CENTRAL PARK - A Michigan man with a history of heart problems died of a heart attack on the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge during the 5-boro Bike Tour on Sunday, officials and family members said.
Michael Boren, 51, a machine tooling salesman from Almont, Michigan was pedaling toward Queens when his heart gave out shortly before 11 a.m, police said.
He was taken to New York Cornell Hospital where he was pronounce dead, cops said.
Boren came to the city with his wife to participate in the bike ride, though she was not with him when he suffered the heart attack, according to a family member.
"He was always pretty athletic," said his sister-in-law Laurie Moody. "He had a major heart attack a few years ago and he was trying to make a comeback."
Moody said that Boren, who had two sons, ages 21 and 32, lived an active life.
"He enjoyed life and he enjoyed sports," she said.
The death lent a somber note to an otherwise upbeat day during which 32,000 riders — New Yorkers and tourists alike — turned out despite some lingering anxiety over safety.
Some cyclists wore sombreros, fake mustaches and colorful Mohawks on their helmets Sunday, but they tempered their frivolity on Sunday with blue and gold stickers “I ride for Boston” as they peddled through the city.
The 40-mile route took them north from Battery Park through Central Park, then to The Bronx and down to Queens, Brooklyn, and finally across the Verrazano Bridge to Staten Island. Cyclists did not have to pay the $15 toll.
Participants seem to shed some of the anxiety that has colored group sporting events like last week's Central Park 5K, but nevertheless event organizers implemented new safety precautions in light of the Boston Marathon bombing.
In addition to a heavy police presence, cyclists were prohibited from wearing backpacks or camelback style hydration packs.
“The day after the bombing I though ‘This changes everything,’” said Charlie Dambrosio, who came from Boston to participate in the bike tour.
Dambrosio and other riders were worried that the event would be canceled after the attack that killed three people and injured more than 200. About 32,000 people registered for the bike tour.
There were multiple NYPD patrol cars and several officers on 110th Street and 7th Avenue, where cyclists exited Central Park and headed toward The Bronx. Event organizers also hired private security guards.
“I’m here to watch out for people carrying knapsacks, especially people not in the race,” said Heith Campbel, 43, a security guard for SIMS security.
Campbel spoke with a police chief before the race who told him to be on the lookout for spectators carrying bags. Police officers and private security guards were stationed throughout the 40-mile route, he said.
Cyclists, many who came form outside the city, still expressed some fears, but stressed the importance of continuing with the vent.
“She was worried and expressed concern,” said Jennifer Duckworth of her 10-year-old daughter Fiona. Duckworth used the event to teach her daughter to stand up to terrorism. “I saw the plane hit the building on 9/11 and it didn’t stop me from coming to Manhattan.”
One unfortunate draw back to the safety precautions was that cyclists who normally ride with hydration packs had to scramble to buy fanny packs or water bottle holders for their bikes.
“I had to buy a bottle holder and they were sold out,” said John Han, 32, who understood the reason behind safety precautions but thought some of them were too much.