|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