Tour De Brooklyn

Tour De Brooklyn, originally uploaded by stacyrosenstock.

I think this was my second time riding the Tour De Brooklyn – I’d have to check my t-shirts to be sure. Whatever the actual count, the ride has really evolved since previous incarnations. Memories of Tour de Brooklyns past have us gathered near Grand Army Plaza in Prospect Park, and essentially, riding down Eastern Parkway to Coney Island and Seagate and then back up Eastern Parkway to Prospect Park. This year they added a few miles, there were probably twice as many riders, and the route was much more scenic.

When I boarded the F train around 7:15 am there was already one cyclist waiting on the platform at Broadway Lafayette, enroute to the start, and another cyclist inside our car. Somebody actually held the subway door open for me as I boarded my bike!

Then, stop by stop, more and more cyclists boarded the train until it was a train full of, mainly, cyclists. According to my camera, we arrived at precisely 8:00 am. Then we pedaled our way down to Keyspan Stadium and waited for TA to open Registration and Check-In for Pre-registered Riders. I didn’t have any problems with my pre-registration but I did see someone who was told his name wasn’t on the list. Since it was still early I believe volunteers just directed him to the Day-Of Registration tables.

Soon after, 2500 riders rolled off from Keyspan Stadium.
Ironically, somewhere between Coney Island and Prospect Park. I lost my Registered Rider sticker. I was wearing a Tour De Brooklyn 2009 T-Shirt and had the complementary water bottle, so nobody questioned whether or not I was actually registered.

I started off somewhat near the beginning, near a guy carrying a small dog on his back, and next to the Bensonhurst Ambulance that rode shotgun for us through Bensonhurst and Borough Park. I remember hearing one frustrated driver say “forgeddaboutit” in Bensonhurst — well this IS Brooklyn after all — but I was really surprised by the reaction in Borough Park. Plenty of families, primarily women with children lined the sidewalk and just watched as we passed. I could hear lots of angry horns from the rear but one Hassidic man hoped on his hike and pedaled along with us for a few blocks. Those folks who decided to double park didn’t help matters, and that three car fender bender was another obstacle to get around.

I’d never actually been inside Greenwood Cemetery so that was a treat. Isn’t that the highest natural point in Brooklyn? I wasn’t entirely sure what slowed us down on the cemetery hill. Maybe the ride was actually stopped to take in the view. Unfortunately the memory card in my Canon G10 maxed out but I’ll save that for another post. At some point everyone just got back on their bikes and I never actually saw any riders who couldn’t make it up that hill.

Rest Stop at Prospect Park was good and there seemed to be enough food. I was a bit surprised by the number of people glomming a half dozen PB&J sandwiches when volunteers asked people to only take one each. The waiting line for the women’s room wasn’t too long and there was plenty of water to refill bottles.

The ride back to Coney Island went much faster and I managed to hit a speedy 14mph on Surf Avenue, though, according my trusty Polar cyclocomputer my average speed was a mere 7.5 mph. Much to my chagrin, I actually saw my speed dip down to 2.5 several times. Who knew I could ride that slow without falling over? Max speed for the tour was a swift 20 mph on the downhill in Prospect Park

There was also less road rage on the route back to Coney Island. One marshall fiercely put down his bike to stop traffic at Kings Highway, much to the amazement of passing riders, but the chatter on the sidelines seemed a bit more upbeat. We passed an elementary school on Bedford Avenue where children cheered us on. yelling that we could all go faster.. and win? Oh and I also rode alongside a bike cop who used that special NYPD charm whenever motorists acted like they might go over the top.

After the ride some of us just gravitated towards Nathan’s for hot dogs, french fries and soda. It’s not often I indulge in soda so this was my second treat of the day. I’m not sure anyone had ever seen so many bikes on Surf Avenue. I decided to squeeze in a few more miles and pedal my way back to Manhattan along the Ocean Avenue Bike Path, through Prospect Park (again) and over the Manhattan Bridge – all in all logging 35.9 miles for the day.

Looking back, it’s certainly not the distance that gets to you but standing on a sunny 85º street, pedaling at 2.5 mph, or scooting along with one foot on the pedal does take its toll. By the time I got home I was more wiped than I was after the Bloomin’ Metric. Even so, it does give me hope that if I show up early enough I might be able to wrangle a Day-Of Registration for the Tour De Queens.

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