Updated 10/14/2012 04:58 PM
"Tour De Bronx" Lets Thousands Of Cyclists Enjoy Borough's Diverse Scenery
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About 6,000 bike riders peddled along one of two scenic routes for the 18th annual Tour de Bronx on Sunday, to take in the borough's wide range of neighborhoods and natural beauty.
Cyclists of all experience levels started the morning at the Bronx County Building on the Grand Concourse and chose either a 25- or 40-mile route along sites like the Soundview Greenway and Woodlawn Cemetery.
The event was free and city officials gave away over 400 free helmets in an effort to promote biking as a healthy, environmentally friendly form of transit.
"From [ages] eight to 80, little kids to spandex warriors and everything in between," said Ben McRoberts of Transportation Alternatives.
Experienced riders said they were happy to share the road with rookies any day.
"We want people to get off the couches, get off their iPhone and get on their bikes and exercise," said Bronx native and participant Fernando Rivera.
"It's a great workout. The people are so friendly. It's the Bronx, it's awesome. I'll do it every year," said a rider.
Cyclists from around the city and the world enjoyed exploring the borough's 61 neighborhoods.
"I think it will be good because I haven't seen much of the Bronx," said Olivia Scott, a Roosevelt Island resident.
"You go by the sea, you go by the mountains. It's nice," said Bronx resident Jose Then.
"The view from a bike is totally different than view from a car, so I thought it would be a great way to see all the different neighborhoods," said Manhattan resident Lise Martina.
While cyclists hit many landmarks all along the way, ending at the New York Botanical Garden for a music festival, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who sported a bicycle helmet, said his favorite sight is the look of discovery on riders' faces.
"They say, 'Wow, this is not what people told me it was. This is not the Bronx of the '70s and '80s. The Bronx is booming, the Bronx is beautiful," said Diaz.
For more information, visit tourdebronx.org.