NYC 5-Boro Ride Report
Here it is May Day and I should be celebrating the International Worker's Day. It's Sunday, May 1, and I should be in church. Better yet, I should be in bed sleeping but the alarm goes off at 5 am so I get up. What the Hell else was I to do? I had packed everything in the car the previous night and just needed to put the bikes on the rack and be off.
This was my sixth NYC 5-Boro bike ride. TurboB!tch's second and hopefully the first she would finish. Years ago she started the ride but it ended in Queens when I blew a tire (loudly) and proceeded, in an overheated daze, to flat every spare tube I inserted before seeing the quarter sized hole in the sidewall. The ride ended early that year as Turbo, our friend Debbie and I bailed and took the subway back to Manhattan and the car. Our co-riders, Sonia and Shem, went on to complete the event.
To avoid the traffic in the city and the illegal parking spaces I used every year, I drove to Jersey City and we took the PATH train to the WTC Station instead. Riding a bike in Jersey City is different than riding in New York City. People, most of who appear to be suffering from drug induced hangovers at 7 am, stare in disbelief as two oversized elves ride by in tights and multi-colored tops. Most people would stare at that sort of thing, I suppose.
The 5-Boro ride, for those not familiar with the event, is the biggest collection of ratty bikes and amateur riders on the planet. It amazes me at how far you can go on a bike encrused with rust pulling a trailer with a kid/dog/lunch in it. Because of the crowd of approximately 30,000 riders, it is impossible to actually fall and touch the ground. You merely end up in the surprised arms of the person next to you. The 5-Boro ride should not be confused with a road ride or a mountain bike festival. It is neither of these yet all of them. No one type of bike prevails. In the past I have seen people do the ride on full DH bikes, pedal powered rickshaws, recumbents, quadra-cycles, tricycles (never a unicycle) and most every other form of cycle you can imagine. I can't even say what type of bike works best. I've done it on road bikes, FS, hardtails and rigids. All worked just as well for me.
This year's ride started much like it starts every year. You arrive on time or a little early, find a place in the crowd and wait. After that you wait some more. Than some more. This year there was the added bonus of a cold rain and wind and a longer wait than usual. I found that somwhat unexpected since I figured many people would decide not to ride because of the rain. It seems like the rain brought out even more riders. Go figure.
A sign on a rider's back that read "My Bike Didn't Require an Oil War to Get Here."
Maybe not but what about the car you drove or the fuel to heat your home or the fabric to make your bike cloths? How about the Nikes on your feet that may or may not have been made by child labor in some Asian factory.
Ned Flanders singing some inane song to his kids about "Mr. Sun." You, sir, are annoying in public.
The guy who became angry at another rider who yelled "On your right!" The rider who was angry was pulling a trailer with a kid and taking a picture causing him to move in the path of the rider who called out. At least he got his picture. I think.
The rider who stopped short in front of Turbo on the Williamsburg Bridge to answer his cell phone almost causing a multi-bike pile-up.
The rider who decided, without warning or looking, to make an abrupt left turn in front of the pack and narrowly avoided becoming road-kill in Brooklyn.
The looooong lines in front of the Porta-Johns thoughout the ride. What is it that makes riders need bathrooms so much? I certainly needed them often enough.
The hour wait on Sixth Avenue to enter Central Park.
The numerous kids who completed the rides and waited as patiently as the adults during the frequent delays. They really were well behaved.
The two hour plus wait to board the Staten Island Ferry at the end. Seems like someone really screwed up there. I never waited much over 45-minutes in the past.
The thousands of volunteers, police, fire and emergency workers who made it all work.
The cops who intercepted the line cutters at the ferry and sent them to the rear. There is justice at times.
It took us over thirteen hours this year to do the ride. We left the house at 6:15 am and didn't return until 7:15 pm. Was it worth it? That is up to you to decide but after six of these rides I think I'm finished. It is, however, one of the best ways to see the city I know of.
If this report seems a litle disjointed, prehaps it is. Rides like this are a collection of sights, not one running commentary like a race. They do not run smoothly and my report only reflects images that remain a day later.
Last edited by Rev Bubba; 05-02-2005 at 08:09 AM.
The endless excuses guy
I was a 5 Boro newbee
Never been to NYC and thought this would be good circumstances to check it out. Took the 4:28 train in from New Haven CT. Lots of eye candy, I didn't know what to look at, when to look, or why, but in my 39 years of seeing and hearing about NYC, I think I caught a glimpse of it all. Sensory overload. Me and my regular MTB buds (newbees too) fell into the pack right behing the VIP crownd (one of the organizers said, "Oh, you guys are "general bike riders" not VIP, you have to go back there". I must be pond scum). It took about 2-3 miles before we could actually ride the bikes without having to stop for whatever reason. Saw lots of wrecks, some of them snowballing into full fledged cluster-phucks. I must admit that I caused an older gentlemanm (~55?) rider's cash when I was slip-stream passing on a crowded bridge and things bottle-necked. He got a little panicky, caught my bar end, and ejected of his bike into the Jersey barrier, not a pretty picture and wouldn't have happened if I wasn't being me. I stopped (hazardous in itself), waited for him to recover, let him yell at me a little, then I apologized and asked if he was OK. I felt like a real a$$ and my buddies kept remiding me of that fact.
The weather was kind of crappy until about 10:00 or so when it gradually got nicer, ended sunny and beautiful. I've never peddled in packs before, so I'm not up on all the roadie ettiquete (sp?). It was crazy because 1 minute your zinging along at a good clip, the next second, your checking up hard on the brakes for the slow poke in front of you hoping that you're not the 1st bike in a pile-up.
All-in-all, it was a total blast. Near the end on the Statin Island Ferry, I bought a couple of Corona's which were among the best brewskies I've ever had. I think we were near the front of the masses throughout the ride, so I never got to experience any major delays or interuptions.
At the end of the ride, we had spun out 51 miles at 11 mph ave. speed with 35 mph max (down the Verrizano bridge). Back at Grand Central Station @ 1 p.m. Not to bad numbers considering the circumstances.
NOTE: I must have seen about 300 people changiing flat tires, 95% of these were roadie bikes. I'm glad we were on HT mountain bikes (with road tires).
I'll do it again and wouldn't change the way we did anything (except for cross checking the roadie guy). Not sore today at all plus I took the day off. Got the wife to agree to let the kiddies bunk school, so now we're going for a bike ride at the beach and flying kites..........life is good.
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Sofa King We Todd Did
I was psyched the do this the moment I heard about it. Even started two threads here at MTBR. But all my friends bailed on me and I ended up having an out of town meeting today and I didn't trust myself to to the ride, get back in time and get myself sorted for my meeting today. Excuses, excuses, I know.
The weather was dreadful but I hope you lot had fun despite it. I know I'd have been hating life at that hour, dealing with the rain. I ended up going on a 20-mile ride through the Bronx in the p.m. when the weather turned gorgeous and found some cool new routes and neighborhoods to ride through.
I hope next year provides me a better opportunity to do this.
Weather was not all that bad
Rain, being rain, and morning, being morning, my wife and I were not as comfortable as we would have liked at 8 am but it really wasn't bad and I think most of the rain was over by 9:30 am.
This is the type of ride worth doing at least once. Solo is one of the better ways to do it too because keeping a group any bigger than two together is very difficult. I've done it, but it takes work.
Solo, you just shoot through the crowds and not worry about someone trying to keep up or you trying to keep up.
Thanks for the report, RB. I rode the 5 boro for the first time yesterday, and had a terrific time. I know NYC fairly well, but seeing at the human pace of cycling was a real treat.
Here are some photos.
1) The crowd waits.
2) Entering Central Park
3) My nutty pal Mike (I, of course, rode a more sensible bike, i.e., my Surly LHT, but, as RB said, every imaginable bicycle was represented.)
4) Evidence for the parenthetical remark, above.
5) A scene that makes me smile.
Yea you know i was thinking to myself " man i wish my friends were into this so that I can ride with them " but i think your right, doing it alone is ( & getting their early, & trying to your hardest to get in the front of the pack ) makes it a better expeirance. My only problem is that i do it with a road bike & I rarelly really look at the sites, I'm just riding zig zagging throught the slower riders. I reached the festival at the end at around 12 in the afternoon.
Originally Posted by Rev Bubba
I used a road bike this year
I have an old Cannondale R400 I picked up used two years ago and my wife was on her hardtail with slicks. The two of us spent a lot of time making our way through traffic but still ended up spending most of our time in delays.
She is a good rider and I had trouble keeping up at times when she was in the lead. She especially was at an advantage when we got onto bumpy parts where her fork helped and my 120 psi tires beat me up.
I think I made my best time when I went solo on a rigid bike with slicks two years ago. You certainly don't need anything fancy for this ride. I had some goofy setup on an old Zaskar with the stem reversed so it gave me a 5 degree drop instead of rise, flat bars, gearing from a hybrid and slicks. It made for a lite (for an MTB - maybe 22 lbs) bike that wasn't worth much. The kind you could take to the city and abuse and not care if you hurt it.
Oh man, what a coincidence i was to the right of that dude with the the diamondback DH bike at the starting line, he must have been trying to keep warm in the begining becuase he was doing some tricks on the sidewalk
They do a great job of capturing the spirit of the day.
Originally Posted by Rev Bubba
What is it that makes them need the Port-O-Johns so much? How about the 3 cups of coffee I needed to get up at 5AM, and the the subsequent 4 I drank in an effort to keep warm after the long delay in Astoria Park?
I was a little bummed that they cut out the Cannonball Park (JPJ park) rest stop, which is where my group drinks it's traditional cinco de mayo/ cinco de boro maragitas, but yesterday was not outdoor drinking weather anyway.
In any case, I'll be back next year, just like every year.
Interestingly, the guy on the highwheeler is a Westchester mountain biker... posts here as "Fergie" occasionally...
I thought the Cannonball was a good stop too
The new route to the Verrazano was much better though.
Were you held up leaving the festival site? I never remember being kept in a group there and I don't think I arrived that much later than usual.
I know I said this was my last tour but during my lunch time walk I was already thinking of doing it solo again and which bike to take. Its been two years on a road bike so I'm do for somthing else. I was also thinking that if I skipped coffee completely and didn't drink much the day before, I could forego the rest stops entirely. That and an earlier start. Hmmmm. I have to give it some thought.
I didn't try to leave. My mom moved to Staten Island, so i just rode to her house. Later in the day (4PM) I got the ferry without a problem.
Originally Posted by Rev Bubba
I've done it a few times, but skipped it this year. I'll only do it again if I am with my wife and a bunch of friends.
I've only ever done it fixie to make it more interesting. You definitely need a front brake though; too many non-bikers that don't understand the rules of the road.
I heard that comment a lot.
"too many non-bikers that don't understand the rules of the road."
There certainly are. The concept of holding a line is lost on so many, isn't it?
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