For fair weather cyclists who ride from the time the weather heats up until the colors explode into fall, the September 16-18 weekend is the trifecta of organized rides inside the city of Detroit. Whether you’ll need halter tops or rain parkas, the exhilarating sense of riding will attract thousands and explore culture.
One of the options is the 27th annual University of Detroit Mercy Midnight Bike Ride on Friday, Sept. 16. It starts at 8:00 p.m. and runs through 20 miles of Detroit neighborhoods.
Get a little sleep and wake up by 8 a.m. on Saturday. September 17, to get ready for the 15th annual, 30 to 100-mile Tour de Troit and join 7,500 friends on a leisurely ride through the city.
Then on Sunday, if space remains, come to the Detroit Institute of Arts Inside-Out bike ride with a helmet and a willing attitude to bike 20 miles to art installations in historic West English Village.
I’ve done the Midnight Ride numerous times and loved every minute of the experience. Last year we greeted a cop on horseback outside Lafayette Coney Island and swarmed the restaurant with hungry customers. One year, we cycled Belle Isle and watched a heard of deer jump over the cyclists to the other side of the road, not harming anyone. And yet another year we toured the empty buildings of Southwest Airlines where the ticket counters look fresh enough to book passengers.
My friend Walter Johnson is coming up from Florida to do the 62-mile Tour de Troit metric century ride. He’s had four knee surgeries, survived prostate cancer and a car/pedestrian accident and coming from Palm Beach because he heard the cycling community is hot, hot, hot in Detroit.
He joins cyclists of all skills and contraptions, happy to know there will be three mechanic stations and a rest stop along the way. Tickets are $60 for the main Tour de Troit and the metric rides.
“Last time I did the Tour was 2011 and people tell me this will be the best ever,” says Johnson, 73, who helped lead 20-mile bike tours around Detroit for the Detroit Recreation Department in the 1980s and led the Motor City Blade Runners, an inline skate group in the 1990s.
On Sunday, dust off the bike shoes, down some joint juice and come to the 4th annual DIA Inside-Out bike ride led by veteran ride leader Thomas Page, who also led the Handlebars for the Homeless ride in July. The ride is 20 miles from the DIA to East English Village and back again. DIA tour guides will be onsite to tell about the art and the Inside-Out program that brings fine art to the neighborhoods. The free ride caps at 60 people and is filling up fast.
Going out of town? Stuck doing household chores? The bike rides continue. The sponsors of Tour de Troit will coordinate Bike the Bridge on October 9, a bike ride over the Ambassador Bridge and a 20-mile tour of Windsor neighborhoods including a boxed lunch.
Slow Roll Mondays will continue indefinitely on a 10- or 12-mile trip through Detroit. The People for Palmer Park are scheduling fast paced rides from the Splash Park at 6:30 p.m. through Highland Park, Palmer Woods all places in between.
Critical Mass, the giant bike rides that came before all the other bike rides through city streets, has scheduled Friday night rides on September 30, October 28 and November 25.
Just remember to wear your helmet, keep your smart phone locked in a carrying case and watch motorists carefully. The benefit to your lungs and your well being will take you through the bitter months of winter and back into the bike saddle again in spring.