Well, I really liked writing about my ride to work last week. So I thought I’d share a little more about biking and me with you. So I’ve lived in Detroit for almost 5 years, and have had the pleasure of being a part of a lot of really amazing projects. I work for Inside Detroit and have been able to do some really great projects that mean a lot for the city, and that make Detroit the place I want to continue living in.
I was apart of Tour-de-Troit this past September. This is a 30 mile bike ride around Detroit that showcases the city in all of it’s glory. Tour-de-Troit started in 2002 with 9 people just wanting to ride around the city. In 2010 we sold out at 3,000 people. 9 years ago there were 9 people, now there are 3,000… That’s HUGE!
Cycling in Detroit is a big deal, 3,000 people riding their bikes 30 miles. How great! Detroit was built for cars, right? The first paved road – Woodward. We were built for cars, and as such we have huge roads that are fairly unused. People who drive into the city, park in their garages, go to work, and leave. The roads are bare. They are perfect for cycling – they are wide, few have pot holes, and they are fairly empty.
Did you know Woody Miller? Or Colin Hubbell? Both of these men were great advocates of Detroit and of cycling. The Colin Hubbell Memorial Bike ride happens on June 18th 2011. The Colin Hubbell Memorial Bike Ride is more than just a ride in honor of a great man who did some amazing things, the ride is about supporting and growing businesses and community in the Midtown area. The money raised for the Colin Hubbell Fund goes back into the community. That is one of the best things about Detroit, the people who are doing things are doing them to make Detroit a better place. They give back three fold what they take. They see the world how they want to see it and start building it right here in Detroit. It’s a great thing to see, it’s a great thing to be a part of. It’s all around amazing.
Working on Tour-de-Troit and at Inside Detroit I have seen the good that people can do when they put their minds to it. So I have taken my love of Detroit and love of cycling and put them together to create a new bike race in the city of Detroit called Criterium Detroit City. This is a style of bike racing that is very popular in the United States, it is a fast paced, short course, where spectators are able to see the action of the race as it unfolds. These races are all over the state, country and world. There hasn’t been one in downtown Detroit in over 20 years. There used to be one in Greektown, and now there will be one in Harmonie Park/The Entertainment District. There are several reasons why I decided to put on this race.
1) Detroit is an amazing place, and while I have been in other cities photographing other bike races, I have had to defend the place I live from people who haven’t stepped foot here. This is the same story a lot of people can tell, right? Why did Jeanette start Inside Detroit, because she saw the good in the city and wanted to show it off. I am starting this race because I see the good in Detroit, I have been a part of 3,000 people riding their bikes here. And as selfish as it sounds, I want to show off my city. The 130+ bars and restaurants, the small shops and busy streets, the huge cycling community, the supportive business community. I don’t like going to other cities in Michigan and defending where I live, if you knew it like I do, you wouldn’t talk down on it.
2) Cycling is great, it’s good for health and wellness, it’s good exercise, it’s good for the environment, it’s just good. It’s a great way for kids to be active and have fun (we’re having a kids race!). I’ve seen communities come together for these races, and that’s what I’m going for, a stronger community because of something that I love.
3) I live in Detroit, I’m supposed to do something huge to show the world how awesome we are. This seems like a pretty great way to show off Detroit, cycling and Downtown. We have had so much positive response for the race, it’s unbelievable! So many people on board from the start, I can’t begin to thank everyone, but I hope that when you come downtown on July 9th, you’ll be able to see what you’ve helped create. This amazing event that aims on bringing together the community, businesses, outsiders, insiders, and everything in between.
4) There will be a Detroit City Futbol League Relay Race, that involves passing off a coney dog instead of a baton. This is Detroit, we do things different here, we do them bigger, better, faster and louder. We live by a new set of standards. We are here for the long haul. We want to show people that this is not a dieing city, this is a city full of rebirth, fun and drive.
5) I want to show off all of Detroit, from Midtown to Grandmont Rosedale, Corktown to the Riverfront, Mexican Town to New Center, Brightmoor to Hamtramck. So thanks to the generous donation from the Detroit Opera House, we will be filling their on site parking lot with a marketplace full of different businesses from all over, to show you what Detroit has going on.
I hope that you wish to be a part of what Detroit has to offer, if you want more information on anything I’ve said here, post a comment, write me an email, click a link and ask someone a question. All I want is for people to know and understand where I live. Don’t make assumptions before you come down, or do, and let’s talk for 15 minutes, let us show you around, let me show you my favorite restaurants where the owners go out and locally buy all the food, let me show you about our past present and future. Detroit is like a fairy tale. It was beautiful, it was tragic, it decayed, it was brought back to life. The future is unwritten, but if you knew the people that I know, the ones re-writing it, your socks would be knocked off.
Here’s a quick list of people you should know (the sock knocker-off-ers) Detroit Lives, City Bird, Bureau of Urban Living, Street Culture Mash, Detroit Moxie, Come Play Detroit, (I’ve already said the Detroit City Futbol League, but I’ll do it again), Inside Detroit of course, CAMP Detroit, Green Garage, The Hub, The Wheelhouse. There are a ton of other things, you just have to know where to look, and who to ask…
Have a great weekend, and go ride a bike (as long as the rain stops)!
Speaking of this weekend, if you’re looking to get involved with the cycling scene there is Critical Mass on Friday from 7pm-9pm, Roller Races from 9pm-12am at Detroit Beer Co. Then Saturday there is an Alley Cat Presented by Bikes and Murder, and then a Bike Movie at the Boll Family YMCA. All of this is free, all of this is fun, all of this is for any cyclist of any skill!
Ok. So here’s the deal. I live 1.7 miles from the Welcome Center. It’s a nice enough bike ride, wide open streets, few potholes, good scenery, all and all a nice bike ride. But today, Friday the 13th, it was PERFECT!
I rode past Old Cass Tech, which makes me a little sad, but it’s amazing what you see in that building, different color doors, walls painted bright red, orange, yellow, blue. I wonder if anyone ever noticed how cool it was from the inside. I bet walking into different classrooms no one was ever super impressed by the colors. I know I can’t remember what the colors of my high school walls were. But man does it look good when you can see it all together.
Then I rode to Eve’s Downtown Gourmet. Downtown Detroit’s newest grocery store. I just wanted a bottle of water and a sprite, but it’s nice to go in, shop around and think about people who have to go into a gas station or a Meijer when all they want is a bottle of water. I am pretty excited that I can go into my grocer and pick up what I want and be out in 2 minutes. I never am out in just 2 minutes though. I have to walk around and see what other things I might need. Like the gigantic lollipops they had on the counter today. The man in front of me, let me go ahead of him, he only had 2 bottles of water too, but said he had a question to ask. His question was “Do you have AA batteries? I’d like a box.” It was nice that he let me go ahead of him. Just a friendly guy buying batteries.
Then I put my drinks in my backpack, unlocked my bike and started the 3 block ride to the Welcome Center. During those 3 blo0cks, a man yelled “Good morning Lady!” to me. A group of people that I had passed earlier also said “Hello again!” The 11am bells were tolling over at St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church. The streets were filled with people. It’s a bit hazy outside, but it makes things look a little dreamlike. It was an amazing way to come to work.
Of course it is Friday the 13th. So as I was locking my bike up outside of the Welcome Center, a man across the street yelled to me “Be careful the Leprechauns are out today!”
And now I’m at work. Answering phone calls about tours, talking more about the redesign of our Welcome Center, getting ready for a warm weekend in Detroit. I hope to meet you on a tour soon. I hope to meet you walking down the street. I hope to meet you when you come into the Welcome Center. (I just like to meet new people)
Have a great weekend Detroit!
Today is one of those day’s I spend all winter thinking about. The sun is shining, my computer says it’s 61 degrees outside, there is not a cloud in the sky, I’m sitting on my back porch basking in the sun, drinking a cold beer, watching the dog play with his toys. I rode my bike to and from work, I’m wearing a tank-top in the hopes that my farmers tan will go away… And I can’t help but have this feeling in the pit of my stomach. Building excitement… Excitement for what’s to come in the future, in the summer, and today…
4 years ago today I was attending commencement at Wayne State University. After 4 colleges, 6 years and an art degree – I was getting to walk across a stage in a gown. Glory! I had all of those thoughts that you’re supposed to have, what do I do now, where am I going, what happens. But most of those thoughts were stifled, I was going to spend the summer in Europe. I was putting off growing up for a few more months. I had a good job at an engineering company that I knew I was coming back too. I was relatively care free. It was great. I sat through commencement with a few good friends, we laughed and hoped they would say our names right, it was almost like being in middle school. A weird event to look back on. I went to lunch after commencement with my family, boyfriend and 2 other close friends, it was perfect. A great way to celebrate getting that little piece of paper.
And then after lunch, life went back to normal. I graduated on Cinco de Mayo, and if you’re from Detroit, you know what that means… I changed out of my grown up clothes, put on jeans and rode my bike to Mexican Town. A party just for my graduation?! Well not really, but man did it seem like it, everyone was there that I knew, old friends, new friends, it was great. I had a blast, ate more pastries than one woman should, and was pretty proud of myself. And ended up in bed by 8pm!
Fast forward to today – I got promoted at that engineering company, only to get laid off a month later, I worked for a company helping people file bankruptcy (file that under sad and depressing jobs), I helped design a website that looks nothing the same any more, and I started working part time for a small non profit, who just wanted people to see Detroit as they did – Amazing. Today I work part time for that same non profit (Inside Detroit, in case you couldn’t tell) and I’m putting on a bike race in Detroit in July. Wow how things have changed! I no longer feel like I have to do anything. Now the things that I have to do are my own. I want to tell you about how Detroit makes me feel, so I do social media for a company who wants to positively promote Detroit. I ride bikes and think others should too – I’m putting on a bike race. Detroit = city of opportunity.
But that’s not why I’m writing, I’m writing to tell you about the build up of excitement, the sun shine, the anticipation… So maybe I am writing to tell you about Detroit…. :)
But today = today unlike most other days, today is special, today is Cinco de Mayo. Mexican Independence. A day when Southwest Detroit comes to life! There are few events that get me really excited. Dally in the Alley – yes. Noel Night – yes. Opening day – maybe. Critical Mass – most likely. But Cinco de Mayo… the start of summer. It is exemplified by a day like today – sunny and in the 60′s, it feels like summer, people are out and about, and they have a spring in their step, maybe they don’t know that it’s one of my favorite holiday’s, but they should! Any holiday that combines taco’s and music – I’m pretty much all for. Growing up in CA, I can tell you what a good taco is, and the taco’s from a taco truck in Mexican Town – that’s where it’s at!
So today, I’ll leave in a little while, ride my bike to meet up with my friend Vanessa, and we’ll relive our commencement day by going back to Mexican Town, drink margarita’s, dance in the street and remember why, once again, we’re still here. It’s the people, the community, the arts, the culture, the mix, the festivities, and the moments shared over a taco that last for a life time.
Happy Cinco de Mayo, I hope that your day is as good as mine.
Marketing Coordinator for Inside Detroit (most importantly – doer of things in the City of Detroit!)