Bicyclists and Bronx residents are gearing up for the 18th annual Tour de Bronx, an organized bike ride through the Bronx that promotes tourism, environmental awareness and, of course, biking.
Organizers expect six to seven thousand bikers to participate, including Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., who has not missed the event in his three years as borough president.
The ride will be held on Sunday, October 14, and invites community members, bike enthusiasts and families to join in a 25-mile bike tour of the Bronx. More serious cyclists can choose a 40-mile circuit. Cyclists wind through the neighborhoods and scenic spots of the Bronx in the largest free bicycling event in the state of New York. The event is a part of a series of bike rides through each of New York City’s five boroughs.
On Monday, Diaz promoted the event in a press conference with event organizers and sponsors. “I am excited the Tour de Bronx is here again,” he said. “It is a wonderful event, where I get to join my fellow Bronxites and thousands of out-of-town visitors for a bike ride to tour our wonderful borough.”
The Bronx Tourism Council helped plan the route for the ride. Executive Director Olga Luz Tirado believes it is a wonderful opportunity to show off the best of the Bronx including its parks, greenways, the Bronx River and Orchard Beach, which some residents call the “Bronx Riviera.”
Organizers are expecting a relaxed ride that will fit riders of all levels. “It is not a race,” added Diaz.
The event usually attracts riders from all over New York, the country and even some foreign tourists. A tourist from Iceland rode in last year’s event. This year, a rider from Venezuela has already signed up.
The Montefiore Medical Center is co-sponsoring the event in an effort to promote the health benefits of bike-riding. Roberto Garcia, senior director for community relations, believes bike-riding fits into the hospital’s holistic approach toward healing. “These are the sorts of things that really motivate patients to take charge of their lives,” he said.
Garcia also thinks the ride is an opportunity to show the Bronx in a positive light despite its reputation as the poorest Congressional district in New York. It is a chance, he says, to improve perceptions about the Bronx.
Borough President Diaz has made it a priority to improve the Bronx’s accessibility to bikers, according to tourist official Tirado. The Tour has a three-pronged objective, she says: highlighting the Bronx’s sites, raising environmental awareness and creating a healthier lifestyle.
So while the route will be dotted with pleasant views, participants should also expect a moderate workout. Ben McRoberts, a bike-riding advocate with Transportation Alternatives, said, “New York City is a relatively flat city – except for the Bronx.” Riders should expect some hilly areas on the route especially near the Woodlawn Cemetery and in Riverdale. McRoberts says a few rides before the event to get in shape wouldn’t be a bad idea.
After the ride, participants can look forward to some reward for their efforts. Organizers are planning a picnic in the New York Botanical Garden for the cyclists and community members to interact. Co-sponsors Domino’s Pizza and Coca Cola will also get in on the act to burnish their images as promoters of good health. Dominos will dish out wheat-crust vegetable-topped pizzas while Coca Cola will serve vitamin-infused beverages.