Detroit was buzzing with bikes and bike related events over the past weekend. It all started Friday night at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) with the showing of the documentary film Bicycle Dreams. It is a powerful movie that focuses on a number of bicycle riders as they race 3,000 miles across America in just ten days. The film follows the cyclists as they battle desert heat, strenuous climbs through the Rocky Mountains, and the fatigue associated with long straight roads that seem to go on forever.
It’s a beautifully shot film that is more than a bicycle movie. It is an incredible story that examines what drives people to the edge of complete emotional and physical breakdown. The film makers effectively capture the decline of the riders as they pedal non-stop up to 40 hours without sleep before they take quick, agonizing 2-hours naps that are basically useless. Some of the most powerful scenes included riders being helped to and propped up on their bikes after quick breaks, and tearful mental breakdowns when they hear of a tragedy that has taken place. The filmmakers also capture the painful descriptions of the riders as they talk about hallucinating from lack of rest and falling asleep while riding. This engaging movie is highly recommended, even if you aren’t a bicyclist.
Saturday was the annual Tour de Troit, a 30-mile bike ride that takes riders through some of the city’s most historic and interesting areas. Like many of the previous rides, it started at Roosevelt Park in front of the historic Michigan Central Station. This year’s route took a record 5,000 riders through vibrant parts of Southwest Detroit, then north to the fringes of the city’s New Center Area. From there, we rode past the ruins of the historic Packard automotive plant before heading south to Indian Village (a neighborhood of historic mansions).
Belle Isle Park was the next on the tour. Once there we were given a break, and refreshments were served by a team of volunteers. Leaving the island park, we were routed through downtown streets that took us back to our starting point, Roosevelt Park. At the park lunch and refreshments were available, and we had an opportunity to mingle and visit various sponsor’s booths such as Detroit Bicycle Co., Whole Foods, Renew Detroit and many others. There’s nothing like riding with thousands of bicyclists on a sunny day in Detroit.
The weekend of biking ended with an artful 12-mile ride that started at the DIA early Sunday morning. The organizers of the ride (Tom Page of Detroit Bikes! and the staff of the DIA) took us to various Detroit buildings and places where we viewed a total of 12 gorgeous reproductions of some of the masterpieces housed in the museum. The outdoor installations are all part of the museum’s outreach program called Inside/Outside. It is a program intended to expose people living and visiting Southeast Michigan to the many treasures found within the DIA. About 130 riders took part in the well-paced, informative 13-mile ride. The group was split into two groups and the one I was in was led by Scott Boberg of the DIA. He offered a tremendous amount of insight into the pieces we viewed. This relaxing tour was a fitting end to a long weekend of bicycling activities in the City of Detroit.