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Five Boro Bike Ride Recap

  • May 6, 2013
  • By Brittany
Five Boro Bike Ride Recap

Yesterday Pete and I participated in the TD Five Boro Bike Ride, a bike tour starting in Manhattan and progressing through each of the five boroughs in New York City.  We’ve done this ride for about 4 years now, sometimes with friends and sometimes just the two of us.  It’s a relatively leisurely ride (i.e., not a race), so it’s a great opportunity to hang out with other bike enthusiasits.  It’s also an awesome opportunity to see NYC.  Bike New York, the organization hosting the event, provides 40 miles of closed roads including Sixth Avenue, the Queensboro bridge, the Verrazano Expressway and the FDR for bikers to ride down.  I always get a thrill riding along routes normally inundated with cars and taxis.

Map of Five Boro Route.

This year there were about 40,000 riders and the event was sold out in just one day!  With so many riders, it’s necessary to stagger the start times to avoid total congestion.  Pete and I ended up in the second wave of riders departing at 8:30 am.  I’ll let you in on a little secret . . . we never go to the start line! The starting line is all the way downtown by Wall Street and there are soooooo many people plus you have to arrive about an hour before your scheduled start time.  None of these things really excite us too much so we just take our bikes to 14th Street and 6th Avenue and join in when we see some riders start to go by.  This was we are more towards the beginning and avoid some of the congestion.

5 Boro 2

I don’t know what happened this year but our plan didn’t work as well for some reason!  We got stuck in a lot of congestion in Central Park (had to get off and walk our bikes) and then again in several other places like the Queensboro bridge.  It’s really disappointing when you feel like you are more in the Five Boro Crawl than the Five Boro Ride.  I guess to some extent this can’t really be avoided when you are with such a large amount of people, but it is still pretty frustrating.

5 Boro 3

Besides the congestion in a few places, the ride went really well and there were some great views of the East River and Manhattan.  One of my favorite parts of the ride is riding from Queens down through Williamsburg and downtown Brooklyn.  It is always so pleasant there!  I also really enjoy the end of the ride when we head onto the Verrazano bridge and cross over from Brooklyn to Staten Island.  At this point you have only 9 miles left but they are by far the most difficult miles of the whole trip but also the most fun.  The crowd really thins out at this point and you actually have enough space to get your speed up.  The road is relatively wide, giving you plenty of room to pass slower riders and find open space to ride.  This is when I actually get my workout in!

5 Boro 4

This year there was a good amount of wind blowing into us during our trip across to Staten Island making the trip that much more difficult.  The road is nice and flat but not at all easy!  I challenged Pete a little by taking off like speedy Gonazales.  Everytime I looked back and saw him, I pushed a little bit more speed just to make things a little bit more fun.  He totally kicked my butt at the end though.  There is one huge hill at the very end of the ride, it is a slow and steady climb and you feel as though it is!  In the past I’ve been able to take off and get up the hill faster than some of the boys but this year, Pete gets the green spotted jersey for being King of the Mountain.  His pace up the hill was crazy.  Besides my legs were tired from allowing him to draft behind me the other 8 miles to Staten Island!  šŸ˜‰

5 Boro 5

We made it to the final festival where we dug into some well deserved lunch of falafel and pupusas.  Yum!  It was a bit cold at the festival and Pete needed to get home so he could fly back to Mexico for work so we hopped back on our bikes and pedaled the last mile to the free ferry back from Staten Island.  All and all not a bad day!  By noon on Sunday I had rode 40 miles in just under 3 hours and burned about 1,600 calories.

5 Boro 6 5 Boro 7

Here are the pros and cons to the Five Boro Ride if you are thinking about doing it next year:


– Great way to see the five boros!  The views are spectacular.

– Lots of fun, no pressure ride.

– Great way to kick off the riding season!

– Well organized with sponsors providing free food and water.  Plenty of restrooms.

– Plenty of cops and ride personnel directing you, cheering you on and generally ensuring your safety.

– A fun, festive atmosphere!


– Bike New York no longer mails you your registration packet with your rider bib.  You have to go pick it up at the Bike Expo which is allllllll the way down town and allllllll the way east.  It took be about 2.5 hours to get there, get our stuff and get home.  Not really how I want to spend my Saturday.

– This year the congestion was a bit much and Pete and I didn’t really feel that we got to really ride until the end.

– About a week before the race we got an email telling us we couldn’t bring backpacks.  This was a bit of an inconvenience for us and we weren’t prepared for this on such short notice.

– The festival at the end this year and the rest stops along the way had noticeably less free samples of food and other things.  While I know this is only a small part of the ride, the ride is expensive ($86 per person) and in the past there have been a lot more perks you get to enjoy for your money.

I’m glad we did the ride.  It’s always fun to go out together and be fit!  Plus, the ride kicked off Bike Month, which goes on throughout all of May!!  If you want to participate, I have a few simple tips for you:

– If you don’t own a bike, look into local rent shops and grab a bike for a weekend ride!  Pick up a map and find the best cycling routes.

– If you live in NYC, check out this calendar of Bike Month events!  Check out events in other cities here.

– Ride your bike to work or school.

– If you’re traveling this month, consider seeing a city by bike instead of walking.

Readers, are you going to be celebrating Bike Month?  Where is your favorite place to ride?

By Brittany, May 6, 2013
  • 1
1 Comment
  • Holly
    May 9, 2013

    You inspire me to get my bike tuned and ride to the beach.

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