|For those of you who regularly follow our attempts at blogging, I wanted to mention that we have been wonderfully buried with work and family and up until this point I have not made the time to write about our adventures. There have been numerous rides since our last entry with lots of time being spent in the Palmer Woods Trail System. On October 24th we hosted our first annual Palmer Park Hay ride and with about 45 people present, it was a stunning success!!!
Some people have asked me, Why Thursday night rides and not during the weekend? Well, Thursday night is kind of like a metaphor for a door to freedom. It is a door that transcends the condition of “living for the weekend”, silencing the conversation in our head while breaking the mold of our own invention. You know the daily grind? It is a release point, where we all can let go of ourselves and the way we hold it to be. We relax, we sprint, we push hard to get back in the moment while blowing out the old pipes as it were. With Dan’s schedule shift, we now work on getting out on Wednesdays since our official Thursday night scheduled rides are over for the season.
Today’s ride was another one of those that had been a long time in coming. The plan was set Tuesday night as I meet up with the Boys at MCB on the down portion of a training ride. We had a chance to talk and catch up after they had spent a hard afternoon of bottling. We hatched our plan for today’s ride during a quick sprint through Wayne Campus on our way up to the Palmer Trails. When I got back home I sent out a mass text in hopes that some of the regulars on our rides could break free from their work schedule and join us for this ride. Today’s ride was first out to the Ridge, then connecting with the Beverly Hills and Birmingham trail system, and then finally out to Cranbrook and back again. Our Journey was filled with excitement as all of us had been looking forward to this kind of a ride for a long time. Matt made his way over from Berkley first and was right on time, arriving at 1:30. Dan and Derek Joined a few Minutes later and without much fan fare we were off.
With the misty rain falling down all around us, we knew it would be slick as we began darting across Southfield Road just south of 696. We did our best to give the boys a tour of Historic Lathrup Village. When we made our way over to the Louise Lathrup Mansion, we found ourselves tardy in our attempts to visit this once Historic Ruin. What we found instead was a huge excavator chewing up was left of the grand old Historic Mansion that was brought down in flames by a lightning strike a year and a half ago. With a quick 180 degree loop around, we headed back out of the West end of Lathrup Village and made our way across Evergreen in route to the Ridge.
I took time to comment on how proactive and modern the city of Southfield was back in the day when it created its pro pedestrian Master Plan. The result of that plan was being enjoyed by all with each stroke of the peddles on our bikes. The city of Southfield is home to the world’s first Mall. Think about that for a moment. Northland Mall was completed in 1952 and the City of Southfield’s Planning Department witnessed firsthand how the flow of neighborhoods and street traffic could be smashed and changed for the worst by the automobile agenda. (Sounds a little bit like the ‘Global Economy’ to me?) They decided to do something about it and in the early 60’s they came up with the first Master Plan of its kind, going where no American city had gone before. Perhaps they were inspired by the original series Star Trek or maybe the hippie culture that was just beginning influenced their view and commitment?
What they created and in turn implemented was a city wide Master Plan that was geared to offset the damage that was done during the Lodge Freeway construction and Northland mall. What they did was develop a series of city wide pedestrian trails in the form of numerous designated bike routes, and pedestrian only, road side asphalt trails. The selected Subdivision streets were increased by 4’ per side so as to have room enough for both car and pedestrian traffic alike. Allowing both to coexist at the same time was a step towards harmony and to the best of my knowledge is still noted as being the first of its kind. We were upon such a street and all felt at ease with the cars passing by. We made our way across Lasher at the light and soon found ourselves on Bell Road making our way to the Ridge.
As usual the comments were of awe and stun as we stood upon the Ridge seeing and enjoying the release point of a bluff some 85 feet above the river valley floor. It is an inspirational experience to say the least. Matt broke out first, cliff hanging down the hill he faced north and dropped and gave 20 proper pushups to the Forest Floor. Well what the heck, most of us followed suit because as a group we all practice as one, except for brother Dan whose back was tight from yesterday’s bottling exercise. Back up in the saddles once again, Dan led the way down the side of the timber step trail as we all braked, hopped, skipped, and jumped back on to the main boundary road. Then we made our way to the DNR Bridge which today was taped off with “Caution” tape. All the missing boards and makeshift plywood Band-Aids did little to alter our flow as we crossed and climbed and climbed and then climbed some more.
From there on it was back to Evergreen along a wonderful asphalt pedestrian trail that runs on the south side of 12 mile. With a slippery switch back, Dan was the first to take a tumble. Some cool people like style and freedom over helmets, which to me does not make much sense at all. We all took a breath as his chain was set back on gears and cogs. After a minute or so we continued on up to the Beverly Hills trail Section. As we approached 13 mile, Matt was next to go down as another slippery switch back called another fellow back down to earth. Finally we found our way into the forest. Twisty, tight raked, and visible trails were enjoyed by all. We stopped and took in a Zen moment near a waterfall that was stretched across the Rouge River and enjoyed Matt’s call for another round of Push Ups! From there on we made our way north and back on to Cranbrook Road, turning left and headed north to the old historic school grounds. I pushed the group hard up to Quarton road, crossing over with a quick left/right we started to climb and climb and climb some more. Soon we found ourselves square across from the cascading formal fountain pool. We all took a minute to enjoy the stunning classic view. From there on we entered into the campus and found ourselves sliding down on to the trail next to the manmade Swimming Lake, complete with dilapidated rubber liner? We switched back and zipped through the woods by a row of country homes making our way to the final, big, big, big hill that lurks just inside the Primary/Formal Cranbrook Entrance that abuts Woodward Ave. All would agree when we made it to the top of that hill we all felt like our muscles had no more to give. Defined physical form was grinded down to fungus filled stumps, as rubber bands found themselves replacing where once bundles of steal stood. We all stalled and struggled to catch our breath as we made the turn onto Woodward Ave.
After about ¼ of a mile after the turn, we reassembled and grouped in, real tight like we kew what we were doing. Imagine that, we all looked like a bike team, minus all the flashy colored jerseys and spider-man spandex. What people saw instead was four differently colored fellows, flowing real fast on mountain bikes with our average green or blue rain gear on. We then blew downhill, shrugging off some would be attempts at ‘chin music tunes’. We crossed over Big Beaver and from there made our way down Old Woodward and up yet another damn hill. With a quick right and left down the Alley, we found our break spot Dick O’Dows. With a Pint of Harp and more water than you could ever imagine, we found ourselves talking about coming this way more often. From there it was a quick 4 mile sprint down Pierce to conclude yet another great adventurous ride!
Bike Metro Detroit! J. Meyers, Bike Explorer
What a week, 80+ hours in, Palmer Forest Trails re-opened and now at the end of it all another bike ride? At first I just wanted to go home and sleep, but at Dan and Derek’s insistence I showed up around 6:15 and joined the Motor City Brewery Group that had been assembled. We all made our way over to Warren and Trumble Leaving the MCB parking lot around 6:30. A short 5 minute ride and we joined the massive group that was assembling for the Critical Mass Ride.
I lay down on the grassy field and joined Dan, who plopped down on the Burm in close proximity and began to stretch and talk about the weeks event. I told him that I needed to relax and thankfully he reminded me that that is exactly what I was doing at that very moment! Sometimes we get so caught up in our own invention we do not even realize when we are attempting to stand down and relax our way out of it. When good friends state the obvious we would all do wise to listen.
With a whistle blow we were all up, scurrying into our saddles, amazed at the watching of some 600+ bikes make their way around the Hair Pin turn as the Group began heading East on Warren. Complete disregard for cars was tonight’s mantra in-carnata. The anarchy was a little too strong for me, as I always hope to find a middle ground or in other words a way that feels good to the world around me as I made my way through. The path in accordance to my lovely wife Jen who had taught me this way, year’s earlier as we had begun our journey of the dance of surrender. Tonight’s ride was a statement of defiance. Cars were told without any attempt at conversation being made, that the way was blocked and that the wait was, what it was.
With the rush of all of the pedestrian energy excitement around me I started to push my peddles slowly at first. It did not take long for me to build up some speed as I began to slice my way through the masses. Just then Jim and Andy from Beat the Train fame said there hello’s and asked me how things were going? I slowed down for a minute and said my hellos but the time for catching up would have to wait until a later date. With the stress of one of the longest weeks I have had in years still clouding my internal sky I decided to put the tree trunks to good use and push up the speed just a few notches.
From the back forty to the front line I started to fly. Caught up in the excitement and in my own need to blow off steam, I selfishly abandoned the MCB Group and decided I would just air it all out and leave whatever was there locked inside on the streets of the Motor City. Soaring past the lead group I pushed up my speed past 25 and kept on going for a mile or so. For a moment I caught myself thinking about the group and slowed down and waited at Mack Ave doing my own version of blocking the path of cars as the lead group plus 150 riders passed on by. Just then a fine fellow came up to relieve me from my post and from there It was an all out selfish sprint, to reel the group back in and take off around the East end of Tiger Stadium.
I looked back and saw nobody coming. It was then I decided to head west for 4-5 miles and then back again up to the Brewery as fast as I could possibly go. I convinced myself this is what would be best for me, which was perhaps the first time all week that it was not about what is best for the clients, the family or the groups for which I am apart. It was what I needed. Making my way back into the parking lot I felt lighter, the weight of my overcommitted cloudy storm sky had turned blue once again! A quick glass and I said my goodbyes. I was off home again to the children that did not get a chance to feel their father for most of the week, I think it was me who was hurting the most as the connection to their energy stream is what my heart longed for.
Bike Detroit! J. Meyers bike explorer
Tonight’s ride was a longtime in coming. We were joined by Shawn and Joe who were first timers for this year’s rides. A total of Seven of us headed out North in pursuit of the official Mountain Bike trail that has been built in Rouge Park. Dan led the Group out as Shawn and Joe were attached to his wheel, then Derek, Ted, Matt and yours truly followed.
The way north and then west was a make it up as we went kind of event. Nobody was to anal about the map that had been prepared as we all flowed and followed suit to the route that Dan was laying down. We made our way into the Park via Tiremen and had no trouble finding the trail head that Dan and Derek scouted earlier in the day.
The trial is tight and full of twisty. In one instance Dan led the group down into a dead-end hollow, but with no blood or bruises nobody was worst for the wear. Derek and Ted took off down the road in a vain attempt to meet us where the trail came out of the woods. After about 30 minutes of cell phones and riding around the group was finally back together as we made our exit from the Park via Spinoza and headed East on Warren for about a ¼ mile and then made our way south onto Whitlock. Whitlock was a good secondary road that took us east for about 4 miles until we had to ratchet down onto Paul Street and back on home to the Brewery.
When we arrived the Green Alley was quite the community scene as Mr. Cockerel took center stage with Todd Scott and other fellows. The conversation was cordial and relaxed with Mr. Cockerel quipping that he would soon join us on one of our Thursday night rides. With a few suds down and the 30 mile trip behind us we soon turned our sites for home and our families waiting there.
Bike Detroit! J. Meyers bike explorer.
Tonight was Dan’s Birthday and it was his turn and honor to create the ride. Today’s exploration took us almost due west as we were aiming for the ‘Other’ side of telegraph road. What, not in Detroit anymore sounded like a lot of fun to me. We took off on McGraw as Dan brought us west we all took turns swinging high and low along numerous side streets that flank Michigan Ave. He led us into a back road that circumnavigates to the South of the City of Dearborn Municipal Complex. Wow this is way cool and to all of us, unknown until just then.
Making our way across Telegraph and sidewalks that travel in the opposite direction is always a bit unnerving for me but what the hell? I mean the Beatles sang about being one’s birthday. We landed at a Glass Making Factory/Education Training Center which was hosting an open house party/fundraiser so that locals could see what was going on. The work was great, the Artist were talented-cool, the directors had light beaming out of their eyes and of course the Beer was great for Motor City Brewery had donated most of it. It was a bit obvious that we were not dressed for the part but none the less were all well received. First by virtue of our travels and then again as the word got out, by the virtue and purity of the beverage’s all were enjoying.
Dan’s lovely wife Val showed up with their two almost twin like butterfly children they created. The butterfly dance engulfed Dan’o in a cloud of loving irresistibility as he was ushered away off from us to look, see and check out the event, Val and I had a chance to talk and enjoy some wonderfully honest conversation. Hate to break it to all the studs out there, without the balance and reason of a good woman a man cannot transcend the distance between his head, then to his heart and finally onto his feelings. Their beauty is the center of the tree of life and to which only confronted with are we inspired to change.
A few minutes on I had to wonder about Jen and our butterflies? Man I wish I had learned more about the plan and had been able to invite them in to visit with their two friends and enjoy Dan’s birthday with a night all out together. Feeling homesick I started to chide a little saying that I was going to take off and head home. Remembering and listening to the children’s voices, my own self created heartache was tugging and pulling at my legs, calling me home. Dan asked for a few minutes more and was not to be denied. The way home was similar to the way there as we darted and swooped in an explorative manner. The roads to the north and south of Michigan Ave., all the way back home.
Bike Detroit! J. Meyers bike explorer.
All loaded up I hit the trial and first made my way to Chanticleer. A pleasure garden, located about 30 miles outside of Philadelphia it was a nice beginning to another fine day. From there I made my way over to Longwood Gardens. A beautiful and expansive collection of historic and interpretive gardens, left to us all by the DuPont family. This is the greatest garden in the USA. Surpassing the French inspired indulgence of the Biltmore Estate, stepping away from the Draconian undertones of Kykuit this place is spiritual. On no less than 4 separate occasions the spiritual shivers befell upon me, making my hair stand on end. This place is magical, not about the house but perhaps rather about bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to the Earthly plain, just below our feet? This is a must see for everyone!
From there I made my way into Delaware and onto Winterthur gardens, Museum and Estate. I hold this place to be one of if not the finest example of the Naturalist Garden Design Style in North America. The place and the garden additions were set in harmony amongst the indigenous trees. The collection even sported a few specimens that had been brought over from the Arnold Arboretum some 80 years ago, the same one I had just visited near Boston two days earlier. As I made my way out to the Turn Pike I passed by many a fine school donated and built by the DuPont family. Unlike others, they did not need to use charity later on in life, as a vain attempt to balance and payoff the karmatic debt incurred, prior to earthly departure. Numerous families from the Gilded Age attempted to make right the misdeeds of self interest, speaking the sacred words to have the Earth open up, (in of all places Cleveland Ohio), forcing her to reveal her treasures, not the DuPont’s! No fan fare, no ‘Centers’ needed. The daily lineal and lingering deeds of the house that is true, this is what defined this French families heritage.
From there on I made my way into Washington D.C. and into Dumbarton Oaks. Yet another great American garden, sadly on the verge of disrepair, from there it was just a short drive to the Hotel and like Superman and the Phone Both I was changed and peddling fast down onto the Mall. Entering in east of the White House I made my way down onto the road that runs in-between the Mall and the White House. Three peddle cycles down and in, a Federal Agent barked, “The road was closed” and “turn around”, I quickly said yes sir and saluted on my way back around. Just then out of the corner of my eye I saw two additional Federal Agents on their mountain bikes make a move to intercept me. I said to myself, there was no sign or barricade, I did exactly as instructed, and I pay taxes, do I have nothing to say to these two fellows? Nope! I hit the peddles hard and they both gave up after about a mile. I can only guess that they both agreed with my logic stream? I sure did hope so.
From there I was on my way around the Washington Monument/Obelisk/Nimrods Tower as I made my way towards Capitol Hill, the Senate Building and on past the Supreme Court. All of the Agents guarding these venues were friendly as I continued to wave to everyone, just in case they had received an earlier radio call about some Bike Detroit Mission Recon Guy?
Man this was fun. I headed back down the other side of the Mall and made my way down to the Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials. Past the Korean War memorial I made my way down to the Air mail Marker, crossing over on into the Lady Bird Johnson Memorial Park on my way back up the river. Circling around the Arlington I felt a true heartfelt appreciation for all of those fine men who followed tough orders so that I could freely ride my bike today. All politics aside I am Proud to be an American.
Bike Washington D.C.! J. Meyers bike explorer
The morning car ride out of Boston was effortless as one can imagine cars were flowing into the city and not out. My continued travels took me through Hartford then on to the Sleepy Hollow/Hudson River area. It was to Kykuit first the once home of the Rockefeller family country estate. The journey was well worth the travel as the gardens that surround the home were filled with symbolic communication, complete with a Pagan/Masonic Temple/Lodge room, buried beneath the temple of Venus. After my 2 hour tour I was off to Lyndhurst just a few miles downriver, another fine if not the countries best example of a Gothic Revival styled Mansion.
Tours behind me the long trail to Philadelphia lay ahead, first across the George Washington Bridge with the skyline of Manhattan in plan site, then into New Jersey via the Turn Pike. Tip toeing across Delaware I crossed into Philadelphia around 4:45 in the afternoon. It did not take me long to check in with the concierge as I quickly learned what and where bike was friendly. He pointed the way around the city center, past the Masonic Temple, then right on to The Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The parkway as it is referred heads Northwest at the perfect degree.
Numerous large Fountains were flowing heavy, symbolic and loud. It reminded me of Paris with the fountains and the ‘Ley’ Alignments of Avenues and Roads. Hmmm maybe Benjamin brought back more from Paris than has ever been revealed? Out past Eakins Circle, sliding right of the Museum of Art I made may way into Fairmont park, just past the rowing Boathouses I was on the trial flowing the river North.
Under Hwy 1 I followed the trail NW past the Philadelphia University continuing along on the river side bike trial. I passed many an ancient house/farm, numerous of which dated from the 1700’s and had become a permanent fixtures in this expansive Park. The trail climbed up and down, sliding all around passing by a large tree and rope hanging near the stream. Three college guys were shirtless and swinging like Tarzan, letting out a yell as they all released as high up as they could. Splash, boom what summertime fun. The asphalt trail gave way to another 5 miles of gravel mountain bike trial. My odometer said 17 so I decided to turn around and find another way back.
I turned right and headed Southwest over the Schuylkill river upon a bridge that was built in the 1890’s. It was an Historic crossing indeed. Now I was on the other side of the river enjoying the opposing trail. Numerous old city buildings dot the route with a few historic photos and words which brought good light to bear on the history of the place. I crossed back over the river near the 676-76 interchange and made my way back onto the river trail. I continued and headed south on down to South St and it was there that I decided to head on back.
Heading east till 5th street I turned into the old part of the city. I made my way past the Liberty Bell and dismounted and walked along the old river bed/cobble stone streets. I found my way into The City Tavern, which opened its doors back in 1773. All of the servers were wearing colonial outfits as the place felt and smelled like it was and still is from another time. From there I made my way through the independence National Historic Park and on through Washington Square. Three hours later I mounted back up and made my way through the city blocks back to the Hard Rock Café across the street from my hotel, for just a single solitary beer. I toasted my friends and family back home, wishing that everyone I loved could have been on today’s ride.
Bike Philadelphia! J. Meyers bike explorer
With the office in order and with the blessing from my wonderful wife I loaded up and hit the trail around 9:00 p.m. after the kids went to sleep. For years I have always wanted to do a great North American garden tour. Finally my time was at hand! After canvassing the world in search of great classic and botanical gardens I decided it was finally time to see what the gilded age netted upon the land in my own country. Ever since biking had become my health/release hobby and passion the time was now at hand, I could do both.
I drove through Canada and ended up sleeping Near Rochester New York. The following morning I was up and on my way Naumkeag Garden outside of Stockbridge MA. And yes the Blue and White staircase set amongst the Birch is as magnificent as you would see in the books you may have read. The garden was eclectic yet unique in its location and elevation changes. Influences from all over the world could be seen and felt.
From there on it was on to Boston a town that had so much history from the revolution, the storied universities and the Emerald Necklace Park System that brought me there. I arrived in town around three o’clock and it did not take me long to get my gear on and call my vehicle back from valet so I could retrieve my bike. I was off to Commonwealth Street and into the Central Park of Boston. Darn, no bikes allowed! I stepped off of my peddles and walked on through towards the Golden Dome of the Capitol Building. Just then some choice lines from the move ‘The Departed’ entered into my head and I knew where I was going next.
Down into the ‘Southey Projects’ as Matt Damon put it, was as simple as crossing over a bridge. I toured the area and thought to myself, projects? They must be kidding? The Projects as they are referred look better than the city of Ferndale and in no way reflected the Brewster or others that once dotted our city sky line? From there I made my way back across the bridge and rode by the Gillette world headquarters I nodded as I went by saying thanks for the close shaves, my wife really enjoys it!
From there it was down Commonwealth heading towards Fenway and the Green Monster. I looped around twice letting all that would see, a fine fellow from Detroit, Mission Recon Jersey on and the Tigers coming in the next night. The place was right in the thick of things, with the backside of the Green monster facing the freeway; the other sides were all tucked in and surrounded by gritty bars and restaurants. From there I made my way into the Emerald Necklace Park System that Olmsted had designed in the late 1800’s. Numerous trails crossed over the asphalt path for which they were not to be denied! Up down all around the bridges looked almost exact to that of the ones in New York’s Central Park.
From there it was onto the Arnold Arboretum and the campus of Harvard University. The Arnold Arboretum is one of our countries oldest and it felt like it too. They had closed off all car entry access points, (Hey Detroit Get a Clue) which made for a free and wonderful journey all the way around. Monster upon Monster stood large tall and proud, but can someone mow the damn lawn? I climbed the hills and enjoyed the view as I made my way through and on up to Harvard Campus. Beautiful Blonds everywhere, all running and working hard to keep the surfaces thin. Where are all of the Nubian Queens which is so much a part of the inner Detroit seen? Blonds were never my style but if it is yours then Boston is the place for you!
Back onto the trial up to Freemont Park the last in the formal necklace grouping. Freemont Park was a dingy conclusion, some prostitutes and drug action but what the hell without dim lights, bright lights could not exist and who am I to Judge? From there it was back all the way round rolling as fast as I could. I was passed three times as the locals were ripping the trail. Back at the hotel I took a second small step as I dismounted my bike, the hills of Boston are a little bit different than the flat lands of Detroit. From there it was into the Hotel bar for a beer then up to the showers to put my walking shoes on so I could continue my exploration via foot.
Bike Boston! J. Meyers bike explorer