Yesterday Ben and I did a part of the 23rd Annual NYC Century Bike Tour. Ben’s done this before, but it was my first time. Until he had mentioned it to me in July, I hadn’t even heard of it before. It’s a large (somewhat) organized bike tour of the city. There are various lengths (15 miles, 35 miles, 55 miles, 75 miles, and 100 miles; see map here). If you complete the full century, you’ll see four of the five boroughs of New York City (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, & the Bronx — sorry, Staten Island). There are several rest stops, where food, water, and toilets are available for the riders.
We opted to do most of the 55-miler. Because I live in Astoria and one of the rest stops was less than 3 miles away, it seemed saner to end our ride there, rather than go to Central Park and then go back home again. At 7:10 am, we biked from my place to a meeting point in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, which was just short of 10 miles. I was very nervous and worried about biking on the city streets. I detest traffic and aside from very little cycling on really quiet empty residential streets, I had only cycled on bike paths. Poor Ben had to deal with me whimpering, “I’m so scared” for a good part of the beginning because I was a Nervous Nellie about cars roaring past us, drivers opening doors of parked cars, and imagined dangers.
When we arrived in Prospect Park, there were swarms of cyclists. We got a bit of food and Ben tried to calm me down. I wasn’t having much fun at first. We joined a group of people leaving and headed further south into deep Brooklyn. It wasn’t until we were on the Shore Promenade, I finally relaxed and commenced to enjoy myself. The lanes of the Shore Promenade were roomy. There was a dedicated bike lane (one in each direction) for the cyclists. Another large walkway for the pedestrians. People were milling around basking under the sun. Some were fishing. The view of the Atlantic Ocean was lovely.
Ben and I reminisced the Brooklyn Half Marathon as parts of the ride overlapped with that course. We biked past Nathan’s in Coney Island. Several riders made Nathan’s their own personal pit stop. We went on ahead to the Marine Park rest stop in BK. I loved having this opportunity of seeing new parts of the city and also seeing the city in a different way. After eating lunch, we continued onward to Astoria Park. I love Astoria’s waterfront. The view of Manhattan’s skyline and the soaring arch of the Triborough Bridge thrill me. I was pleased that people got to see how pretty Astoria can be. From there, we went home, so Ben could watch the NY Jets’ game. We cycled a total of 45.8 miles in 5 hours and 22 mins (kept track with RunKeeper). It’s not including the rest breaks we took. We cycled at a very slow pace, partially because we were not in a hurry and wanted a relaxing bike ride and partially because I was nervous about cycling in a crowd of people. Ben will confirm that I’m not always the greatest in a huge crowd, particularly when I feel that I’m losing my personal space. But he did comment that as the ride went along, I relaxed more and started biking with more confidence and was willing to be boxed in more by other cyclists.
By the way, I wanted to mention Peanut Butter & Co‘s most amazing product, Dark Chocolate Dreams, which is their version of a peanut butter Nutella that was provided at the rest stops during the Century Ride. It came in this squeeze pack and it was absolutely perfect for a delicious chocolate snack on the pretzel sticks they provided. I love the mix of peanut butter and Nutella. It’s not quite as rich and decadent as Nutella, but its portability and convenience, as well as great taste, makes it an excellent substitute for trips. I’m a fan.