Posts Tagged ‘bike journeys’

Spring is close, and that means bicyclists will be hitting the streets of Detroit. Like past years, there are lots of noteworthy tours and bike related events in 2013; many of them listed below. I’m sure there are plenty of others that I’m not aware of, so I invite you post them in the comment section at the bottom of the page.

Detroit Bikes – This group is affiliated with Detroit Synergy. They sponsor and organize a variety of free theme rides, such as a Detroit coffee-house tour. They also do a downtown tour of reproductions from the Detroit Institute of Arts as part of the museum’s outreach program called Inside/Outside. The Detroit Bikes tour season kicks off on March 16th with their annual spring training ride that visits historic Detroit sports venues. Click here to visit their website.

Detroit Bike City – This is a bicycle expo that will be held at Cobo Center on Saturday, March 16th from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The ticketed event will span 100,000 ft. of floor space, which will be filled with lots of bikes, bike dealers and vendors from across the Midwest selling accessories and other bicycle goodies. Additional information is available here.

Ride of Silence – The annual event honors those bicyclists that have been killed or injured while riding on public roads. It takes place on May 15, and to date, specific details have not been released on this year’s ride. Keep an eye on the Macomb Bike & Fitness website for more information.

Bike the Bridge – This is an annual ride across the Ambassador Bridge that spans the Detroit River between Canada and the USA. The yearly ride is the only time bicycles are allowed to cross the bridge. The ride is usually held in mid-June and so far, no date or other information related to the event has been released. I’m sure more information will be available soon. Do a quick internet search in the next couple of months.

Colin Hubbell Memorial Bike Ride – This is an annual cycling event held in honor of the late Colin Hubbell, an avid bicyclist, developer and big-time Detroit booster. All funds raised on this ride will benefit community organizations and start-up businesses in Detroit’s midtown area. At this point, no date has been announced; check the Midtown Detroit Inc. website for updates. 

A Ride to the Chicago Critical Mass – This looks to be an exciting 6-day, two-wheeled adventure to the windy city to join in that city’s critical mass ride. The Detroit group of riders is scheduled to leave from Foran’s Grand Trunk Pub on Woodward Avenue on Saturday, July 20st at 9 a.m. The plan is to ride 60 to 80 miles per day with scheduled overnight stops at various campgrounds along the way. Once in Chicago, the Detroit contingent will join Chicago’s Critical Mass Ride on the evening of July 26th. More information is available on the Detroit Critical Mass facebook page.

Tour De Troit – If you like exploring the city via bicycle with huge amounts of riders, this annual event is the place for you! Last year over 5,000 riders took the 30-mile tour, and this year organizers are expecting many more. The 2013 event will roll on September 21stCheck the Tour De Troit website for registration information.

Beat the Train – This is a group of bicyclists that ride the streets of Detroit every Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. The rides leave from Historic Fort Wayne on Jefferson Avenue at Livernois.  The rides are generally 30-35 miles in length, and there are stops at various Detroit landmarks along the way.  Here’s a link to their website.

Critical Mass – A fun relaxed ride that is held year-round on the last Friday of each month. The ride leaves at 7 p.m. from the corner of West Warren and Trumbull Avenues. The routes vary, but generally meander their way to downtown, out to Belle Isle Park, through the Historic Eastern Market, and over to Hamtramck. In the warm months, the ride can draw close to 1,000 riders. There are a dozen or more dedicated bicyclists that ride throughout the cold, snowy winter months as well.

Monday Night Ride from Woodbridge Pub – This weekly summer ride leaves every Monday night at 8 p.m. from the Woodbridge Pub on Trumbull Avenue near I-94. It’s organized by Bikes & Murder, an organization that plans, hosts, and contributes to cycling events in Detroit. Check out the events page on their website.

Wheelhouse Detroit – In addition to bicycle sales and rentals, this riverfront bike shop offers a variety of guided Detroit bicycle tours. Their tours include urban farms, Detroit architecture, automobile heritage sites, Belle Isle Park, and many more.  A complete list of 2013 rides will be posted to their site shortly.

Enjoy the rides!

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What’s not to like about a December night in Detroit with the temperature hanging around 60 degrees, especially if you ride a bicycle? That was how warm it was a few nights ago, so I took advantage of the mild temperatures and headed out on 2 wheels to explore downtown and beyond. After all, that night may have been the last comfortable evening before that white, slippery stuff fills the air and coats the streets creating dicey road conditions for more than just bikers.

Despite a slight hazy mist in the air and damp pavement from an earlier steady drizzle, it was a great night to be out on a bicycle. There was no need for a heavy or rain resistant jacket, gloves or other cold weather clothing; quite unusual for this time of year.

My night ride took me through Detroit’s mid-town neighborhoods and streets to downtown. Once there I headed south on Woodward Avenue through the city’s central business district. The store fronts and office buildings along that 6-8 block section were lined with colorful holiday lights that reflected and shimmered on the pavement in front of me.

Holiday lights in Downtown Detroit

Holiday lights in Downtown Detroit

The Greektown commercial strip was glowing

The Greektown commercial strip was glowing

After zigzagging my way through the downtown streets, I crossed Jefferson Avenue into Hart Plaza, a public outdoor space that faces the Detroit River. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, the Plaza was quiet and empty except for a few people slowly wandering toward the river.

A view of downtown Detroit from Hart Plaza

A view of downtown Detroit from Hart Plaza

From there I rode the RiverWalk to the Dequindre Cut. Just as I entered the urban greenway, I passed a couple of runners in full stride and a security guard sitting in his car keeping an eye on things. That was about it for people. The many wall murals and intricate, colorful graffiti found on the cement walls in the Cut took on a whole new appearance in the misty, Edgar Allen Poe type of night. The images and colors appeared flatter and eerier, as if the eyes in the images were watching my every move.

Wall painting in the Dequindre Cut had a creepy look to them

Wall paintings in the Dequindre Cut had a creepy, sinister look to them in the low light

My ride wound down after a quick loop through the Eastern Market, a much different place on a weekday night  versus Saturdays when it is jammed with shoppers. There were no lift trucks moving crates of produce from one building to another; no semi-trucks backing into loading docks; and the specialty stores that ring the market were all closed.

However, there were a few folks buying Christmas trees from vendors that were setup at the far north end of the market. It was a rather fitting end to a bike ride in Detroit on a warm December evening.

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As I’ve written in the past, Detroit has plenty of interesting wall paintings and colorful, brightly painted advertisements on the sides of buildings. They promote a variety of goods and services that include liquor, cigarettes, money orders, check cashing services, poultry and an array of other items. A number of them are crudely hand drawn and somewhat hard to decipher. Others offer intricate, colorful graphics and detail. A few are elaborate in their wording and messaging.

Many in the overall mix of images I see have religious themes. As expected, most of them are found on the sides of churches, both big and small. Others can be seen on mini billboards located on the less traveled secondary streets running through Detroit’s many neighborhoods.  Certain sections of the city, such as Southwest Detroit, seem to have a higher concentration of them. Generally, they can be found just about anywhere in Detroit in a wide range of colors and sizes.

On my bike journeys, I stumbled across three that represent the broad perspective of religious paintings that can be found scattered across this city.  These particular paintings are a small sampling of religious themed wall paintings; ranging from the sophisticated and highly detailed to the basic hand painted, unrefined wall paintings.

The painting below, found in a neighborhood in Southwest Detroit, represents the colorful, detailed variety of religious wall paintings found throughout Detroit. Although it is somewhat rare to see them on garages and other residential type buildings, I do spot them there on occasion.

There are countless storefront churches in Detroit. Many of them are quite small and rather unassuming. But one of the cool things most have in common is the unsophisticated, free style wall paintings found on their buildings. This particular one reminds me of the spiritual song “Go Tell It On The Mountain”.


Not all religious paintings I see are actually sacred in nature. Some, I assume, use the word God, Jesus and other religious words in their messaging to draw attention. From what I’ve seen from my bike, most of the businesses using these terms on wall graphics, are day-care centers or nurseries. Here is a quirky example of what appears to be a circus tent painted on a bricked-in entrance with the word God on a makeshift sign.

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