Four riders, five boroughs, forty-one miles, all on one wheel. Yesterday was the 33rd-annual Five Borough Bike Tour. Among the more than 32,000 cycling enthusiasts were Keith Nelson, Rob Hickman, Jason Kahn and myself, who rode the length of the tour on unicycles.
A mild morning quickly gave way to a hot-and-muggy afternoon, and the four of us struggled to stay hydrated. Jason, an 8th grade science teacher, was a useful guy to have around, as he came prepared with all types of anti-dehydration and anti-cramping remedies. If I ever get stranded on a desert island, I want to have Jason around.
Along the way, we ran into Ray Hoffman, an accomplished juggler and long-time Dubé customer, near his home in Astoria, Queens. Ray took some video of us, and gave us some much needed water as we headed to my home borough of Brooklyn.
Upon arriving in Brooklyn, we stopped at Rob’s apartment in Williamsburg to refill our water and to use the bathroom. Rob’s son is a 10-year-old unicycle enthusiast. He pleaded with his father to let him participate on unicycle in the 2011 bike tour. Rob’s response was “we’ll see…” After inhaling clementines and water, we were back on our way.
At this point, the four of us were experiencing varying degrees of dehydration and fatigue. I neglected to wear sunblock, which proved to be a costly mistake. The last quarter of the race was something of a blur. Riding down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway was completely surreal. I have many memories of being stuck in never-ending traffic jams on this stretch of highway. The lack of shade and the heat from the asphalt made the last quarter of the ride extremely challenging.
Exiting the BQE was a huge relief. The cool breeze from the Atlantic Ocean was a god-send, as temperatures were in the 80′s and humidity was unseasonably high. Even more exhilarating, however, was the opportunity to ride across the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. Not only did we forgo the ridiculous $11 toll to cross the bridge, we also got to enjoy some breath-taking views of Upper New York Bay. The finish line was at Fort Wadsworth, in the shadow of the Verrazano.
I dedicated my ride to Maggie Russo. Maggie is a toddler with retinoblastoma, a cancer of the eye. She was my inspiration, and kept me going when dehydration and fatigue began to get the better of me. Please visit http://www.maggiesfund.net or http://www.retinoblastoma.net/ or go to my blog Unicycle4Maggie to help.