What a great weekend it was for bicycling in Detroit. Downtown was hopping with cyclists, families and others enjoying the sunshine. The Tigers were in town, the Electronic Music Festival took over Hart Plaza, the RiverWalk was full of walkers, and Belle Isle was jammed with cars, people and smoking barbecues! The streets and roads I traveled leading downtown were virtually car free most of the weekend, perfect for pedaling around.
My Memorial Day weekend travels included a trip from Mack Avenue out Conner Street past City Airport where I cut through a few residential streets on my way to Mt. Olivet Cemetery. Pedaling through a well, maintained neighborhood near the airport, I came across a gentleman mowing his lawn. I was about a half-block away when he stopped, shut off the lawnmower, reached into a nearby bucket and pulled out a cold beer. As I approached, he yelled out, “want a cold one?” Holding one up.
“No,” I said. “Thanks anyway.”
“Are you sure?” he asked with a smile.
“Yeah, I’m sure. Thanks.”
“Okay, they’re nice and cold!” He added in a last chance plea.
“Thanks anyway,” I said and kept pedaling, knowing it was a little after 10 a.m.
I poked around the 7-Mile and Van Dyke area before taking a quick ride through Mt. Olivet on a quest for some family history. The 7-Mile and Van Dyke area was quite lively for a Sunday morning. I assume people were on their way to church or to one of the many area convenience stores to pick up the day’s supply of pre-packaged picnic goodies.
Mt. Olivet Cemetery was active. Families were there trimming around headstones and placing American flags on grave markers in preparation, I presume, of Memorial Day services. After biking through the place at a leisurely pace and unable to find what I was looking for, I left the cemetery and headed south on Van Dyke. At Gratiot, I took a right and continued downtown. I took a quick detour through Eastern Market and although it was Sunday, a few vendors were hawking their goods. Seeing them reminded me that I needed a flat or two of annuals.
I did a loop around Comerica Park, and by the roar of the crowd I could easily tell the Tigers were having a good day. As I rode past Music Hall, steam was blowing everywhere from the parking lot next door and water was running down the street. In talking with a street vendor, he said a water main had just burst on Madison Avenue. Cars parked in that nearby lot were completely engulfed in hot steam, surrounded by water. Ugh, I could only imagine what the owners of those vehicles must have thought when they returned to find their cars surrounded by water and steam.
From Music Hall, I rode to Hart Plaza, the riverfront and on to Belle Isle. Hart Plaza is the site of the annual Electronic Music Festival held on Memorial weekend and it appeared to be packed. Riding past the Festival site on my way to the RiverWalk, I dodged attendees while hearing the Festival music echoing off the surrounding buildings.
The RiverWalk was full of young hipsters on their way to the festival and couples were enjoying a relaxing stroll along the river. Skaters and bicyclists shared space and families were there snapping pictures as their kids ran screaming through the fountain in front of the Renaissance Center.
I encountered the heaviest weekend traffic while crossing the Belle Isle Bridge. The island was packed with families and others taking advantage of the hot weather. As I pedaled along the south side of the island, near the Detroit River, the rich, tasty smells of barbecued ribs, chicken and other meats filled my nose. There was also a smoky haze in the air coming from the various shapes and sizes of the many grills I saw.
A variety of music – hip-hop, Disco, Rock-n-Roll, R & B – some with questionable lyrics, was blasting across the island. Music was coming from inside the many pavilions while other music was being played through PA systems powered by portable generators in many of the picnic areas. Some were so loud that the music was completely distorted. Mixed in were cars crawling along, vibrating from heavy bass lines blasting from their sound systems. With so many sounds, it was hard to tell what was playing at times.
Through it all cruised a lonely ice cream truck playing “Pop Goes the Weasel” with an occasional “Hello, Hello” being shouted out.