If you’re a serious roadie in the city, you’ll want to make plans to head to Prospect Park to take advantage of some pre-race training on the 3.5 mile loop that runs around the park. There are dozens of races—almost one every week in spring and summer—that are run on the park’s main loop, and you can bet that your competition is there practicing regularly.
What Makes It Great
Compared to the amalgam that makes up the cycling crew that passes through Central Park on a daily basis—from beat-up mountain bikes to ancient fixies to high-end triathlon-specific aero machines—Prospect Park has one main type of cyclist: the roadie (with a smattering of the crazy triathlete type thrown in!).
The Kissena Cycling Club, one of the biggest local NYC teams and clubs around, explains why Prospect Park is the place to ride, saying, “If you need to get in a quick hour on the bike, or want a group to ride with, these rolling loops are teeming with cyclists–and the loops are closed to car traffic mid-days and evenings for most of the year. Both parks are well lit, so riding in the dark, both before sunrise and after sunset, is very popular.”
Stay on the roads, not the paths, since those are prohibited for cyclists. Prospect Park is also a great spot for running, so if you’re a triathlete, you can lock your bike post-ride and do a circuit; or bring a friend who needs to get in a run. The boyfriend and I often train that way, so parks that can do double-duty are ideal for us, and this is one of the best!
Beware of unsuspecting pedestrians and runners with headphones blasting music too loud, and keep an eye on other cyclists, but Prospect Park is generally good for safe riding. Because it’s so highly trafficked by cyclists-in-the-know, be careful to follow all of the cyclist rules of the road, and don’t be a rude rider. It’s a welcoming community, but don’t get in the way of an interval session!
After you finish your ride, the Park has some seriously impressive food trucks lined up outside of Grand Army Plaza near the huge arch, and I don’t just mean hot dogs. There are plenty of options for everyone, from organic coffee to ice cream to schwarma. It’s a pretty cool spot to enjoy a meal after a ride, and since the 2 and 3 trains go almost straight to the park entrance, if you don’t want to brave city traffic, getting here is a breeze.
Who is Going to Love It
If you are a serious cyclist or a triathlete, this is a great place for you. Besides the loops for cycling, there is a running path.
It’s a great spot for intervals, since it’s full of smooth corners (not a sharp turn in sight) and only one hill that’s easily a big-ring style climb.
If you’re a Strava junkie, there’s one main Strava loop for Prospect Park that measures 5.5km. The leading men’s time hovers at around 6:50, and the leading women’s time is around 7:30—just food for thought! There’s also a shorter hill segment that starts halfway up East Drive, and hundreds of people have recorded Stravas there. The top man did the half-mile section in 57 seconds and the top woman did it in 1:10.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
For a map and detailed directions of the loop, check out the NYC Bike Map.