The Tenth Annual Tour De Troit was held this past Saturday. The 22-mile bicycle tour of Detroit left at 8:00 a.m. from Roosevelt Park, located in front of the historic Michigan Central Depot on Michigan Avenue near 14th Street. Over 4,200 cyclists participated in the ride that wound its way through Southwest Detroit, the New Center area and out to Belle Isle; that gem of a park in the Detroit River. From there, the bicyclists eventually returned to their starting point where food and refreshments were served.
Once the riders crossed the Belle Isle Bridge and rode a loop around the island park, they returned to the mainland for a brief stop at Gabriel Richard Park, at the foot of the bridge right off East Jefferson Avenue. Once there, the bicyclists were given cool refreshments and snacks before pedaling on.
It was at this park where the reality of what thousands of bikes looked like, all in one place, resonated with me. They were everywhere as I rolled into the nice little green space that hugs the banks of the Detroit River. It was a different perspective as compared to riding with the large, spread out group of bicyclists. With the group, bikes surrounded me and since I had to be keenly aware of their movements to avoid a crash, I didn’t have a good handle on how many bikes were on the tour.
After a quick snack and a brief period of people watching, I was curious as to what the busy park looked like from above. So, I walked up on the Belle Isle Bridge to get a broader, overall view of the sheer amount of bikes and cyclists in the park below. What a sight both on and off the bridge!
There was a steady stream of riders crossing the bridge in both directions. Those coming across from the island suddenly faced a traffic jam made up of hundreds of bikes, all waiting their turn to work their way across the six-inch roadside curb to enter the park below. The backup reminded me of some of Detroit’s worst morning rush hours; only these vehicles had two wheels.
Once the riders worked their way to the park, they seemed to blend into the buzz of activity. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the movement in the park below as the bicyclists jockeyed for parking spaces and made their way to the long refreshment and portable toilet lines. Those lines reminded me of slow-moving ants, one following the other, as they headed to their nests.
Once the lines died down, it was time for the second leg of the ride to begin. Again, it was mass movement below as the bikers got organized and pushed or rode their bikes up to Jefferson where they once again faced a mass traffic jam of cyclists. When the pack started rolling, it didn’t take long for the large group of cyclists to spread out and fall into a leisurely pace back to Roosevelt Park.