“Are you interested in the Five Boro Ride? It’s like 50 miles of riding through all the boroughs, and ends in Staten Island.”
Is it a faux pas to get excited about the TD Five Boro Bike Tour? When I got my bike tuned up for last year’s Century, the shop guy was being a bit sad about these rides because people know he’s a mechanic, and instead of enjoying the rides, he’s fixing people’s rides.
The Five Boro Ride has been on my mind for some time, and I’m finally able to participate in it. I’m excited. I like my self-guided rides around the city, but riding in a planned event that gives bikes the road? That’s a different experience.
January 12. That was registration day. I eagerly waited for the site to “open.” Ten a.m. Boom. Done. Registered. They weren’t kidding when they said the general registration sells out fast. By the end of the next day, only VIP registration was available.
I told M we were both registered, and excitedly quipped about the Verrazano Bridge. A look of surprise and dread came over his face. “We’re going over the bridge?”
“Well, yeah. That’s part of the route into Staten Island.”
Ever the curious types, we looked up some info about the bridge. They spelled the name wrong! Yeah. That thing is massive. But there I was, with a stupid grin on my face, making reassurances that it won’t be all that bad. I’m a weird optimist when it comes to my biking.
Also, if we train, it shouldn’t be terrible right?
Of course, the key word here is train. Something I did not do for last year’s century ride. I successfully completed about 55 miles, and it wasn’t too bad, but training would’ve have helped. Ever the glutton for punishment, I am.
Fast forward a few days through some lovely, unseasonably warm January weather. On Saturday, M and I went for a nice long-ish ride down to Coney Island. Long-ish to get us re-acclimated to riding longer distances/times.
The weather was mild, at first. We made our way onto Dekalb Avenue, toward Prospect Park. The hustle and bustle of this street, starting around Malcom X Boulevard, is never the same on a given day. There were a lot of people on the street this day. There were also a lot of cars. Cars moving, and cars parked in the bike lane. [insert rant]
Somewhere along Dekalb, I think at Marcus Garvey Boulevard, a building stood in ruins. A fire. The interior, all sooted black, just stood there, oozing despair. As we rode past, I took a quick glance up. A refrigerator stood near the open wall—remnants of a window probably—all burnt.
I noticed another building further in our ride that was also burned out. New York City has a lot of fires.
A left onto Vanderbilt Avenue and crossing Atlantic Avenue, we followed the bike lane along Prospect Park West. Fuck, it’s windy up here! And cold.
We cut into the park to get to Park Circle, out of the way of traffic. Our plan was to get onto Ocean Parkway and take it all the way down to Coney. Despite initial concerns about the wind and cold in the park, once we cruised down Ocean Parkway, it felt much warmer. The wind wasn’t as vicious.
One of the most un-motivating things about Ocean Parkway are all the cross avenues. It’s like counting the alphabet, and you pretty much know how far away you are from your destination based on which cross avenue you’re passing by. When you’re trying to get out of the cold, it’s one of the worst feelings ever. We’re only at Avenue R?!
Once we got to Coney Island, we biked down Surf Avenue a bit, but decided to turn back. The sun was going down and by that point we had probably 45 minutes of sunlight left.
Now it was cold. And windy.
There was a lot of talk about jumping ship and catching the D train, but we kept going. Our goal was to get to the Fort Hamilton Parkway G-train subway. We made it, and it was a nice momentary reprieve from the battering, cold winds.
We were going to take the G to Lorimer and switch over to the L, but instead, we got off at Flushing Ave and just biked the one or so miles home from the station. It was really cold but it was (insanely) better than trying to transfer trains. We are crazy.
Our total distance for the day was about 18.63 miles (from our starting point in Bushwick, to Coney Island, to our stop at the Fort Hamilton Parkway subway station). Our total time for the ride was just under 2 hours.
Not a bad way to start this thing called “training.” Of course the nice, mild weather didn’t last long. We’ve plummeted into seasonally-appropriate weather with below-freezing nights, and extremely cold, windy days in the low 20s.
Neither of us have gear for icy weather. I proposed we go to the neighborhood gym to supplement our on-road cycling with the stationary (and a few weight lifting sessions). M was onboard. Serious training will begin February 1, after I complete my M.A. exam next weekend. We’re starting this year out okay.