Sooner or later, it all gets real.

In two weeks, I’m doing my first  5 Boro Bike Tour. It recently occurred to me that the daily riding I do – six miles at a time on a flat, well-paved, protected path – hasn’t really prepared me for 40 miles of varied terrain in a huge crowd of other cyclists. Besides, I don’t have a thing to wear. (This is not girly vanity; I cycle in street clothes, which may not be appropriate for a long ride.) Nothing like an imminent challenge to galvanize one into action. Here’s my prep progress so far.

Get out more. Last Sunday I rode to the George Washington Bridge and climbed (okay, trudged) the steep ascent beyond it, then back – about 12 miles total with just a 5-minute rest. Not bad at all.

This weekend I joined another of the free tours hosted by Jack of NYCeWheels, the excellent store where I got Maggie. Our route took us from the far East 80s through the northern end of Central Park, to Riverside Park, which we entered at 106th St., a ramp I hadn’t used before.

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Then up the Hudson River path to Fairway, where we stopped for a photo op; across 125th, down Morningside Ave. to 112th, across to the East River path, and back to the shop.  Including the ride to and from home: 15+ miles, with traffic, conversation and mild climbing. Group riding is fun! I’ve been so focused on commuting that I haven’t explored all the recreational opportunities available.

Sunday morning I rode to Soho for exercise class, returning via 8th Ave. for a concentrated dose of dense traffic, potholed streets, clueless pedestrians and reckless drivers. Didn’t kill me. Made me stronger.

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Fine-tune my fit.  I’ve been experiencing pain and numbness in my right hand, despite my nifty Ergon handlebar grips. Carpal tunnel? Arthritis? Or could it be…  I took a hard look at Maggie’s saddle, and realized the nose was angled downward, pitching me forward and probably putting too much weight on my hands. So when I got to NYCeWheels on Saturday, the guys helped me level it. Big improvement!

Then, as we were riding, I told Jack how much that little adjustment had helped. He looked me over and suggested pulling the handlebars back a bit as well. We did that when we returned to the shop. HUGE improvement! I rode home with a big grin. Not only do my hands feel better, I feel more upright and hence more in control.

Suit up. Time to buy my first pair of padded shorts. I tried on several styles and brands, all of which made me feel (and look) like an overstuffed sausage. My sister suggested these Sheila Moon knickers, but they’re sold out everywhere. Some Internet sleuthing turned up these nice-looking capris from Club Ride Apparel. Eureka! The fit is snug but comfortable. They have no built-in chamois; instead, Club Ride makes a padded brief designed to wear underneath. The brief was too tight in a size small, so I have a medium on the way to try.  The whole get-up will get a test ride next weekend.

Accessorize. The long-rumored magnetic water bottle from Brompton still hasn’t materialized, and of course I’m unwilling to drill holes in Maggie’s frame for a cage, but I’d like a water source close to hand. Blessings upon My Orange Brompton for alerting me to this little marvel: the Monkii clip and cage. Easy to install, doesn’t interfere with Maggie’s fold, quite Brompton-worthy.

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My personal shopper thinks I also need a pair of Tifosi Dolomite sunglasses. Stay tuned.

Eat right and exercise. I’m pretty good on both counts, but some extra discipline can’t hurt. More green veg and lean protein, fewer simple carbs, more frequent Bar Method classes.

For additional guidance, I am indebted to the lovely proprietress of  The Brompton Diaries for sharing her experiences with last year’s 5 Boro, and with Bromptoneering in general. Thank you, Brommie!

I’m not quite ready to take on the 5 Boro, but I’m confident that I will be.

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About Unfolded NYC

I live in Manhattan with a husband, two cats and a Brompton M6L named Monty. Contact me: unfoldednyc at gmail dot com (you know what to do)
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