Explore the Bronx by Bike at the Tour de Bronx

There are plenty of big sky views during the Tour De Bronx. This is the RFK Bridge at sunrise
There are plenty of big sky views during the Tour De Bronx. This is the RFK Bridge at sunrise MTAPhotos
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The Tour de Bronx, the largest free cycling event in New York City and a prime opportunity for two-wheeled sightseeing, happens on Sunday, October 25th. Riders choose either a 25- or 40-mile route, both of which pass by some of the most iconic and also less well-known gems in the Bronx.

This year marks the 21st edition of the ride and organizers are expecting more than 6,000 cyclists. Presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Transportation Alternatives, and produced by the Bronx Tourism Council, the popular event is billed as a ride, not a race. You'll be the only one timing your effort, so approach the Tour as a way to see new parts of the city, and to meet some new cyclist friends.

The ride is intended to promote alternative transportation to cars, but as an outdoorsy type, you probably already understand the importance and benefits of bike commuting. It's also a great time to enjoy a crisp fall day in the city, while checking out some new riding routes. Be sure to dress for the weather and consider wearing a windproof jacket or gloves if the forecast calls for a cool breeze.

Three Tour de Bronx riders enjoying the day
Three Tour de Bronx riders enjoying the day by Kristine Paulus via Flickr

Whether you live in the area or are visiting, prepare to be wowed by what you see along the two routes as you experience the Bronx by bike. From Bronx Greenway Bike Paths, shorelines (even a beach—Orchard Beach) and parks to Pelham Bay Park , City Island, vibrant neighborhoods, and gritty industrial areas, you'll experience all the Bronx has to offer.

The ride passes near Van Cortland Park, located smack in the middle of New York City's northern borough. Enjoy the ride, but plan to return to explore it on foot for hiking and running highlights like John Muir nature trail, and a standard running track. 

Along the 40-mile route of the Tour de Bronx, you'll get to enjoy a ton of harbor views you might normally skip on your ride as you rush to get out of the city. City Island—a tiny, half-mile island that you'll ride onto via a bridge, feels like a hidden seaside retreat. The narrow island may be attached to the Bronx, but the historic seaport community makes you forget about the big city for a second.

Both the 25-(the leisurely, more family friendly version) and the 40- (a faster paced option on surface streets) mile rides end with a music festival and party at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx—which also happens to be one of the nicest spots to go for a run in the city! If want a double workout for the day, finish your Tour with a quick transition into a 5K run around the outer loop of the Gardens before enjoying the celebration.

The ride finishes at the New York Botanical Gardens
The ride finishes at the New York Botanical Gardens by CMMooney via Flickr

If you're looking for a way to meet some new cyclist buddies or just get more acquainted with the city and brush up on your riding routes, the Tour de Bronx is a can't miss opportunity. Even though it's free, participants must register online by October 21, and donations are appreciated. If you can't make it, be sure to check out the ride routes and some of the prime cross training destinations along the way to take advantage of everything that just north of Manhattan has to offer.

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