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NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour - Who had fun?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour - Who had fun?

Old 05-08-06, 07:16 AM
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acape
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NYC 5 Boro Bike Tour - Who had fun?

Well this was my first 5BBT. I had heard from a lot of folks that it was going to be a blast, and heard from a lot of folks that it was going to be a nightmare. Luckily for me the former turned out to be the case. My girlfriend and I did it, and we just had a great time. It's such a cool way to see the city, especially parts that you wouldn't normally see. My girlfriend's longest ride before this was a 25 miler that I took her on. Yesterday we logged 52 miles altogether (~5 each way from my place to Battery), and I was really impressed by how well she did. She even got her first glove sunburn!

As for the organization of the event itself, I thought it was done very well. Of course we had to wait a bit now and then, but only at a few spots: the start ling, getting onto the 59th St. bridge, and then at the end for the ferry. Not bad at all. I switched my clipless pedals out for some platforms in preparation of a big walk/stand experience, but it turns out I would have been fine in the clipless. Overall, everything was organized well along the route and at the rest stops.

All in all it was a great time. Hope everybody else had as much fun as we did!
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Old 05-08-06, 08:23 AM
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I had a fantastic time too...see the posts under the "Touring" thread.
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Old 05-08-06, 08:29 AM
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I had a good time, but did anyone notice how many crashes there were? And not just low speed crashes, but some high speed ones as well. I heard what sounded like a bad on on the covered roadway on the FDR and had to slow down for a few that happened in front of me. One guy I saw was laying on his side still clipped in and kinda staring into space. It seemed like there were more crashes than in the past.
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Old 05-08-06, 09:13 AM
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I had a great time

I saw the aftermaths of 4 accidents 2 did not look that bad, the one at fdr and the one early on in BQE heading toward the belt.
that heading toward the belt I saw 2 more that did look bad. some lady looked like she planted her face on something (big gauze over half her face). Another one on the decent to Belt Park way it seem like I had pass by just after the paramedics arrived something about a broken jar.
the 2 bad ones happened on desents.

on flats and small hills I dont mind the crowds but on downhills I need some room between riders.
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Old 05-08-06, 09:25 AM
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I had a good time - my wife & I did it together. We parked near the ferry - that was the biggest hassle. We wanted to make the 6:30 ferry so we got there around 6:15 & had to wait about 1/2 hour to park. Next time I'll find street parking. Because of that backup we didn't get to the starting line until 8ish - a long wait before we were able to hop on the bike. I'm curious where we were in the starting pack - 1/2 way through I'm guessing. Amazing to be w/ that many bikes for sure.

Some other thoughts:
- Riding up 6th Ave. was less exciting than I thought it would be
- Central Park was nice
- Bridges were cool, but 59th St. bridge was less fun than I thought - due to an accident & walking
- A fair amount of accidents, you'd expect that w/ 35,000 cyclists
- Doesn't take much to back things up
- Riding the BQE was the highlight for me - what a gas!
- Verazanno was no big deal, actually, the entire route was pretty easy

Overall, a nice ride though it wasn't the ride so much as the experience of being w/ that many cyclists & seeing parts of the city that you don't normally see.
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Old 05-08-06, 10:00 AM
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I had a great time, the worst part was probably 6:30am to 8:00am in the shadow of a building, it wasn't cold but when the wind blew through it was chilly! I liked the route alot, especially the FDR and BQE sections. 6th Ave was a test in bike handling skills, just trying to navigate around everyone. Queens I think I picked up the most amount of speed, overtaking my friends who showed up around 5am and were close to the start line.

However, once in Brooklyn, I hit a huge bump, lost my grip and down I went! I was banged up, lost some bar tape but the worst was that my camera flew out of my jersey pocket and slammed into the ground. Its all scratched up At least it still seems to work.

There were some slowdowns, but nothing to complain about! Even the ferry wasn't a long wait at all.
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Old 05-08-06, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by SSRI
I had a great time

I saw the aftermaths of 4 accidents 2 did not look that bad, the one at fdr and the one early on in BQE heading toward the belt.
that heading toward the belt I saw 2 more that did look bad. some lady looked like she planted her face on something (big gauze over half her face). Another one on the decent to Belt Park way it seem like I had pass by just after the paramedics arrived something about a broken jar.
the 2 bad ones happened on desents.

on flats and small hills I dont mind the crowds but on downhills I need some room between riders.

We passed that lady with the facial injury before you did -- I heard the medic saying something about a broken facial bone, yikes! She looked to be in a daze. I agree, it felt like there were a lot of crashes this year. I lost count! Even a friend of mine who'd never done it before crashed, ripping-up his left hand and getting a sore elbow to boot (I'd told him in the past to get gloves, doh!). He finished and amazingly we found him and his riding companion at the festival without even trying. On the ferry I saw two other riders with evidence of a crash on the day, one young lady with fresh gauze taped to her knee, and a middle aged fellow with a fresh, unwrapped knee scrape.

So the wife and I had a blast riding a rented tandem. I was correct in feeling a bit circumspect with respect to the rental. The brakes were solid, but the shifting was very shifty -- we even stopped on an uphill on the BQE because it sounded like the chain was jammed in the RD. I stayed out of the big ring after that (no kidding -- the big ring on that was small enough to climb little rises). Also, I never felt confident that a shift would actually happen when I clicked. I understand that shifting is a bit trick on a tandem (it wasn't as bad when I rode the thing by myself) so I didn't mess with it, leaving it at "good enough for the 5BBT".

I had to do a few modifications to make the thing comfortable to ride, mechnical issues aside: the stoker's saddle was a total, unrideable POS so we put a spare saddle on there, plus, the platform pedals were unacceptable to us being used to clipless so our SPD pedals went there too. I carried the original saddle and pedals along with a portable pedal wrench in my riding backpack, putting them back on a couple of blocks from the shop when we returned the bike.

Back to the fun... this year we got the start line earlier than last year. We rode down the Greenway (from near the GWB) to Chambers Street, had to divert to Warren, then rode up Church to halfway past Duane St for our place in line (getting there around 6:40ish, IIRC). I went off to Dunkin' Donuts on Chambers for some hot stuff to drink which I was barely able to drink because of the long wait at D&D and the surprisingly on-time start of the ride. There was a lot of starting and stopping on 6th Ave but it didn't feel as bad as last year (being further up in line helped, I think). We stopped briefly in Central Park to take some pictures by the Harlem Meer. My lovely stoker was taking pics all along the route, BTW -- quite an advantage of riding a tandem over two regular bikes. There was quite a bit of walking at the approach to the Queensboro Bridge, but it didn't last too long.

We arrived at the Astoria Park stop maybe half an hour to an hour after the head of the pack, I don't remember exactly. At this point my bro who lives in Brooklyn called to make plans to meet us with his GF for taking pics and chatting, as well as possibly ice cream under the Brooklyn Bridge. The ice cream shop was closed, a major disappointment, but we got some nice pics and my brother rode with us until the vest control at the BQE, doing the European arm on my shoulder as we chatted thing which slightly freaked out the wife (I'm quite used to it). The route to the Verazzano Bridge was a little different this year, going along the Belt Parkway, basically making a right instead of a left at the split in the Gowanus highway.

As mentioned above, we found my pal and his riding companion without any effort (amazing, IMO) and hung out at the festival for a while. There was a booth sponsored by Lipton that had a couple of bikes on trainers which were hooked up to a monitor whith animated CG riders. It provided a neat way to do a virtual 1/10mi race which the wife beat me at because my feet slipped off the platform pedals when I shifted the wrong way (stupid GripShifs!). Heh, at least my peak power was 413 Watts without making it to max intensity (woohoo dial it up to 400!!! is that joke getting old yet?).

The ferry... last year we waited more than THREE HOURS but this year it was less than half an hour. I think a negative portrayal on the TV news last year had an effect. :-D Amazingly I started to feel the edge of the bonk coming on when we were riding the bike back to the shop -- apparently I didn't eat enough! The lack of real vegetarian food at the festival had something to do with that. A good lesson for the 145 miles of the Montauk Century in two weeks. Two gels and a PowerBar consumed in record time with a ten minute pause fixed the problem.

Cliff Notes:
- Ride was way better organized, but there were too many crashes
- Tandem riding rules for the 5BBT even if the bike is not in great shape
- I need to eat more even on easy rides
- We had a blast!!!
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Old 05-08-06, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by oboeguy
Cliff Notes:
- Ride was way better organized, but there were too many crashes
- Tandem riding rules for the 5BBT even if the bike is not in great shape
- I need to eat more even on easy rides
- We had a blast!!!
- Yup, I don't remember that many crashes from previous rides.
- Were you riding a Cannondale tandem? That's the only "normal" one I saw, the others being recumbents and what appeared to be half bent and half wedge.
- A handlebar bag full of fruit and cut up granola bars and eating every some every 10-15 mins plus a camelback w/ half gatorade and half water meant no bonk and feeling good all the way through.
- It's a great way to spend a Sunday.
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Old 05-08-06, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by jyossarian
- Yup, I don't remember that many crashes from previous rides.
- Were you riding a Cannondale tandem? That's the only "normal" one I saw, the others being recumbents and what appeared to be half bent and half wedge.
- A handlebar bag full of fruit and cut up granola bars and eating every some every 10-15 mins plus a camelback w/ half gatorade and half water meant no bonk and feeling good all the way through.
- It's a great way to spend a Sunday.
I outfitted the GF's bike with a rack and trunk bag (she has a hybrid), and that made everything easier in terms of food and clothing. We brought a couple PBJs, granola bars, Clif bars, and had room to put our layers in after we got warmed up. The only time I felt kind of bad was ascending the Verrazano...

Me: "Look down there at all the cyclists on that road we came down. It's pretty neat"
Her: "This bike is HEAVY."
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Old 05-08-06, 11:09 AM
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This was not only my first 5BBT -- it was my first group ride of any kind. I had an amazing time. The only negatives were
  • The waiting at the start. I was back at Church & Barclay; we started moving about 8:20 or so, by which time I was thoroughly chilled.
  • The stop/start/walking parts (but with 30k+ riders, what can you do?)
    -- and worst of all
  • The absense of Pizza at the festival. After I ride 40 miles, I want PIZZA dammit. I found an OK place on SI just before the ferry, so all ended well.

As for the positives... wow...
  • Riding up from the Battery past the WTC site and seeing in front of me a virtual sea of cyclists, extending up Church as far as I could see.
  • The diversity of riders and bikes
  • The views of the city
  • Not crashing
  • The sheer amazing joy of going for a ride on a sunny day with 30k+ of my fellow cyclists in an amazing city

The Bike New York people, the EMTs and the NYPD all should be commended big time. I'll be back next year.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by jyossarian
- Yup, I don't remember that many crashes from previous rides.
- Were you riding a Cannondale tandem? That's the only "normal" one I saw, the others being recumbents and what appeared to be half bent and half wedge.
- A handlebar bag full of fruit and cut up granola bars and eating every some every 10-15 mins plus a camelback w/ half gatorade and half water meant no bonk and feeling good all the way through.
- It's a great way to spend a Sunday.
I saw at least one Cdale tandem, maybe two, and a few other brands. A 'bent tandem or two. I also saw a custom frame tandem (talked to the owner -- his stoker was off getting food) that was simply gorgeous. We were riding a somewhat beat-up Raleigh. The saddle for the captain (that would be me) was this squishy gel saddle. I didn't want to carry two saddles in my backpack so I stuck to the squishy gel because at least it looked practically new (compared to the unuseable rear saddle). It ened-up being too wide for me giving me some sore thighs from it. It's all good, though, as the experience of doing this ride on a tandem was really fantastic.

Edit: So what's wrong with this picture? (attached)
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Old 05-08-06, 01:41 PM
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The guy in the red polka dot jersey doesn't have a 5BBT vest on.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:45 PM
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Dude, I remember that polka dot Robobank guy ... we were thinking of challenging him after Astoria park
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Old 05-08-06, 01:50 PM
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My assistant did it. It took him like 6 hours to go 45 miles and he said he had to walk about 10 behind all the cyclists dismounting to walk up all the 'big climbs' (i.e. highway overpass inclines) in the 5 boroughs. But it didn't exactly sound like a bike ride opportunity so much as a massive Bicycle Festival. Which is why I won't go. Fun if you enjoy that sort of thing. He had a good time.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:50 PM
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Compare to this guy... (BTW, nice shoes on that guy, same as my road shoes)
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Old 05-08-06, 01:54 PM
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A lot of people dont have vests, i registered on-site and got a bracelet.
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Old 05-08-06, 02:00 PM
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Me and my gang had a great day. We left Hartford at 4AM to meet others in Stamford and hop the Metro North to Grand Central. 11 of us rode down 5th Av to Washington Sq and hooked a right to meet up with the tour as it started up 6th Av. The climbs up the bridges weren't that bad if you are in any kind of shape, and the marshals were doing a pretty good job keeping the walkers to the extreme edges of the roadway. Anyone who claims they walked 10 out of the 42 miles is obviously exaggerating, or doesn't know how to maneuver through traffic. I was very impressed at how well organized the whole day was, given the 30,000 riders. The worst part of the weekend was the drive back to Boston from Stamford.
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Old 05-08-06, 02:00 PM
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Me and my gang had a great day. We left Hartford at 4AM to meet others in Stamford and hop the Metro North to Grand Central. 11 of us rode down 5th Av to Washington Sq and hooked a right to meet up with the tour as it started up 6th Av. The climbs up the bridges weren't that bad if you are in any kind of shape, and the marshals were doing a pretty good job keeping the walkers to the extreme edges of the roadway. Anyone who claims they walked 10 out of the 42 miles is obviously exaggerating, or doesn't know how to maneuver through traffic. I was very impressed at how well organized the whole day was, given the 30,000 riders. The worst part of the weekend was the drive back to Boston from Stamford.
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Old 05-08-06, 02:00 PM
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We were wondering about the wristbands. That seemed like the logical explanation, day-of registrations.

Edit: Almost forgot, nobody else tried the 1/10th mile virtual race at the Lipton booth?
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Old 05-08-06, 02:04 PM
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Sorry for the double post. Just an added comment- even the security checkpoints didn't slow down the traffic. The only part I didn't like was having to stop at Astoria Park for too long. I understand the logistics of trying to keep the swarm together, but those of us who were riding at a decent pace got way too cooled off. Other than that, it was a great day.
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Old 05-08-06, 02:46 PM
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Speaking of tandems, did anyone see the 6 seat tandem? I was near the guy who built it - took him a year and it weighed 100 lbs (not a bad seat/pound ratio). He was going to pick people up along the way - in the beginning he was by himself. A lot of cool bikes out there, plenty of rusty old Schwinns, some high end stuff but it seemed like the biggest collection were hybrids or low-end mt. bikes. I rode my road bike and switched pedals to my mountain pedals in anticipation of walking. Glad I did and I'm also glad I didn't take the advice to ride a mt. bike, the roads were fine.
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Old 05-08-06, 06:13 PM
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Originally Posted by oboeguy
Compare to this guy... (BTW, nice shoes on that guy, same as my road shoes)
Who, the guy w/ no vest or the guy who's jersey matches his water bottle?

BTW, here's the few pics I took.
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Old 05-08-06, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by jyossarian
Who, the guy w/ no vest or the guy who's jersey matches his water bottle?

BTW, here's the few pics I took.
The guy in the Euskatel Euskadi jersey.
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Old 05-08-06, 06:52 PM
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I'm so jealous of you folks that rode yesterday...glad you all enjoyed it though. I'm definitely gonna make it next year.
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Old 05-08-06, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by oboeguy
The guy in the Euskatel Euskadi jersey.
They're both in team kits and while they're not moving, both are in front of you.
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