By the time you read this the 5 Boro (it annoys me that it is spelled wrong too) Tour of New York will be completed. If everything goes well I will have ridden 40 plus miles through all five boroughs of New York City. We will ride 40 miles through Central Park, over five iconic bridges including the Verrazano Narrows, and we will even ride on the Cross Bronx Expressway, all with no traffic. The plus is all the riding to and from the hotel and finding my car after the event. Right now none of that has happened. I am up writing this at 5:00 AM on Saturday so I have something to post on Monday morning. I have a feeling that I am not going to want to write Sunday night.
I can’t sleep. I should sleep. I need to drive two and a half hours to get to Manhattan today. I need to find parking, a hotel, and the Bike New York Expo where rider credentials will be picked up. I have to pick up my memorial patch for the Boston victims. I have to meet my friend Matt as well. We will be doing the ride together. When you are in a group ride of 30,000 plus riders, it’s good to have someone there you know. I’m too excited and nervous and intimidated and motivated to sleep. I have never been on a ride like this.
I have wanted to do this ride for two years. The first time I heard about it I wanted to ride but I would have never made the distance. I was too out of shape and had no real idea what 40 miles felt like. My long ride for that season was 25 miles and I barely made that ride. I was just beginning to ride and I was far from serious. Last year I missed the registration period. I still wasn’t that serious about the ride but I was starting to be more serious about riding in general. I had my new Trek bike and I was ready for the season. I had some ups and downs last year, but I found that I really did want to be a cyclist and I really did want to start riding some of these epic rides. The Tour went from something that I wanted to do in theory to a cycling goal for this year. I trained hard over this winter and made sure that I knew the registration process. I knew the Tour would sell out quickly and signed up 15 minutes after the web site went live. A few forms later and I was confirmed as a ride in the 2013 Tour.
After two years everything seemed to be falling into place for me to ride. Obstacles are a part of life, but they all seemed to solve themselves this time. My father in law was supposed to ride with me but he had forgo the trip to have surgery to repair his rotator cuff. Everything worked out and he is recovering nicely. Thankfully a good friend of mine decided he wanted to give the Tour a shot and volunteered to ride with me. Even better we were able to find a hotel room in Manhattan blocks away from the start of the tour. I had multiple equipment failures leading up to the trip, but most turned out to be less catastrophic that what they could have been. I had spokes break, but not the wheel. I had a bottom bracket start to go, but it was the housing and not the full bracket. I had my bike computer and frame pump break during a fall, but that was all that broke. I was okay and so was the bike. Everything was looking good.
Then the Boston Marathon Bombing happened. No one was sure what it meant or what would happen. We still aren’t really sure. There has been heightened security and the finish festival has had access restricted to just riders instead of riders and spectators. There will be no backpacks or large frame packs allowed. I understand what the Tour organizers are thinking and I completely agree with them. They have 30,000 riders and even more spectators to think about. They need to make hard decisions about what they can allow and what they need to do to keep everyone safe. This is creating a challenge for some people as they are used to riding with extra equipment or hydration packs. I like to have all the water and snacks that I need for any ride as well as spare tubes and other tools on me whenever I ride. It will be a challenge to ride with just two water bottles and a small toolset in a seat bag.
The bombing is also creating a challenge for everyone around the riders. I know that my wife and family are slightly worried about my participating in the Tour this year. The footage is still being replayed on the news and this event is the second largest on street athletic event in New York City behind the marathon. Along with the marathon it is the only other event that New York closes streets to any traffic for. We are not world class athletes, though some will be there, but there will be spectators and crowds. I know that there will be a little fear in the air along with excitement tomorrow. Most of us will also be wearing a sticker in memory of the Boston victims. That is one of the things I need to pick up at the Bike New York Expo today.
Along with all of that, I am also feeling the same rush of excitement that any event brings. I have been checking equipment and going over plans for the two days. I have been thinking about the climbs and hoping I have done enough to be ready. I have been obsessing over details so I don’t need to think about any of them once I push off and clip in on Sunday. This will be the biggest ride of the year and I am ready for it, or as ready as I will ever be. By Sunday morning all of these emotions will be at a fever pitch but they will fade as The Tour pushes off and heads north through Manhattan towards Central Park. It’s the anticipation that makes me slightly obsessive-compulsive in the days before the ride. Sunday night I will be in traffic heading back to Connecticut happy and tired, but if everything goes well, full of a sense of accomplishment as the second cycling goal of the season can be checked off.