Tour de Bronx to traverse the borough on Sunday, October 23rd

New York Rangers legend and NHL Hall of Famer Mark Messier (c) rides with Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and many others cyclists during the 21st Annual Tour de Bronx in 2015.

The 22nd annual Tour de Bronx, which has grown into one of the great bicycling events in the region, is approaching.

This year’s annual Tour de Bronx, named after the famed Tour de France bicycle race in France, will take place on Sunday, October 23 and bring cyclists to points of interest around the borough.

Riders choose between a 25- and 40-mile course, said Olga Luz Tirado, executive director of the Bronx Tourism Council.

She said that more than 6,000 people were registered as of press time and that the number is expected to climb. In 2014 there were over 7,600 participants.

“This is one of my favorite events of the year,” said Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. who co-hosts the event.

“The Tour de Bronx not only emphasizes maintaining a healthy lifestyle, excellently complements our ‘#Not62’ health initiative as far as helping improve the overall health of our borough, but also highlighting our borough’s historical sites, beautiful waterfronts and vibrant neighborhoods, showcasing the best that we have to offer to both our residents and visitors from around the world.”

The new starting point for this year’s tour is Harris Field at Bedford Park Boulevard West between Paul and Goulden avenues.

In previous years, the race had begun near the Bronx County Courthouse at Grand Concourse and East 161st Street, but organizers thought that after two decades, a new starting point was appropriate, and it was also needed because of NYPD regulations, said Tirado.

“We had been wanting to change the routes for a while, because after 21 years of riding the same routes, we wanted to showcase other parts of the borough,” she said.

The previous courses did not cover most of the length of the Grand Concourse, but the new ones do, she said, and riders will have the entire center lane of the thoroughfare to themselves.

“I think that the Grand Concourse is a really great road for cyclists to experience without traffic,” said Tirado.

Both routes conclude at the New York Botanical Garden, where there will be pizza and music, she said, with everyone receiving a T-shirt.

The great thing about the tour is the many Bronxites and people from elsewhere see points of interest that they otherwise would probably never notice, said Tirado.

“I hear from people at the end of the race: ‘I did not realize that was there,’” said Tirado, adding that the tour is not a race, unlike its French counterpart.

The 40-mile route snakes along the south Bronx waterfront near Harding Park and comes through Pelham Bay Park and City Island before making a westward turn back to the Woodlawn and Van Cortlandt Park.

Highlights along the 25-mile traverse of the borough include Crotona and Soundview parks.

The event is one which welcomes riders from the borough, the region and the globe to see the borough as they have never seen in before, stated Diaz.

The tour is free. Visit tourdebronx.com to register.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.

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