This week, while complaining about signing up for a half marathon, I decided to sign up for the 5 Boro Bike Tour. I think I’m sabotaging myself. I did it six years ago, on a borrowed bike, having no training, so I don’t believe that it would be a problem. At least, this time, I do cycle some (though no miles logged this year).
I’m riding with a team, a total of seven people. I’m certain it will be great. (She says, as she tries to convince herself that riding forty miles, after a few weeks of running thirteen would be great).
— Thing Two —
The Symphony Chorus is back in rehearsals, and my heart is happy! Last October I joined this group of singers and instrumentalists, all volunteers who sing in churches across New York (and other places). A friend of mine introduced me to the group and the first time I sang in a concert with them, I felt a strong sense of contentment. I’m looking forward to our Spring concert and the other concerts along the way.
— Thing Three —
I had the pleasure of breakfast with friends. Getting up early and running is one thing, but getting up earlier to run so that I could meet with a friend for the best meal of the day is pleasing. I’m not a morning person, but I can get behind meeting people for pancakes, or omelettes.
I’ve also had the pleasure of sharing a free lunch with colleagues. We ordered from Maple; I got the chicken with roasted carrots and quinoa. It was delicious. I’m certainly going to order from Maple again. If you’re in Manhattan I suggest you check them out!
— Thing Four —
In an attempt to continue using products that contain ingredients that occur naturally, I found a site, Meow Meow Tweet, that makes deodorant creams. I can make my own, but seeing as I just finished the batch that I made, I thought I’d try their version. So far, I like it! I think I might try to use shea butter in my own mixture when I decide to make it again.
I found the deodorant cream in (what I can only call) an alternative pharmacy – which is a new favourite place of mine – called Stanley’s Pharmacy. I tried their sore throat tea – it was delicious – I think I’ll try others from them as well.
— Thing Five —
This week in pop culture, I saw the first two episodes of the new Shadowhunter series and the new Tarantino movie, Hateful 8.
I liked the little changes they did (from the book) in the Shadowhunter series; I think it was a good move. A lot of the story (in the books ) focused on the romance than the rich and vibrant world of the Shadowhunters – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, I don’t think it gives a film/show much material to work with, so adding a some new characters and stories fleshes things out a bit more.
Moving on to Hateful 8. It sits at #4 in the list of six Tarantino films I’ve seen, but it still had all the key factors that make a Tarantino film great. He does an excellent job with the visuals and the directing, as well as in the stories that he created.
Every year for the last four years I have considered doing the 5 Boro Bike Tour by Bike New York. Every year I’ve either forgotten, complained that I did not own a bike or else, registered too late, only to find it filled. This year thanks to a reminder from a friend I managed to sign up before the tour sold out.
Waiting to start our 6 hour tour.
The fact that I already knew how to ride a bicycle was a positive minimized by my not owning a bike and thus never riding one more than a few blocks. The tour is a forty-two miles ride though the trafficless streets of 5 New York Boroughs. Initially I considered renting, however, renting cost more than the actual tour itself! Next I thought of buying, however, I did not know what kind of bicycle to get and everyone I spoke to told me to go to an actual bike store and not a general store. Finally another friend suggested that I borrow and this being the route of least resistance (read cheapest), I took it. Through a series of events the bicycle I ended up using for the tour was one I never rode on before tour day. What an experience! Note to self: Make sure you familiarise yourself with the bicycle before you actually ride it.
on 14th & 6th
For those unsure, the 5 Boro Bike Tour takes its riders from downtown Manhattan (through Central Park) into the Bronx and then onto the FDR. Back into Manhattan you go over the Queensboro bridge, through Astoria Park and onto the BQE which leads to the final run over the Verrazano Bridge and finally into Staten Island where you stop for the Festival at Fort Wadsworth. After this you still have about three miles of cycling to the Staten Island Ferry which takes you back to Manhattan, the end of the tour.
I cannot say I trained for this ride, I did go to the gym and did build up some endurance however, riding a stationary bike as exercise and being on an actual bike route with elevations are two completely different experience.
At a rest stop in Queens
We started on 14th street and 6th avenue to avoid the crowd of people at the start line (Battery City), this was probably a good decision since you had to get there pretty early to be close to the front and you are also riding with 30,000 people. 30,000 people trying to get started is a lot of waiting. It also made our Central Park wait, for people merging and runners crossing shorter; and though I love trees and grass, I do not particularly like the smell of horse manure, so waiting just five minutes – as opposed to the one hour I overheard a lady telling her friend – was worth the 14th street start.
Vehicles of choice
After our second rest stop at Astoria Park and about 25 miles into the ride I wanted to stay off the bike seat and perhaps lie on the grass for a bit (or forever). As a wise friend and 5 Boro Bike Tour veteran once told me, “It’s the getting back onto the seat after stopping that really hurts!”. Indeed, she was correct. She was also correct when she told me that the BQE is much harder than the Verrazano Bridge. I struggled on the BQE. I could not understand why people were passing me nor why it took so much effort for me to advance. When I finally reached the rest stop before the Verrazano Bridge I had already decided that I was not going to ride up the bridge, if the BQE was that difficult then I did not know how I would make it up such a long incline.
A few people from our group left before the Verrazano Bridge, so from ten we were down to six.
Here we go into the 4th borough
The trek up the Verrazano Bridge turned out better than I thought, so I kept peddling (slow and steady, just keep going) until I reached the peak of the climb and then it was all downhill from there (literally). Going down was one of my favourite parts of the tour as it was the promise of the end, the cool – almost cold – breeze that hits you and knowing that I did it, I travelled across the Verrazano Bridge for free! (Seriously, Staten Island, $11.00 to cross a bridge?) It was only on the descent that I noticed that I had lost a lot of air in my tires – probably why I was struggling to move forward on the BQE, but that is just my supposition.
We rested for at least 30 minutes at the festival, got some free massages (best feeling ever) and flavoured coconut drink and I accepted a free visor – so much sun. The final three miles after the festival took us to the Ferry and then a Ferry ride took us back to Manhattan and that ended the tour.
With a total of six bananas consumed, a start time of around 8:30 a.m. and an end time – at the festival – of 2:30 p.m., I think I did pretty well for my first long distance bicycle ride. The pain the next day was not as bad as I thought it would be (now that it’s a somewhat distant memory). Will I do it again? I’m pretty sure I would.