2019 Spring Training Series for the TD Five Boro Bike Tour


This page is dedicated to the 5BBC's special relationship with Bike New York.

The 5BBC has been involved in supporting the TD Five Boro Bike Tour since inception. We know it well and love it! Read more about its history and our role in it here.

And this year will be no different.

We have a spring training series that runs every year through March and April.

It's designed to help those who don't ride in the winter, or may be targeting a longer ride than they have ever done before, to incrementally build up the capacity to ride as far as they can.

The approach is simple.

Rides are populated on our Day Trips web site page from which you can pick one at a level you know you can do, and incrementally, build by adding 5-10 miles more each week with a supporting group of riders along with you. You can start with as short as 15 to 30 mile rides and build up to as long as 40, 50, 75 or even 100 miles by the time the summer rolls around.

As our 2019 Spring Training Series develops, we will hilight here and showcase how people new to riding, or familiar with riding, the streets of New York's 5 Boroughs, can come together and train for this year's TD Five Boro Bike Tour with New York's friendliest Bike Club - the 5BBC!

For example, this weekend we have a cool "multi-cultural" ride on Sunday that supports multiple starting distances for your spring training by circling the perimeter of Manhattan while celebrating two significant holidays: the Irish holiday of St. Patrick's Day the Jewish holiday of Purim. Drop off points (aka local subway) are available at 5-10-15-20-25-30 mile points. We also have a nice ride over the GWB led by two very experienced leaders for those of you wanting to "get out of town" (it's only to Teaneck, so not too far out of town).

Both of these are perfect rides even if you haven't started spring training yet. Or even if you have - it will let you hit the 30 mile mark if you are up for it (2/3 - 3/4 of the tour length). They are designed to let people drop off at any point where they feel they have hit their current limit 10 miles, 15, 20, 25 or 30..... since subways abound in NYC. So come out and join us on either or both of these rides - let the leaders know if you are new to the club and targeting the tour and we'll talk you through a plan to get to your goal.

If you've been riding solo and ready to make it to 40 miles early and want to work on your speed? Join a slightly faster ride and build to higher mileage so the tour will be more of a recovery ride that's easy for you!

Our spring training series is flexible - leverage it to suit your needs and your schedule.

If you aren't ready to start in March, we have starting point rides in April too.

For many years now, we celebrate Cherry Blossom season in the Cherry Blossom CAPITAL of the northeast - Newark! We head over to Newark (yes, Newark surpasses even DC in terms of the number of Cherry Blossom trees). Come with us on this variable pace ride and stretch your reach in the weeks before the tour. We have plans to repeat the ride twice to make sure we don't miss peak blossom season. Register April 7th or April 21st.  If you want to judge for yourself, another thing that makes 5BBC unique is our out-of-town weekend trips. Consider joining us on our DC Weekend Trip - sign up here!

The tour itself does not have too many hills, but if you want to work on hills - just in case, or to develop your capabilities for when you meet them on rides - let us know and we will add our Hills 101 in Brooklyn ride - e-mail!

Everyone is welcome to take their first ride with our club for free. That's right - First ride is aways free at the 5BBC!

After that, it's only $25 a year for unlimited riding ($30 for two at the same address). This is required by the insurance we take for our TRAINED leaders. Each ride has two, a Point up front and a Sweep at the back. We use a process called Point-Drop-Sweep to make sure no one ever gets left behind!

On this page, we will focus on helping cyclists train for the tour this year on May 5th.

Check back here often as we will be updating this page with a summary of rides appropriate to riders training for the 2019 tour as they are posted.

We have a long tradition of partnering with Bike New York. Many of our members and leaders are Marshalls, Captains and Supercaptains - volunteering to help support the ride and make it the success that it is.

We look forward to helping you experience the tour as a breeze, safely with fun!

...having developed the confidence to do the distance by experiencing our spring training series.

Please remember to check back regularly for ride updates to help you prepare for this year's tour. And consider signing up for our FREE weekly e-mail which shows you news of the club and upcoming Day Trips over the next week.

We also have some wonderful weekend trips planned. Check them out here.

Any questions? About training for the tour or riding with our club? The only bad question at New York's Friendliest club is the one you don't ask.

Feel free to write to or - we hope to see you on a ride soon!


Weekend Trip Idea.. Looking to see if there is interest.

The Velodrome is where man and machine become one, for the single purpose of going faster than the next guy. It's the bicycle equivilent of a speedway, with its banked corners, smooth surface, and grandstands fro cheering crowds. Its normally reserved for the best cyclists, who bring their years of experience, nerves of steel, bikes and bodies tuned to perfection. In Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, is the East Coast's premier Velodrome, The Valley Preferred Cycling Center. 

Have you ever dreamed of testing your mettle on the track? Just doing some laps to see what it feels like to be in a place where legends have raced? ever wanted see what the banked corners feel like? we have an opportunity to attend a day class, where professionals will train us how to ride the track, in a private class where they will supply everything except your helmet. Any level of experience is welcome, even if you have never been on a race bike before. 

This will be a weekend trip where we will head out on Friday, in vans out to our hotel, and on Sat, head out from the hotel on our bikes over to the Velodrome for our lesson, and then, in the afternoon after the class, there is the option to go to Dorney Park, an amusement park with some great roller coasters. on Sunday, we will head out to the Deleware and Lehigh Canal trail, where we will have a great easy ride along the scenic Lehigh river, out past Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton, home of Crayola Crayons. then we will head back to NYC, where we will drop off and (sadly) head back to real life. 

I can't promise that there will be crowds in the stands cheering us on, but I can promise you will get an experience you won't forget!

If this sounds like a trip you would be interested in, please Email me at, and let me know. as of now, it will be approx 250-300 per person, not including your food. Tentatively, this trip will be for mid June. This is a feeler to see if there is enough interest in this trip, so if you are, please let me know!

Chris DeMeo


The Seal Ride

There is a saying that you often hear from 5BBC riders -  "You never know what you will see on a ride." 

Interesting things always seem to happen when you place a group of cyclists in strange environments. 

And few areas of NYC are stranger than Dead Horse Bay. 

Now part of the Gateway National Seashore, Dead Horse Bay was never exactly a scenic part of New York. 

As the New York Times stated, “Dead Horse Bay sits at the western edge of a marshland once dotted by more than two dozen horse-rendering plants, fish oil factories and garbage incinerators. From the 1850s until the 1930s, the carcasses of dead horses and other animals from New York City streets were used to manufacture glue, fertilizer and other products at the site. The chopped-up, boiled bones were later dumped into the water. The squalid bay, then accessible only by boat, was reviled for the putrid fumes that hung overhead.”  

As in so many NYC stories - then came Robert Moses.  He plowed under the fish oil plants, the horse rendering operations and the dumps.  He capped the landfill, and covered it with a layer of topsoil.  But alas, the landfill cap broke, and since the mid 1950's, the beach has been littered with the trash of the past.  Mostly, there are bottles.  Lots and lots of bottles.. Intact bottles, pieces of bottles.  Bottles from before you were born.  Let's just say, you are not going swimming here.

And so, on a cold January day, a group of 15 5BBCers went to Dead Horse Bay - and ended up with an experience none of us will ever forget. 

To get here by bike you take the Plum Beach Bike Trail, Cross over at Flatbush and head to the Marine Park Bridge.  Then the fun begins.  You have to just know where the small trail starts - and which of the side trails to take, to get here.  This is entirely off road and unmarked.  As we navigated through this wilderness trail, Brooklyn seemed to fade away.  We were surrounded by trees and marsh weeds as we cycled this undulating sandy trail.

We arrived at the bottle strewn beach at low tide, perfect for revealing it's treasures. 

I headed off from the group to a pile of rocks by the old jetty.  I was greeted by a pair of soft brown eyes.  To my astonishment, right in front of me was a little pudgy seal.  We looked at each other for a while, both sort of curious.  The group came over to check out our new friend.  What was this little fellow doing on this gross beach?  The seal rolled on his back, and I so wanted to pet his belly - but the members all yelled "NO MEL!"  I called the police and made one of the strangest 911 calls ever.  "Hello, 911 - what's your emergency?"  "There is a beached seal at Dead Horse Bay who may need help."  "What?...Who? ... Where??"  After assuring them this was not a prank, I gave NYPD my number and was assued that someone would help our little friend.

The next half hour, I received calls every ten minutes from NYPD.  Where is this?  There is no road there.  Have fun trying to direct people down a trail that really wants to remain hidden.  But by the time we got to lunch - we saw a picture of two NYPD officers, grinning as stupidly as we were, when they also encountered the seal.  A News 12 reporter came to the scene and interviewed a club member.  We found out that this was not an actual emergency - just normal seal behavior.  When the water gets cold - they warm up on dry land.  This seal just happened to chose Dead Horse Bay as his landing spot.  We were told that the seal would just go back to the water when it wanted to.  

The seal brightened up the lives of all those who encountered him [or her - not really sure how seals work].  It was all we were talking about at lunch - and I expect for days later.  A little bit of the unexpected, in a place that you never knew existed.  I certainly do not expect a seal on every ride I do - but it is the unexpected things that I see on every ride that always have me wanting to do more.  To continue to visit the strange corners of our urban world. 

Again - you never know what you will see on a ride.  










Labor Day Love Story

Article written by Gail Green-Anderson about how she met and married her husband Rick through 5BBC


October 7, 2018

Once upon a time, two cyclists met on a ride and fell in love.

Rick and I have been married for almost nineteen years and when people ask us this question --“How did you two meet?” -- we tell them the truth: “We both went to the wrong starting point for a Five Borough Bicycle Club Ride.”  On Labor Day, 1998, Rick and I, strangers to each other, showed up at the Picnic House in Prospect Park to join a ride, led by Terry Chin, that would tour historic landmarks in Brooklyn and lower Manhattan.  We waited there for a while, surprised that more people had not shown up on a holiday for what promised to be a beautiful day. 

And then the cyclists appeared. The group had met at Grand Army Plaza and were making the first stop at the Picnic House, to use the bathrooms, before continuing the ride.  

Rick and I rode together much of the day, with the group. We found we had much in common; we both worked in education and we both sang in choruses.  Most importantly, we loved cycling.  The ride made it comfortable to chat.  And while promise was in the air, each of us hesitated at the end of the ride to ask for the other’s phone number.  

There the story might have ended, but it did not. 

Six weeks later, I found a message on my voice mail at work.  It was from Rick, who remembered what I had said about my place of employment.  He asked, in that message, if I remembered him. He gave me his phone number and suggested I call back.  

I did.  

We saw each other frequently that fall.  Rick proposed on Valentine’s Day 1999 and when we were married the following November in Rick’s mom’s apartment, the wedding cake was adorned with figures of cyclists. We left our wedding in a pedicab. 

Cycling continues to bring us together and more recently, when we purchased a tandem, we found ways to get lost, to go to the wrong starting points, together.  


Discover new places and meet new friends!  Our day trips are all freee!!   We are all about adventure-- but also about your safety. Our rides are lead by trained, responsive and responsible leaders who adhere to ride descriptions that they themselves post.  Helmets are required on all rides. Come try us out!  We have insurance in the rare case that something goes wrong on a ride.  It's not our idea-- though we think you will want to become a 5BBC member --our insurance carrier requires you to join when you come back after that first “trial” ride. Hope to see you on the road!-- Andrea Mercado, 


Why I Ride

I learned to ride a bike when I was very young but growing up in a small town in an era when cars were boss, my love of cycling, ironically, didn’t take off until I moved to the Big City.  It was more a need for an inexpensive social activity than a desire to become more physically fit that lead me to get serious about cycling in New York City.  

I owned a bicycle as a young mother raising my family in upstate New York.  When my babies were little I took them on rides with me around the “block”; which was about 2 and a half miles around a couple of apple orchards in Lafayette, New York.  I had a back pack baby carrier with an aluminum frame that I set my baby in and then hoisted onto my back and off we went.  I acquired a child seat for the bike for the 18 month old when my second baby came along.   Unfortunately, this only lasted while my babies were little and I was on maternity leave because when I went back to work I was a suburban car driving Mom again. 

Twenty five years later, faced with a new job, relocation to New York City and suddenly single life; bicycling became a much more critical component to my extracurricular activities.  First of all, my housing cost increased substantially, so my recreational budget had to take a hit.  I already had a bike, so that enticed me to try the Five Borough Bike Tour in May 1998.  I didn’t know a soul in the city so when I reached the finish line in Staten Island and found the “Friendliest” Bike Club in the city looking for members I signed up! 

It’s been one of the best decisions of my life.  I became a leader in 2003, served on the club’s board for several years, as Program Coordinator and President.  Not only have I found a circle of friends who I enjoy riding with and spending time with, I have discovered parts of this city I would never have found on my own.  It was actually the best way to learn my way around as a new resident. 

My preferred style of riding is relaxed; what we classify as a “happy face” pace of 8-10 mph.  I’m not a big fan of hills, but as one friend pointed out to me in the beginning, “every hill makes you stronger” and another good piece of advice is they always look worse before you get to them.   

Besides doing day rides around the city, I look forward to getting away on weekend and week-long cycling adventures.   In fact, one of the main reasons I became a leader in the club was to lead weekend trips and for several years I was racking up 2-3 a year; to Cape Cod, Covered Bridges in Pennsylvania, and Wine Country of Long Island.   Just recently I helped co-lead a revived weekend trip to Montreal and newly created weekend trip to Washington D.C. 

These weekend trips gave me the motivation to tackle a couple major longer bicycle events that have taken me across and out of New York State, such as the NYS Parks Department Cycling the Erie Canal, RAGBRAI  (Ride Across Iowa), the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Tour in PA, and a two week, self-contained cycling tour in France from Paris to Nice with a small group of friends from the bike club.  Most of these accomplishments have taken place during the past decade while in my sixties and now that I’m in my 70’s I look forward to many more cycling adventures.

The friends I have made in this club is why I ride, the truth be told.  I have found a family in this city and I have grieved when a family member is lost.   I am proud to be a member of a club that supports high safety standards for cycling and sharing that responsibility for modeling good behavior when I ride.   


Keeping the Fun in Fundraising

Bicycles have been my go to means of transportation ever since I survived the crash and burn school of bike riding, the method endorsed by my big brother. Soon I was begging my uncle for a real bike from his hardware store. That Huffy three speed went where few three speeds dare to roll with camping trips from Denver into the mountains. A few years later, I was bicycling through Europe solo on a five speed.  

A move to New York in my 20s left me bereft of my lovely Mercier with its delicate sewn tires. They were wonderful for traversing the hilly roads of Northern New Hampshire, but hardly suitable for the rough and trash strewn streets of Brooklyn. And so a Raleigh with a mixtie frame entered my life, carrying me around town - until pregnancies and motherhood all but put a stop to regular bicycling.

A job change got me rethinking my mode of travel. Parking was a headache. The bus was slow and unreliable. But lo and behold! Much of my trip could be done in bike lanes. 

So now you are wondering what all this has to do with the title of my article. Patience dear reader. I'm getting there.

One ride lead to another with the 5BBT,  NY Century and other distance rides. I realized the bike that was great for commuting to work and  social rides didn't quite do it for distance rides. And even though I trekked my way up the mountains of Alceste Lorraine on a five speed, I wasn't seventeen anymore. So in true N+1 tradition, I bought a second bike. This one was a flatbar Cannondale road bike. 

And then came the charity ride.

But wait. I must digress and share a bicycle love story. 

Two of my daughters went to Nevada to participate in America's Most Beautiful Ride with Team Lifeline. Several groups join in this breath taking ride around Lake Tahoe as part of various fundraisers.

Team Lifeline members participate in marathons all over the world and as well as this one bicycle ride to raise money for children and the families of children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses. The families get help with meals at home and in the hospital, medical expenses, social services and other support to ease the strain. These very ill children receive toys and entertainment from Chai Lifeline volunteers trained to maintain guidelines to prevent transmitting infections to kids undergoing chemo, bone marrow transplants and all the other medical big guns that comprise cancer treatment. Even the siblings get in on the action with volunteers coming to the home and lavishing them with toys, treats and attention.

So back to the love story.

My daughter Yaffa, and Anshie met while bicycling around Lake Tahoe for Chai Lifeline. It wasn't exactly love at first sight, at least not for my daughter. But six months later they spotted each other in the line up for the NY Century and decided to do the ride together. The following May they were under the Chuppah (wedding canopy). 

​A few weeks later we were Team Cyclopaths celebrating the newly weds and riding as a group at Lake Tahoe, for Chai Lifeline. It was while there that I read about a some men who had gotten together to bicycle from Connecticut to Camp Simcha in Glen Spey,NY. Camp Simcha is the very special camp run by Chai Lifeline. All children attend for free and have two weeks of incredible Summer fun with their own dedicated counselor and a fully staffed medical facility.The money these men raised  went primarily to the support the camp. Bike4Chai grew from a half dozen men who took it on themselves to what is now  500 men bicycling 180 miles through NJ, Pennsylvania and NY where they end the ride at the camp.

​So why only men? I wondered. As it turns out, some other women thought that as well so in 2012 a group of about 43 women started Tour De Simcha. I joined the fun in 2014. Women who have never ridden a bicycle have learned to ride so they could participate. We have training rides including a trip from Rockland State Park to the top of Bear Mountain and back, rides on the Belt Parkway loop and endless hill repeats at Prospect Park or what ever is near by. Our ride now has 265 women! They live all over the US and Canada as well as other countries. 

​In 2016 there was a prize for the first 100 Tour De Simcha registrants. I got off a train in Japan to connect with WiFi and register. A week later I came home to devastating news. My 17 month old grandson had been diagnosed with Leukemia. We became a different kind of Chai Lifeline family. We were now on the receiving end. That year I gathered a group including my youngest daughter who is a 2 time Lake Tahoe rider, and two other women. Together we rode as Team Eitan. 

​The training, the parties, and the night gathering  at a  hotel in NJ is followed by a ride of 75 miles with rolling hills and some big climbs. For many, reaching the Hawks Nest on Rt 92 is a milestone. But the real highlight is the culmination of the ride when we roll into Camp Simcha and are greeted by children, many in wheel chairs, living with conditions we can barely imagine. Many are missing limbs, have trach tubes in their necks or rely on oxygen tanks. But the joy and enthusiasm are overwhelming. They know we rode for them. When the heat and the hills get to us we remind ourselves of the challenges these children face daily.  And that inspires us. 

​To learn more about Tour De Simcha Click here

To support my ride, please Click here





A St. Patrick’s Day Shout Out

Article By Katie Marion, Mary Martinez and Mary O’Neill (only Posted by Allan Friedman)

When we look back on that trip to Ireland in the summer of 2004, everything about it exceeded our expectations.

The weather was mostly sunny and warm although we had been prepared for rain.  The people, often described as friendly were more than that.  They were kind and warm with a more genuine appreciation of Americans than any of the other EU countries any of us had visited.  But our most vivid memories of the trip were the days we spent with Phil O’Reilly and Tod Moore.

Initially the trip was planned by and included Mary M., Mary O. and Tod. Lucky for us though, Katie decided to join us and booked at the last minute.  Phil, who was visiting family in Ireland, was going to try to meet up with us along the way. 

Some people reading this article never had the opportunity to meet Phil.  Tod, however, was in every one of your living rooms.  He was the baritone voice of the Jolly Green Giant saying, “Ho, ho, ho!” throughout our childhoods.

The first week we spent cycling in Western Ireland.  After meeting up in Leenane the four of us Tod, Mary O., Mary M., and Katie, headed Southeast.  The riding was easy, the company was great; we got used to riding on the left and made our counterclockwise circuit of Co. Galway.  The four of us even took an excursion over to the Aran Islands.  The 1,200 inhabitants of the Aran Islands primarily speak Gaelic.  Phil joined us a couple days later in Cong, where John Wayne’s, "The Quiet Man" was filmed. 

It never occurred to us that Phil and Tod might not get along so well.  We always thought they had more in common than not.  Very much like Phil, Tod was of the mind that if the route was more than 30 miles to your destination, there simply wasn’t enough time to spend taking in the sights and talking to the people.  Both had years of experience in getting groups of cyclists from one point to another safely and enjoyably.   They could handle the silliest questions with patience and just about any mechanical or logistical problem with ease.  Each had a unique sense of humor and loved to tell stories.  So we were a little surprised when there was some tension the first day that Phil rode with us.  All of us girls however relished having the attention of such distinguished gentlemen.

Granted, Tod had this routine that could have annoyed anyone as spontaneous as Phil.  We’d stop in a pub for a leisurely lunch, which for Tod consisted of a beer and a salad, get to our destination and find our lodging so he could take a nap.  But before taking his nap he would wash out his one pair of cycling shorts and jersey, wring them out in a towel and hang them on a bannister or the handlebar of his bike, with the pad out, to dry.  Then, by dinnertime, he’d be rested and ready to walk around town. 

Also, we don’t think Tod wanted to share his follower audience (Mary M., Mary O. and Katie) with Phil.  He had to adjust quickly because by the time Phil met up with us he was overflowing with stories about his family in Ireland. 

The first story to come out was his adventure driving SAG for his cousin Pauline’s barefoot pilgrimage up Croach Patrick which is considered the holiest mountain in Ireland. The tradition of pilgrimage to this holy mountain stretches back over 5,000 years from the Stone Age to the present day without interruption. The natives thought he was a little crazy to be following her in a car and he seemed totally bewildered that someone would walk up a mountain barefoot. 

Being in Ireland seemed to bring back memories of his first trip there to find his relatives after his military service in Vietnam.  His father would not tell him where to find his relatives.  He was embarrassed because Phil had long hair and a beard.  Nevertheless, Phil located his relatives.  They were happy to meet him and get to know him.  He stayed longer than he had planned and when he finally decided to leave they insisted that he go to confession before travelling home. Apparently, they all followed him to the church and waited outside while he made his confession.

It didn’t take long for the tensions to ease and everyone was enjoying the trip until the one rainy, cool day.  By mid-morning we were miserable and ready to find a warm café.  We found what would pass for a truck stop here.  Hot coffee! Heaven!  So, we went in and found a booth.  Then, Phil started giggling.  We looked up and Tod was rubbing his back against the plush upholstery of the booth trying to dry his shirt off.  It seemed to become a contest between Tod and Phil to see who could find the best way of drying themselves off without alerting the wait staff.  First one would turn and rub his side against the booth while pretending to talk to the person sitting next to him, and then the other one would try to find a way to dry his leg off.  It was hilarious!

Much too soon we were back in Leenane and the weeks bike trip was over.  We said goodbye to Tod who was returning to the U.S.  He'd been in Germany to scout a ride along the Danube prior to meeting us in Leenane.  The rest of us followed Phil to his cousin Pauline’s house in Roscommon which was on the way to Dublin, our next planned stop. 

Phil wanted us to meet Pauline, her husband, Christopher and their three kids, Daryl, Lorraine and Rachel.  They were as warm and wonderful as Phil had described them, moving the kids out of their rooms to put us up.  So what did we do to repay them for their hospitality?   We took the kids to the local grocery store and it was just as Phil had predicted.  Supermarket Sweep Irish Edition!  There were two full shopping carts when we were finished.  It was so much fun.  The kids pulled stuff off the shelves, toilet paper, tea, meat, produce and biscuits, each time asking Phil if it was okay and he’d say, “Sure!  Yes!” laughing the whole time.  Pauline made us dinner.  There, in the center of the table was the biggest platter of potatoes that any of us Yanks had ever seen.  In fact, the potatoes WERE the main course!   

Later, when we were sitting in the living room, the church bells sounded and the kids got on their knees and prayed the Angelus.  (The Angelus is a prayer which so many of us have forgotten or don't know how to pray.) We watched Gaelic Football (which looked more like soccer to us) on the Telly and the two little girls gave us women makeovers, it was too funny.  When one of the girls looked over her shoulder and asked, "Isn't she lovely?"  As only Phil could, looking at Mary M., he said, "You look like a bag lady."

Somewhere in there Mary M. played “football” with the kids outside in the rain while the rest of us stayed indoors drinking hot toddies -- a drink made of lemon, honey and whiskey.  But when Mary M. and the kids finally did come in, she was more than ready to drink the hot toddy that Christopher whipped up for her.  Saturday night we went to the pub and Sunday morning, to Church.  Phil was in his element.  He kept saying we could pass for Irish, even Mexi-Rican, Mary Lou Martinez.

The first week bike riding in Connemara was, of course, all scripted and planned in advance.  Nothing about the second week of our trip, however, was scripted or planned which made the days on the road special and memorable.  Sharing them with Phil and Tod only made it all the better for us girls.

Are You a Good Tripper?

The weather is warming up and our Spring Training Series has started.  This article discusses what you need to know about riding with the 5BBC.


Is this a good ride for you?.  Many things enter into consideration, but primary must be whether your skill level is up to the ride.  What is the pace of the ride?  How many miles does the ride have?  If you are comfortable with Happy Face or Moderate Rides, and you show up to a Quick Spin on your cruiser bike - I would suggest that this is not a ride that you will be able to handle. If the ride is far beyond your regular skill set at this time, don't do the ride.  It is not fun for you as you try to keep up, but still fall farther and farther behind.  You risk getting dropped.   You risk bonking.  And it is also not considerate of the rest of the group who would have to continually wait for you.  That is not to say that you should not try to expand what you can do.  The Spring Training Series is perfect for that.  But success comes incrementally, and strength is built up over time.  Know your limits.

Register for the Ride.  This takes less than a minute but makes a big difference to the Leaders on the ride.  It is good to know if there will be seven riders or 37 riders.  We often have to call ahead to our lunch spots, and it is nice to give them a reasonably accurate total.  Registration also gives the leader a way to reach out to you and provide additional information as well.  Of course, if you wake up and feel like riding - you are always free to show up on the day of the ride.

Check the Web Page.  The weather is iffy.  Is my ride going out or has it been canceled?  We are a leader driven operation, and different leaders have different weather tolerances.  Indeed, even if the weather looks good, it is always a good idea to check the web page.  Leaders get injured or sick. Life happens.  Rides are moved forward or backward in time to accommodate weather forecasts. This can save you the disappointment of showing up for a ride - and being the only one there.

Check your Bike.  Yes, we do the two minute bike check before every ride.  But the best practice is to give your bike a good evaluation before every club ride.  Do the tires need air?  Is the chain clean and properly lubed?   Are the brakes working?  Did you remember to fix the broken spoke that you got last ride?  Checking out your bike the night before is ALWAYS a good idea.

Lay out Your Stuff.   Were are my long fingered gloves?  Where is my balaclava?  Where did I put my keys?  I thought I brought snacks?  Where are the good shorts?  Setting out your things the night before saves you from the frantic scavenger hunt as you are trying to get out the door.  


Check the Web Page.  Yeah, do it again, just in case.  You never know.

Show up on Time.   We know, the trains suck on weekends.  Most leaders will give a grace period and allow some late riders - but you should not expect a ride to be held for you beyond 15 minutes.  If you know you will be a few minutes late - reach out to the leaders and let them know.  They may be able to send you a cue sheet so that you can catch up.  

Go to the Bathroom.  If there is a bathroom at the start - it is usually a good idea to use it.  Even when there are scheduled bathroom stops, you never know if they will be open on the day of the ride.  Few things are worse for leaders than constant harping about "when are we going to get to a bathroom?"

Pay Attention during the Introduction.  There will be plenty of time to socialize with your friends later.  But this is the time that the Leaders get to speak to you about the ride.  This is when you learn the route, discuss any issues, talk about safety, and any multitude of other things that can arise.  If you are chattering during the Introduction, it is distracting for your fellow riders, and rude to the Leaders.


Bring the Necessary Supplies.  Everyone carries some different items with them.  But there are some things that all riders should have with them.  Unless you are damn sure that you will be back before dusk - take your lights.  Take a spare tube or two.  Take your tire levers and any other tools you need to fix a flat.  Carry a small pump.  Take a lock and know how to use it.  If you know that you tend to bonk - make sure you have adequate water and snacks.  On sunny days take sunscreen.  Many people also carry small first aid kits.

Learn how to read a Cue Sheet.   Good riders know where they are along the route.  Most leaders will tell you on the Cue Sheet where lunch is.  No need to ask a leader when you can just look at the cue sheet.  Reading the Cue Sheet will answer many of your questions such as -how many miles have we gone?   How many miles do we have to go?  Many riders also save thir cue sheets as momentos or to help them navigate the City at a later date.

Hold your Drops.  If you are a drop - make sure that you stay there until the Sweep releases you.  Remember, many riders may thank you - but only the Sweep can release you.  Make sure you know who the Sweep is before you get on the road.  If you feel that you are in a location for too long - call the sweep.  The Sweep may be dealing with a mechanical issue further behind your position.  Nothing screws up a ride more than a drop who leaves before the sweep.  


Call out Hazards.  In a perfect world - the streets are well paved, motorists are well behaved, and there is no debris.  But we live and ride around New York City.  We have potholes, we have glass and other debris, we have cops parked in the bike lanes.  We have motorists flinging their doors open into traffic.  In short, while you are riding pay attention to the environment - and call out or point out hazards for the riders behind you.


Ride Safely.  Through most of the city - single file is the best way to ride.  In more remote areas and on certain bike lanes two abreast is fine.  But, it is never okay to sprawl out all over the road.  As we all know, there is a tenuous relationship between bicyclists and motorists in NYC - lets not give them any more to bitch about.  Keep your distance between fellow cyclists. There is also something nice about having a bike club riding single file responsibly -  We look like we know what we are doing.


Have Fun and Be a Pal.  We are NYCs Friendliest Bike Club.  If you see a newer rider - talk to them.  Introduce yourself.  Feel free to give tips on gear or riding skills.  Your happiness on the road rubs off on all riders - new and old.  


We hope that this guide is useful to some of our newer riders who are just gearing up for their first or second season riding with the 5BBC.  Hope to see you all out on the road.


David MEL Meltzer

Day Rides Coordinator






For Phil O'Reilly

Posted by Allan but actually written By -- Ted Kushner, with thanks to Steve Sakson.

Register for the Memorial Ride on April 21st !

There are many ways to describe Phil O'Reilly: jokester, comic, bike ride leader, volunteer, beloved husband and dad and brother – and one of the most decent persons to have ever graced this planet - a gentle giant of a soul who never let the nonsense of this crazy world get him down.

Phil was really the original “Teflon” man – nothing ever stuck to him. Politics and taxes? Religious fervor and unabombers? Speed demon bikers with overloaded panniers or outrageous designer spandex? Phil's genius was to knock us all down from our serious pegs and to remind us to enjoy our lives – that nothing, in fact, is sacred. With his unassuming, sotto voce tone, Phil loved to sidle up to friends – and strangers alike – and spring a joke or tell a tale, not just to make them laugh, but also to see their reactions to his “wiseguy” persona. Yes, he loved to make us all feel uncomfortable at times, but he also helped us make sure we never took ourselves too seriously, while reminding us we were just as capable as being nutty as he! Phil's true gift was to make the people he loved and the people who loved him feel special. He was a guy you just loved to have around.

Many of us in the Five Boro Bike Club knew and loved Phil for well over three decades, beginning mid to late 1980's, during the days of our predecessor organization, the Bicycle Committee of the NYC Metropolitan Council of American Youth Hostels (AYH). Phil said he had known about AYH for many years and one day “wandered” into a Five Boro Bike Tour meeting where he met Paul Sullivan, then the Tour director, who immediately put Phil to work. His motivation wasn't all  charitable, as he later reported to me. For Phil quickly noticed tsome of the female bikers, and poking me in the ribs, said “I thought to myself this might be a good thing, ya know Kush? Of course it all depends on the woman”, he said, giving me that trademark soft grin and sideways look. Little did he know how well it would work out.

When the NYC Council went kaput around 1990, several people on the Bicycle Committee decided it would be very worthwhile to form a stand-alone biking club – and it was Phil who went around to others in his gentle, stream-of-conscious, persuasive way of his asking  if we would donate some money to get it started. “Ya know, Kush, this biking thing, we have a pretty good thing going, and it would be a shame if we lost it, so we're looking for what they call seed money. I always thought seeds were in oranges, or those grapefruits that you always get for breakfast but you never see anyone eating them, you know what I mean Kush? So we're asking the core people from the Committee – Sully, Lenny, you - you know, those guys - to chip in, whatever you wanna give. We'll use it to fund a newsletter and get the word out.” From those humble beginnings, the 5BBC was born. Phil served for three years as our President, and we even somewhat facetiously named the term limit portion of the Club bylaws after him and called it the “O'Reilly rule”. Phil later served as our Weekend Trips Coordinator, where he helped kick off, with a bottle of champagne, the first (and very successful) week-long trip in Club history, a trip to Vermont led by Bipin Batra and Steve Levy. History does not record whether Phil & company consumed the contents, or if the bottle was smashed, ocean liner style, but we can presum the answer is yes on both accounts.

Somewhere in there, Phil met Lerida, or maybe it was the other way around. “Ya know Kush, we were at AYH, on Spring Street, after one of those meetings, and I'm sitting there minding my own business when all of a sudden the old lady comes running over and jumps on my lap. Well I thought to myself this might become interesting, and the next thing I know, we're walking down the aisle in the church”. Alfredo Garcia wrote in our September 2007 newsletter that Phil described the incident as “being attacked”. He always called Lerida “the old lady” as a term of endearment.

When Dylan arrived in May 1990, Phil was probably the most astounded person around. He'd say something like, “Ya know Kush, this wasn't in the script, ya know what I mean? I'm in my fortiesnow. Who woulda thought I would have a kid now.” Then he would give that mirthful look and say something like “I told the old lady either the stork went to the wrong door, or I would have to look around for a church with steps. You know, wrap the kid in blankets and stuff. But then the pots and pans started flying so I became the world's oldest father”. Still. with all the jokes, one thing was clear: Phil absolutely loved his family and was extremely proud of them.

Many of us used to kid Phil about his prowess on a bicycle, for it is legendary among his large circle of friends that he was one of the slowest riders around. Phil would run a 15 mile ride in Queens beginning at 9 am, and finish at 3, and there was always a stop somewhere at a pub or restaurant for a long lunch. For Phil, the biking wasn't about the biking or the exercise, but rather about the socializing -  the chance for people to get together for a common interest. Of course, it also meant a new chance for Phil to try out new “material” or to poke his gentle fun at the newbies. “What ya got there, a bike with 3 gears? I once read Abraham Lincoln used those in the last Civil War fight. He would have asked me to train the soldiers, but I wasn't born until a few years later”. Phil took plenty of ribbing for his habit of wearing brown socks on bike rides, but he was able to laugh at himself about it as well. When email came along, he even declared himself “brownsocksphil”.

Phil was also an integral and calming force at a difficult time in the Club's history when the 5BBC was in danger of implosion. Disagreements over club operations prompted a few Board members to resign, and as the year progressed, Phil was the target of some unfortunate mudslinging, including false allegations of malfeasance. But Phil to his courage and credit stuck it out. When it was time for elections, he once again quietly contacted a cadre of old friends and urged them to vote for a proposed slate of candidates that he thought would restore some dignity to the Club. That slate was elected handily – and once again Phil had saved the “good thing”.

Phil was born on April 21, 1946, just a few months after the end of World War II, when Truman was President. That made him draft-age during the Vietnam era, where he served in the US Air Force, became a sergeant, and served in Nam in 1968. But Phil never talked about his military service; he much preferred the people over the accolades.

One of his greatest commitments to volunteering was for the 5 Boro Bike Tour. For  many years he was posted at the Queens side of the 59th St Bridge, where he could direct bike traffic, or as he sometimes said, “mix them up a bit”. Phil also rode in, and volunteered for, the Club's Montauk Century many times, and in recent years, for the 8-day Cycling The Erie Canal ride (sometimes known as the “NYRATS” event), and Bike Virginia.

Actually, volunteering of all kinds was in Phil’s blood, much to the delight of his fellow volunteers. When 5BBC member Steve Sakson was organizing a Habitat for Humanity trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, Phil was one of the first to sign up. And with that, Steve knew it would be a successful trip, because Phil would keep everyone entertained. “The first night, our boarding-house hosts handed us three cans of red beans and a bag of rice for dinner, which we all thought was pretty cheap,” said Steve. “Of course, none of us knew that everyone else in New Orleans was partaking of the same Monday night tradition. As we began grumbling through dinner, Phil basically started his standup routine, with plenty of beans jokes and whatever else popped into his head. In a few seconds, we were all in stitches. The beans never tasted so good,” said Steve, adding, “Later, when our minders explained that no beer was allowed in the house, Phil helped lead the conspiracy to convert an old ice bucket and a wooden plank into a “coffee table,” with a secret cache of bottles down below,” said Steve.

For the past couple of years, Phil has also joined Steve and friends as a balloon handler in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  “This year, all I had to do was look at Phil’s deadpan face as he modeled his all-white “Olaf the Snowman” costume, and I was nearly on the floor,” said Steve.

I have always considered Phil as one of my mentors. Whenever I had to make an “executive” decision on a bike ride – whether turn left, or stop there, ride or cancel – I always thought to myself, What would O'Reilly do? More often than not, I would find the answer. I even borrowed his trick of cooling off on hot summer days by getting ice and wrapping in a bandana for foreheads or necks. There was more than one occasion where the magician's method saved a ride and everyone went home happy.

It is utterly senseless that Phil is gone. Our Club has lost other great people – Sully, Danny Lieberman, Tod Moore, and most recently Jesse Brown to name a few. But they lost their battles against the ravages of human disease, diabetes, cancer. Phil lost his against the age old battle of man versus machine, particularly one that humankind in one of its arguably dumbest decisions created over a century ago.

If Sully was our Obi Wan Kenobi, then Phil was our Yoda: wise beyond his years,  mischievous  as an elf, a teacher of life. We will always keep Phil in our thoughts and our hearts. I can just see him now - he's up there with Sully, and the others and Phil is saying, “Ya know guys? We're gonna get this place organized in a few days. We'll get the angels to start biking around so they can rest their wings once in a while, and between you and me, some of them don't use deodorant, ya know what I mean? And that guy at the Gate - the one with the long beard? What's he hiding in there, a big wart? Or maybe he's got a tattoo that he doesn't want the head honcho to see”. Then Phil will look down, see us mourning for him and maybe flash his socks. Love you, Big Guy. Make us laugh, make us laugh some more.