The highlight of the day was not the English Proper 100 miles I was after. Nor was it the gratification of accomplishing my goal. The true highlight of the day belonged to Jim Senska and Andy Erickson from the bike group based out of Old Fort Wayne, called Beat The Train. Without those fine fellows my dream and goal would not have been met.
The first 20 miles were chilly on the way down I kept telling myself, take it easy, save up for later. Big toes froze in Keen Sandals I did my best to warm up in the sunlight lawn at the starting point. I met a group of people who came in from Ypsilanti to do the ride they had read about only a few days prior. Blare Horn called the metric century ride to order in front the old hotel which probably closed back in the early 70’s by the look of things. Circling to keep my legs warm the ride began precisely at 9:45. As we began a ‘Roadie’ noticing my unorthodox wear barked that the ‘Other Ride was Over There’ and added, “what are you doing”? To that my reply was attempting an English 100 Proper, with 20 miles in so far how bout you? A moment of silence ensued as one of his group said, “Ya, were did you ride in from”? Latrhup Village says I and that was the end of it. After a few street turns and the ramped up energy of shaved leggs all around, I noticed two fellows about 100 yards up. I stepped hard and joined them.
Meet Andy and Jim! These boys can flat out fly no doubt about it. Jim was on a slightly modified hard tail mountain bike and Andy was riding Mountain Bike proper with Knobies to boot. I kept my distance at first so as not to suck there wind in typically roadie fashion, as we made our way past the old fort and into Dearborn that is when the good conversation began.
I learned that they were already well into their ride which was in fact a Beat The Train ride that had left earlier that morning with plans of joining the Tour. We made our way onto Hamilton and started to talk and open up a bit. As we went by the first water break stop it was not even open? We pushed on and made our way North, then East and then West again. Turning down Jos Compau we headed South through the heart of Hamtramck.
Onto Grand Blvd and heading towards Belle Isle my legs started to cramp as I was out of water. These fine fellows waited as I darted into the Marathon gas station to refill on the H2O from there it was on to the Belle Isle bridge. We started to see a few groups of people that had broken out and away from the smaller tour, hellos all around we made it to the tent to the left of the bridge. Piles upon Piles of People, lines upon lines, what an absolute incredible sight to behold. Watch out bikes everywhere it was amazing.
My new found friends decided not to wait in the lines as we headed off across the lawn and over Jefferson to the gas station. Filling up with water and aid we headed back across the bridge for our Belle Isle loop. Jim took off ahead and sliced that back side wind like butter, I trailed Andy all the way around as we made our way at the half way point Jim was off his bike in plenty enough time to shoot some pictures as Andy and I rolled on bye. With the wind in by back I switched up to the big Sprocket-wheel and aired it out the easy way, with the wind!. All together once again we headed across the bridge with Jim taking up the lead again.
Down and over we had a near collision with a mid age Women on her bike who did not think to cross the road by looking both ways first? Maybe her upset was our fault but… she blurted, “what and the hell do you think you are doing”, to that my reply was that, “we were on the other one…” as we went on by. The Karma Gods immediately took notice of my quip and promptly gave me a flat tire. Pulling off Jefferson onto the side walk Jim came flying back around and Insisted that he help me? I just met the guy and he would not leave a new brother behind? Andy was up the way a bit as he broke out ahead waiting on us he decided to call to see if everything was ok? After not having a flat in three years I thought the one Tube and Compressed air cartridges I brought would be more than enough, at least that was what I had thought..?
Pressing on we made our way East on Jefferson and through onto Freud Street, into Indian Village and onto the Heidelberg. Flat number two, shit! Andy was quite Hungry and gave me a heavy dose of shit about his belly and what hungers him. Jim without a moments pause reached into his pack and gave me a spare tube as Andy helped by offering up another cartridge of compressed air, in essence saving my ass yet again.
From there we made our way through he rest of the route and back to the starting point. With longer than long lines standing before us they decided to take my offer and join me at Motor City Brewery for food and beer. Turning off the service drive, pothole and pinch flat number three! Damn. It was Andy’s turn to take his wife’s spare tube out of his pack and the remainder of his compressed air and offer it up without hesitation. A little more razzing (well deserved) we were finally off to the Brewery for Cheese Boards and Great Pizza and a few Organic Beers. While we were eating another fine fellow from the Beat The Train group showed up as he had been on the phone with Andy earlier, without a second to lose he said, “Oh you must be Jim the guy that likes to flat out a lot”? I love it!!! Bring it as it was beautiful. We welcomed him with a small glass of beer and he in turn walked me out to his car to give me more compressed air so I could make it the rest of the way home and complete my goal and dream.
Without the fine fellows from Bike The Bridge I would not have made it. At every turn they were there willing to help, slapping the peddles hard, not judging and giving fair amounts of ribbing and shit, as needed/deserved. From the Brewery on home I smiled often at the memory of those two fine fellows. I made one stop at Heroes Park and gave the ground 33, it was all I had left…. Bike Detroit!
J. Meyers bike explorer