J and I participated in the Five Boro Bike Tour this past weekend. The ride itself was exhilarating and very, very cool. We started at Battery Park, rode up through Manhattan, over to Astoria and Queens, down through Brooklyn, and finally out to Staten Island. We took the ferry back to Battery Park, and then we rode back to Brooklyn (although we walked a lot of the way once we got over the bridge).
The things we saw during this race...they will stay with me forever. Firstly, and most significantly, we saw someone get maced. While we were waiting in an enormously long queue to get into Central Park (made infinitely worse by the sidewalk jumpers. You know who you are. Each and every one of you is going straight to hell, I hope you know), some homeless guy started causing a ruckus. We didn't personally notice anything until he slammed his cane down onto a car and started screaming nonsense at one of the cyclists. A cop came out of nowhere and nonchalantly maced the guy in the face. I would have been screaming my lungs out, but the homeless guy just leaned over on a nearby railing - defeated. I don't have any social or political commentary about it, I just have never seen anything like this. Then some mentally disturbed and presumably homeless woman started screaming things about cops and homeless people, but it was impossible to tell whether her rage was directed at the homeless guy or the cop. Thankfully, we made it into Central Park unscathed, shortly after she started her screaming rant.
There were several accidents. Whenever there was a ramp and a turn, people would take the turns too quickly, and there were one or two of those. Honestly, I have never seen such blatant disregard for other cyclists, and I have a pretty rough commute (relatively, I mean). There was also a nearly fatal heart attack on the Queensboro bridge, but fortunately, the man made it. It was decently scary, and did not help to ease the anxiety I was already facing when going over two of the major bridges.
A lot of people have noted that this is a great ride to do. Once. Which is what the friend who recommended this ride told us, too.
That being said - in total, it was an amazing ride. Too many people, but riding through NYC (and vowing never to go to that dump again) without any cars was too good an opportunity to miss.
Too bad my jaw is a wreck two days later (my surgeon said I should be good to go as far as riding my bike went, but a little bit of research and a conversation with my OD has indicated that maybe 50 miles was a bit much before my 3 month post surgery mark...).