Tour de Troit 2005

Words by Danielle Kaltz
Pictures by Tom Gromak

Early this past Saturday morning, September 24, 2005, a group of riders from all walks of life convened on Roosevelt Park at the base of the now defunct Michigan Central Train Station for the 4th Annual Tour de Troit, a 35 mile ride around the city organized by the Greater Corktown Development Corporation! By the end of registration an estimated 200 riders had paid their $20 and were prepared for the 4 hour trip. The funds raised go towards the on-going maintenance of the Corktown-Mexicantown Greenlink and towards promoting biking in Detroit.

It was a beautiful morning as we all headed out for a comfortable cruise which kept a steady pace of about 10 to 12mph (with some folks traveling on the 8mph end and speedsters going as high as 16 mph!) The Detroit Police escorted us the entire way, herding us like Australian sheep dogs. They were efficient and a joy to have around. With sirens blaring, they'd speed past on their Harley's to secure the next intersection in order to ensure that our ride would not be interrupted!

In only four hours, we still managed to tour a large span of the city. This included: Clark Park, Fort Wayne, Mexicantown, Mt. Elliot & Elmwood Cemeteries, Belle Isle, Downtown, WSU, Indian Village, East Ferry Street, New Center, the Detroit River, the Renaissance Center, and much more.

The supporters of the event provided bananas and water at designated (and much needed) breaks along the ride. The first stop was at Earthworks Garden Urban Farming Project where we learned about the amazing projects that stemmed from educating urban people about the land that our food comes from. Those Franciscans know what they are doing and they offer a fabulous soup kitchen!

The second stop was at Back Alley Bikes. This is Detroit's only free bike repair shop. (Detroit only has three bike shops…yep, this is the motor city!) These volunteers teach kids how to maintain and work on their own bikes and offer service to the public. In addition they hold a bike art auction every year to support the shop.

Both organizations rely heavily on volunteers, so if you have some free time!

Another supporter of the tour was Honest John's Bar & Grill, which supplied a van the whole trip to help out riders who were struggling with the route. For those few who had to stop, they were given a lift back to Roosevelt Park where the rest of us ended up for entertainment, drinks, and a feast put on by newly opened Slows Bar BQ of Detroit all in the shadow of the Train Station.

Perhaps the best thing about Tour de Troit was that it was not a race, this was a group of people dedicated to the city and willing to show it together.

Other sponsors include: Greater Corktown Development Corporation, Mexicantown CDC, the League of Michigan Bicyclists, Burst LLC, State of Michigan Cool Cities Initiative, Grinnell Place Lofts, Bike Tech, Elite Brands, Greenways Initiative, Woodbridge Neighborhood Development Corporation, New Center Council, and (the very cool guys of) Beat The Train in Detroit. All of which should be given a big thanks for such a great event.

While this event has come and gone until next year, bike season in Detroit is far from done! The organization Critical Mass has a ride the last Friday of the month. After this month's ride they will be showing two films ("Widdershins" and "Napoleon Dynamite") at Back Alley Bikes.

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