New York City Century Bike Tour 1997

When my friend, Christian, from the Adventure Cycling trip in Alaska, sent me a brochure about the 8th Annual NYC Century Bicycle Tour, it was just the excuse I needed to make my first visit to the Big Apple. I flew up on Saturday morning, and made it to Christian's in plenty of time to assemble my bike, and to see Les Miserables on Broadway that evening.

Sunday began with breakfast at 4:30 a.m. and then an 11- mile bike ride from Brooklyn to Central Park. The city streets were well lit but it was a little scary crossing the Brooklyn Bridge with its slippery looking wood decking on the pedestrian/bicycle path. The ride through Manhattan, following Christian, was very scary as he rode through red lights and stop signs, slowing only if there were cars coming. Luckily, it was 5:00 a.m. on Sunday morning and there was very little traffic. With all the cars parallel parked and the bike lanes right next to the cars, it was a tense ride. I didn't dare to look at any of the beautiful night time cityscape. I bought postcards to see what I missed.

The roads through Central Park weren't as well lit, and some places were, you guessed it, dark and scary. Well, everything else I had heard about NYC had turned out true, so Central Park at night, with some burnt out street lights...you get the picture. As we neared the starting place in the park, there were hundreds of bicyclists and it felt safe. I guess it was a good idea to have this ride in the early morning hours on Sunday. I cannot imagine 3,000 bicyclists trying to ride the 40, 75 or 100-mile routes through Queens, The Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn, when there are 10 million people on the move. Unlike the 5 Boroughs Ride in NYC, they did not close any streets for this ride.

The first rest stop had nothing to drink and no restrooms, which I thought was unforgivable for a ride in its 8th year, with thousands of riders, and NYC not having much in the way of alternatives, if you know what I mean. The second rest stop made up for it with plenty of donuts, bagels, fruit, drinks, water and real restrooms. Christian and I rode the 40 mile route, which with our trip from his apartment gave us 62 miles of city riding. I think that equals a 100 miles in the country.

I used the subway, walked and took cabs for the rest of my NYC visit because nice bicycles don't stand a chance on Manhattan streets and I don't think they would let me carry mine up the spiral staircase to the crown of the Statue of Liberty. I visited many places I had always wanted to see, and saw two other Broadway shows, during my mini-vacation. I faced some big fears, experienced the thrill of riding in Central Park before daylight, and had a great time!