and Central Park things started to improve. I was able to ride at a 18 to 19 mph pace and from there I just began to enjoy a traffic-less New York.
I took the left lane and sprinted at 30 mph through Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd until I got to 135th street.
The feeling was so great that I did not even think that I had 35 miles to go.
Ahead of most of the slower crowd, now I had a chance to slow down and I began to enjoy the scenery. On this steady pace I was able to talk to some other cyclists some of whom had come a long way to ride in the Five Boro, and all of them were quite astonished to be riding along an empty FDR Drive, on the Queensboro Bridge or on Kent Ave in Brooklyn.
We stopped for a little while at one of the mandatory stops, which was fully stocked with sports drinks and bananas. While we relaxed before the next leg, I enjoyed the view.
When we started again, we were riding through more empty streets in windy Brooklyn before hitting the expressways.
Every view of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge was motive enough for the cyclists around me to start cheering. Many of the people I had spoken to in the morning had made it clear that the “monster bridge” was going to
be the challenge. I haven’t heard about the Verrazano-Narrows before, and I was getting impatient to get there and climb it.
The Verrazano’s climb is roughly 1.3 miles, with an average 4 degree grade according to my Garmin but it seemed to be tougher than that.
The breathtaking views made it hard not to look to the sides. Volunteers on both sides were cheering up the cyclists like it was a death climb in the Tour de France.
Soon after the climb, the 40 miles tour of New York was over, and I wanted to keep going. I definitely saw my new home from a new perspective and it encouraged me to explore more of it, always on my bike.
The Five Boro Tour is definitely an experience every New Yorker has to live at least once.