Cyclists receive warm welcome in Bay Ridge

Over 32,000 cyclists converged on the streets of Bay Ridge, lastSunday, May 1, as part of the 34th annual TD Bank FiveBoro Bike Tour.

“It’s so muchfun. We come with family because it’s healthy being outside, beinghere in New York, the best city in the world,” said Sara Widman ofPark Slope, who was riding for her sixth consecutiveyear.

“I love bikingand this is a really great event that shows New York City isinvesting in alternative forms of transportation,” added MayaShulman, a Windsor Terrace resident cycling to raise money forUnion Settlement Association in East Harlem. Along with a friend,who cycled for another nonprofit, God’s Love We Deliver, she raisedaround $1,000 for her cause.

While thebicyclists were just passing through, it was the locals who stayedall day at the rest stop in Bay Ridge’s Cannonball Park, just pastthe 35 mile marker on Shore Parkway, ensuring that North America’sbiggest bicycling event ran smoothly by providing everything fromcheering sections and water station attendants to route marshalsand medical attention..

It was therethat volunteers, vendors and residents geared up for a day ofshowing off their Brooklyn spirit.

“I’ve beenvolunteering to help at different athletic events for years,” saidBay Ridge resident Lisa Chin, who served as a volunteer captain ata table passing out apple pie Larabars to cyclists. “It’s fun to do[and] you get to meet the community. I think it brings people intothe borough, to see things that they haven’t seenbefore.”

Chief Gary Boireof the Customs and Border Protection Explorer Programagreed.

“They love it.It’s a long day, but the kids have a good time,” said Boire of the32 teen volunteers who help out with the Bike Tour every year.“When you show up with a group that large, it makes a huge impact.It’s part of giving back. It makes you feel good.”

Other groupshelping out at Cannonball Park were local TD Bank branch employees,the Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) from Bay Ridge,Bensonhurst and Sunset Park, the Park Slope Volunteer AmbulanceCorps, NYPD Auxiliary officers from the 68th Precinct,and students from various CUNY chapters of Delta Sigma Chi sororityand Phi Sigma Chi fraternity.

As the firstriders made their way down Shore Parkway at 10:30 a.m., one areabusinessman set up a large curbside hot dog/gyro/halal food/softdrink snack station off the highway.

The man, Habib,is a Bay Ridge resident who has manned food trucks and grills alongthe waterfront for 10 years, but goes all out on Bike Tour day,bringing family and friends to help with sales.

“It’s goodbusiness. Sales are about two times better,” said Habib betweenserving up hot dogs to hordes of hungry riders. “The kids, thewhole family come. Then the bikers come.”

For Bay Ridgemom Yana Panchishina, the event was simply a chance to spend timewith her three-year-old son and friendly strangers.

“It’s so muchfun even for people who don’t ride,” said Panchishina as cyclistsstopped to pet her two dogs, an American Staffordshire terrier anda pit bull mix. “I spent two hours just chilling. I don’t think [myson has] ever seen so many bikes before. Hopefully it will get himinterested in being active.”

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