NYC Century Takeaways from WE Bike NYC


Did you hear about or ride the NYC Century that happened in September? Have any questions or takeaways? One WE Bike volunteer Elyse Bejasa shares her thoughts on the urban century.

Thank you to Transportation Alternativesfor hosting the 2015 NYC Century on September 13th!! WE woke up early on a Sunday to explore the city with hundreds of other cyclists, taking well-timed breaks to refuel and riding through new areas. The tour, which has 4 options for distance, was a great opportunity for us to do an urban century, which many of us had never done before.

While some of us started in Central Park, my decision to start in Prospect Park was a no-brainer: I live about 5 minutes away. Still, it was hard to wake up at 4:30 am on a Sunday to get ready. My dog definitely gave me a look of “why are we awake at this hour??” But alas, I dragged myself out of bed, got dressed, turned on my bike lights, and met up with some fellow 100-milers in the Park.

A century is no easy feat, but TA made it easier with routes marked for each distance, helpful marshals, and DELICIOUS food at every rest stop. I think I ate 4 or 5 plums and all the watermelon I set my eyes on. And that hummus??

Riding an organized century was a different experience from other centuries that I have done. The biggest difference was that everything was routed ahead of time. It was very helpful to not have to constantly think about what turns to take, what the general route was, and where WE should stop next to take a break. It meant that I could concentrate on what was ahead of me: lots and lots of miles.

I was also lucky that I got to ride with a group of fellow WE Bikers who pace well with me. As much as WE all enjoy riding together as a group, it’s important to understand your individual needs when doing a long ride like a century. How often do you want to stop? Do you need to take long breaks between rest stops? Can you ride at a fairly similar and steady pace together? Luckily, my answers were YES and I’m glad I was riding alongside these ladies! Otherwise, I don’t know if I would have had as much fun.

I hadn’t originally planned on doing the NYC Century, but I’m so glad I did. Next up, riding the 40 mile route of the Tour de Bronx with WE Bike NYC!!

Explore NYC with these Ride Ideas!

Long Rides Around NYC

With the New York City Century coming up, WE are working to make sure our legs are up for the challenge and are preparing by doing some longer rides. Most cyclists point to 9W and River Road/Henry Hudson Drive when asked about their favorite 30+ mile ride, (WE’re doing that this month also!) but there are plenty of options for long rides within New York City. WE asked one of our ride leaders, Elyse Bejasa, to tell us about a few of her favorites.

Of course, the length of the route depends on where you start your journey so you may end up doing more miles that day, but these are great ways to get those legs ready for the Century!

Please note that the routes listed below are suggestions and you should always consult a map before a ride.

Shore Parkway to the Beach
Right along the Belt Parkway is the Shore Parkway, a long stretch of a bike and pedestrian path that follows the coast line. The bike path takes you from Bay Ridge all the way to Coney Island, then picks up again and goes all the way farther east into Queens. Starting from Grand Army Plaza, this route is about 30 miles long. There are restrooms and water fountains to refill water bottles at Jacob Riis and Canarsie Pier.

Gotham Loop
One popular ride WE did last year was the Gotham Loop, which takes you along the outer edge of Manhattan, mostly on bike paths. It’s about 30 miles the whole way around the island and there are plenty of places to stop, take in some views, and use facilities as necessary. Additional information here.

Queens Parks Tour
I’ve only done this in pieces, but would love to try it all in one shot one day. Queens has some great parks that span out all over the borough. This route, which is about 27.5 miles with a start and finish at Astoria Park, takes you through 4 of them. Expect to be on local roads between parks, but on some nice shaded bike paths while in the parks themselves.

Have other recommendations? Let us know in the Female Bike Forum by WE Bike NYC!

WE Bike NYC’s 2nd Rapha Women’s 100k Ride!

Getting Ready For This Year’s Rapha Women’s 100 Challenge — from WE Bike NYCer and co-leader of the Rapha Women’s 100 Elyse Bejasa

Early last summer, I stumbled across the WE Bike NYC website and saw that they were hosting a ride for the Rapha Women’s 100 challenge. At that point, I had been a bike commuter for about 11 months, riding 5 miles to and from work on my old, clunky 3-speed cruiser. The longest ride I had ever done was the TD Five Boro Bike Tour a few weeks prior, but I wanted to challenge myself with the 60 mile ride. I didn’t know what to expect and was pretty ill-prepared for the ride, but with the support of the amazing women of WE Bike NYC, I finished. All 60+ miles. On my cruiser. I honestly don’t know how I did it without my legs falling off.

This year, I feel like I’m ready for the Rapha Women’s 100 because I’ve learned SO MUCH since last year and because I’ve biked way more than I ever have. So I figured I’d share a few of the things I’ve learned in my quick transformation from commuter to cyclist that’ll help me get through those miles on July 26th.

  • Bring snacks and EAT THEM! I usually have snacks on me (I’m a hungry person), but it never used to occur me to me that I needed to be eating fairly often while on my bike. Biking burns a lot of calories and it’s easy to miscalculate how much energy you’re expending until you’re just about to bonk. I found that I need to eat something (usually a pack of energy gummies or a KIND bar) every 20 miles to stay steady. The amount of energy you need varies person to person. How your body reacts to heat and humidity and other extraneous factors also play a part in this equation. That said, I often carry more food than I think I will need because I would rather be safe than sorry. If I cannot physically carry enough food for my ride, I will bring enough cash and plan my route accordingly so that I have places to refuel along the way.
  • Riding in groups is VERY different from riding alone. For one thing, it’s more fun. But it also requires communication between riders. I learned about the various hand signals and audible cues that cyclists use so other cyclists are aware of what’s going on. Good communication between riders helps people trust that the group is looking out for their safety. So ride predictably and pass back signals when you’re riding in a group.
  • Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Did I mention HYDRATE? It goes without saying that water is the best, but remember to add electrolytes to replenish the ones you lose as you sweat over a long period of time.
  • Don’t be afraid of bike gear! As much as I can, I try to use what I already have when it comes to gear. But as I began to do longer rides and ride more often, I realized upgrading was in my favor, procuring different gear as I was able. I went from casual commuter to cyclist because I was looking for gear that would make my rides more efficient. Whether it was cycling jerseys (the pockets on the back are magical and hold snacks!), chamois shorts (protecting our bottoms doesn’t just mean more comfort – it’s also better for our health), or clipless pedals, I invested in them because they make my ride better for me and also because I knew I’d wear them pretty often.

I’m glad to be co-leading the Rapha Women’s 100 ride this year. If you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share, if you have any questions about the ride, or just want to chat about something bike-related, please feel free to post on the Female Bike Forum presented by WE Bike NYC.

Hope to see everyone on July 26th!!