Saturday was sunny in Detroit with temperatures in the low 70’s, a pleasant change compared to these past weeks of cold, damp dreary days. A perfect day for a bicycle tour of Downtown Detroit!
My little tour took me down East Jefferson Avenue to Belle Isle Park where I did a quick 5-mile loop around the island. The park was active with other cyclists, runners, and sightseers, but not as busy as I expected. From there I pedaled toward downtown and jumped on the Detroit RiverWalk at the foot of Mt. Elliott, its furthest point east. This is an interesting section of the walk with the U.S. Coast Guard Station, harbors and a variety of apartment and office buildings, yet it’s usually void of people. I guess it’s too far of a walk from the popular section along the Renaissance Center and Hart Plaza areas near downtown.
I made my way to Hart Plaza along the RiverWalk and there I cut through the Plaza and wound my way through the streets of downtown Detroit. The city was hopping in the warm weather! The few sidewalk cafes that were set up all had patrons sitting outside, enjoying lunch and a beer while relaxing in the sunshine. There were bicyclists roaming around, baseball fans on their way to a Tigers game, a couple of older gentlemen were playing an intense game of chess in Capital Park, not to mention people just out for a walk in the warm weather. Even the maintenance and landscape workers were taking advantage of the warmth by spicing up flower beds and other common areas along the sidewalks. I also came across a wedding party fighting wind gusts as they walked along Woodward on their way to Hart Plaza. Very cool to see!
I got a big kick out of the tourists, posing with fists forward, taking turns getting their picture taken in front of the Joe Louis Fist sculpture on Jefferson Avenue at Woodward Avenue. It was quite humorous watching them as they shifted positions and outstretched their arms and fists, trying to mimic the sculpture.
One of the things I really like about around riding around downtown Detroit is the street musicians I often see and hear. They seem to be everywhere on warm days, especially when the Tigers are in town or another major event is taking place. There are hard blowing saxophone players whose notes echo through the streets. The sweet sounds of soulful trumpet players roll through the park where they are playing. The distinct, clean sound of a bluesy guitar player’s riffs can be mesmerizing on a busy street corner; as can conga players as they pound out steady rhythms with their palms near the ballpark.
This particular conga player was also a singer, with words adapted right from the street activity in front of him. When I rolled up to take his picture he began singing something like this, “You can take my picture, but I need to get richer. Can you spare some money to take home to my honey?” I don’t remember the rest, but he did have it down, much like a seasoned rapper.