Cyclists from around the world are expected to trek around the borough for the annual Tour de Bronx slated for Oct. 22.
The tour intends to promote physical activity for an otherwise unhealthy borough while shattering the many stereotypes still linked to the Bronx.
“This is not a race,” said the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, speaking at Woodlawn Cemetery, one of the sites riders are expected to pass through. “The Tour de France is a race, the Tour de Bronx is a tour and we encourage people who are doing the 40-mile ride to get off their bikes and take a tour.” The 40-mile ride is one of two routes cyclists can take during the event. The much shorter 25-mile covers the neighborhoods of Mott Haven, Crotona Park and Pelham Bay.
For Diaz, breaking the “Bronx is burning” mold that’s been embedded in the world remains a focus, a reason why this event stands as one of the more critical events to chipping away at it. Last Year, Diaz met an Argentinian couple who held many misconceptions about the borough.
“They found their way to the Bronx and at the end of [the tour] for them to tell me that they appreciate that it was free when they paid so much in other cycling events and that they had the most fun here, that was really rewarding,” Diaz said.
Some of the new things that are coming to Tour de Bronx are custom cues that give riders historical background on each neighborhood they pass, a 15 to 25 percent discount on bike rentals for those looking to rent a bike the day of the event, and a partnership with an app called “Ride with GPS” that organizers hope will replace paper maps used during the tour.
Diaz hopes that the tour will bring in a new wave of tourism to the Bronx. “It’s a giant commercial for the Bronx,” said Diaz. In some cases, real estate developers have used the tour as an opportunity to search for sites for their next project.
Montefiore Health System, the main sponsor of the event, wants Bronxites to see the beauty of the borough through a health lens. “We want to make sure that people understand that physical activity is fun, is free, and that everyone can do it,” said Melissa Cebollero, senior director for community and government relations and senior director for Mosholu Preservation Corporation, publishers of the Norwood News.
Some 6,000 riders have already signed up for the tour. Diaz hopes among this year’s registrants are Bronx families.
“Hopefully this will start a chain of events where they can continue to plan with their families to continue to benefit from our green spaces and public parks,” said Diaz.
Editor’s Note: To sign up for the tour, go to http://www.ilovethebronx.com/index.php/happenings/tour-de-bronx. Check-in starts at 9 a.m. at 164th Street between Walton Avenue and the Grand Concourse.