The TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour travels through the five boroughs of New York City on car-free roads, thanks to the cooperation of City agencies and officials. At 42 miles, the route is doable for cyclists of all levels. The most significant hills are at the bridges. Experienced cyclists can challenge themselves at these climbs, while beginning cyclists and not-quite-in-shape riders can relax and refuel at the rest areas and spend the whole day enjoying the Tour and Festival. Whatever your plan, be sure to follow the directions of Tour marshals as you ride. They will warn of spots where you should slow down or exercise caution.
Riders enter the start lineup from Battery Park, at the southern tip of Manhattan. The ride travels up Church Street and Avenue of the Americas (Sixth Avenue) through the skyscraper canyons of Midtown Manhattan, and then it’s on into Central Park, which is in full bloom this time of year. Continuing north out of the park, the Tour travels through Harlem and then over to the Bronx and back on bridges spanning the Harlem River.
Back in Manhattan, you’ll ride down the FDR Drive, a highway where bicycles aren’t usually allowed. The first rest area is about half a mile down FDR Drive, at 116th Street.
After continuing on FDR Drive a couple more miles, you’ll exit to cross the Queensboro Bridge (aka the “59th Street Bridge”) to borough #3, Queens. The next rest area is in Astoria Park, along the East River with beautiful views of Wards and Randall’s Island and the Manhattan skyline. The route hugs the river and travels through industrial neighborhoods, passing Roosevelt Island. A third rest area is in Queens at the Con Edison Learning Center.
Before you know it, you’ll be crossing the Pulaski Bridge into the venerable neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Soon you’ll reach the fourth rest area at Commodore John Barry Park, adjacent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Your ride continues to downtown Brooklyn, under the Brooklyn Bridge, where you’ll enter the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, miraculously clear of its usual traffic jam on Tour Day. Now you can fly over the Gowanus Canal and along the South Brooklyn waterfront, reaching the shoreline park in Bay Ridge. One more rest area at John Paul Jones/Cannonball Park awaits you.
Leaving the final rest area, you’ll circle round the ramp leading up and over the imposing Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. A final long climb up and long downhill brings you to Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island. Treat yourself to a relaxing break at the Festival–buy lunch, have a massage, check out the vendors and exhibitors, and rest for a while on the grass while you enjoy the live music.
When you’re ready to go, it’s 3 more miles to the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride back to Manhattan. Wave at Lady Liberty as you pass and celebrate your accomplishment: 42 miles in the greatest city in the world!
(If you were lucky enough to have registered in time for the ride, I’d really love to hear about it!)