By: Norman Castro, EBC New York Bureau
Photos: Patrick Palugod, EBC New York Bureau
Driving is the main source of transportation. Out of necessity, most people must travel miles to get to work. In major cities however, driving isn’t the number one source of transport as the cost of parking and tolls are growing. People lean on buses and trains especially in the New York City metropolitan area to get around. This trend is changing however as biking has been a more visible and more viable option. Traversing New York City though is another story. The dangers of speeding taxis, ruthless truck drivers, and the occasional lost tourist shows that navigating the streets is a badge of honor. But not once a year in May.
On a cloud covered Sunday in New York, 30,000+ bikers gather in downtown. This time their commute around the city will not have any obstacles. This was my third year doing the Five Borough Bike tour. For 40 miles and about 4-5 hours, you travel on the streets of the city’s boroughs – Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, surrounded by bikers and the thrill of riding past some of the most historic parts while crossing bridges at speeds you wish you could do in a car.
People from all around the world come to this tour for good reasons. The atmosphere is friendly and inviting. The whole point of having the tour is to increase the knowledge and awareness of bike riding. It is to invest in new learners of bike riding and to gather people together with same passion. Unlike a race (half century and century) there is no time really associated; you finish when you finish. For the more intense riders there are sections that are timed (sprints and climbs) but for your average rider, you wouldn’t even pay these signs any mind.
Every 6-8 miles there were stations set up with food and water for refueling and are meant for people to relax a bit before they continue their trek across the five boroughs. There are sections of the course where you see the most struggle, especially the last stretch of the Verrazano Bridge but the last swooping downhill is such a sigh of relief. As you approach the festival area you feel a sense of joy. The energy is electric, the sounds of music playing and the smiles on people’s faces says it all.
The Five Borough Bike Tour is one event that I look forward to every year. The experience should be shared, so the bigger the group the better! So next year, hopefully I will see you riding through the mean streets of New York with me!