Along with my friend, Josh, I did the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour on Sunday. The name is quite a mouthful and the ride is quite a ... legful? Well, what I expected to be 40 miles turned out to be 36 or 37, mostly because there was a 4 mile loop the last starting group didn't get to ride.
See, I'd gotten my lottery entry in the blue group, which, had I ridden in that wave, would have started almost two hours before grey and done the entire course. But my friend drew a grey bib, so....we had to ride in grey. As did a large number of blue and red riders also seeking to ride with friends. This means this was the largest wave and was also subject to a number of backups, delays, and outright ride stoppages. One long stop, at 130th street in Harlem, kept us standing around for 45 minutes! I don't need to express how unhappy I am about this. It was bearable because I had company, but this means I won't be entering this event again unless pressured into it by friends or family. Riding traffic-free just wasn't worth the aggravation. And getting home by ferry involved similar delays that just aren't understandable.
But I don't want to leave you with the impression its a bad ride. It is a great ride, generally. The streets are closed off, and well-chosen. There are at least six bridges and only three of them represent any great challenge - and shouldn't be a challenge for any reasonably fit rider. There's good support along the route and a LOT of riding marshalls - you're never very far from a blue vested person. I was disappointed the route didn't take us along Shore Parkway, but that change was apparently due to construction and I can ride that any day.
But my post today is about maximal effort. That point at which you're still going, working hard, but you realize you have no more throttle left to give. I hit that twice on this ride, on the 59th street bridge and on the Verrazano Bridge. Both of these bridges are long and steep, especially the Verrazano, and going up them I was in a very low gear (though I don't think I hit the absolute lowest), and was puffing away as fast as I could get air in and out of my lungs, which isn't as fast as a normal person can. I was thankful the day was cool and mostly cloudy because doing that kind of effort for that long under a hot sun would have been misery. Hell, I would have stopped for rest or walked my bike up.
Actually, I note that a lot of people did exactly that. Many riders simply didn't have the fitness to handle any of the bridges. At least my cardio system can handle the effort, even if my lungs are pushed to their maximum to do it.
I had set up a GoPro to take stills every ten seconds and I stitched it into a video. Unfortunately, the battery died, so while the video gets us into Brooklyn, it ends shortly into it and doesn't capture the epicness of going over the Verrazano. Because of syndication issues with the soundtrack I used, you'll have to click this link and watch it directly at YouTube.