Of all of my harebrained ideas (and I’ve had a lot), this had to be the most ridiculous.
November 2018: Clearly I was feeling invincible after completing the New York City Marathon when I registered for the 40-mile 5 Boro Bike Tour. Besides, one of my run buddies encouraged me to sign up because she was doing it too. So it seemed like a great idea, except fast forward to the week before the tour.
Eight Days to the Tour: Who on earth am I supposed to be riding with? I ask around. No one is doing this thing. The forecast is calling for rain, rain and more rain and I have not trained — at all. Hold up, the homey Shirel is doing it. Maybe she knows a novice that I can hang with … wait, she said I can ride with her. So I take dusty and cobwebbed KITT out for leisurely 6 mile ride to make sure I still know how to do this thing.
Six Days to the Tour: My butt is still hurting from my six mile ride. Yeah, I’m not doing a 40 mile bike tour. But there is a video of the medal being made. It’s so pretty. I mean, it would be the second time that I signed up and didn’t go. The rain would wash the dust out of the crevices of my bike. Plus, it’s days away and the forecast is likely to change.
Four Days to the Tour: The mystery is solved. My original Bike Tour partner texts me. She can no longer do the Tour. I was so excited because I was beginning to think the whole thing was a figment of my imagination. Rain is still in the forecast. I’m not doing it. I’m many things but I’m not crazy.
Three Days to the Tour: Who am I kidding? I’m loonier than a Looney Toon. I need padded shorts for my tender booty, stat. I order a cute biking jersey too. Got to look the part.
Two Days to the Tour: I pick up my packet at the expo.
One Day to the Tour: I do a 12-mile training run for the upcoming Brooklyn Half because priorities. I get my bike tuned up. My baboon butt shorts arrive but no jersey. I figured it would arrive later in the day. Now it’s 8:00 p.m. and my bike jerey didn’t come and I need a rain poncho. I make a run to Dicks Sporting Goods. I walk in the door. There are rain ponchos and biking jerseys at the door. I grab one of each.
I get up at 3:00 a.m. I’m wearing my new short-sleeved fushia and black jersey and shorts. I look like a biker. I throw on a light jacket. The shorts are short. I throw a pair of running capris in with my post-tour change of clothes and I’m off to Staten Island. It’s pouring rain. I meet up with Shirel and the NYPD Cycling Team. She looks at me and says, “you’re wearing shorts?” I pull my capris on over my shorts because it really is cold and don my poncho. We bike to the ferry. It’s dark and we look like Elliot and them taking E.T. to safety. I no longer look like a biker.
We are on the ferry. My feet are soaking and my butt is already sore. I chafed during my 12-miler and it is literally not sitting well on the bike. Then one of the guys makes a remark about my Yankees poncho. I had no idea I had the Yankees logo emblazoned on my chest. I look crazy.
We bike from the ferry to the start. We have an hour to wait before the event starts and we are cold and wet. We grab some tea at Dunkin Donuts and decide to reward ourselves with hot chocolate when we finish.
The Tour begins and it’s cool seeing all of the different bikes: road bikes, hybrids, tandems, and ellipticals. Yes, elliptical bikes. People are swooshing around at the speed of light. I bet their booties weren’t hurting.
After mile three, we hit Central Park. This is where things got a little dicey because the paths were narrow and bikes were weaving in and out. I lost Shirel but there was no safe place to stop to look for each other. So we kept going separately. I heard some one yell “watch out” and then heard someone go down. I kept focused and finally learned how to use my gears by the time I exited the park. Look at me! I stopped briefly at the mile 9 water station in the Bronx, mostly so I could look around to see if I saw Shirel. Then I continued to the first rest stop on the FDR at mile 11. As soon as I pulled in I saw Shirel waiting for me, like an angel. We continued on to Queens via the Queensboro Bridge and rode to the mile 20 rest stop, where I had the best banana I have ever had. NYRR could learn a thing or two.
We left mile 20 cold and wet. My fingers were prune-like and my butt was crying out for Excedrin. I started having some real trouble at around mile 31-ish. I think we were on the BQE or Gowanus Expressway. Shirel was ahead of me and I was struggling. There were a couple of hills that snatched my soul and I learned that there is a wall in cycling. I looked so bad that other riders were yelling, “you’ve got this” as they passed me. One guy told me I’d have more fun if I raised my seat. I wanted to trip him. I saw the sag buses to the left of me but I kept moving. At some point I caught up to Shirel, who was chilling off to the side waiting for me. I had to stop at the last water stop at mile 33. I needed to mentally prepare for the upcoming Verrazano Bridge and swig some Gatorade.
The Verrazano climb was rough but I had a better time of it than the BQE, probably because we were covered on the lower level and there was finally some reprieve from the never-ending rain. After flying down the other side of the bridge I was greeted by the finish line at Fort Wadsworth. What a sight for sore eyes. A volunteer placed my medal over my helmet onto to my graceful and grateful neck. But wait, it wasn’t really over because we had to get out of there. We had to cross a field that had turned into a giant mud pit and then bike back to our cars. I was so happy to warm up and change into dry clothing. We were both shivering while in line waiting to order our hot chocolate but we were also smiling.
Despite my utter disrespect for the event by not training, I am really pleased with how things went. I stuck to my guns and did not push KITT at any point on the course, even when I wanted to throw her off the side of the expressway. Shout out to the NYPD Cycling Team for allowing me to tag along and a super special thank you to Shirel. She kept me laughing and riding when I wanted to pack it in and go home. Now that I’ve I had time to reflect, I look forward to doing the Tour again when I’m properly trained.