Courtney Vandersloot Teams up With MMRF and 5 Boro Bike Tour

Come along for the ride as Sloot takes on the 5 Boro Bike Tour.

Anyone living in New York knows there is no shortage of days that feel like a fast-paced game of basketball, zipping from one spot to the next, like a ball moving through a well-oiled offense. For Courtney Vandersloot, the first Sunday of May was one of those days when she completed the 5 Boro Bike Tour, a 40-mile bike ride through all the boroughs of the Big Apple, followed by a full Liberty media content capture shoot. In the span of 14 hours, the 35-year-old veteran point guard went from Brooklyn to Manhattan to the Bronx to Queens to Staten Island and back to Brooklyn.

At 6:30 am, Vandersloot and her wife Allie Quigley hopped on their identical black city bikes and headed across the Brooklyn Bridge into Lower Manhattan to gather with 32,000 other cyclists at the starting point of the Bike Tour. There, the 5x WNBA all-star met with other members of the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation, the charity she entered the ride to support.

Courtney’s involvement with the MMRF began around the time she found out she was officially joining the New York Liberty last February. Her mom had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma for a little under a year and Sloot was looking for ways to get involved. “I saw that the MMRF was building a team for the bike tour,” she said. “I was like, this is a no brainer and I had only been in New York for a few days at that point.” Unfortunately, due to a concussion, Sloot wasn’t able to participate in the ride. “I was super bummed, but Allie participated in half of it and we were still able to raise a bunch of money.” A year later, concussion-free and with a full season in New York under her belt, Sloot was fully cleared to ride.

Under the misty Manhattan sky, huge swaths of bikers packed onto Church Avenue, filling entire city blocks from Franklin down to Battery Place. Courtney and Allie gathered with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation riders on Worth, where breakfast for charity riders was provided. At 5’ 8”, Sloot blended in the crowd of eager cyclists with ease. She sported a bright orange MMRF shirt that peaked out from her half-zipped Nike Trail windbreaker emblazoned with a small, white New York Liberty logo on the chest. “I had to represent,” she told me after I pointed out the logo.

As a member of the Liberty content team, I was assigned to film Sloot during the bike ride. Vandersloot, who is originally from Kent, Washington, is known to stay off social media but for this occasion, she was game. In late April, Sloot shared a post about her participation in the 5 Boro Bike Tour and the fundraising efforts for MMRF. For the second year in a row, she raised over 10,000 dollars for research and development for a cure for multiple myeloma.

While I worked to fix an action camera onto the handle bar of her bike, Courtney struck up a conversation with a fellow MMRF rider. He shared that he was a patient diagnosed with multiple myeloma and now was in remission for the last 7 years. “Everyone has a different story when it comes to how they are reacting or what treatment they are on,” Sloot said in an interview with FOX 5 a few days after the ride over Zoom. For her, the ride was an enriching opportunity, not only to make a monetary contribution towards multiple myeloma research efforts, but to be in community with other people who share similar experiences to the battle that her mom and family currently face. “It was nice hearing [his story] and being able to relay that to my mom who is going through similar things, like look this is something we can look forward to or what can be on the other end of this.”

Sloot looked around in amazement, as we walked our bikes on to Church Ave to start the ride. “That’s crazy. Look at how many people are here,” she said. Slowly making our way up the street towards 6th ave, Allie spotted a sculpture that resembled the Bean in Chicago, where they played 10 seasons together for the Sky. “Wait, Allie wants to take a picture with the wannabe Bean,” Sloot said as they paused to snap a selfie.

After we officially crossed the starting line, Sloot yelled out, “Here we go!” and for the next 4 hours, Sloot, Allie, and thousands of cyclists from all over the country took over the streets of New York, riding through Central Park, crossing a few bridges, rolling onto highways, and eventually finishing the tour in Staten Island on the other side of the Verrazano just before noon.

“There were parts of it where I was really questioning my decision making but then there are parts where you’re in Center Park or riding down Manhattan and you’re like, wow look at all this stuff.” Sloot said, reflecting on her experience. “It’s a really cool way to see different neighborhoods. It’s challenging. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s all the things all in one. It was hard though.”

Throughout the portions of the ride that featured more incline, Courtney pedaled ahead but always made sure that Allie wasn’t too far behind. When asked about what it meant to have Allie complete the bike tour with her, Sloot told me, “She plays a big part in all of this and supports my mom in the best way. To have her there and for her to just dive in… She’s out there sending the link [to the fundraiser] to her family and posting it on her socials. She’s always been my rock. On those really, really hard days Allie is the best support system I could ask for.”

While we waited in line for a quick post-ride bite, Quigley pointed out Sloot’s shoes to me. “You should definitely get a photo. She had those made for her mom,” Quigley said. On Sloot’s feet were a pair of light purple and white Nike G. T. Cut 2s, customized with “All Gas” embossed on the left tongue, and “No Brakes” on the right. “It’s something that my mom would always say to me,” Sloot told me as we looked down towards her sneakers.

After saying goodbye to the other members of the MMRF team, Courtney and Allie cycled 4 more miles to board the Staten Island Ferry back to lower Manhattan. During the trip across the water, the two decided that they’d take the subway back to Brooklyn. “No more bridges,” said Quigley.

At 1:40pm, Sloot and Allie hop off the R train at the Atlantic/Barclays Center stop and subsequently got right into the cold tub at the arena. “I had to go directly there in my MMRF gear because I knew I had a full day of media ahead. I was going to be on my feet a lot more so I wanted to recover at least a little bit,” she said.

By 5:15pm, Courtney stood in full uniform next to Maiya the Don on a stage in front of a LED board that flashed her name in all caps. With her hair up in a messy bun, Sloot stared and pointed into the camera while slightly rocking her shoulders back and forth, letting out a big laugh. If there was any sign of fatigue from 40 miles she had just logged, it wasn’t visible to anyone at ZeroSpace, the studio space where the Liberty marketing team set up stations to capture photos and videos of the players for the season. “They were great at trying to be really efficient with me, knowing that I had just put on all those miles,” Sloot said. She was able to get through all the stations just before 8pm.

Thinking back on the ride, Courtney said, “my mom was really excited about the fact that I participated in it. I know that she was proud of me.” While there is currently no cure for multiple myeloma, Sloot shared that the research is very close to finding one. “They are making big strides which is why the fundraising makes such a huge impact. We’re not talking about the next generation, we are talking about people that are struggling with it now.”

Her mother’s fight with multiple myeloma has brought the two, who already enjoy a tight bond, even closer together. “I always tell her she’s my best friend. She’s my biggest fan too. She’s a huge WNBA fan too. This flipped the script a bit because I became her biggest fan. I’m always fighting next to her, pushing her,” she said to FOX 5. “There are days where she feels really crappy but I’m there to try and lift her spirits and tell her that tomorrow might be a better day and let’s get through today and fight with what we have, trying to be the support system that she’s always been for me since I was a kid.”

There’s nothing that can bring you to the present moment like seeing a parent battle with cancer. The biggest thing that Sloot’s learned from enduring this experience has been to “live your life right here in the moment. Fight every single day and enjoy those moments because you really just never know.”

Ultimately, Sloot agreed without hesitation that completing the ride and going straight to the media content shoot “absolutely” marked that Sunday as the most jam-packed day she’s experienced in New York. “It was successful, I’d say.”