TD Five Boro Bike Tour Recap

I want to tell you I had an amazing weekend and this event was SO MUCH FUN. I really do.

For many people, I’m sure today was awesome. For me, today was very disappointing.

 

* * * * *

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is a 40 mile car-free bicycling event put on by Bike New York. 32,000 bicyclists. $90 entry fee. Packet pick-up must be in person at the Expo. A great way to see The Big Apple! My friends and I managed to get signed up and planned a whole weekend around this.

 

Saturday we drove up to Staten Island to check in to our hotels. We then biked over to the ferry to Manhattan. If there is anyone that can make Philly drivers look like fine, upstanding ladies and gentlemen – it’s Staten Island drivers. Of course, we were on a more direct route … but when we crested the second hill, the sun setting behind us and casting a golden glow on the City before us … the view was spectacular and made the ride over worth it.

Biking to the Expo in Manhattan was a joy because of the absolutely lovely cycle track along the river with amazing views of Brooklyn.

Bikeway by the Brooklyn Bridge
Bikeway by the Brooklyn Bridge

 

On the way back it started to rain. Agreeing there’s no one to pick our butts up, we saddled up and rode back to the hotel. Did I mention we were in street clothes? Cotton is rotten in the rain. Acquired a hot shower and clean clothes before we got some dinner. We all agreed the tour would be super fun – lots of people and no speed records but a nice conversational ride with friends.

 

This morning we were assigned to the last wave of riders for the tour. We had initially rejoiced in this stroke of good fortune to be able to sleep in – until we missed the last ferry to make the official start time. No matter, there were lots of others still waiting for the ferry. We got to the start line about 20 min late, which we figured we could make up without issue. Until we hit the first wall of people. They aren’t kidding when they say 32,000 people sign up for this.

 

this was our view all day.
this was our view all day.

 

 

The parts of the ride that were awesome:

* rolling through the streets of Manhattan and Harlem. The Bronx and Queens were a bit rougher on the edges and Brooklyn lived up to its reputation as a hipster mecca.

* riding down the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Seriously – have you ever ridden your bike on a major highway?

* Bridges!

* Local musicians along the route keeping the vibe pleasant.

* fresh NY bagels at the rest stop we visited.

* Riding bikes! With Friends! in New York!

 

The parts of the ride I was incredibly disappointed about:

* Being Assigned the Third Wave. Dominated by cruiser bikes and folks who generally do not know how to ride in a group, much less a very large group. I don’t recall asking for the third wave or being told waves are assigned by expected average speed … or really anything. You’re just assigned a group.

* Walking. Entirely too much walking happened because of the rider volume, medicals (more people went down than I’ve ever seen in an organized event), and any sort of incline in the road. At one point we were stopped for somewhere around 30-45min just to get over a bridge. Due to volume.

* Being forced to take the mandatory shortcut because we failed to meet the cutoff time. Lopped 10 miles off our ride. See above for why. So sad because my friend was volunteering at the aid station on the cut miles.

* Other Rider Fatigue. My brain was fried from having to be hyper-vigilant in avoiding other riders that stop in the middle of the road, stop suddenly/without warning, walk their bikes across the road without checking to make sure no one is riding on the road, weaving, taking selfies while riding, etc.

(Some guy called me an asshole when I was passing and he drifted into me, touching my hip with his handlebar.)

 

* * * * *

I really feel like a heel for saying I’m disappointed in the event because I was riding with slower riders. There’s nothing wrong with being a weekend fitness cyclist or a cruiser cyclist or someone who only rides sometimes. Honest – I really feel this way.

But the truth is, had we been seeded with other cyclists at our similar abilities (but not the hammerheads) the day would have been completely different. Instead of trying to find clear passing lanes and walking entirely too much for a bike ride (i.e., at all), we would have had what we had looked forward to – a conversational speed bike ride.

It became a running joke to us that anytime we had to stop and walk was because there was a hill. Which is so sad but true – we walked so many hills towards the end because there was no room to ride. Everyone was walking because a few people weren’t able to cycle up the hill.

Eric, Phil and I during one of the "why are we stopped?" moments.
Eric, Phil and I during one of the “why are we stopped?” moments.

 

Based on my experience today, I can’t recommend this ride to anyone just yet. One of my friends did the ride last year and was in the first wave. She said the experience was so much better last year – she had no issues with walking or being stopped or having her ride cut short.  So I’d be willing to give it another try but only if I knew I would be in the first or second wave of riders.

 

See you on the road.

2013 Goals

Friends, as we start to wind down the year I am increasingly more aware that I want to set some goals for next year. I am currently about 175 miles short of 2000 miles this year, which is over triple my total mileage last year. Today’s brunch ride was cancelled due to rain, wet roads and patchy fog … so now I have to find new and innovative ways to complete my goal!

 

I’ve also started looking at events for next year. Here’s my preliminary goals for 2013, in no particular order:

 

Other events I’m planning to register for – many repeats of this year:

  • Bike NYC – Five Borough Tour (lottery system) – May 5
  • Elephant Rock Ride – June 2
  • Cycle Bucks County – late June
  • The Lemon Ride – late July
  • Scenic Schuylkill Century – early September
  • BikeMS: City to Shore Two Day experience w/century option – late September
  • Covered Bridge Tour of Bucks County – early October

 

Still looking for an event/ride in August. This is all in addition to of the BCP club rides and weekend brunch rides that I’m hoping to work in as well.

I’d love to hear your goals for 2013!

 

See you on the road!

 

Can You Tell Me How To Get …

This week my place of employment afforded me an opportunity of a lifetime – to visit the set of an iconic children’s television program.

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visitor badge

 

Let’s back this up a bit – when I was a child, pay-television was on the cusp of the tipping point where it would spill into our homes and lives and become a “necessity” not a luxury. My parents decided not to pay for television, so we only had broadcast stations – the local affiliates, PBS, and a handful of other channels. “Television is a thief – it steals your time”. My sisters and I were allowed to watch three out of four programs in the afternoon – Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, and Reading Rainbow. Pick three, but never all four. Often, Reading Rainbow was the one cut – not because we didn’t love it but because we would tune in right away to Mr Roger’s Neighborhood.

Never mind that I have fond memories of watching Dr. Who with my dad on PBS or being scared watching “Jaws” on the local affiliate. Cheers and Hill Street Blues were some of my favorite evening programs growing up – I got none of the jokes but thought the theme songs were so cool. Imagine my amusement years later when I went to college, got cable TV and binged for the first couple months. Wait – there’s SOMETHING ELSE that is TOTALLY AWESOME coming on next? Why yes, I’d be happy to watch more television!

Television truly is a thief – it stole a LOT of my time in college.

Anyway – I used to watch Sesame Street all the time. As a suburban kid, the concept of the urban neighborhood was foreign and exotic. I wanted so badly to go to Sesame Street. Even though the end credits said it was in New York, NY what that really meant was I was nowhere close to ever getting to Sesame Street.

My junior year in high school I took a media class and learned about radio and television. I loved the radio portion of the class but really loved the television part more. So much so that I volunteered to be the student producer/director on the program about the new high school being built for the school district’s television station. I produced two broadcast-half-hour shows and loved every minute of it. Looking back now, the shows are terribly amateur – but at the time I was very proud of my work.

Naturally I majored in television production in college. I’m one of the “lucky” people who then found a job in my industry. I have worked my way up from being a tape jockey – pushing huge carts of tapes from the library to the control rooms at a massive operations facility – to where I am today – analyzing ratings to drive changes to our schedule that will increase and retain viewership, plan special programming, figure out the promotional plans for network priorities, and manage a team that does the day-to-day work necessary to keep a cable network on the air.

Not ironic or anything that the girl who hardly watched television now makes a living working in television.

Anyway – back to the point. I am finally able to tick the box next to “Get To Sesame Street” on my list of lifelong dreams. Being on set is somewhat magical – children everywhere watch this program. And here they are … making the program! The iconic steps, the street sign. Mr Hooper’s Store. Big Bird’s nest. And I had  the opportunity to meet Cookie Monster and have my photo taken with him. The four and five year old me was giddy with excitement!

THE Cookie Monster and I
THE Cookie Monster and I

 

But it doesn’t escape my thoughts that for these people working on the production – the puppeteers, the cameramen, the directors, editors and puppet wranglers – this is just what they do every day.

And in that, I became very aware and thankful for the opportunities – the ups and down – that have led me to this place my life. That something we take for granted may be someone else’s magical moment.

Take that with you, meditate on it. There is beauty in the routine, the mundane, the things you move through in your everyday life.

See you on the road.