Pedal to the mettle: TD Five Boro Bike Tour sees thousands go the distance despite the dreary weather

Five Boro Bike Tour bicyclists pedal along Brooklyn cobblestone street
Participants in the TD Five Boro Bike Tour pedal past the Manhattan Bridge in Brooklyn on May 5, 2024.
Photo by Ben Brachfeld

The TD Five Boro Bike Tour on Sunday saw upwards of 35,000 bicyclists get rolling on the nation’s biggest communal bike ride — a 40-mile journey through all five boroughs.

May 5 turned out to be as foggy and cool as forecasters anticipated, with light rain bookending the start and finish. The unseasonably dreary conditions didn’t stop about 30,000 cyclists from getting on two wheels and pedaling along the 40-mile course, which began in Manhattan, grazed the Bronx, returned to Manhattan, then traveled through Queens and Brooklyn before ending on Staten Island.

The tour, which is organized by Bike New York and supports bicycle education programming, has run every year since 1977 except for 1991, when it lost its original sponsor, and 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Plenty of New Yorkers participated, taking up the challenge for personal glory or through the inspiration of others.

Bicyclists make their TD Five Boro Bike Tour journey along the FDR Drive on May 5, 2024.Photo by Ben Brachfeld
Bicyclists cross the misty Ed Koch-Queensboro Bridge during the TD Five Boro Bike Tour on May 5, 2024.Photo by Ben Brachfeld
The Astoria Park rest area under the RFK (Triborough) Bridge in Queens.Photo by Ben Brachfeld
Riding past the Brooklyn Bridge on Old Fulton Street in BrooklynPhoto by Ben Brachfeld

Three friends from Queens, Charaj, Vinay and Charles, took the Long Island Rail Road to Penn Station, then biked down to the start line in the Financial District. When asked what made them so nervous about the tour, they said two things: Their knees and the Verrazzano Bridge, with that long incline from Brooklyn into Staten Island.

Another pair of friends from Queens, Maura and Alex, watched last year’s Five Boro Bike Tour near their Astoria home, and were inspired to take part in this year’s tour.

Cynthia Diaz of Las Vegas did the bike tour in honor of her late friend Beatrice Gonzalez, a cyclist killed by a drunk driver in San Antonio in 2021.Photo by Ben Brachfeld
Brooklynites Trevante and Isaiah were worried about the inclines, but Shaun (left) had no fears going into the tour.Photo by Ben Brachfeld
Upper East Sider Michael Calavano resigned himself to the inevitable rain to avoid being disappointed when the droplets started falling.Photo by Ben Brachfeld

“I think it’s a good exercise. I think what I wanted to do is like, I’m never going to do the New York City Marathon,” Alex said. “It’s a fun way to tour the five boroughs. It’s very sort of like low risk.”

Sisters Mandy, Gina and Brianna Tucker traveled from Ohio to take on the five-borough challenge after completing it last year.

“It just looked like a lot of fun. And we had a lot of fun last year. We, like, just couldn’t wait to do it again,” Mandy Tucker said. 

Some chose to take the opportunity to support causes. 

Cynthia Diaz came in from Las Vegas to complete the TD Five Boro Bike Tour in honor of her best friend, Beatrice Gonzalez, who was killed by a drunk driver in 2021 while riding her bike in Texas.

“When I was there I met a group which I’m trying to meet up with now who, you know, were big advocates towards [stopping] drinking and driving and killing cyclists,” Diaz said. “I’m just doing it because if she was still alive, this is something she’d want to do. So I just tried, you know, living up to what she would have been able to do.”

Reporter Ben Brachfeld completed the TD Five Boro Bike Tour on May 5, 2024, and proudly displays the medal he received for completing the 40-mile journey.
Starting the TD Five Boro Bike Tour in Lower Manhattan on May 5, 2024.Photo by Ben Brachfeld
Liz Chevolino and Chris Hoffman rode their bikes through the tour while displaying flags and shirts supporting Palestine.Photo by Ben Brachfeld

Liz Chevolino and Chris Hoffman rode their bikes through the tour while flying Palestine flags in support of both the people of Gaza and the ongoing protests on college campuses.

“We’re here, we support Palestine and all of the encampments that are happening,” Chevolino said, “and just want to show our support at a time when that support is sometimes hard to find.”