The TD Five Boro Bike Tour is a cycling race with a course that passes through each of New York City’s boroughs: Staten Island to Brooklyn to Queens to the Bronx to Manhattan. On May 1, 2016, the streets will be free of cars, volunteers will man four rest areas and three water stations, and musical performances will take place along the 40-mile route. Approximately 32,000 cyclists participate in the bike tour annually—and this year, Todd and I will be two of them.
My dad and my brother, also racing in May, have both completed the tour before. They also bike more frequently and for longer distances than Todd and I ever have. Our longest ride was last summer: 17 miles. And before 2014, we never cycled at all because of my fear of biking, which had lingered since a bad childhood fall. And yet, in a moment of zeal and idealism, we signed up for the bike tour. Now we have just under three months to prepare, to remind our bodies what it feels like in the saddle.
On Sunday we went out for our first bike ride of the year: 10 miles, one quarter of the distance of the bike tour. The first mile was a breeze—literally. It was all downhill and the wind blew unceasingly into our faces. The next few miles felt good, body warming up, mind focused on the task at hand. Around the halfway point we stopped at the beach to take a short break and, of course, a photo:
By the seventh mile, my thighs ached. I stood in my seat to climb up hills even though my bike was set to the first and easiest gear. I thought of nothing but pedaling, pedaling, pedaling. When I tried to speed up, my feet didn’t listen and kept the same plodding pace. We arrived back home. I stepped off the bike. My legs felt like jelly. I had forgotten how hard biking is when you aren’t going out for regular rides. If that’s how 10 miles felt, how will I make it through 40? My motto: Go as slow as you want. Stop as many times as you need to. Just try your best and enjoy the ride. Wish us luck!