Monday, May 07, 2012

Bike Adventures: The Five Boro Bike Tour 2012, Part 1

Yesterday was the long awaited Five Boro Bike Tour! Here's how my day went:

Awake! I slept a full 4 hours! I had my coffee & breakfast prepared the night before. I just had to turn on the coffee maker and fire up the griddle to warm up my vegan pancakes & sausages. (Note the Five Boro Bike Tour coffee mug - from last year, and Five Boro Bike Tour water glass - from this year)

breakfast with my Five Boro Bike Tour cups
mmmm breakfast
I curled my hair and put on my make up. I had all my clothes out from the night before, so I got ready pretty quickly. This was my bottom layer (backseamed pantyhose, sheer bloomers & black tube top. That pink thing on my leg is a garter with a clasp that affixes to your skirt to hold it down while you're biking. I got it at the New Amsterdam Bike Show last weekend)

brushing my teefs, almost ready to go
Layer 1
 And this is with the skirt, shoes & bib affixed to the tube top. I also had the gloves on.

Layer 2 - super cute!

I always said that I was saving the beautiful cardigan from my Weight Watchers Success Story photoshoot for a special occasion. I finally had a special occasion. The great thing was it kept me warm on the ride over (it was chilly in the morning), it obscured that awful vest *and* it matched because it's my signature colors. It was really perfect.

ok ready to leave!
I love that sweater so much!

Outfit Details:
  • Backseamed hose from Nordstrom, $10
  • Shoes from Payless (look at the pink peeptoe!), about $25
  • Tube Top from Strawberry, $10
  • Gloves from Target, $15
  • Bloomers from American Apparel, $32
  • Skirt from American Apparel, $55
  • Sweater from WW photoshoot, priceless ;)

I left Greenpoint, headed to lower Manhattan for the starting line. On the way there, I ride a few miles of road I would later visit while on the tour. And on that road, I saw many cars being towed for the bike tour (They put up signs along the route days ago stating that you can't park on Sunday because of the bike tour but some people don't pay attention, I guess. And those people then pay hundreds of dollars and waste hours of their lives to get their cars back. Oopsy!)

so many people got towed!
I thanked the tow truck drivers as I passed. I saw them towing dozens of cars
 This is probably my favorite ride over the Brooklyn Bridge all year. Anyone whose ever been on it as a pedestrian or cyclist will tell you that it's very crowded and very stressful because the bike lane is pretty narrow and it's for cyclists in BOTH directions. Combine that with the thousands of tourists who are always on it and not paying attention to staying in the pedestrian side - they wander into the cyclist side obliviously. It's stressful and annoying and I rarely ride over this bridge because of that. But on Five Boro Bike Tour day, it's early enough that very few people are on the bridge and that's not an issue.

view of The Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge

Look at this! Empty!!

unbelievably emtpy on the Brooklyn Bridge
it was just me and a few lone cyclists - likely all going to the start of the Five Boro Bike Tour

on my way to the start via the Brooklyn Bridge
Yay! Brooklyn Bridge!
I made it to Worth & Church by 7am, propped my bike up against the payphones (the kick stand has been broken for years). One of the marshals came over to me and said "There you are! People were just asking for you!" "They were? Who? I'm here!" He told me other riders were talking about the "woman with the big pink bike" and wondered if I'd be there. I sure was!

As people were asking to take photos of me and my bike, I was trying to check in on Four Square and Twitter (the important stuff) so I could find my friends that were also riding. Then I locked my wheel to my bike and wandered around to take photos.

Hell yeah, I made it!
Me, under a sign. Because I love signs!

Love Me, on Church
One of my favorite recurring graffiti pieces, "Love Me"
 Breakfast table for the VIP section! I took a banana and small orange juice.

breakfast for the VIPs
From there, I wandered up to the starting line in search of Ozzy from Survivor but I didn't see him. I was also looking for the Bike New York peeps because we were supposed to take a group shot with those official cycling jerseys. And I was looking for Janette Sadik-Khan, but I couldn't find any of them either.

looking for Ozzy from Survivor
The starting line
 I did a self portrait with the starting line behind me-

I look great here
I look so much better with the flash
While I was up there, looking for Ozzy, this cyclist told me he reads my blog (I'm always surprised to meet male readers, but I love it!) His name is Peter and he was here from Australia for the tour! How cool is that?! He had a fantastic accent too.

This is Peter, a blog reader from Australia!
G'day Peter - I told you you'd be in the blog! I hope you had a great ride!
After giving up on finding Ozzy, I wandered back into my corral. On my way, the guy on the right in the blue vest spoke to me. He told me that he recently saw me on my pink bike but in (gasp) workout clothes. I told him, disappointingly "I know, when I bike to a run I have to were my running clothes" Then he went on to tell me that my regular outfits cause accidents. I told him "I always joke that I don't know how I haven't caused an accident yet" He went on to tell me "YOU DO! I've seen it! I've biked behind you and when you pass, guys look at you and I've seen a few of them collide" I shouldn't enjoy hearing that, but I do. :)

Starting line on Worth St
corral on Worth St, 1 block from the official starting line
Shortly before the start, they called for the Bike New York team (that's MY team that I fundraised for!) to come to the starting line. No wonder why I couldn't find anyone else and missed the group shot - I was supposed to be UP FRONT! At the actual starting line! Not a block back! I tried to get up there but by then the block between me and the start was jam packed with cyclists and I couldn't reach it. I was supposed to leave with them - with the other fundraisers & Janette - at the very beginning of the pack. I was so disappointed I missed out on that and was kicking myself for misunderstanding my line up instructions :(

And a minute later, right on time, at 7:45, they blew the horn and we slowly started rolling out...

omg about to cross the starting line!
I try to avoid cycling behind kids. as they are wildly unpredictable. I had to walk my bike to the start because they were weaving all over the place.

And we're off!

Borough #1:
I crossed the starting line and we made our way up 6th Ave through Manhattan

how beautiful is this sweater?

6th Ave, West Village of Manhattan

Mikey! Delivery guy in Greenpoint
Oh hey! That's my friend Mikey! My favorite delivery guy from Papacito's! As he passed I yelled "Papacitos wouldn't deliver to me last night!" It was true. i was dying for a vegan burrito but they were having a party for Cinco de Mayo and not delivering. Lucky for me, Felipe picked one up when he finished working.
 We made our way north, passing Macy's Herald Square

Macy's Herald Square
Macy's at 34th St
 and continued north on 6th Ave, past Radio City Music Hall

Radio City - some of my favorite neon in the whole city
I will never get tired of that iconic sign

We reached Central Park at 57th St and were told we could go right or left. I choose left!

entering Central Park
entering Central Park
 Riding north in the park-

a fun little turn
Around this time I remember thinking "Why am I going so slow? What's wrong with my body?!" Then I realized everyone had slowed down. And then it hit me - I'm on Cat Hill!

Cat Hill
Hi kitty!
This woman passed and told me she's a blog reader. I didn't get her name.

she's a blog reader!
hope you had a great ride and see your pic!

spring in Central Park
pretty pink & white flowers in Central Park
By this time I was a little warm and unbuttoned my sweater. But we were moving through at a great clip and I didn't want to stop to take it off.

I don't know why I didn't take off my "Charity" pass...

Passing through Harlem this band was singing "When the saints go marching in" - they were great!

great rendition of "When the Saints go marching in"
Great job!

Here is a hill leading to the bridge that connects Manhattan to our next borough, the Bronx!

my make up still looked pretty good here
 Bridge to the Bronx!

headed to my birthplace, the Bronx!
Madison Ave Bridge? (I think)
Borough #2:
And here we are, in my birthplace, the Bronx!

welcome to the Bronx!
Welcome to the Bronx, yo!

We are not in the Bronx for very long...

Bitch Cakes Fact: the Bronx is where I learned to bike over 30 years ago!
and then we are quickly going over the 3rd Ave Bridge back into Manhattan...

headed back into Manhattan
getting ready for one of my favorite parts...
The FDR!

I love riding my bike on this highway. This is the 4th time now and it's amazing every time because I drove on this parkway more times than I can count. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined I'd be a cyclist at all, let alone biking on this highway!

we enter the FDR in East Harlem
Riding south on the FDR

they've been doing construction forever

I love riding on the FDR!
I caught the digital sign with the notice about the day's events
I've always loved the East River Drive sign above the tunnel. The font is beautiful

People are watching from the overpass
Here's a very short video of us in the tunnel

I had been having problems with my allergies all day and by the time I got out of the tunnel I could barely see out of my right eye. What happens is my eyes tear from everything in the air (I'm allergic to about a dozen things, and my biggest allergy is DUST, which is why I have allergies every single day of my life - because dust is everywhere), and then I get a horrible hazy film over my contact lens and I can hardly see out of the lens. So I pulled over to pop it out and rinse out the lens (with my eyedrops and filthy hands) and pop it back into my eye (without a mirror). It was temporarily better.

I also stopped here to do that because I wanted to get a shot next to this sign. I have a shot by this sign in 2009 and 2010 but I missed the turn off last year.

For the record, I will only address it as the Queensboro or 59th St Bridge. I don't buy into this bullshit renaming of bridges they've been doing lately. Unless of course if they want to rename one after me. Then that would be ok.
As we rode a little further south on the FDR, I took a shot of the 59th St Bridge, which was our next destination!

Hello, 59th St Bridge, I'm coming for YOU next!
that bridge is so beautiful
This is one of my favorite sections of the tour - riding up the exit ramp of the 59th St Bridge, the wrong way, in the car lanes. Obviously this is something you would never have the opportunity to do except for this one magical day and event.

ready for the first BIG hill - up the 59th St Bridge
Are you guys ready for this hill? It's a steep one!
As I was making my way up the hill, I heard someone coming up from behind me singing "If you happen to see the most beautiful girl..." I said "I recognize that voice!" Who should pass me but Marcus!!! Not only was he flying past me on this massive hill but he had the lung capacity to SING! -in key and very well - while he was doing it!! Me? My heart rate was in the RUNNING zone (ie: very high) and I couldn't even take a hand off my handlebar to snap a photo of him because I would have toppled over. Sadly I never caught up to him again and didn't get a picture of him all day. But he looked happy and perfect. I'm sure he had a great ride! xo Marcus!

Here we go! How beautiful is this bridge?

I love you 59th St Bridge!
Around this time, the man in the yellow jacket behind me was next to me and he said something like "I know we're riding in a bike tour but I have to tell you - I saw you at the beginning and was considering it, but now that I've seen your shoulders, I have to ask you to marry me" OMG I could not stop laughing! He went on to tell me that I'm every male cyclist's dream. I'm not even sure what that means, but it was a cute thing to hear. I've had a few marriage proposals from pedestrians while on my bike, but this was the first one from a fellow cyclist. I thought it was hilarious!

He said he loves my shoulders
poor guy has no idea I have a blog and am going to share his proposal story...

That guy proposed to me
me and my future husband
As we continued on the 59th St Bridge, we came around that hairpin turn where the beautiful Silvercup Studio sign is erected. I took a shot of it from the back -

Silvercup Studios - Ive always loved that sign!

and from the front -

Long Island City, I'm coming for you!

and here's a little video I shot right after that

Borough #3:
Welcome to Queens!

somewhere in Long Island City, Queens

great marching band
a sweet high school marching band

I love hand painted No Parking signs
This guy recognized me from another tour and we chatted for a little while

he remembered me from other tours
hola senor!
and this woman told me she recently found my blog and was hoping she'd run into me, she sure did!

she reads my blog!
hello young lady. Im sorry I forgot your name but I hope you had a great ride!
One of the best parts about the Five Boro Bike Tour is that the entire course is closed off to cars. At this point I had been biking harder and faster than I normally would - just because I could. Other than taking off my sweater and rinsing off my contact lens, I hadn't stopped at all since we started.  And I was going at a really fast clip for about 90 minutes already so I decided to stop at the Astoria Park rest stop for a quick snack and some water...

so many bananas!
I never saw so many bananas in my life!
While at the rest stop, some people asked to take photos with me. I spent about 10 minutes taking photos with some fellow cyclists-

the two most adorable guys in Astoria rest stop
these two were SO cute and loved my shoes!
and then I had my second marriage proposal of the day! From this guy!

this guy asked me to marry him
He was one of the volunteers and asked me to marry him. More than once.
Who should I run into at this rest stop but Captain America! You may remember this guy from last year's Tour - he was Iron Man last year.

Captain America & my friend Mikey
Captain America & my friend Mikey in the background - just a coincidence!
Then this handsome young man with gorgeous dark curly hair wanted a photo-

young cutie wanted a photo with me
the young guys love me
And before leaving the rest stop, Captain America & I had to recreate last year's famous shot!

Captain America!
Woo hoo! He's super strong!
Before my friend Mikey left, I asked him to get a photo with me-

Mikey! My favorite delivery guy! (after Felipe of course)
hope you had a great ride, Mikey!
and then I made my way out of Astoria Park, passing under the Triboro Bridge...

the Triboro Bridge
another bridge that was renamed. It will forever be the Triboro, thank you very much
After that we weren't in Queens too much longer...

Yours truly somewhere in Queens
Don't let the clouds fool you - we got lucky and it never rained on us. However it was randomly chilly, sometimes windy and very occasionally warm...

I love those things. I think I can see them from the Pulaski Bridge / Jackson Ave
Last shot of me on my way out of Queens - I love how all the other bicycles are in a V formation behind me-
this is a good one - I love all the cyclists behind me
On the Queens portion of the Pulaski Bridge. Later, Queens!

Next Stop:

No. Sleep. Till....... BROOKLYN!

(Beastie Boys reference. RIP MCA)

(To be continued.)


  1. Wow! What an amazing journey you seem to be having. I wish I could have joined. You are looking amazing and I must say great outfits. I will be looking out for the continuation. Have a great time.

    1. Thanks Kelly- part 2 is better than part 1! It just would have been too long to do it all in one post. I hope to get it done for tomorrow night...

  2. Love the recap, and can't wait to read Part Two! You are absolutely amazing, and have influenced me to continue running and to start blogging. I have seriously channeled your spirit in times of laziness, while searching for an excuse to skip the gym a small part of my brain has said "Sheryl would go for a run." Hope your life continues to be fabulous! - jessmain,

  3. I'm so happy you had a great time! Can't wait to read about the remainder of the tour.

    As a fellow Australian and someone who used to live in Melbourne I know Peter (from his former job), and used to see him riding his bike about sometimes on the weekend whilst I was usually trying to avoid getting stuck in the tram tracks! What a small world! *waves at Peter*.

    And yes our accents rock! :-)

  4. I love your commentary! Can't wait for the rest!

  5. Looks like you had a REALLY great time! I just LOVE your recaps!!!


  6. Have you written about your "dressing for exercise" philosophy? I have never seen anybody else wear heels, pantyhose and a sweater on a bike ride (specifically, not on the way to some place else). Forgive me if you have already explained this!

  7. What a great ride! I would love to do that bike tour someday!

  8. That sweater really made the outfit! Looks like a wonderful time! Living vicariously here :)

  9. I always love your 5 boro re-caps - would absolutely love to come over like Anna did and stomp the route with all of you and my little foldie called Bob (and my camera of course!) :)

    I've been reading a very long time and you still continue to inspire me Sheryl! Keep rockin' on the HK cruiser.


    P.S: LOVE the video in the tunnel! :D

  10. Great to see Captain America was able to take a little break from the whole Avengers thing to go on the bike ride. :D

  11. Thanks including me in the blog--you are an inspiration. all the best, Deb (aka the woman in the pink jacket in Central Park)

  12. Thank you for mentioning me in your recap--you are truly an inspiration. All the best, Deb (the woman in the pink jacket in Central Park)

  13. Great recap!! I think fore me, the best part was the very end: your shout-out to MCA. Made me *sniffle*. "No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn" will forever be my favorite Beastie Boys song. <3

  14. I think you set a record for marriage proposals in one day.

    Loved this entry. It was fun and you can see the happiness in your smile.

    What? No pic of Canadian butt pincher? ;)

  15. AW, you made this girl's day! I could feel the excitement of your ride as I was reading and you looked fab and HAPPY!! Thanks for sharing this ride and your amazing spirit with us...

  16. Have recently returned to Weight Watchers and discovered your blog. I love it! I'm in school right now but when I finish my semester (May 18th, not soon enough!) I am buying a bike. It's been awhile since I've ridden a bike but I can hardly wait to get started. I'm beginning to think a trip to NY for the Five Boro Bike Tour would be a great goal/reward/motivator. I'd be coming from California, do you think it's worth it? Would I ship my bike or do you think I could rent one? It's a bit of a dream but, who knows?

  17. I like reading about your adventures. I really admire that you're not afraid to do things that would scare off most normal people. And to do them in heels, no less.

  18. I so have to put this on my bucket list!! Amazing post!

  19. Everything about you inspires me. Your style is so awesome!! You make me smile b/c everyting about you just exudes positive energy! I love your hair, smile, make up, clothes. You seem so fun and someone who enjoys life!

  20. I love the photos! I do believe I am going to do this sometime in my near future.