May is National Bike Month, an annual celebration of the joys and benefits of cycling, including National Bike to Work Day on May 20.

Riding a bike in New York City is a great way to exercise, get to work, meet new people and explore different neighborhoods. And since we do everything in a big way here, you can choose from a massive array of organized cycling events during Bike Month NYC, from social rides to commuter clinics to Brooklyn brewery tours. How to navigate it all? Here are a few basics to get you started:

    • Bookmark www.bikemonthnyc.org for a daily calendar of activities sponsored by a wide variety of clubs, advocacy groups and cultural organizations.
    • Check the #bikenyc and #bikemonthnyc hashtags on twitter for updates on events, road conditions and advocacy.
    • On facebook, “like” the pages of Bike New York, Transportation Alternatives, the New York Cycle Club, Recycle-A-Bicycle and Bicycle Habitat, all of which list local activities.

My favorite aspect of Bike Month is socializing around bicycling. In addition to participating in some (okay, many) programmed activities, I’m looking forward to casual rides with friends, particularly guiding several on their first trips across the George Washington Bridge, as well as organizing a picnic ride along the Hudson River Greenway for some visitors from outside the city.

If you ride regularly, remember that inviting friends along — for shopping, a visit to the greenmarket, brunch, a ride in Central Park — is a great way to introduce them to the fun of cycling.

What are your plans for participating in Bike Month?

Velojoy’s One-Stop Tool Box to Plan Your Ride

Bike Smart Brochure - NYC DOTWe’re kicking off Bike Month NYC with a couple of additions to our site to help you plan your daily ride.

Look over to the right-hand column to find local weather, as well as our new Toolbox. Here you can download a NYC Bike Map, plan your route using the Ride the City mapping tool, download the NYC Department of Transportation’s Bike Smart safety brochure and determine whether or not you can take your bike along on various modes of public transit. We’ll be adding more features during Bike Month, so please check back often!

Cycling for Good

Another kind of joy is found in riding a bike for a good cause. Example: helping find a cure for blood cancers. My husband and I spent last weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida cheering on our two sons who ran St. Anthony’s Triathlon with Team in Training, the endurance event fund-raising program of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  We’re super-proud of their five-month commitment to training, their strong efforts in the race, and the almost $10,000 they raised in memory of a dear family friend.

For Mike

photo: velojoy

You may be thinking, I could never compete in a triathlon or a 100-mile bike ride. I never thought I could either, until I ran my first Olympic-distance triathlon with Team in Training in 2007. I signed up in conjunction with a “significant” birthday and to honor a friend who had been diagnosed with a blood disease. (I’m happy to report she is doing well after a bone marrow transplant last year.)

At any age, the opportunity to grasp a new challenge is energizing, and also a gesture of hope in times of uncertainty. And you never know where the path may take you. For example, acquiring my first good-quality road bike for that TNT event helped inspire me to ride most weekends and to enter additional endurance and charity cycling events. That in turn prompted me to eventually embrace cycling as daily transportation. And who knows what’s next?

Click here to learn more about Team in Training.

Top: An urban city-scape is reflected in the colorful window of a Chelsea bicycle shop. Photo: velojoy

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