A Memorable Ride in the Big Apple

by

In my 12 years of bike riding I have ridden my bike all over the world. Belgium, Italy, etc. And yet yesterday I had one of the most memorable bike experiences ever in my own backyard – New York City. I did so with my eldest son, Michael, at my side as we rode in support of the LIVESTRONG Foundation and in memory of my late father after whom my son is named. My father died at 43 of pancreatic cancer and every year since I turned 43 I have ridden in a LIVESTRONG Challenge for the Foundation.

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This year that would not be possible as Michael will be moving into his dorm for the first time on the same day as the Philadelphia Challenge. So we were searching for a substitute ride. To our great fortune, 2 slots opened up on the LIVESTRONG team for the TD 5 Boro Bike Tour at the very last minute. We had actually already signed up for the ride but to join the Foundation’s team made it all the more special. And, as charity team members we got to start at the front. Given the TD 5 Boro Bike Tour is the largest event of the country with over 32,000 participants that is quite an extraordinary opportunity.

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Our expectations were high and we were not disappointed. There is something surreal about riding through New York City surrounded by fellow cyclists – and only fellow cyclists. Riding up the Avenue of the Americas with the Radio City Music Hall marquee reading “We Ride for Boston” is indescribable. We passed gospel singers, salsa bands, school spirit squads and pep bands all out early on a Sunday morning to lend a truly Big Apple vibe to our morning.

The wonder of the day, and the immense gulf between our usual NYC existence and the Tour, was best captured by Michael when he said immediately upon our entering the usually congested BQE (that’s Brooklyn Queens Expressway for you non-locals) accompanied only by other riders, “This is the fastest I’ve ever moved on the BQE!”

Although numbers can’t adequately evoke the day, here are a few for your consideration:

58,145: The amount our LIVESTRONG team of riders raised as of today.
31: The number of LIVESTRONG fundraisers riding in the Tour.
42: The miles we rode.
5: The Boros we rode through. Manhattan, the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.
40+: The number of LIVESTRONG jerseys and helmets I saw on non-Team LIVESTRONG riders.
Infinity:The number of memories, breathtaking views and reasons people came together.
0: The number of cars honking at the world’s largest peloton to get off the road.
2: The number of times my 18 year old son dropped me as if I wasn’t moving.
1: The number of causes that united the LIVESTRONG fundraisers and riders.

Think about those numbers for a minute.

The one that stands out to me is the number of people who weren’t formally riding on Team LIVESTRONG who chose to wear their LIVESTRONG gear with pride. We are all one team. We all ride for one cause. We ride to raise funds for and bring awareness to the invaluable and innovative programs the Foundation offers free of charge to cancer survivors and their caregivers. We ride to honor all cancer survivors and in memory of all who lost their fight. We ride to let all cancer survivors know that they are not and will never be alone.

We are a powerful force but we are only as powerful as each person’s commitment.

So I urge you to now more than ever LIVESTRONG. BE STRONG. STAY STRONG.

Alex Arato
Team LIVESTRONG
TD 5 Boro Bike Tour