The Rider Who Biked Every New York City Borough With SOUL
ider MONICA LENGYEL KARLSON knew she could turn it up on the SOUL bike, but what happened when she pedaled out of the studio and onto the open road? Read on to find out.
My husband’s idea of a fun vacation would entail a month-long bike trip across Italy for the two of us. We’d ride 50 miles a day on winding Tuscan roads by day, and eat, drink, and be merry by night. I, however, would prefer three weeks at home in New York, riding my little heart out at SoulCycle while exhibiting moderate dietary virtue, and then heading to a slothful, exercise-free week in Tuscany, where we’d gorge ourselves on sheep milk cheeses and wine for breakfast and indulge like there was no tomorrow. Tomato, tomato.
But marriage is about compromise, and year after year, my husband has asked if I wanted to do a bike ride across the five boroughs of New York. The Five Boro Bike Ride “is the largest charitable bike ride in the U.S.,” he explained to me. “Plus,” he added, ”you love bikes and you love New Yorky things. This’ll be perfect!” Well, the New Yorky part is true, but his request was met with an emphatic "No," time after time.
Eventually, however, he broke my spirit. He expressed seemingly genuine interest one too many times in my scintillating tales of why I, “believe it or not, prefer bike eight to bike seven,” or how a particular instructor is “a little bit too left-footy for my taste.” So eventually, I acquiesced.
The event was a year away when he asked, but time passed, as it is wont to do, and at 4:59pm the afternoon before the ride, I begrudgingly cancelled my bike in EMMA's class the next morning.
Fast-forward several hours, and we were on the Staten Island Ferry on our way back to Manhattan after the ride, looking out at a particularly glorious approaching skyline. On that post-ride ferry I felt accomplished, satisfied and content, but long bike rides in the great outdoors aren’t quite my new thing either. I’ve been back at SoulCycle every day since, and there I will remain. But it was an eye-opening experience and I definitely learned a few things along the way.
I was a magical unicorn on the bike and it came as a total surprise to me. I’m not exuding youth and I’m not an atypical SoulCycle rider — I'd say with some confidence that my experience wasn’t unique. When I took a STACEY class the next morning, my legs felt absolutely A-OK, to boot.
So, am I going to sign up for this ride next year? Eh, probably not. But if pressed, Verrazano Bridge here I come. Even better and faster next time.
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