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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bike New York - Part 2 - The ride

Part 2 of the Bike New York tour


7:00 AM - Get bikes out of Scott's cousin's apartment ( in typical young man fashion, there was a couple, sleeping on a blowup mattress on the living room floor after a night of partying.  :-)  )

7:30 AM  - major BRAKE problem with my bike - assume something happened during the drive (we pulled a U haul trailer with the bikes).  Front cable will not stay in bracket.  Next - back brake is rubbing REALLY bad.  We adjust back cable - now I have no brakes - I am not joking.   I get the front brake to stick and we are off.  Follow bikes through Greenwich Village to get to Battery Park, which is where all of the bikers are queuing up.  The bikers we are following stop - what appears to be a couple of blocks north of Battery Park - we also stop and call Jack and Sally to see where they are and if it will be possible to meet up.  I am still trying to adjust my brakes - but really figure that there are no downhills until we get to Central Park.  And I figure there will be a maintenance stop towards the beginning of the ride. 
Do you see our cheese wedges stuck in our helmets.

This is the start of the tour.
Another view of the front riders

We get to see the motorcycle motorcade start the tour and wait as the front bikers takes off.  Then instead of queuing up - remember there are 33,000 people on this ride - we hop in about 4 blocks into the ride - which will work out to be SUCH A GREAT IDEA.  I assume most people, like me, have never been on this large of a bike ride (this is the largest amateur bike ride in the US) - hard to describe that many people on the streets.  OBVIOUSLY, unless you are in the front, you are not able to bike very fast for quite a few miles.
Anyway, while still riding slowly up Church Street and then 6th Ave (Avenue of the Americas) -  my brakes gave out - TOTALLY - NO BRAKES with thousands of people around me.  Luckily I was near the sidewalk, sort of, and with much skill (LOL) and hollering "I have NO BRAKES",  I managed to swerve to the side and up on the sidewalk without hitting anyone.  I then put a foot down and slid to a stop.  Two bike Marshall's were there by my side before I could turn around to see my friends, who were following me.  They quickly fixed my brakes, adjusting my back brakes that we had loosened toooooo much and then used a pliers to tighten the front brake bracket.  This maybe took 5 minutes and we were good to go - I can't believe how lucky I was.  I am calling a local bike shop tomorrow - to sign up for bike repair class - I don't ever want that to happen again. 

The bike ride was great and so much fun.  After we traveled up 6th Ave (Avenue of Americas) through Manhattan, we were stopped just before Central park.  They queued up the bikers so that only a manageable amount were allowed in at a time.  We were maybe queued up for 10 minutes and then we hit Central Park, where the flowers were blooming, people were out and about and the the flowering trees were so fragrant.

The tour next travels through Harlem and then over to the Bronx via the Madison Ave Bridge and back on the Third Ave bridge spanning the Harlem River.

Back in Manhattan, we traveled down the FDR Drive, a highway where bicycles aren't usually allowed.

Next up was the Queensboro Bridge into borough #3, Queens.  We stopped at the rest area in Astoria Park, along the East River with beautiful views of the Manhattan skyline.
Tricia, Nikki, Me, Scott and Ken

Back our bikes we traveled through the industrial neighborhoods and then crossed the Pulaski Bridge into Brooklyn, borough #4. 

We traveled through Brooklyn, traveling under the Brooklyn Bridge and then we "entered the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, miraculously clear of its usual traffic jam just for Tour Day. Now you can fly over the Gowanus Canal and along the South Brooklyn waterfront, reaching the shoreline park in Bay Ridge."  NOTE the quotes and underline in the sentence before.  This is directly from the website.  While they were correct there was no "usual traffic jam" - there was a bicycle traffic jam.  Although they had warned bikers that there were delays on the BQE (Brooklyn Queens Expressway) there were really MAJOR delays.  There was road construction going on and while we were riding on the BQE, which is a BIG road, and it was closed to traffic heading in our direction, the exit ramp was narrowed WAY down - to a single car width - so they had to stop bikers on the BQE and get us queued up to exit.  We waited approximately 30 minutes - we would later find out that some people waited more than 2 hours - stuck on the expressway with no where to go.  Needless to say there were lots of unhappy bikers.  We followed the comments on Facebook and Twitter.  

Once we bad it through this bottleneck we were on our way to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge on to Staten Island, borough #5.  

1:45 PM - we crossed the finish line 42 miles later.

Scott (just to the left) Tricia, Ken and Nikki
I would later read that the tour takes just over 3 hours for the rider stream to pass any given point on the course.  Holy cow!

Side note:  (We never did meet up with Jack and Sally - but we did talk to them later, they didn't get back to Manhattan until 7:00 - we got off the ferry around 2:45 - 4 hours different.  They were stuck at the start in the queuing process and didn't cross the start until 9:30 - remember we started a few blocks into the ride and they were some of the unfortunate people that were stuck on the BQE for over 2 hours.  Then by that time of day - the wait for the Staten Island ferry was also really long.)

3:30 PM - back to the hotel, pack up trailer with bikes, hop in and try to find some place on the upper west side to park the van w/trailer so that we can stop to eat and have a celebratory beer.  No such luck! 

4:15 PM - headed out of New York

5:30 PM - back in Rockaway NJ - we stopped for pizza and beer

7:00 PM - back in car - get about 1/2 way through Pennsylvania -

11:00 PM - find hotel, we stayed over night in a small community off of I-80, called Lock Haven - turn on TV - stay up to listen to the President.

12:00 - sleep


4:30 AM - up and on the road . . . again

5:00 PM - 1,872 miles later (plus 58 miles biking and many many miles walking) we arrived back in Madison


I had a great time - would I do it again?  maybe - but probably not -

In keeping with my fascination of doing things involving the number 5 during my 55th year -
I did travel in a group of 5 individuals,
with 5 bikes,
traveling through 5 states, IL, IN, OH, PA, NJ (not counting our starting state of WI or our destination state of NY),
through 5 boroughs of New York 
and biked more than 55 miles (58 to be exact). AND it only took us 4 days.


  1. That sounds like an adventure! Way to go!!! :0)

    I would love to see pictures of your yard! Sounds beautiful! 29 degrees...my goodness that's cold!!! :0)

  2. looks like it was a lot of fun!

  3. Love all the 55's ... and the cheesey mice in your helmets! Loved hearing about your experience, though it sounds kind of loooong with all that waiting!?!?! WOW, can't imagine! Sounds like you had a great experience and got to experience the city in a very unique way. Did you come home with an accent, Linda?!? :)

  4. wow. you are on the MOVE! i can just see you now, screaming in a big bunch of people, trying to get to the sidewalk.... wow. =)
    glad you had so much fun. what an incredible trip!