We woke up early on Sunday morning, the four of us taking turns changing into spandex. We grabbed bagels to eat on the way, checked out of the hotel, and mounted our bikes.
It was 5.45 on Sunday morning and New York City was still mostly dark and quiet. We made our way across to Central Park, flying along with no traffic to stop us. As we approached the starting line, we started seeing more people and the sky started to lighten.
The start for the 75 mile ride was at 6.30am. We set off with a large group of people, but traffic lights quickly broke up the pack. Still, we were never alone. It was amazing to ride through Manhattan so early and not worry about traffic. We headed across town then over the Brooklyn bridge.
The first rest stop was around 15 miles in at Prospect park. We ate some fruit, refilled water bottles, applied sunscreen, then off we went again. The route took us to the waterfront and we flew along the bike path, before ending up on Coney Island. Some people stopped for hot dogs at Nathan’s, but I couldn’t imagine eating a hot dog then biking for 50 more miles, even at the slow pace we were going!
After another rest stop, we headed out the the Rockaways. They’ve rebuilt so much there since Hurricane Sandy hit it in 2012. It was great feeling the ocean breeze and looking around at all the beach houses. It feels so far removed from the city, but really it’s just a bridge away. Next was Queens, by which point we were flagging a little. The stop and go nature of this ride was so far removed from anything we ever do. My hands were sore from braking all the time and I was so grateful for the next stop. The food line was ridiculously long, so we skipped that and filled up our bottles and ate the snacks I brought (I knew there was a reason to stuff all my pockets like a squirrel!). The last part was Astoria, then crossing into Wards Island, then over the FDR bridge and back to Central Park. We were greeted by ice pops, which was so welcome after 7 hours riding in the sun.
All told, we did 90 miles in the city, since we left and returned to the hotel. It was a lot of fun and a unique experience- we rode over so many bridges and through so many neighborhoods that I’d never been through. The route was really well marked, and because there were so many stoplights, stop signs, and bridges, we ended up sticking with the same group of people more or less from one rest stop to the next. The rest stop food was good, but the lines at the third one were so bad we decided to skip it entirely, which was a shame. Also, the ending at Central Park lacked any substantial food. There were ice pops, apples, and KIND bars, all of which I love, but were not enough after such a long ride. I’d never been to an event before that didn’t have some sort of sandwich, burger, etc at the finish line.
All in all, I’m so glad we did it. I’m glad we chose the 75 mile option and not the 100 mile one. I’m glad there were only two hills. I just wish I had applied sunscreen slightly higher on my leg (my shorts rode up and I’m currently sporting a nice burn line across my thigh). Thanks for a great time, NYC!