Tour de Bronx
What happens when two adventure buddies explore the Bronx by bike? Today we bring you a two part post as Jocelyn Johnson and Tessa Kelley recount their Sunday riding the the Tour de Bronx.
Tour de Bronx by Jocelyn Johnson
Confession: I'm map challenged - meaning if you asked me to outline even the Northeastern U.S. on a map, I'd probably say that DC is up and Boston is down. (Hello, Mappy Hour!) So when I found the Tour De Bronx on Outdoorfest's weekly lineup I thought - "Well, what better way to explore the boroughs and literally 'locate' myself spatially than to bike 40 miles through the Bronx!?"
And what was in store for us (I recruited my fellow bike rider and great friend Tessa) was far beyond what I could have ever expected.
To start the day, we pulled up to Yankee stadium with just enough time to register, scarf down a bacon egg sammich, load up on water, Gatorade, granola bars and snap a selfie before heading to the starting line. Neither Tessa nor I had ever done a bike race before (we are both runners by blood) which in this case made Tour De Bronx the perfect prep event as it isn't actually a "race" nor will it ever be.
Tour De Bronx exists to expose the many splendors of the borough; we were encouraged to take our time, enjoy the sights and stop at will to drink it all in. Admittedly this is tough for me given my competitive spirit but nevertheless Tess and I did a good job of being in the moment to see what the Bronx has to offer.
For you Bronx neophytes out there let me tell you...it was beyond shocking. Open spaces, beautiful parks, Manhattan skyline views, seaport villages, a beach(!) all this juxtaposed with gritty street farers, industrial zones where 18 wheelers lined both sides of the street for blocks, and the usual New York traffic congestion. Perhaps best of all, though, were the flawlessly well-paved bike paths, which for this city biker is a pretty sweet treat.
Along our tour, the residents came out with smiles, signs and shouts of encouragement as we traipsed through their 'hoods. And at multiple points on our 40 mile journey, I would halt conversation with Tess - "Where THE F are we!?" Even now, I'm not entirely sure but one thing is cemented - I'm a Tour De Bronx lifer and the nature paths are going to take up permanent residence on my bike season hit list.
Tour De Bronx gave me a set of memories I'd likely never experience otherwise. And despite the constant head wind and hills...I think both Tessa and I finished with pride in our ride and astonishment at the Bronx beat. Tour de Bronx wins best promotional campaign for a New York borough in my book. Sold.
Jocelyn Johnson is a two-time startup founder, competitive runner and Colorado native. Follow her on twitter and instagram at @prjoce.
Tour de Bronx by Tessa Kelley
Getting there was tricky since the D train wasn't making stops at Yankee Stadium, but luckily there we're others in my train car in the same boat, so we all got off somewhere in the 180s and zipped down grand concourse to find the on-site registration table --and my riding buddy Jocelyn, who I conveniently found waiting in line in front of me (only took a couple texts and a few minutes for us to notice we were 2 feet from each other!).
We opted for the 40 miles (no sweat, right?!) and were off within the sea of helmets at 10:20(?) sharp! It took a beat for the traffic jam of pedalists to loosen and then it was smooth sailing. The ride started out reeling through busy streets. While typically this would bring on serious panic when you’r egoing strong with 6k other riders, it was pretty liberating! The tour de Bronx painted a beautiful portrait of a borough that I really haven't spent enough time in - aside from that 1 Yankee game I attended, the quick visit I made during the NYC marathon, or my friend's annual bar crawl. The course included park pathways and lush greenery, busy urban streets, quaint suburbs, college campuses (Manhattan college) -- and plenty of serious inclines, stunning views and beautiful beaches (Orchard Beach).
I may have been overly confident going for 40 miles on my hybrid bike that I ride occasionally… but after a wonderful 25 miles of bonding and pal catch up, I let Jocelyn leave me in the dust ( just kidding, she offered a dozen times to switch rides with me- a true friend - and I insisted she ride ahead) and I powered through at my own pace - loving every thigh-burning moment! I especially loved finishing and inhaling the slice of Dominos they gave outta the finish line, yum!
Thanks for an amazing adventure!