Monday, May 3, 2010

Five. Borough. Bike. Tour.

We spent the weekend at my parents’ place in New Jersey and bright and early on Sunday morning, we made our way back into the city to meet my friend Kim and her family at the Cloisters. I left a message for Kim when we were on the road, gleefully informing her that we were 7 minutes AHEAD of schedule, which is virtually unheard of in the history of our family and that we might, in fact, even be early.

“Don’t ever tell people we might be early,” David admonished, “We are not get-there-early people. Even if it looks like we’re going to be early, trust me, we’re not.”

“But we have THREE hours to take a one hour ride,” I replied, “How could we NOT be early.”

Anyone with any sense knows never to dare the powers that be like that.

Because five minutes later, Kim called me back.

“There’s a problem.” she said, “I just realized today is the day of the five borough bike tour.”

“Ooooh shit,” I moaned, “Crap.”

How can I explain the traffic ramifications of the five-borough bike tour?

They close the BQE and the Gowanus Expressway, they close the Queensboro Bridge and the FDR – they basically close the major thoroughfares of ALL FIVE BOROUGHS. In the middle of the day on Sunday. If you have ever driven in New York City, you can imagine the perfect shitstorm of traffic that results.

And here’s the thing about the five-borough bike tour. It’s never on a Sunday when we’re just hanging around Brooklyn. I’m never just having a lazy day, picnicking at the Park, and, "Oh, look at that, today's the day of the bike tour. Well, no bi deal, we have no place to be.” Every year, it is on a day when we have to get somewhere in Manhattan, somewhere we can’t get out of. The bike tour was the day of my sister’s bridal shower in Chelsea.

The bike tour was on the day of Primo’s birthday party at my parents’ place in midtown. It always screws us, this bike tour.

So not only would Kim and her family not be able to make it in from Brooklyn to meet at the Cloisters, we were, it appeared, never getting home.

I called my parents who were still in New Jersey to give them the heads up. I knew they’d have a coronary.

“Guess what today is?”

“What?” my father asked.

“The Five Borough Bike Race,” I replied.

“Oh SHIIIIIIIIT!” he yelled. Then to my mother, “Today’s the five-borough –“

Pandemonium broke out.

“OH MY GOD!” she shouted, “HOW could I FORGET that it was TODAY!”

Then my dad barked to my sister, “Get on the computer! We need route maps! We need closures! We need the schedule!”

“Get the maps! Get all the maps! WHERE’S THE GPS????”

“Hurry up and get in the car! We can beat it!”

“It’s too LATE! It already started!”


“I gotta go!” said my father. And the phone went dead. They had some major rerouting to plan. They would need to cross-reference their maps. They would need to triangulate. They would need to outsmart the bike tour.

We opted to wait it out. Hit the Cloisters, which wasn’t affected by the closures, then hung around Washington Heights, visited my good friend, took a pilgrimage to the Little Red Lighthouse, and by the time that was all finished it was past 5 and everything was open again. We flew down the FDR. Then, of course, we got caught in some truly nasty Bridge traffic, but hey, that’s to be expected on a Sunday night.

See that, Bike Tour? You can’t keep us down.

My parents, on the other hand, are probably still fighting over what route to take home.