Bike the Boros: Staten Island
First ride event of the 2016 season
April 17, 2016
The primary motivating cycling goal for this year was for me to ride in the 5 Boro Bike Tour on May 1. The 5 Boro is a 40 mile ride that winds through all five boroughs of New York City. That was going to be my kickoff event for the cycling season. Unfortunately, I missed registration. I was a bit bummed, but there was still the opportunity to volunteer for the ride which meant I would still get some mileage in.
A couple of weeks ago, however, I got an email about the approaching registration deadline for the Bike the Boros: Staten Island ride, with 35 and 50 mile routes around Staten Island. It sounded like a great replacement event for the one I missed even though it’s two weeks earlier than I was planning and my cycling training has almost been non-existent.
This is an event journal for my first cycling event of the 2016 season.
Today is the day. I got up, got prepped and got out.
The ferry ride to Staten Island was uneventful and now I’m just waiting for the day to unfold and see how I handle the 35 mile route.
Made it to registration before they closed down at 9:30. Hit the road at 9:40.
Rest area 1 @ 12miles Already exceeded my expectations!! I was ready to exit the route by mile 3. Staten Island is hilly! Who knew?!?!?
I am super proud of myself for pushing through the hills and making it to the first rest stop. Making it to the first rest stop usually means you can make it to the second. And once you make it to the second rest stop you’re pretty much done. #crossingmyfingers
Second rest stop @ mile 24. Made it. I was seriously looking for the exit 4 miles back. This hill was literally the last straw. Then I looked at my route sheet and saw that I was only 4 miles away from the rest stop. I sat on a retaining wall for a while catching my breath and gathering my strength to tackle this steep hill. Ended up walking my bike up the hill. Then got back on. It’s important to always get back on.
The downhill on the other side of this hill was a mix of reward and terror, like: a lil’ bit of “Oh yay! Downhill!” with a lot of “Oh shit! This is treacherous!” It was a steep, winding downhill road with no shoulder to speak of, two-way traffic with a lot of pot holes, a couple of stop signs peppering the decline and a couple of hairpin sharp turns coming off the hill thrown in for good measure. Not for the faint of heart. But who knew that was coming?
I did it.
Pretty much from the beginning of this ride, I was ready to give up. Even before the ride. I had to talk myself into showing up. I didn’t prep the night before as I should have. Prepping in the morning delayed my departure, so much so that I thought I would miss registration and riding with any group of riders. Getting to the start line required a forty minute subway ride, a mile and half of cycling and a half hour ferry ride.
The commitment is certainly in the start. Perhaps that’s why starting is so hard. So I am most proud that I started. By starting and not giving up when the course proved to be harder than I expected, I achieved my first goal of the ride: making it to the first rest stop. Achieving that first goal propelled me to achieving the ultimate goal for the day: finishing the course.
At no point before I started, did I plan on or expect that I would finish the 35 miles I signed up for. Even at the first rest stop, I was telling myself I could stop at 20 miles and I would be okay with that. I was about to throw my hat in when I saw the crazy hill. When I looked at my cue sheet I realized I was only four of miles away from the second rest stop. I knew I could do four more miles. The rest stops are where cyclists are able to get off their bikes, use the restroom, refill on water, eat (usually fresh fruit, bagels, and granola; sometimes PBJ sandwiches and other goodies; or bagged lunches). And of course, take a breather. The rest stops are crucial for all the refueling you need. When you get back on, you’re better than fresh – you have the second wind that isn’t hindered by heart palpitations and your movement is more fluid from the prior “warm-up” round(s).
As I got up from my breather at the bottom of that hill I was ready to call a taxi from, I knew if I made the second rest stop, I could finish the course. I didn’t see the end until I was close to it. Focusing on the step in front of me is what got me through the whole challenge. I think this is true for most things in life.