So Many Boroughs, So Little Time

Yesterday was the Five Boro Bike Tour, and once again my elder son and I took part, catching an early train down to the start:

As it happens, I’d just received a little care package from Two Wheel Gear, which included this little handlebar bag:

There are lots of rest areas on the Five Boro Bike Tour (not to mention like five zillion delis) so you don’t need to bring very much with you, but I figured this would be perfect for those little odds and ends you don’t want to stuff into a jersey pocket, and it was also a convenient place to put my number:

It’s a pretty long ride down to the start from where we live, so I used the time to make some gratuitous brake adjustments:

At some point on this blog I made a joke about changing my name to Increase or something (I don’t know the context for this, something about the Puritans maybe?) and Park Tool sent me this personalized multitool, which as you can see I still use to this day.

While I didn’t get a VIP registration, I did get a “Preferred Start,” meaning we could set out with the early wave. (With 32,000 riders, the rollout for the ride takes place in various waves over several hours.) However, we were running a bit behind, so when we got there we just sort of jumped onto the route and took off ahead of the riders waiting to depart. I think we were behind our own wave and ahead of the next one, so for awhile we had the streets almost to ourselves:

My elder son will be turning 13. In many cultures when a boy turns 13 his is considered a man, and they mark the occasion with a ceremony. My own culture is no exception, and as an Orthodox Cyclist I observed his coming of age by bestowing upon him a titanium bicycle:

Not only does he still have room to grow into it, but as we all know titanium is forever, so this should serve him him well for many years to come, or until he decides he wants a crabon bike with electronic shifting, whichever comes first. But for the time being he’s delighted.

The Five Boro Bike Tour is not a race. Nevertheless, it’s impossible not to size up the competition, and as always it was fierce:

Even the maillot jaune made an appearance:

As did the maillot jaune on HGH, as well as his similarly augmented domestique:

Given all that horsepower, in no time we found ourselves heading over the Harlem River and into the Bronx:

While the Five Boro Bike Tour does indeed make it to all five boroughs, it only pays a cursory visit to the Bronx, like Clark Griswold nodding dismissively at the Grand Canyon:

So all we got was some drumming:

And a dead rat:

Sorry if the dead rat grosses you out, but when you ride in New York City you see one of those roughly every 50 feet.

If I were organizing the Five Boro Bike Tour I’d start the ride further uptown and apportion more time to the Bronx, but THANK FUCKING GOD I’m not (seriously, I can’t imagine how difficult the logistics are for all of this, it’s positively astounding), and soon we were heading back over the Harlem River to Manhattan again:

We then took to the Harlem River Drive with the understated dignity for which the Five Boro Bike Tour is famous:

It really is a treat to enjoy a car-free highway:

The fox-tailed unicyclists are merely a bonus:

Next it was on to Queens:

You never know what kid of weather you’re going to get in early May, but today it was positively spectacular:

The Five Boro Bike Tour goes directly past the building where my mother lived until last year. To cross the street around here was always a deeply fraught affair, so I’m glad to see the city waited until she moved to Florida to finally make some safety improvements:

At Astoria Park we took advantage of the rest stop. As you can see, as a noted cycling personality, the NYPD provides me with my own security detail at events such as this one:

Just kidding:

What is no joke however is the sheer number of bananas available to you at the Five Boro Bike Tour:

I mean it’s totally bananas.

From Queens it was on to Brooklyn, which is like no other place in the world…

…except for all the other boroughs, as well as some small sections that have been grafted onto it from Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

Still, if you’re familiar with mafia movies you’ll know that each territory is controlled by a different capo, and when you go through Brooklyn on a bike you’ve got to pay tribute to the Godfather

That of course is the hi-viz safety vest of Esteemed Commenter Leroy, who also took this photo of us before shaking us down for a sawbuck apiece:

[Photo: Leroy]

By my calculations, 32,000 riders at ten bucks apiece means Leroy netted $320,000, or almost enough to put a down payment on a studio apartment in Dumbo. No wonder Bike New York gets so many “volunteers” for the ride.

Just kidding:

Leroy is not extorting Five Boro Bike Tour riders, nor is he operating a protection racket whereby you pay him “flat insurance” because it would “be a real shame” is something were to “accidentally slash your tire” while you were on line for the porta-potty. He actually wakes up early in the morning for no other reason but to help, which actually makes me even more suspicious of him.

In Brooklyn, we took advantage of another rest stop:

A fact I just made up is that it takes the entire country of Equador nine months to produce and export the number of bananas equivalent to what the Five Boro Bike Tour uses in a single day:

Another fact I just made up but that is more plausible is that 95% of the bananas put out at the Five Boro Bike Tour go uneaten, but of the 5% that are eaten, at least 4% were probably eaten by me.

Of course the big highlight of the ride is riding on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and then over the Verazzano Verrazzanno big bridge that goes to Staten Island:

Here you get plenty of elbow room:

Of course, just as we settled into a nice tempo, we paid the price for not buying Leroy’s “flat insurance:”

My son requested a do-over on that photo:

Rest assured his rude gesture was intended only for the Flat Gods.

Between us we had it repaired in no time, though I was only carrying a mini pump, so at the next rest area we topped it up with a floor pump where I considered explaining the auto-pause feature to these people:

Then it was over the Verrazzano:

And onto Staten Island for the finish:

From there it’s a short ride along the waterfront to the ferry:

This is where we shot my dramatic time trial scene for the video Bike New York wouldn’t officially endorse due to my flagrant helmetlessness (though as you can see I am wearing one for the time trial for the aero benefits):

Finally it was back to Manhattan in steerage class, where I contemplated how New York City could easily rid itself of all those pesky cyclists by simply re-routing the boat to Nova Scotia or something:

All in all it was a fine day on the bike.

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