Alone on the Five Boro Bike Tour 2012

Finally made it to the finish line after riding on and off for over 6.5 hours!

On Sunday, May 6th, New Yorkers and visitors from over 32 US cities and over 64 countries participated in TD Bank’s 35th annual Five Boro Bike Tour. This was my second time being part of this truly awesome event. Days before, I had taken my bike in to the shop for maintenance. This was the extent of my pre-tour preparation. I should’ve taken the bike out months before and prepared my body for the event! Being too busy with work, I never got the chance. I decided to do the tour without any training, something that I truly do not recommend!

The day started cloudy and cool. I decided to drive down as close as possible to the starting point and park my car. This year things started off a little differently. The organizers had smartly realized that in order to prevent heavy bottlenecks along the way, especially during start times, bicyclists were assigned a color, a start location and a start time. I was in the blue group with a start time of 7:45 am.

I was riding this year with fellow co-workers from the corporate office. I had not really met any of them so it was the first time meeting them there. I drove down the West Side Hwy only to find that there was a traffic accident around 96th street. A virtual parking lot. I had to ultimately get off the highway and onto local streets. This made me extremely late. After quickly parking at 23rd street, I rode my bike down the rest of the way to Liberty Street and Broadway. The gang was waiting for me there. The guys were so gracious and forgiving but I knew that I had messed up and perhaps they weren’t too pleased with me. In the end, we had to start the tour with the red group, departing at 8:30am. Bummer.

After waiting around for over 30 minutes, our part of the tour was underway. Due to frequent stops by traffic cops along the way up Manhattan, I quickly lost my co-workers.  I would not see them again throughout the entire bike tour.

The ride became very different for me then. I rode beside thousands of participants but yet I was alone. My long periods of solitude was broken along the way as I met several out-of-towners and encountered many funny situations and conversations among riders. During the times that I felt very tired, I had to push myself to continue the trek even harder. There were no motivational speeches or encouragement from anyone. It was just me, the bike and the road. Giving up was never an option in my mind. I start something, I always finish it. This was no exception. I found it highly interesting how this tour differs from when you ride with a buddy, a group, or a mate compared to riding by yourself. It’s obvious how the physical component factors in but it was definitely all mental this year for me. Reaching the end was really sweet and the euphoria I felt was indescribable.

This year I decided to take a lot more pictures than last. Whenever I stopped to rest, I whipped out either my Canon G12 or my trusty iPhone 4s. I used the iPhone for specific shots I would use for Instagram. I will post those tomorrow. Unfortunately, my iPhone battery died (I had been running MapMyRide in the background and this simply killed it!) so I couldn’t take any pictures once I got to Staten Island.

If you’re ever in NYC during the month of May, take a chance and sign up for the Five Boro Bike tour lottery (entry fee was a non-refundable $6 – it sucks, I know) next year and partake in a very special event among thousands of riders from around the world. It’s truly a unique way to see this beautiful city in one whole day like no other!

PS – The day before the ride I went to the Bike Expo at Basketball City (pier 36 in Manhattan) to pick up my packet and I ran into Ms. BitchCakes herself! Go check out her blog/site at She has additional photos of the tour and an in-depth write up on it. She’s also an inspiration to many as you’ll soon read on her site.

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