By Patrick Ivan Palugod
EBC New Jersey Bureau
NEW YORK (Eagle News) – Anxious cyclists refreshed their weather apps constantly during the week leading up to the 42nd Annual TD Bank 5 Boro Bike Tour in hopes of seeing sunshine in the forecast versus the 100% chance of rain predicted. But despite waking up early Sunday morning to the steady rainfall, tens of thousands of cyclists still put on their raincoats and prepared for a slippery ride through New York. There was not much that could deter a bike enthusiast from the opportunity of cycling 40 miles through the city’s five boroughs completely traffic-free.
While a few sought temporary shelter under storefront awnings, the majority of riders packed to the front of the starting line in Manhattan and fully embraced the pouring rain. As the announcer was heard in the distance motivating the first wave of riders and getting them excited to kick off the tour, the sounds of cheers, laughs, bike horns, and bells filled the city streets, drowning out the pitter-pattering of raindrops.
By 7:30 a.m., cyclists were off pedaling north towards the Bronx. From there, riders rode past the historic sights of Astoria Queens, onto the Brooklyn Bridge and through the lower level of the Verrazano Bridge before finishing in Staten Island.
Along the 40-mile route, cyclists were treated to live entertainment in each borough from various local bands, electronic DJ’s, and even cheering squads. There were also multiple stations throughout the course where volunteers and sponsors assisted riders with free snacks, food and beverages, first aid, and a bike repair stand. The services were all greatly appreciated by participants as they too braved the weather for the sake of a fun and festive day of celebration.
Though all good things must come to an end, where participants crossed the finish line and were awarded a finisher’s medal, the celebration continued at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island. The live music and entertainment continued at the main stage while finishers browsed official merchandise tents, lined up for food and drinks at vendor booths featuring some of the best local food, and took multiple photos with the cloud-covered Verrazano Bridge background to show off on social media using the official hashtags #TDFBBT and #TogetherWeRide.
“Despite the rain, the experience was truly one of a kind,” said first-time participant, Joe Sciacca from West Caldwell, New Jersey. “I’ve never experienced an event of this magnitude and I’m extremely fortunate to be able to take part in it. I’ve seen cyclists of every age, race, religion, gender all coming together and creating a memory. The experience really was magical; one of a kind.”
The tour benefits Bike New York’s free educational programs, classes and events. In 2018 alone, over 900 free class sessions were held, covering everything from children learning to ride to advanced certification for bike instructors. About 1,390 bikes were collected, repaired and redistributed through the Recycle-A-Bike program and 500 free bike safety lights were given out to cyclists in all five boroughs.
(Eagle News Service)