NYC Century Bike Tour: 55 miles!

A brief history of the NYC Century and me:

2006: My friend and I biked the 35 mile route. Lots of fun. We stopped at the prospect park rest stop to ride the carousel which TA had rented out for the day; whipped our horses into a frenzy, then biked to glory. We picked up our t-shirts in the park and biked directly downtown for a big brunch with her then-boyfriend. That ride downtown was, I think, my first time really riding in NYC traffic–I had just graduated from college and hadn’t even moved to the city yet. During the TA ride we were buffered by all the other participants, but going down we just went for it all on our own. No bike lanes back then in the wild west of ’06. Terrifying and completely fun.

2007: We planned to ride together again, this year signing up for the 55. Unfortunately, at the last minute my friend had to cancel. I decided to do it alone. It was a beautiful day, but hot. I’d never done such a long ride alone, and I think I forgot to pace myself. or drink. Something like that. My legs felt great, but the wind as we went around the Brooklyn coastline must have sneakily whipped all the sweat off me. By the time I was heading north through Williamsburg and Queens, I had a headache. I sat down under some scaffolding for a while to rest my eyes. At the Astoria rest stop, I really didn’t feel so good. I rested for a while, but, only five miles from the finish, decided to keep going. After Astoria the route took us right across the bridge to Randall’s Island. It was there that I realized I was completely done for. I huddled in the shade with my bike until two ride marshals came along. “I don’t feel good,” I moaned. “You’re doing better than that guy,” they said, pointing to a guy a few bushes down who at just that moment had started spewing in a distinctly gatorade shade of neon yellow. The marshals fed me some kind of salt/sugar cube and told me to get my act together. “Cabs can’t get to Randall’s Island,” they said, “you’ve got to just keep going.” (Is that even true??) So I kept going. The stairs on the bridge nearly killed me, but I made it to Manhattan. Two miles from the finish, I hailed a cab, stuffed my bike in the back, and drove across town to my boyfriend’s parents’ house, where I lay down in bed and vomited for about five hours. He claims that I talked a lot about how “the boat was rocking.” Oy. I was pretty dehydrated. To make a long story short: yuck.

2008: My bike had just been stolen, and I didn’t get a new one in time for the ride. Shoot.

2009: whoooo!! New bike, new blog even, and my boyfriend, Josh, agreed to do the ride with me–his first big group ride. After some hesitation (for some reason he didn’t seem to want to have to nurse me back to health again) I convinced him to do the 55. It was the most beautiful day, especially after Friday and Saturday were so dreary and drizzly.

The route:


The solid orange line is the 55. It was a pretty different route than when I did it in 2007. The path along the bay in S Brooklyn, gone. Instead, an on-the-road route through Marine Park, Canarsie, and Brownsville / East Flatbush. At least, I’m pretty sure. I didn’t get the direction sheet at the start of the ride (they ran out). Wasn’t a problem, but now I’m just relying on memory for which roads we took. I paid pretty close attention out there, though, since I was interested in all those neighborhoods that I don’t know at all.

This google map shows the part of the ride that went through the area I’m least familiar with. All sorts of memorable moments, like the graffiti that said “Fuck NYPD,” the yard full of carefully groomed topiaries, or the little girl who called out, “Is this a marathon?”

This is a bit of a sidenote, but the other day I came across Bitch Cakes for the first time. I read that she was going to be riding the century, so of course I was tickled when I actually saw her, heels and leopard print top and all, somewhere in Williamsburg. Thought I’d see what she’d posted about the ride, and was completely turned off when I saw this:

From there I rode through some very desolate, remote and unattractive sections of Brooklyn – places I had never been and will likely never be again. Places, dare I say, that were not worth photographing.

Not worth photographing? Huh.

Speaking of the marathon girl, I found that kids were our biggest fans. On the corner of Henry and Union, there were the little girls looking out for us, calling, “Turn left! Turn left!” And on Remsen there was the kid who called out of a car, “Go bikers!”

Ok, at long last, photo essay, go!

Here I am, hydrating at Prospect Park. I was kept on a strict regimen of gatorade, water, and granola bars. I guess it worked.


We first saw these guys at the Marine Park stop. Pretty great bike. The dad steers the front wheel from behind, but his son gets to feel like he’s totally in charge. In the photo on the left, note the suspenders (adorable). On the right, note the guy rocking the pink cruiser.



We saw them again on Eastern Parkway, and they were working on figuring out how many 8s went into 100.

I didn’t actually take that many photos of the ride. There was so much starting and stopping (lights, crowds, etc), that when we finally got moving and I saw something worth a picture, I couldn’t bring myself to stop again. As a result, most of my photos are taken at the rest stops. I did take a few photos from the Triborough Bridge, though, since we were stopped while waiting for everyone to carry their bikes up and down the flights of stairs.



(Those stairs, by the way, were a real killer in 2007. I remember just powering through them, and collapsing on the other side.)

TA from-bridge

All in all, lots of fun.

And…we made it! Here I am with Josh, smiling for the camera in Central Park. I got gifted with more water bottles than I know what to do with.


1 Comment

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One response to “NYC Century Bike Tour: 55 miles!

  1. Pingback: bike ms « bikeworm

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