I did my first NYC Century on Sunday! It was a perfect day for a longish ride and a fine opportunity for Monty and me to flex our muscles. I’m happy to report that we both did great.
The 55 mile option seemed like the best choice for me: challenging, but achievable. It was a good decision. My goal for next year is to be ready for the full 100.
I left home at 6:30 for our 7 am start from Central Park. By the time I arrived, so had the sun.
I spotted several Bromptoneers I know from NYCeWheels‘ Saturday rides, including Mr. NYCe himself, shop boss Peter Yuskauskas. He invited me to ride with them, which made the day much more enjoyable and kept me on track. There were cue sheets, and Transportation Alternatives volunteers had painted guiding arrows on the streets, but I am directionally challenged and needed all the help I could get.
Look at all these Bromptons! The gent on the left is Peter’s dad Gerry, a lovely guy and experienced cyclist. (It’s in the blood.)
Monty and I were raring to go.
We sailed across town and down Riverside Drive. I hit several red lights and lost the NYCeWheels group, but found my way to the Brooklyn Bridge. Riding over this historic structure was a thrill! I’ve done it once before, on a clunky 3-speed cruiser; now that I know how well Monty can handle it, I’ll be spending more weekends exploring Brooklyn.
After a brief detour (did I mention that I’m directionally challenged?) we arrived at Prospect Park, site of the tour’s first rest stop.
Here I learned the day’s most important lesson: A folded Brompton fits neatly, if snugly, inside a port-a-potty.
If you want to fit yourself in there too, it helps to be limber. Onlookers were impressed, I think. They were definitely amused.
I found the Bromptoneers again, and we set off for Brooklyn’s Shore Parkway. No photos of the glorious view, but I did snap these fellas showing off their folders – and their sartorial splendor.
That’s Peter on the right, Newton in the middle and, on the left, Abel with a bike of his own design (on which more anon). Note: Friend and bike guru Saul tells me this is a Pacific Cycle CarryMe. Abel’s enhancements appear to be custom detailing, plus training/handholding for his fitness clients.
We stopped at Coney Island, where several of the group refueled with hot dogs. I ate an energy bar.
Newton’s tire wasn’t holding pressure. As soon as we reached the Marine Park rest area, Peter demonstrated how to replace a tube in the field. He made it look easy.
The break gave me a chance to look over Abel’s intriguing bike. At just 17 pounds, it can go anywhere. I took a brief spin; it’s fun to ride, although the light weight and little wheels feel odd. (So did the Brompton when I first tried it.) Abel did 55 miles on this contraption, wearing ankle weights! Astonishing.
We had ridden around 30 miles. Half the Brompton gang split off to complete the full 100, while the rest of us continued with our 55. The route seemed steeper and less well-paved from this point, but that may reflect my own tiring muscles.
One of the pleasures of the tour was riding along quiet residential streets. The crowd was small enough, and the pace leisurely enough, to get a fleeting sense of each neighborhood. Passing motorists stopped to banter; kids waved and cheered. A man told me my seat needed to be higher. I glanced at my leg, almost fully extended, and assured him that my seat height was fine, thank you.
The Pulaski Bridge took us from Brooklyn to Queens, and on to Astoria Park, our last rest stop. Another rider looked Monty over and said it must be exhausting to pedal so far on such tiny wheels. He’d ridden folders, and he knew. Had he tried a Brompton? No. Well, then. Gerry handed him a NYCeWheels card and we encouraged him to stop by the shop for a test ride. Brompton evangelism, friends! It’s a calling.
Our penultimate bridge loomed. To get on the Triborough, bikes had to be carried up several flights of stairs. I tried not to look smug as Monty and I skipped past people lugging full-size wheels.
The lift-and-carry routine was repeated on the other side. A brief ride on the beautiful Randall’s Island bike path, a jaunt over the 103rd St. Bridge, and we were back in Central Park.
I inhaled a strawberry-lemonade ice pop, claimed my finisher’s tee shirt and water bottle, bid farewell to my companions and cycled the last few miles home, stopping for a large iced coffee on the way. What a terrific day!
- Sixty miles was a good stretch for me.
- Long rides are best done with company, especially if navigation is required.
- I was happier without the padded briefs that fit under my cycling shorts. (TMI? Sorry.)
- Good nutrition, exercise, hydration and sleep are essential. My prep paid off.
- The next day my legs felt fine, but my hand strength was nil. I need to relax my grip.
- Six gears are most welcome when climbing hills.
- NYC has more than one borough. There’s a lot to see in Brooklyn and Queens.
- That port-a-potty thing. Another reason to ride with friends!