Detroit is a great place to ride a bicycle. The streets are wide. There isn’t much traffic and the city offers an endless stream of diversity. There are beautifully painted, multi-colored wall paintings, gorgeous abandoned art deco buildings, decaying industrial ruins that once employed hundreds of thousands of workers and plenty more to feast an eye on. There are times when I’ve wondered what it would be like riding in a rural environment. So that is what I did; I headed into the country for a Sunday morning ride.
What a contrast! Riding down an asphalt road without the fear of hitting chuckholes, broken glass and other urban road hazards made for a leisurely, relaxing two-wheeled cruise. With the city clutter and noise stripped away, I could hone in on the natural surroundings. What really jumped out to me were the vibrant colors and the tallness of the grasses in the fields I passed. The green and earth tone colors seemed to glow in the morning sunlight. The same with the trees and bushes; they too had a certain richness of vibrant tones of green. Riding down these country roads was soothing, peaceful and quite restful.
The paved roads I was riding were unusually free of cars and didn’t look as if they were traveled much at all. In fact, only a couple of cars drove by as I pedaled along in the stillness of the morning. There weren’t many homes in the area either. Riding past them, the only life I saw or heard was a few barking dogs behind fenced in yards. Again, it was a pleasant contrast to the urban riding that I’m so used to.
Although I was hoping to spot deer or other wildlife, I didn’t see anything moving about with the exception of squirrels. Like city squirrels, they skittered across the road in front of me, their tails high in the air. However, I did hear the unmistakable cackling of Ringneck Pheasants in a few of the fields that had crept their way to the edge of the blacktop.
There was a point on my ride when I heard the distinctive blast of a freight train horn in the distance. Surprisingly, that soothing, non-threatening sound wasn’t imposing and actually added to the serenity of the natural surroundings. Shortly after, I came upon and crossed railroad tracks that cut through the wooded area where I was riding. While crossing them, I couldn’t help but notice how highly polished the surface of the rails were. A direct result (I assume) from tons of steel rolling over them for years.
What I liked about this country getaway is its closeness. I didn’t have to load my bike into the car and travel twenty or more miles away to enjoy it. In fact, it’s so close I can jump on my bike and pedal there from my Detroit home. This little section of natural paradise is within the Detroit city limits near City Airport on the eastside. At one time, the streets of this neighborhood were lined with small wood-framed homes that have since been abandoned and torn down. As time moved on, the vast area in which the homes once stood has slowly regressed back to its natural environment of woodlots and fields, creating a beautiful country setting. I’m always amazed what I stumble upon while cycling across this incredible city.