A group of biking diehards stood on the corner of Waldo Avenue and Manhattan College Parkway on Sunday, joking with each other about past rides and giving each other flak for not putting in enough miles this year.
They clicked as they walked around in their toe-clip shoes, and each was decked out in spandex shorts, brightly-colored jerseys and fingerless gloves. They were ready, maybe even a little too ready, for the last major cycling event of the season, the 15th Tour de Bronx.
The Tour de Bronx is New York State’s largest free bicycling event, hosted by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Transportation Alternatives. More than 5,000 bikers rode either a 25-mile or 40-mile route around the mainland this year, each starting on the Grand Concourse at 161st Street and finishing at the New York Botanical Garden where riders were met with a pizza party.
Among the cyclers was a hardcore group from Riverdale that rode the 40-mile route on a cool, crisp, perfect day for cruising around the borough.
“I’m a Bronxite … I’ve been doing the Bronx tour all my life. Having an organized Bronx tour is one thing, but a Bronx tour for me is just another great deal for the community and for the borough on it’s own,” said Thomas Durham, the chair of the housing committee of Community Board 8, who everyone calls “Big T.”
For many riders, Tour de Bronx is a chance to see parts of the borough they might not have known about. Mily Noyola, a Riverdale resident for 13 years, said she loves the route through City Island.
Mr. Durham said he likes when people ask him — “is this still the Bronx?” — when they hit a particularly green area of the route, especially the upper hills of Riverdale.
After Mr. Durham finished the 40-mile route with fellow Riverdalians Jeff Ballinger and Eric Abbott, he biked back to where he started, on the corner of Waldo Avenue and Manhattan College Parkway, the approximate 30-mile mark of the tour. There, he was asked by event organizers to direct traffic at the intersection.
He told some riders, as they huffed and puffed up Manhattan College Parkway, that they could opt-out of hilly Riverdale and ride the bike path down to Irwin Avenue, but for most, he recommended staying the course.
Mr. Durham said he screamed words of encouragement to the riders, saying things like “Man up!” “You signed up for 40, do 40!” or “Hills are your friends!”
When people would ask about the shortcut, he’d say, “Well, you miss the hills, but you’re going to miss the most scenic ride of the tour.”
Riverdale’s route up Manhattan College Parkway, across Henry Hudson Parkway at West 247th Street and down Palisade Avenue, is the Tour de Bronx version of the later high mountain stages of the Tour de France — where only the strong survive.