How to Get a Spot in New York City's Five Boro Bike Tour

Gaining Entry to the Nation's Largest Cycling Event

Bike New York
Courtesy of Bike New York 

New York City's annual TD Five Boro Bike Tour, hosted by Bike New York, is the nation's largest charitable cycling event. With an estimated 32,000 participating cyclists, it's nearly as big as the New York City Marathon. The event is typically held on the first Sunday in May. 2020's race date has not yet been announced.

The Five Boro Bike Tour winds through all five boroughs, as the name suggests. Cyclists get the thrill of riding in the normally congested streets of New York City while simultaneously raising money for free bike education programs. It's one of the most popular events in the Big Apple, which is why prospective participants must secure their places months in advance.

Obtaining a Packet

Like with any marathon, there are no physical tickets that confirm entry to the bike tour. Instead, registered participants will receive a rider identification kit, a packet containing a helmet cover, bib, and bike plate. If you spend a little extra for a Bike New York membership, you'll also receive a welcome kit, which includes more goodies. In addition to freebies, registrants also have the opportunity to purchase a race jersey.

Member registration permits access to a members-only beer garden at the Finish Festival, partner discounts, and early registration for the following year's Five Boro Bike Tour. A full rundown of Bike New York Member benefits can be found online.

Fully stocked rest areas, live music, and entertainment line the route. At the end, cyclists receive a commemorative medal and a personal photo gallery. If you're interested in participating, you'll want to sign up months in advance because spots fill up fast.

Registration Options

  • Standard: $112 will get you basic entry into the event, access to the Finish Festival, and a commemorative medal.
  • Standard + Bike New York membership: $152 will put you in the priority line to pick up your packet at the Bike Expo as well as access to a beer garden at the Finish Festival, early registration for the following year's ride, members-only rides throughout the year, partner discounts, a T-shirt, pin, and reflective sticker.
  • VIP: For $350, you get guaranteed placement in the first wave of the ride, breakfast and entertainment at the starting line, access to the VIP line to pick up your packet at the Bike Expo, access to an exclusive VIP lounge, and gourmet lunch at the Finish Festival. As far as free gear goes, you also get an official jersey, a handlebar bag, and a timed climb over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
  • Join with a participating charity: Alternatively, you can join up with one of the 60-plus non-profit organizations that partner with the TD Five Boro Bike Tour to help them raise money. You simply commit to a given sum of money and in exchange, you get a free registration packet. Check the websites of certain charities (Habitat for Humanity, Planned Parenthood, United Way, and more) to find out how each particular fundraising program works.

Additional Ways to Participate

  • Volunteering: More than 2,000 volunteers are needed for five- to eight-hour shifts during the event. Tasks include setting up, handing out snacks and water, fixing flat tires, and much more. The benefits of volunteering include a complimentary breakfast on the day of the event, early registration for the following year, a t-shirt, and a discount on registration for other Bike New York events. Volunteer registration opens in February.
  • Bike Expo: A Bike Expo is held for two days prior to the event at Basketball City on Pier 36 on Manhattan's Lower East Side. The expo is free and open to the public. It features vendors, exhibitors, live performances, and educational programs about cycling for youth and adults. (Event participants will pick up their packets at the Bike Expo, guaranteeing a crowd of some 30,000.)
  • Other Bike New York events: Choose between five routes (from 15 miles to 100 miles) in the Discover Hudson Valley Ride in June, participate in the Twin Lights Ride through the back roads of Monmouth County, New Jersey, or join in on other local rides around New York City throughout the year.
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