By Karen Rubin
Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com
In a first for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour’s 40th anniversary year, friends and family will be able to follow their rider’s progress along the 40 mile route, by virtue of a chip embedded in the bib.
The ride – which caps participation at 32,000 – is the largest noncompetitive bike tour in North America, with riders from every state (Hawaii and Alaska included) and 1300 riders from 43 countries, coming from as far as Australia.
Remarkable to consider that when the first ride was held in 1977, just 250 participated.
The annual event raises money for bike education – 17,000 people a year learn how to ride, the largest free biking education program in the country. Bike New York operates bike education centers, after school programs, summer camps, and this year launched a Women’s Initiative, as well as its first membership program. “Alums” from the bike education program are joining the ride this year as “Student Ambassadors.”
This year, Bill Nye the Science Guy will be riding and will help launch the ride which gets underway in waves, beginning at 7:30 am from downtown Manhattan.
Numerous charities such as Doctors Without Borders, also use the event for fundraising, purchasing registrations which participants then raise money against.
One of the charities is the Lighthouse Guild, a not-for-profit vision and healthcare organization with a long history of addressing the needs of people who are blind or visually impaired, and will have several cyclists who are blind riding tandem bikes including a former triathlete, Charles-Edward, who became blind five years ago.
The bike tour is also a model of sustainability, promoting recycling, water conservation, becoming the largest sporting event to be certified for sustainability by the Council for Responsible Sport 3 years ago and this year, earning gold level.
The ride is designed to be a family friendly tour, not a competition, appealing to all abilities, ages – a pace car keeps the speed down, and keep it safe.
“Diversity is what makes the ride,” says Sam Polcer, who handles communications for Bike New York.
The route has also been improved to unplug some of the bottlenecks of years ago, so there is a nice flow.
And there is such a sense of liberation to take over New York City’s streets.
The ride embraces all five boroughs – and each shows off with street entertainment. In all, there will be some 25 bands along the route, and at rest stops (Clif Bar is sponsoring a DJ and entertainment at the Con Ed rest area) and at the Finish Festival on Staten Island, where, for the first time, all the finishers will receive a commemorative 40th anniversary medal.
As in recent years, the event is preceded by a two-day Bike Expo, when bikers can take advantage of discounts and giveaways by scores of bike, biking gear, and bike tour companies and destinations from the New York State’s Erie Canalway, to the Laurentians in Canada, to Taiwan, and special biking events like the Granfondo Campagnolo Roma, October 6-8, 2017, through the World Association of Cycling Events, along with Granfondo Campagnolo Roma.
Riders can sign up (click here) to have theirr progress posted automatically on their Facebook or Twitter pages, or enter the phone numbers of up to three people to keep them updated via SMS (text), so that folks can know when they start the Tour, reach several rest areas along the route and finish.
Anyone not riding the Tour can follow along with a live broadcast produced by NTD.TV. View it here:
If you want to cheer on the riders or catch any of the entertainment we have planned along the route, check out the Tour’s entertainment page for info. Tag @bikenewyork and use the official event hashtag: #TDFBBT
Bike New York, 475 Riverside Drive, New York, NY, Suite 1300, New York, NY 10115, www.bikenewyork.org.
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