I would think most everyone in Southeast Michigan knows about the annual Woodward Avenue Dream Cruise. I’ve never been, but from what I’ve been told the event draws thousands of classic cars. I also understand car enthusiasts, numbering in the tens of thousands, line Woodward from around 9 Mile Road north to Pontiac, for a chance to breathe in exhaust fumes for hours as they check out the many vintage vehicles and 60’s muscle cars rolling by. There’s another Woodward cruise on the same weekend that starts at the riverfront and heads north to 8 Mile Road. It’s a different type of cruise, one that requires a little more individual muscle. That one is the Annual Detroit Bikes Pedal Cruise.
This past Saturday morning, about 80 bicyclists met near the Carousel on Detroit’s Riverwalk for an informative tour of the Woodward Corridor. After a group photo was taken of the riders (posing in front of the Detroit River) our leader rounded up the cyclists and headed along the riverfront into downtown Detroit and beyond. He pointed out that Campus Martius Park, at the corner of Woodward and Michigan Avenues is the official, historic starting place of Woodward and from there it heads north eight miles to 8 Mile Road, thus its name.
Our downtown route took us past various, clearly marked, automotive related sites before heading up the Avenue to mid-town Detroit. Once there, we pedaled west on Willis, that little bohemian street, to Second Avenue where the group stopped for a quick cup of coffee at the Thistle Coffee House. From there, our leader guided the riders to the historic Milwaukee Junction area, just east of the New Center. That industrial historic area was a major center of automobile manufacturing in the late 1800s through the early 1900s. In fact, the Ford Piquette Plant is located there. It was the place where the first Ford Model T was built before it was mass-produced a little further up Woodward in Highland Park.
Other visited sites along the bike tour route included a trip through the historic Boston-Edison Neighborhood to the Henry Ford Home, an Italian Renaissance style house on Edison Street. From there it was back to Woodward, then north to Highland Park for a quick stop at the original Ford mass production plant, the first automotive plant in the world with a moving assembly line. That factory, like many in Detroit at the height of the auto industry expansion, was designed by the famous architect Albert Kahn. A little further north we took a quick rest at the abandoned Michigan State Fair site before riding a half-mile further to 8 Mile, our destination. Once there, we looped over to southbound Woodward for the ride back.
I’m not sure what sites or neighborhoods the leader pointed out on the return trip, because I cut out and rode State Fair Street to 7 Mile Road to my eastside home. That ride was quite a contrast to the Woodward Pedal Cruise; however, that’s a whole different story.