The 32,000 riders who will take to the streets Sunday for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour have different reasons for entering the ride.
Some are bike fanatics who get a thrill of racing through the entire city, while others are in for personal reasons.
The 15 members of the nonprofit Blue Card team entered the race to give back to hundreds of Holocaust survivors in the city.
Masha Pearl, the executive director of the nonprofit who will be riding, said the team has raised $100,000 over 8 years for their programs, such as rent assistance, medical support and volunteer visitations to survivors, and more importantly shed light on an important issue.
“When we first started with the team, it was a way to inform the public to contribute their resources and physically do something to raise awareness for survivors,” she said.
The bike tour, which is organized by the nonprofit advocacy group Bike NYC, has been going on since 1977, with only one exception in 1991.
For 40 miles riders will have car-free lanes to their disposal as starting in Manhattan, dipping through parts of the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn before ending in Staten Island.
Pearl said five volunteers entered the race eight years ago when volunteers decided to find a fun way to fundraise. Their team includes riders of all ages including a three year old girl who will ride along side her parent in a child’s seat and they all have come to enjoy training for the big day.
“The bike tour is more accessible to all, and it’s easier to make it a family affair,” Pearl said. “It becomes a festival. The spirit makes it more accessible and friendlier.”
Aside from crossing the finish line, Pearl said the team feels proud when the bike ride’s participants and supporters learn about their group’s services.
They serve 2,000 Holocaust survivors in the city and many are facing tough struggles in their final years.
“Many didn’t have children or their children live far away so they lack assistance,” she said.
Pearl encouraged other New Yorkers to try out the bike tour and get in on the excitement. That fear of riding 40 miles goes away very quickly, she said.
“New York City is an amazing place and along the way there is support and energy helping you along the way,” she said.