Wade Wright, Dan Warnes, Jason Brown and Chris Stanley flew to New York City to join Dan's daughter, Brooklynite Rachel Warnes, for the 40-mile "Five Boros Bicycle Tour" with 32,000 other cyclists on May 5.
The participants traveled through the 5 boroughs or districts of New York City. The ride started in lower Manhattan, went through Central Park, crossed over into the Bronx for a short loop, back into Manhattan, crossed over into Queens, down through Brooklyn and across the Verrazano Bridge (228 feet high) and onto Staten Island.
At the end, they rode the Staten Island Ferry back to Manhattan before pedaling back to Rachel’s residence.
Rachel practices veterinary medicine and has been living in Brooklyn for almost 3 years. She gave the Guntersville group a walking and cycling tour of Brooklyn and Manhattan on the days before the ride. In all, the must have rode about 100 miles, according to Chris Stanley of the group. That's factoring in the days of touring before the big distance ride.
"The weather was great except for the day of the ride when it came a soaker," Dan said. "It rained through most of the ride with low 50 degree weather leaving us shivering by the end of the ride."
Counting the ride from Rachel’s residence to the start line and back, the group cycled 53 miles the day of the actual 5 Boros Ride.
"It was a great way to see the city," Wade said.
The guys from Guntersville are all part of the same informal cycling group and they ride a bunch, both on the road and on mountain bikes off-road.
"Rachel works out a lot, but she doesn't ride a lot," Dan said. "I was impressed. She hung in there. She wasn't born an athlete, but she has made herself into one."
The 5 riders stayed together for about 40 miles of the 50 miles.
Dan and Wade rented bikes in the city. But Jason and Chris took their own bikes in special cases and checked them through the airlines. Chris owns Guntersville Outfitters.
He said taking a bike on the airline was an interesting experience.
"TSA got in the case and made a bit of a mess," he said. "I think they got in my energy shots, because there was goo everywhere in the case."
He said making his way through the terminal with the extra large case was interesting.
Like the others, Chris said he had a fantastic time. The weather was nice until the day of the ride.
"It was a bit brutal," he said. "It rained all day and the temperature dropped. We were drenched and fatigued by the end."
Both Chris and Dan said New York City is very bike friendly. There are bike lanes everywhere.
"You see bike riders out at all hours of the day," Dan said.
Chris' favorite part of the trip was seeing the World Trade Center monuments and the new Freedom Tower.
"I had an amazing experience with the subways too," he said.
Wade enjoyed spending time in Brooklyn.
"I'd never spent much time there on past visits to New York City," he said.
He said the ride was flat and easy, but he rides a lot.
Dan had learned of the Five Boros Ride last spring while visiting Rachel and knew he wanted to participate. He mentioned it to his riding friends and Dan, Jason and Chris all eagerly signed up. Chris said he would do it again.
"It's a great way to see the city," Dan said.
Dan may be a small town boy, but he's come to love the big city since Rachel moved there. He'd visited once prior to her move, but has been to New York about 5 times since Rachel moved there.
"Rachel enjoys having visitors too," he said. "She said it makes her get out and see things she has never seen. New York is always full of surprises."
While touring Brooklyn before the tour, the group was riding through a warehouse district when they came upon 2 shops they didn't know about. One specialized in key lime pie. The other was a motorcycle shop.
"How does that key lime pie place stay in business in the middle of nowhere?" Dan asked. "I think they've just developed a reputation."
Dan enjoys the food of New York City.
"If New York is anything, it's a food city," he said. "You've got thousands of restaurants. You can get any kind of ethnic food you want. There are a lot of exotic foods and a lot of food specialty shops."
And if you're burning tons of calories biking all day, you can pretty much eat whatever you want.