This past Friday and Saturday were big days for bicyclists in Detroit. It started Friday night at 7 p.m. with Detroit’s Critical Mass, a worldwide bicycling event held on the last Friday of every month (through October here) to bring attention to cyclists’ rights to the road.
Despite strong westerly winds blowing a steady 25 miles-per-hour with gusts up to 40 miles-per-hour, an estimated crowd of 350 or so cyclists showed up at the corner of West Warren & Trumbull for the casual ride. Like the last couple of monthly rides, the turnout, as I wrote about in early August (click here for the story), was made up primarily of young people riding vintage or retro, single speed bikes. Not many speedsters in this crowd.
As we headed out around 7:00 pm the sun was just starting to set and the temperature was in the lower eighties, a nice contrast to the whipping winds. The evening’s 14-mile route included a trip across the new I-75 Bagley Pedestrian Bridge leading us into the heart of Mexicantown. I found it amusing watching the bike riders funnel into the narrow East entrance and slowly work their way across the bridge to the West end. Once off the bridge we crossed the bicycle blocked service drive (despite the blaring horns of the semis that couldn’t get through) into Mexicantown.
Leaving Mexicantown we rode south past beautiful Clark Park to Historic Fort Wayne. From there we headed downtown where the tall buildings were glowing in the dark. We passed under Cobo Hall to the river, pedaled to the Renaissance Center, through Greektown and on to Comerica Park where the Tigers were going at it with the Minnesota Twins. From there we headed back to WSU where the ride ended.
As we rode into the early evening, it became darker and darker, adding to the ambience of the city ride.
Saturday morning was Tour de Troit, a 30-mile bike tour of the city that drew close to 3,200 bicyclists all paying $30 to help fund the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink, a series of bicycle lanes and off-road pathways scheduled for constructed in 2011.
The ride began in Roosevelt Park, directly in front of the Michigan Central Station near downtown Detroit. Like the weather on Friday night, it was windy but the temperature was about twenty degrees cooler. Riders in this event were quite a contrast to Friday’s group. It was an older bunch; many with families, and lots had serious looking road bikes. They came dressed to ride in the blustery weather as well, wearing sweatshirts and long pants. A good number had the usual spandex racing-type jerseys and matching pants.
We rolled out of the park around 10 a.m. as scheduled. A friend and I started near the rear, and I was awed by the sheer amount of bikes on Michigan Avenue ahead of us. As far as I could see were bikes eight to ten wide, and the pack extended at least two miles or more toward downtown. It took us a few minutes to get up to speed, but once we did we were able to work our way through the bunched-up, heavy bike traffic on our way toward the front where it was a much faster pace.
The 30-mile route took us through Downtown Detroit, out Gratiot, along the Dequindre Cut to the riverfront. From there we rolled out to East Jefferson Avenue and sped off to Belle Isle at a good clip. We looped around windy Belle Isle and crossed back to the mainland stopping at Gabriel Richard Park at the foot of the Belle Isle Bridge. There we were served a light snack. For most of our 30-minutes there, a steady stream of cyclists crossed the bridge on their way to the park.
Leaving the park we headed out East Jefferson once again to St. Jean and took that up to Kercheval where we headed downtown. We did a quick pass through Historic Indian Village to check out the mansions. Exiting there we headed out Mt Elliott to view a couple of historic churches and then cut over to the Detroit Medical Center. We continued on to Wayne State University and the New Center area before heading back to Roosevelt Park where the ride ended. There we were served food and beer.
Both days I cycled to and from the events and in spite of the strong winds pushing against me, I racking up close to 85 miles.