Answer: The 5 Boro Bike Tour, of course.
Founded in 1977, the original Tour reflected the more wild and wooly aspects of the City back then. Its 250 riders were encouraged to bring along "A kazoo, or even a guitar,"* if they wanted (no suggestion as to how to carry the latter). A rag tag group of bicycle clubs met at the Unisphere in Queens for the 50 mile course. And helmets? You're kidding, right?
The first thing I notice is that the crowds, huge while standing still, are not so bad once we get going (we're divided into four "waves" with staggered starts, which helps). The second thing I notice is the creative approach to biking attire.
Yes, fuchsia mohawks.
My favorites, of course (are the trees mirroring the martinis, or vice versa?).
But once we get going, it's a lovely ride.
Up we go through Harlem (yes it is a perfect day).
The Bronx is the only borough in NY that really gets short shrift on the Tour, which is rather a pity - I'm assuming for traffic co-ordinating reasons. I'm hoping this will change on future rides.
Thanks to my adventures on my folding bike, Lucille, I already know this territory. But what's new is riding full out on major arteries - a whole other experience in enfranchisement. Like crossing back over the Third Avenue Bridge.
Of course there's Winter….and the need for delivery trucks and…Well, maybe we could allow certain days for them just like they're doing for us today. Wouldn't that be special...
We follow the FDR all the way down to the Queensboro Bridge. The Queensboro (if you've never ridden it on a bike), is the most commercial of all of NYC's bridges. It's buzzing with commerce 24/7 - it never stops. You really notice it on the Queens side: you can hear the traffic 6 blocks away. To ride it as a cyclist is both a deafening (and polluted) experience. Don't get me wrong; we're grateful for the bike lane - but today?
Today, it is quiet and clean. And for the first time, riding the main road over the bridge, we can truly appreciate how beautiful this bridge really is. It looks like it's been cleaned since I last rode it.
Normally a narrow and grim passage for bikes and pedestrians alike...
Down through Williamsburg we go.
When we hit Brooklyn Bridge Park, there is another rest stop, and this time my team, "Biker Ladies," ("Biker Sluts" was already reserved) takes advantage of it.
After which we find the road wide open on the BQE.
And then the Verrazano heaves into view:
The 5 Boro Bike Tour is the only time cyclists get a chance to ride the Verrazano - there is no bike lane here. There has been talk of adding one, but I'm wondering if that would be such a good idea; it tends to be both windy and cold. Today the temperature palpably drops as we make our way across.
It's been a great tour (though we may go for an earlier start next year). Here are "The Biker Ladies." K and R...