5 Boro Tour Events

5 Boro Tour: Packet Pick-Up And Bike Expo

Oh, you reckless souls who wondered when I’d ever get around to writing about the 5 Boro — little did you know that, once begun, I’d just write and write and write about it!

In the interest of a complete record, here’s what happened on the Friday before the Tour. This year, Bike New York required that all packets be picked up in person — people who couldn’t do that on the Friday or Saturday before the Tour could prepare affidavits and deputize others to do the pick-up. Fortified with whatever documents were necessary, everyone had to show up at the Bike Expo to collect Tour vests and the identifying adhesive stickers we’d need for the ride.

Getting lost was not an option; cheerful volunteers were all over the place, displaying these lovely red arrows and pointing the way to the newly — what? established? re-named? — “Basketball City” — a cavernous building that looks just like every other cement-floored expo site I’ve seen.

I joined the line ten minutes before the Expo opened on Friday morning; these people (and I) were about two blocks from the entrance.  There was a security checkpoint to enter the Expo — no surprise, after Boston — but things moved along pretty well until we got inside.

At 10 AM the entire space below was packed with impatient people who were sure that they were going to die if they didn’t get their packets immediately.  It was a little weird; nobody seemed nearly as tense while waiting for the actual event to start the following Sunday.  I didn’t take a picture of the irritated masses; the one below was taken about noon.  Procrastination would have been the best plan on Friday morning, if one cared about such things.  Waltzing in at noon would have meant a quick pass through.

In fact, I thought the whole process of checking IDs and delivering the packets went very efficiently.  Various food vendors (Food Should Taste Good, Lara Bars, etc.) handed samples — really generous quantities of samples — to the testy line-dwellers, which probably contributed to public safety, since those who snacked appeared to mellow as they ate.

Once our ID had been checked, we were directed to tables for Blue, Red or Silver registrants.  Our data was on cards in boxes, above which were signs showing a range of registration numbers, so all we had to do was find the correct section for our individual number.  The person who helped me inexplicably tried to locate my card by name, which is a poor approach when everything’s been filed numerically, but a colleague helped her out, and soon I was on my way, toting my rider vest and a sheet of three stickers — wrapped around a can of Red Bull.

In retrospect, that was kind of clever, not just from a branding perspective, but because it made a solid package out of what otherwise would have been a very light, flimsy, and probably hard to sort, packet.  I returned the drink, though, knowing that someone else would be happy to take an extra home.

Then it was on to the Expo. Top marks goes to Timbuktu, San Francisco purveyors of nifty bags, for their ferris-wheel like contraption, crafted of old cycle parts. Timbuktu bags were hanging from the wheels, rotating thanks to human pedal-power.  Cobbling this thing together must have been fun!

Timbuktu’s wasn’t the only stationary cycle at the Expo, though. The Cabot cheese farmers were confusing people like crazy by endlessly blending bananas and yogurt together, using a fleet of electric blenders, and this amusing device:

Yep, it’s a Holstein stationary cycle — and blend-o-matic.  There were plenty of volunteers who were happy to pedal away, blending yet another banana smoothie using human energy instead of electricity.  Every time I passed the booth, I heard people asking what Cabot was doing — probably because, in spite of the amazing production line, no smoothie samples were being offered around.  (Tasty cheese samples were on offer, though.) I finally asked: The Guinness Book of World Records was stopping in, and Cabot was attempting the World’s Largest Smoothie.  Afterwards, they planned to sell off the stuff, in individual cups, and donate the proceeds to charity.

Manhattan’s Bfold, the folding bike dealer (and Brompton seller), was at the Expo, but I didn’t get a picture (probably because they didn’t have Bromptons out front!), and so was the new Red Beard Bikes, from Brooklyn, with a lot of Bromptons, which they were demonstrating enthusiastically.

I had a great conversation with Susan, of Cleverhood, whose products I’ve admired for a long time. Sadly, they are huge on me, but for people of average size or larger, they are a dashing solution to those vexing weather issues.  Susan suggested I use my flash for this shot, in which her classic and sophisticated grey tattersall cape magically turns into a marvelous reflective garment.

Outside, Citibike was offering demo rides, in advance of the imminent roll-out.  I doubt I’ll ever be a customer (but who knows?) so I was delighted to have a chance to see how these bikes handle.  The answer?  They’re not nearly as lumbering as I thought they would be.  The handlebars take some getting used to; I didn’t take a picture, but there’s so much stuff across the top that they feel a little like a cockpit.  The front luggage rack is very sturdy, but also quite small; my city bag is wedged in there — there’s barely enough space for it, even mashing it quite a bit.  Good thing it wasn’t full. The bungies used to hold it in place are so strong that anything without serious structural integrity inside the bag would have been destroyed.  But the ride is easy; the bike doesn’t feel nearly as heavy as it looks.

Naturally there were jerseys, gear, and bikes all over the place, as you’d expect.  Basil is well-outfitted (and so am I, at this point), so I only bought a couple of small things.  One was a visor for my winter helmet — the watermelon Nutcase.  I thought the visor was too small to be of any use, but the Nutcase booth (stocked with brightly-colored peanut M&Ms, by the way, which suited Nutcase’s madcap image perfectly) had one installed on a helmet to try out.  It really did seem to make a difference; I’m looking forward to using it next fall.

I was tickled to learn that Nutcase is a “prize sponsorship partner” for the Brompton World Championship this year — that seems like a natural fit to me!

4 replies on “5 Boro Tour: Packet Pick-Up And Bike Expo”

You just don’t see many cyclists wearing capes. Elaine on Seinfeld would ask, “Who wears a cape?” ….not that there is anything wrong with it.

I don’t know, Saul — somebody’s buying them! But I think they might make some sense in cities like New York or London, where people who work in offices have only a mile (or two, or three) commute. On any longer ride, I’d expect the wind/batwing factor to make them a bit of a pain (though the Cleverhood profile can be made slimmer with straps). Theoretically, a cape would be just about the perfect raincover for a rider and a backpack.

This is a very cool accounting of your pre5Boro! Especially like your points on the Cabot show. Very funny. Thanks!

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