five borough bike tour kindness matters

Five Boro Bike Tour

This was an epic ride:  New York City’s five boroughs, 40 miles of car-free roads, and 32,000 participants.  But those statistics weren’t the most impressive thing about the event.  The best part of this year’s Five Boro Bike Tour was the kindness I witnessed throughout the event.

It all started with an audacious plan to take a group of high schoolers on a ride across New York City.

What is the Five Boro Bike Tour?

The first Five Boro Bike Tour took place in 1977.  It was originally 250 bikers riding fifty miles through the five boroughs but started and ended in Queens.  The roads were still open to cars and there was only one organized rest stop: Nathan’s gave out hot dogs and sodas in the Bronx.  Now, it’s an internationally known ride, with participants from every state and 65 countries.

Showing Off NYC

A fellow rider in my team, LaMont, summed it up nicely when he said, “This is the way to showcase a city.”  NYC was at its best.  The weather was perfect, the cherry blossoms were in bloom, and not a car was in sight.  (At least on our roads. I’m sure all hell was breaking loose elsewhere.) But the best part of the ride was the real heart of NYC: the people and the kindness they showed.

Kindness on the Five Boro Bike Tour

Here are some kindness highlights of the day:

  • Patience – Of course there were long lines, crowded streets, and bottlenecks; it was 32,000 people on bikes.  I was continually impressed at the patience people showed for each other and the organizers – waiting their turns, minimally complaining.
  • My Team – I was fortunate to ride with a group of friends who showed each other support throughout the ride, despite our varying skill levels.  I was relieved to have them, especially when I had a hard fall half-way through the ride.  (I was lucky to escape with only scrapes and bruises.)
  • Volunteers – I don’t know the number of volunteers during the event, but it must have been in the hundreds.  The tour was efficiently organized, well-stocked with food, drinks, first-aid and entertainment.  But the real kindness was their attitudes.  I saw smiles and dancing, heard singing and cheering, and felt their encouragement all through the day.
  • Neighborhoods – I was impressed and surprised at the people who took time out of their Sunday to stand on the sidewalks, overpasses, and in cafes and restaurants to cheer us on and entertain us.  There were church choirs, local bands, and cheerleaders throughout the boroughs.
  • Graciousness – Perhaps what surprised me most though was the kindness that the bikers showed each other when riding.  This was a tour that allowed any skill level – so we saw it all.  People weren’t battling to get ahead.  They were considerate, helpful, and friendly.    

Are you going to sign up for the Five Boro Bike Tour with me next year?


  • Francine Lee says:

    Hey Patty, how’s things with u in NY. This event sounds so interesting! Glad you had a good ride. If I get myself to NYC, I would like to participate in if too!

  • Bridget says:

    I think the real gem in your ride was your attitude. It’s the people with pure hearts that see the goodness in others. Keep up your good work!

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