Monday, May 04, 2009

Five Boro Bike Tour -- 05.03.2009

What a great weekend. Daniela and I drove out to Greenfield on Friday (May 1st) for my sister's wedding. I'll post my pictures this week. My new brother-in-law is a great guy and I want to say congratulations again to the new Melnik family. I was also able to see my dad this weekend and play with his 6-week old Golden Retriever puppies.

After being in Greenfield for only 24 hours, we rushed back to Boston on Saturday. I dropped Daniela off and picked up my buddy Dave so we could get to New York for the Five Boro Bike Tour. It's an annual race (the marshals along the route kept reminding us it wasn't a race, but we knew better) through the five boroughs of New York and there were about 30,000 riders this year. Normally the race starts at the southern tip of Manhattan in Battery Park. My friends (Mark, Brucie, Kevin, Dave, Andrew, and Ari) and I joined the tour a mile later to avoid the inevitable bottleneck. We made our way up 6th Ave. to Central Park and then into the Bronx. We crossed the Madison Ave. Bridge and spent only 15 minutes in the Bronx before crossing back over the river at 3rd Ave. We took the FDR south to Queensboro Bridge, and then went north to Astoria Park. At Astoria, they usually hold the racers for 45 minutes or so, so they can close down the next set of highways and roads. By the time we got to Astoria Park I think the waiting period had already ended. We continued south through Queens and Brooklyn. At the southern tip of Brooklyn, we crossed over to Staten Island on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and made our way to the finish line. Then it was another 3 miles to the Staten Island Ferry (a trip back to Manhattan was included in the cost of our registration) and 5 or 6 back to Mark's place. For us, it was a 50-mile trip.

First of all, it rained all day long. It was only a drizzle at 7am, but it was raining by the time we got to Brooklyn at 10:30 or 11. We agreed to meet up at the last rest stop before the VN Bridge, which Dave and I thought was one stop, but everyone else thought was another. Dave and I waited for 15 minutes and assumed someone had an accident. Neither of us had a cell phone (and we didn't know anyone's number), so Dave borrowed another rider's to call his wife Kelly back in Boston. She didn't answer, so he left her a message to call Bruce or Kevin and tell them we weren't waiting any longer (at the same time, those guys called my girlfriend in Boston with the same purpose). At that point we had been standing still in the rain for 15 minutes and had lost all of our body heat. My jaw and right leg wouldn't stop shaking. We continued on and eventually met up with everyone at the finish line.

I saw at least two accidents. An older woman tried to take her bike through an enormous puddle on the highway and her bike slid out from under her. On the VN Bridge, an older looking man was lying on the shoulder with at least 10 bikers and possibly some EMTs looking after him. I was nervous about riding in such a large group because I assumed accidents were common and I don't have health insurance. I worried too much I think. I saw several kids racing who couldn't have been older than 12. I don't know if they finished the race or not, but they were doing pretty well when I passed them. Two accidents out of thousands of racers isn't bad. I would love to do the race again, but hopefully in better weather next time.

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