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Old 04-12-09, 06:05 PM   #1
inkblot
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NYC 5 Boro Tour: how safe?

I'm going to be riding the NYC 5 Boro Tour this May. I've never done one of these before, nor anything like it, either; and although I thought my sister and brother-in-law were going to be riding with me, it turns out they missed the deadline to sign up, so I'm riding by myself (and 30,000 others, of course!).

Would you all let considerations of bike security influence your decision about what kind of bike to ride in such an event? I know which bike I'd like best to ride (the Ti-Rush), but if it got nicked during a rest stop I'd never be able to replace it. The runner-up (the Haluzak Leprechaun) I doubt anybody would steal because it looks so comical and because because nobody but another USS bent rider would be able to balance on it. But perhaps I'm letting the fact that it's a city ride make me unduly security-conscious.

Any advice?
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Old 04-12-09, 06:26 PM   #2
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Security's pretty good, just come prepared. I would still not take the better of the two bikes since that ride has a history of bringing out people that think it's a race go hard up front and in the case of them going down, taking a whole bunch of people down.
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Old 04-12-09, 06:33 PM   #3
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My family and I rode in the 5Boro last year, my spouse and i are registered for this year.
Before we went last year, I actually got us all some real U-locks, the ones made out of kryptonite and weigh half as much as your TiRush- [first time i ever got a bike lock] and made sure everyone knew how to use it. Our teenage son used his once, at the end. I locked our tandem up once to a steet post while waiting in line with my youngster. My wife never used hers. Saw lots of bikes unlocked and plenty locked- probably would be a more satisfying bladder relief if I locked the bike. My feeling there is more concern about bike loss from your hotel than during the ride. Have not decided which bike to take this year- either the HPV StreetMachine or my new Sanner SUV. Will take the same lock as last year and use it when I cannot keep my eyes on the bike.
ps-
a shorter bike might be operationally easier to handle to and from the ride, depending upon how/where you stay before/after the ride. It was a challenge getting our full size tandem into the hotel's bike storage area.

Last edited by martianone; 04-12-09 at 06:48 PM. Reason: after thought
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Old 04-12-09, 06:45 PM   #4
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I did it alone my first year, I wasn't really too worried about my bike though. I was straddling it most of the time. Didn't bring a lock. If you need to, just ask someone if they will keep an eye on your bike for a minute while you grab something.

The question of which bike to choose is more about what you'd be comfortable with riding with the first 1-2 miles basically walking the bike, and then the next 2-3 until after the park in stop & go. If you have one bike with flat pedals, and one with Look road pedals, I'd opt for the one with the flats and use sneakers, as you will be putting your foot down a lot. Not that riding with road pedals can't be done, it'll just be less fun. Of course if you have a bike with walkable cleats, then it's a non-issue.
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Old 04-12-09, 06:53 PM   #5
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I'd bring a lock just so you can leave the bike for moment for a RR break or whatever without being too concerned - but I haven't seen any indication that there's a significant theft problem at this event. With so many people around I don't think any thieves would feel comfortable grabbing a bike since they'd never know if the owner or friends might be watching it. Similarly, any attempt to cut even a pretty flimsy lock would be rather likely to be noticed by someone nearby.

I used to do it every year when we lived in NJ. The main problems I saw were logjams at the bridge overcrossings and the racer wannabes darting in and out and sometimes causing a crash. Many of the participants wouldn't be able to ride up the bridges and would rather suddenly get off to walk. That tended to cause problems for those directly behind and there'd be some low-speed crashes as a result. Seemed safest to get there early enough to be near the front where the speeds were controlled and people were generally able to handle the modest climbs ok.
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Old 04-12-09, 08:49 PM   #6
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Thank you all for your advice, all of which is very helpful. I hadn't realized the tour was so much of a traffic jam. Too bad I haven't got a trike!
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Old 04-12-09, 09:15 PM   #7
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Hello Inkblot,

I've ridden it about 1/2 a dozen times.
And always lots of fun, Sadly there are some
that feel it's a competitive race so be vigilant.
I usually miss registration but I ride anyway
nobody's ever given me a hard time about it,
last I saw the fee was about $40+

Best of luck and have fun.

Cheers.
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Old 04-13-09, 10:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prathmann View Post
but I haven't seen any indication that there's a significant theft problem at this event.
The mandatory rest stop in Queens has been a favorite spot for thieves - people hit the port-potties, grab a banana, chat, etc. and leave their bike unattended

I wouldn't bring a lock if you're with other people and someone will keep an eye on the bikes. In most cases you're gonna lay your bike on the grass, so no risk of it getting knocked over

As for those you want to crash it, don't. You're making it less enjoyable for those you met the deadline and paid the fee
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Old 04-13-09, 11:57 AM   #9
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Hello Inkblot,

I've ridden it about 1/2 a dozen times.
And always lots of fun, Sadly there are some
that feel it's a competitive race so be vigilant.
I usually miss registration but I ride anyway
nobody's ever given me a hard time about it,
last I saw the fee was about $40+

Best of luck and have fun.

Cheers.
So I missed this year's registration and still want to ride, is this something I can just jump in and do or will I be the obvious no-bib biker?
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Old 04-13-09, 12:58 PM   #10
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So I missed this year's registration and still want to ride, is this something I can just jump in and do or will I be the obvious no-bib biker?
You need a bib at certain bridge crossings, and to get on the BQE. You can ride along for several miles unperturbed from several points, but will not be able to ride the BQE, the verrazano, and one or two other bridges. No doubt there's someone out there who knows how to skip that, but I wouldn't recommend it.
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Old 04-13-09, 08:47 PM   #11
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There are 2 checkpoints, same as in previous couple of years: on 63rd Street just prior to the climb to the QB Bridge, and on Fort Hamilton Parkway, at 92nd St, just before the VZ Bridge entrance.
Just FYI, the whole checkpoint thing was a post 9/11 deal by the National Parks Service upon whose property the post ride Festival takes place. They required that all participants be "known" i.e. registered persons. Hence the numbers, the checkpoints, etc.
So you could ride the route, dodge the 63rd Street checkpoint by using the normal bike/pedestrian lane on the QB Bridge, but the staff at the Ft. Hamilton Pkwy checkpoint are instructed that this checkpoint is a no-go for unregistered riders.
OK, well, you might stand out as THAT UNREGISTERED RIDER, as in fact, the number of such riders has dropped dramatically in the last few years.
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Old 04-14-09, 05:13 PM   #12
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Thank you all for your advice, all of which is very helpful. I hadn't realized the tour was so much of a traffic jam. Too bad I haven't got a trike!
It's not bad if you get there early for a good place in line (first 6 or 8 blocks on Church St) or do what some of us plan to....a cheater start in Central Park.

As for security, I've gotten to the start before 7am and left my bike for over half an hour while I got coffee with no fear and no problems. I had my keys and wallet in a fanney pack and I took my camera with me, but everything else was fine. Might not do it with a high end bike...

You don't need a lock for the ride, but I take mine for after the ride. I like to bike around Manhattan, have lunch, site see, etc, and I need to be able to lock up.

Couple of tips:

If you need to use the portajohn, don't wait for the first rest stop because they'll be packed. Use the ones north of Central Park around 125th street (assuming that they'll be there this year)

A lot of people skip the first rest stop. I also skip the second one at Astoria. Too crowded. I go to the third rest stop at the Con Ed plant. Most of the people who stop at Astoria skip this one, so it is almost never crowded. No line at the pj's. Also because there is more room, a lot of other food vendors set up there. Last year there was bbq and fried chicken for sale and another booth was giving out free ice cream samples.

Load up with food and water at the last rest stop before crossing the Verrazano. Food at the festival is for sale but it's not very good. They also sell water, and I've never found a place there to refill for free. At the festival I usually do a quick walk around, use the pj's, and head out early to beat the line at the ferry. Then I up go to the East Village for a real lunch.

Have fun.
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Old 04-15-09, 06:44 AM   #13
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If you need to use the portajohn, don't wait for the first rest stop because they'll be packed. Use the ones north of Central Park around 125th street (assuming that they'll be there this year)
+1

One of the we have seen over the years is that the tail of the ride is slowed down not necessarily by slow riders, but by folks just needing to take care of business and facing long lines at the toilets. Last year, we added over 60 porta-potties along the route and noticed a major improvement in the flow (?) of the tour.

The first porta-pottie location is in the 50's, followed by the 125th location. There is a park on 135th just before Madison Avenue with existing bathrooms to which we added several more porta-potties.

We've also noticed that the toilets added on Furman just before the BQE entrance seem a bit underutilized, so that might be a good spot before the BQE/Belt section.
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Old 04-15-09, 09:51 PM   #14
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This is great information, really useful. Thanks to everybody!
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Old 04-26-09, 06:31 PM   #15
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I'll be doing the tour this year, on a cheapie folding bike. I'm not an avid rider, so I'm not going to be quick. But will a lot of people smirk at my cheap bike & equally generic helmet as well? Also, what are the percentage of average folks who can actually finish up the tour? Do a lot of people leave in the middle? If they do leave mid-way, which is the most common spot for people to drop off but still have easy access to the subway?

Also, how many hours does it usually take to complete the entire tour? What time will it be done?

Do I really need a sporty windbreaker jacket? I only have a regular fabric jacket (will dust from the wind or something else ruin it?)

Thanks.

Last edited by bettybl; 04-26-09 at 06:39 PM.
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Old 04-27-09, 01:41 PM   #16
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Don't worry about your bike. There' will be all sorts there.
Not being quick is not a problem. Most people take it pretty easy. Just keep right so others can pass you.
I expect most people manage to finish. I've seen little kids on really small bikes crossing the Verrazano. But if you need to bail early, there is the subway or the Brooklyn Bridge.
I've usually started within a few blocks of the front and have gotten to the Verrazano between 12:00 and 12:30. I'm not the fastest or the slowest, but I'm probably a little faster than the average for this ride. The earlier you can get to the ferry, the shorter the lines, which is why I skip the festival.
Wear whatever is comfortable and suitable for the weather. When it's cold I wear a ratty old sweatshirt over my jersey and I'll have my rain jacket just in case.
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