The 5 Boro Bike Ride and American Museum of Natural History 2010

The BikeNewYork Website

For the past 30 years or so, there has been a 5 Boro Bike Ride on the first Sunday in May, that takes a route through the 5 boroughs of New York City. It's called the "5 Boro Bike Ride". It's a 40 or so mile route that takes you up, over and through some of the coolest places in NYC. 2010 marked our return to participating in the 5 Boro Bike Ride in New York City. Bill and I have done previous "5 Boros", but the last one we did was back in 2003 or 2004.

It's been a while and a couple of things have changed since then, namely I've gotten fat, and Bill has lost weight; funny how that worked out!

All images and video (taken by me) were taken with two Pentax cameras a Pentax K-7 and a Pentax Optio W80.

Friday - Arrival in N.Y.C.

We decided to try something different this year, and stay on Staten Island so we could be near the festivities at the end of the ride. We'd get into Staten Island on Friday and spend a day in the city visiting the American Museum of Natural History on Saturday, and do the 5 Boro Ride on Sunday. Tracey, one of my friends, heard about our return plan and she said she'd like to do it too. No problem, we'd take her bike up to New York and she'd come and stay with us in the B&B we found.

We found a place called the "Harbor House". The image below was taken from their website as I forgot to take a picture of the outside when we got there.

The price was right and we managed to get into the "Liberty Suite" on the second floor. The Harbor House turned out to be a mixed review.

The Good.

The Bad.

Would I stay there again? was a GREAT location and maybe the other rooms would have been better. The price was right and it was awesome to end the ride in the B&B we stayed at. It would be a tough call to find something as convenient. I will have to think about it.

Here are some images from inside and around The Harbor House.

The Alice Austen House

Alice Austen House walkway with the Verrazano Bridge.

Some flowers in the Park across the street.

Another shot of the flowers and Bridge.

The sitting room where Tracey slept.

Outside our window as the sun was setting.

Across the Harbor in the late afternoon.

Saturday - The American Museum of Natural History.

Ah, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). A longtime favorite growing up. I can't remember how many times I have been in this Museum. Bill and Tracey had never been, so it was a reunion for me, and a first time for them.

Since we were staying on Staten Island, it was a simple thing to park the car in the commuter parking lot for the Ferry, take the Ferry over to Manhattan, and then hop on the Subway to visit the Museum.

The Ferry Terminal on Staten Island.

The Ferry - Coming and Going.

Our escort across the Harbor

And another one on the other side!

A Great video as they come along side of us.

A Ferry and Liberty

The Statue of Liberty

Site of the Trade Towers. Lots of Building going on.

After a trip up the Subway, which was VERY clean compared to what I remember, we arrive near 79th street and walk to the Museum. I was a long time resident of New York, but growing up, my trips to the city were in the Fall and Winter. The memories of the city I have, are of dreary rain soaked streets with the smell of chestnuts and pretzels wafting through the cold smog filled air. I've never been to the city in the Spring/Summer and just walked around. It was pretty neat!

Outside the Museum's Gardens

The front Entrance to the Museum and Teddy Roosevelt Statue.

We meet Tracey in front of the Museum. She flew into NY for the ride and to visit her family.

Inside the lobby of the Museum, Bill and Tracey can't help but marvel at what is about to be seen!

I like what Teddy has to say. These are some of his quotes!

My Handsome Husband getting ready to absorb facts and information!

Some African Game.

A Lion

Some Caribou (I think).

Some crafts from the Pacific Northwest

Ghosts of Past and Present

A Mosquito



A squid

A Blue Whale


Tuna and Dolphins



Ancient Elephants



More Dinos

As it was getting close to 4:00pm, we decided that it was time to head back to Staten Island since we had some bicycle prep to do and we were getting tired of walking around. Well ..I was getting tired walking around with all the camera equipment and all. The AMNH is definitely going to get another visit from us in the coming years! Too much to see in one day!

Sunday - The 5 Boro Bike Ride

After spending Saturday in the city and walking around the museum I was wondering if I "over-did" it. We woke up around 4:00am and headed out to the Ferry. We caught the 6:00am Ferry and settled in for the ride over.

Tracey is talking to a guy we met - Al was his name

Here is a video of that morning on the Ferry.

Here I walk the Bike off the Ferry.

Here we are working our way to the start line.

Finally at the Start line, we settle in, waiting for the ride to start.

As the line starts filling up, I think Tracey is finally getting a handle on how many bikes make up 30,000+

The scope of the ride is hard to explain to people.

Here is a video of the scope of the ride

As we stood there waiting for the ride to start, we breathed a sigh of relief that all of the logistics to get us to this spot were complete. However, there were a few things that I didn't count on and I started to think about.

If everything went according to plan, we'd get food at the first or second rest stop. Drink there too. Go to the bathroom - whatever. How difficult could 43 miles really be?

The ride starts, everything looks good. I start to weave and go with the flow.

I manage to get pretty far "Upstream" and I get off the bike and watch Bill go by.

I almost take out a pedestrian who wants to play Frogger near Radio City Music Hall

Things started to get harder because we kept starting and stopping. After a LONG hike after we entered Central Park. There were only a few places where we actually rode.

The starting and stopping and walking were really causing me to start to get frustrated and tired. Bill came up behind me and you can see in his face the concentration and effort it was taking to ride in the congestion in Central Park.

After Central Park, we have one of the first climbs of the day. The bridge over to the Bronx - The Madison Avenue Bridge. No Big deal - but I realize that I am running out of energy too soon in the ride. Ugh. Oh. Things are going to get worse.

Then the Third Avenue Bridge and I try and follow Tracey up it.

I'm toasted after the Third Avenue Bridge and then we dip down onto the FDR Drive.

I'm dying about now and I realize that I am not getting what I need and I am bonking on the FDR. No water. Only a Croissant. Things are not looking good. I try and draft behind a guy on the FDR to get a little bit of a break.

Up onto the Mountain that is the Queensboro Bridge, I know that I am in serious trouble if I don't get more food and water into me.

I catch up to Tracey, Bill and Al after the Queensboro Bridge and they are still pretty strong. I fall behind Tracey as she pulls away.

When we get to the rest stop under the Triborough Bridge in Astoria Park, I realize that I am in deep doo doo. I haven't gotten the food or water that I need. I am bonking and because the stop and go nature of the riders we are surrounded by, I realize that if Bill and Tracey stay with me, they are going to partake in my agony. I urge them to continue without me. I know that if I can go slower I might be able to finish the ride without them suffering with me. Besides, if they finish ahead of me, then they will be able to get the car to fetch me off of some NYC sidewalk.

As they leave me - at my insistence - I press on and try and take a video here and there of my ordeal. I am crashing hard and my legs are cramping badly. I rest every couple of miles on the side of the road.

As I am trying to get to the Ft. Hamilton rest stop, I am starting to seriously think I will not make the finish line. A rest stop appears that wasn't there the last time I rode the 5 Boro and I stumble into the rest area ..trying to find something to drink and eat. The Music is "C&C Music Factory - Everybody Dance Now" and all I want to do is die!

The BQE - The Brooklyn Queens Expressway. The Hell-avated highway. The scorched cemented Hades of New York. Here is where I start to have serious trouble moving my legs. I am hot. Out of Water. Running out of time as the kids on their bikes are starting to catch me. I realize that the Grim reaper - The Sag wagon is not far behind me.

I walk most of the last 1/3 of the BQE. I eat my last banana. I crush the last applesauce I have. My feet, from walking on cement with Mt. Bike shoes are hurting and my calves are burning. I see that there is a slight downhill at the end of the BQE and I get on my bike. To my horror, the walking I have just done has turned off the muscles that control the "pedaling" of the bicycle. As I accelerate down the ramp, off the BQE, I realize that I am in serious trouble. I am seeing through a paper towel tube. Knowing I am in a serious state of physical danger, I see a police car guarding the off ramp with an EMT worker nearby. I pull over, stumble off the bike and sit on the hot curb near a tree. There is a log there, and another rider. I manage to take my helmet off and stumble to the shade. I put my head between my knees. There is a ride official named "Dan", and he comes over to me. He realizes that I am having serious issues. I fight getting emotional. He sees my legs cramping as they send waves of pain up through my body. He gives me another Banana and some water. The last rest stop is only 2 miles away, but my ride is finished as far as I am concerned. Dan asks me "Are you done? Can you go on?" to which I reply "I am finished, I can't go on".

Dan leans over and says there is no shame in not finishing the ride. He says that the SAG wagon will be along shortly and that the bus will take me, and a bike truck will take my bike. Once separated, me and my bike will be united over in Staten Island at the post-ride party-festival. All I have to do is wait and everything will be ok. Hearing those words, hearing the assurance that things will be taken care of, I roll onto my back and close my eyes. I hear the sounds of bicycles whizzing by over on the route. I know that with each passing minute, the BQE is going to be opened again. If too much time passes, I will not have the option of continuing the ride. I think about the fact, that I will DNF. DNF - as in Did Not Finish. I can't believe that I will DNF the 5 Boro Bike Ride. It's a humiliating thought, but a thought I am starting to embrace. I look out at the route again. I see kids on their little bikes go whizzing by. I see folks still fresh. I feel the humiliation overpowering me.

Dan gets a call over the radio about a crash up ahead and he is going to leave me in the care of the EMT. Dan disappears as the EMT approaches me. In a quiet voice, the EMT says "Do you need an Ambulance? Why don't you ask me for an ambulance? You'll be in the Hospital before you know it, with an IV dripping away and you'll feel great in no time." I fantacize about a cool Hospital bed. The EMT touches my forehead and says it feels cold. He starts taking down my information. He starts asking me questions. His questions? They are questions that I normally forget but are now seen as proof that I need an ambulance. Let me explain. I'm not good with dates and numbers. The EMT asks me, "How old are you?". I pause to answer. Being born in December, I always take a second or two to think about what month it is, and what my age is right now. The math involved takes more than the average amount of time for a "normal" person, and I get a sideways glance when I take a second too long. "When is your anniversary?" he asks. Another tough question. My anniversary is close to my husband's birthday and the way I remember the date is to associate my anniversary and subtract three days. I take a second or two to link that memory to the date of his birth. Again, I'm too slow with my answers. With my two answers slightly slower than what the EMT was expecting, I feel doomed to get an Ambulance ride. Somehow I manage to convince the EMT that I am just stupid and all I need is a few minutes and I will be fine.

I go back to the tree and shade and lay down again. I close my eyes. A voice comes from the shade and it's a guy who has been lying there for a while. He's trying to comfort me in that there is no shame in quitting. He is trying to justify both our DNFs as honorable and acceptable. I turn back to the route and see more children with their flower covered bikes whiz by and realize that - yes - there is shame in DNFing the 5 Boro Bike Ride, but there is nothing I can do. I am toast.

Weak, I gather my belongings and put them in a pile near the road behind the Police car. I am abandoning the ride. I have made up my mind regardless of how humiliating it is. I will just have to deal with the situation and facts that I screwed up. I will have to tell everyone that I failed at the 5 Boro Bike Ride of 2010. I settle into my humiliation and sit down again, not too far from the back of the Police car.

Then, the Police officer gets out of his car and comes walking up to me. I notice he's wearing motorcycle boots. He walks up to me and says "Ya know, it's not too far ahead, the rest stop, it's only 2 miles up the road. Once you get there you can get water and relax." He continues "If you give up, I am going to have to take you off the route since they are opening up the BQE. Cars are starting to use the roads again." He stands there and he gives me a look in my eyes. He pauses. I wonder if there is something I am supposed to say back to him. There is a moment of silence. I see his handsome jawline. His voice, so reassuring. I look down at his boots. The Police officer starts to get back into his Police car. I call out "What kind of Bike do you ride?" He calls back and says "Harley Davidson, baby...Harley Davidson". I laugh. He says he wants to get a dirt bike soon. I say that I have a KLX back home. He laughs and says "Too expensive for me!" He chuckles and returns to his airconditioned car.

I don't know what happened then. His boots. His smile. His confidence. I don't know if the fact that a Harley rider was tougher than me or had more confidence or whatever. Something snapped and I decided to get on my bike and go for it. I turned to look at the guy under the tree and he was gone. The EMT saw I was getting my gear together and that I was getting on the bike again. I wanted to do it fast so that he couldn't stop me. On the bike, knowing I had a destiny, I was off again. I was going to finish this ride - no matter what.

I worked my way to the final rest stop at FT. Hamilton.

Bill and Tracey had called several times to ask how I was doing, but I didn't give them much details. They had told me that the food and water at Ft. Hamilton were almost gone and that I should hurry. When I got to Ft. Hamilton Bill and Tracey were long gone. I braced for not getting anything in preparation for my final push over to Ft. Wadsworth. Somehow, there was plenty of water when I got there. People were walking around and giving out bottles of water. They had even opened a fire hydrant. I was tempted to soak myself in the coolness, but I still had the last kick in the teeth - The Verrazano Bridge - to cross.

I was tempted at the fire hydrant

As I was leaving the Ft. Hamilton rest stop, the last hurdle loomed large.

The climb up the Verrazano was horrible. I crept up to the middle of the bridge. I knew that once I got to the top, the crest, then whatever energy I had would have to be used to control my descent. I knew I wasn't thinking clearly. I knew that if I had to react quickly I would crash. All I could do was hope that my legs, brain and desire would carry me to the end of the ride.

The last descent.

When I got to Ft. Wadsworth, all I could do was find a shade tree and collapse. I saw a Cannondale tent to my left and I passed out when I got there. I lay in the cool shade for an hour. I was given water and a banana by one of the Cannondale Mechanics - Troy. When I metabolized enough energy, I called Bill and Tracey. They said that they couldn't come and pick me up. The roads were still closed. When Bill said that it was all downhill from Ft. Wadsworth to the Harbor House, I mustered the last of the energy I could, found the exit from the festival and rolled it to the finish at Harbor House.

I made it.


What went wrong? Why did a 40 something mile ride almost turn into a ride to the Hospital? A few things for sure, but my general fitness was not solely to blame.

Here is the Official Video they posted about the 2010 Ride!