Today is the first Sunday in May, also known as 5 Boro Bike Tour Day. On this day, the drivers harbor even more negative thoughts about cyclists because 40 miles of New York City roads are closed down so bikers can ride traffic-free in all 5 of the boroughs. The tour starts in lower Manhattan, up through Manhattan, Central Park, Harlem, over the bridge into the Bronx, back down Manhattan, across the bridge to Queens, over the bridge to Brooklyn, across the Verrazano Bridge, into Staten Island. 40 miles and thousands of smiles.
Two years ago, on this day in 2012, I went to Staten Island with my pathfinders and we volunteered. They assigned us to build a booth to distribute Clif bars and we loved it. We loved being creative In our booth design and construction and we loved meeting all the riders at the end of their journey and giving them the food they so desperately craved. And we loved not being on a clock so we could chat with all the riders who wanted to tell someone, anyone, about the journey they had just completed. It was awesome. And I decided to do the tour in 2013.
And I did. In 2013, my bike buddies were training for the gran fondo so they didn’t join me. So I took off solo but in a crowd of 65,000 riders, you can’t truly be by yourself so I made some new friends and at the end of the ride, I met up with my friend and former roommate who was doing the ride for charity too. And we said we would do the rides again in 2014.
We didn’t. I planned to register but then I had a scheduling conflict and I knew I wouldn’t be able to participate this year. So I had to be content being a spectator. And so this morning, I took off for a 2 mile run which ended up being a bike tour observation run. I loved sharing Central Park, my park, with the riders and I remember how I felt last year when exited the park and rode down my street, rode past my apartment knowing I was almost home, yet so far from it, in that I still had a 20 something mile journey ahead of me.
The tour was really one of the most interesting things I’ve done. You’re surrounded by a group of riders, some expert, some amateurs, all of you depending on the people around you to be responsible riders and not slow down or stop suddenly, or weave around. Riding in such close quarters is a little like life – you have a set of rules that you expect people to follow, so you know how to interact with them. And when someone breaks that pattern, you have to be quick to respond to minimize the consequences. And that’s what I saw today as the riders were making a right turn on 135th street, one person didn’t anticipate the sharpness of the turn and collided in another rider. The second rider had good reflexes so he saw what was happening almost immediately and put his hand out and grabbed the first bike. The first rider fell, but he didn’t get seriously hurt. Awareness of the situation and good reflexes.
Those are lessons for me, for all of us, for life. If something happens, you need to be aware of what is going on and react quickly to avoid major damage. As runners, and athletes, and hardcore people, we tend to think we need to suffer through pain but sometimes if we are aware of the small changes and react quickly, we can keep the problem minor.
That’s my lesson for today and I am sharing with you.
What about you? What did you learn today?