7/1/2010 Bike the Island

The family left early to head up to Mackinac Island for the Holiday weekend.  With Bikes and Two Seat Chariot in tow we were looking forward to biking all weekend as a family.  Dan and his wife and their kids joined us a day later as we spent the entire weekend riding and exploring all day long.  For those of you that have never been this is a must see adventure for any bike enthusiast. 

The inner island trails and hills are were the real magic of the island exists.  Old growth forest, bike trails, horse trails, foot trails, trails, trails, trails!  Slowing down and listening to the world outside absent of the sounds and vibrations of automobiles can calm the most revved up heart. 

Bike the Island!  J. Meyers

6/24/2010 Thursday Night Ride

For about a year now I have wanted to take a group of riders down into the city River Rouge to explore the neighborhood just south of Jefferson Ave.  Today was the day to do just that.  Ted from the Charles Wright African American Museum and Derek from the crew at MCB were anxious to get going out on the route I came up with earlier in the day.  We were off flowing west and then again south by way of Clark Street we made our way onto Jefferson Ave.

Our first stop was Kovacs Bar where as the place was as empty as usual other than the single regular and Ma Kovac’s still tending the bar.  It was hot and we were just thirsty as we had just one drink and a whole lot of water we quickly continued on with our journey.  Once across the Gotham City Draw Bridge, (looks like it is fresh out of a Batman movie) we quickly turned left on to Victoria street. From there it was Marion Hwy. over to Belanger Park Road.  At first we passed it but being the old trail sniffer that I am I called the group back to turn around and check-er-out.  We were all glad that I did.

What a gem, river access park benches and a beautiful view of the Black Oak Heritage Park just across the river.  I could make out one of those beach inlets as I shared with the group that it would be a good time to head on back over and check the trails out personally.  We all sat on the benches and relaxed for 5 minutes taking in the vibe and the view.  It is worth the trip to pack a meal load up a bucket of suds and head on down with the family to see and enjoy what we had re-discovered.   Back on the bikes and out to the main road we made a left and continued on to Great lakes Blvd.  Along the way we all asked the same question why fence the adjacent neighborhood out?  Whatever happened to seamless interconnectivity?

We found ourselves at the river rouge bar and grill where we were warmly met by Charlie, his gal and about 8-10 women who were out celebrating one of their party’s birthday.  The big blonde gal whose birthday was the occasion of celebratory event was friendly, extremely friendly!  She was touch feely all over Derek who more than once had to move away.  Next it was my turn, she asked what my name was?  I told her my name was married!  Even so she still persisted and asked where we had ridden from as the fun was just getting started.  Wise ole Charlie was cracking wise from his stoop at the bar, laughing hard at the flirtatious attempts.  Blondie followed us out the door still asking the same question as to where we had come from and where we were riding to next?  We hastily made our goodbyes and ducked into the nearby neighborhood as quickly as we were able.

We laughed often as we were all kind of floored by the wanton hopes of a birthday present that none of us were willing to give.  The neighborhood was vibrant and colorful not vacant or abandoned at all.  Making our way back we hoofed it on in as Ted front tire started to lose air his journey became more glue like, slowly getting slower each mile as we went.  We made it back and Derek was off like a shot.  It was a good thing he chose to leave when he did!  As I made it back out to the parking lot to change my shirt, birthday girl was strolling up to the front door with three more ‘Hungry’ girls in tow.  She had brought out her gang, all made up, womanly war paint laid on thick,  fumigated with perfume they were looking to have a real party.  I ducked into the van as quick as I could, slinking down in the driver’s seat like a married coward, I was laughing out loud as I could not believe what had just arrived.  They mulled around the front door looking but never stepping in, Ted was lucky to be in the bathroom when the eyes of the ‘Hungry’ were cowering the room, looking for something to eat, I think looking for Derek!

Bike River Rouge/Detroit J. Meyers bike explorer

6/13/2010 Bike The Bridge

After a long month of intense work I finally found some time to catch up on the blog and share with people the tale of our travels over the past several weeks.   Last year’s Bike the Bridge event was attended by big Mike and this year Jen and I were in attendance with the 100+ Americans who wanted to take the trip on up and over.  This year’s event was well organized and was wonderful to be a part of.

With the short ride over to the staging area we were ushered up to join the Canadians who had already crossed and were waiting in Mass just inside of the toll booths, (they did not have to clear customs as they were not touching American soil).  When the signal was given we slowly took off taking in the sites of the river as we climbed up the grade.  I snapped a few photo’s of Jen wearing her bike Detroit Gear, wow what a site.  Once at the apex I let it out, just a little as my speed increased to 35mph+ flying free. I was sliding through the scattered groups of riders like a skier traveling down a mogul hill.  At the Bottom of the bridge we were waived through the customs booth and into McDonald’s parking lot no questions asked!  Damn easiest international crossing I have ever been a part of.

From there on we traveled west to a nearby Park where a snack was offered to all.  From that point the group split in two as the hardcore riders went down to Historic Amherstberg while the others went off to Hiram Walker for a little tour and whiskey taste fest.  Todd Scott led the ride at a good pace taking us away from the main hwy through farm country.  While in Amerherstberg the group started to splinter a bit with various riders taking off in different directions.  Jen and I found a nice coffee shop and had an espresso while enjoying great conversation with the locals gathered there.

From there we were off trying to find the rail to trail conversion that had been posted all over town, it was supposed to be the Grand Opening Weekend for this newly created trail.  Sadly we learned that it was not going to open up on time.  From there on we took the main hwy. that ran parallel to the river and after about ten miles of exploring we found ourselves I the Black Oak Forrest Park.  Only partially reveled on any map this place was wonderful!  Trail upon trail, crossing over a set of R&R tracks we found no less than three sandy beach-like access points right into the Detroit River.  One in particular I had to slam the breaks on or it would have been downhill and right on in!  Jen stopped often to chow down on the Mulberry fruit, so many trees, so much fruit and only two hands.  We both agreed it would be worthwhile just to bring a group of trail riders over for a fun filled day.

From there on it was to Historic Sandwich town where the primary group caught up with us we joined in and took the river side sidewalk back into town.  From there on we split again as we made our way onto Ouellette street in search of food.  Windsor has become a ghost town, boarded up restaurants and bars where as a young man I found myself foolishly playing far too often then I would like to remember.  Back then I would never imagine what this place would become as the post 911 fear based hysteria and overly aggressive border guards have done more than a good job in taking Windsor down to the level of Detroit, at least in some of the parts that we saw.  Lucky enough Jen noticed a spit turning in the window of one of the street café’s.  We went in to enjoy a good meal that would more than hold its own among the Greek Town Collection just across the river bend.  Busses were on time and the Anal retentive custom guards relaxed just a little as they had to inspect and question all of us.  At the end of the day it was well worth the money paid although the shirts could have been better.

Bike the Bridge!  J. Meyers bike explorer

6/24/10 – Down River

Heres some picture from last weeks ride downriver! 25 miles roundtrip which included a stop at Kovac’s bar as well as Mr.G’s bar. great times.

Training Ride 6/10/2010

With the work load being welcomed and vast this week I was really looking forward to tonight’s ride.  Jen was away with the kids down river and I had the afternoon and night to be free with my bicycle once again!  The old 1991 Diamond Back came down from the garage hooks for today I was in search of speed.  To date I have never met a 26″ rim bike that can match the efficiency of this work of art!  Sealed Italian bearings must have something to do with it?  With my gardening chores behind me I left my drive way at precisely 5:09 p.m.

All I can say is 51 minutes.  51 minutes to ride 17.50 miles with numerous stop lights, primary street intersections and stop signs.  I flew and recorded my best time to date.  As I arrived at the MCB my plan was to have a few and then fly back home.  I was interrupted by a beautiful site.  Out of the corner of my eye I saw Val with her bike and then Dan right behind her with his!  They told me that Jen going last week had inspired them and there you have it, couple Date Night!

They asked me to join them which in turn I shied away from initially.  He told me they were oft to the river front and would be stopping by Jacobi’s later on and beckoned me to join them there.  I said perhaps I would and to please have a great time.  I was enjoying the conversation with Erin as I did my best to rehydrate.  Erin is someone who had been serving me for over 2 years and I never knew her name?  Not taking the time to get out of my dream world and into the moment so as to learn someone’s name must have been a part of that Idealistic self?  That inflated form of narcissism that had been so clearly revealed to me on last week’s ride often kept me from being in the moment, let alone learning anyone’s-someone’s first name.

After an hour of great conversation I gave Dan a call and decided to head on down for just one and then head on back for the 20 miles that remained.  The seen at Jacobi’s was festive and even a mime was present to give me a few forward funny expressive suggestions! We spoke of Honest John’s Dear Irene and openly pondered when the appropriate time is to mess with perfection?  If all events are perfect for each and everyone involved, then it begs the question, who are we to decide when or if we even should become involved, meddling with Heavenly perfection?  Whether it is through Religion, White Magic or Heartfelt Prayer? Tears were flowing as my heart ached for Irene a fellow Gardener and friend.  The only right decision I think for those who are as of yet perhaps unworthy, is to trust the heavenly flow and keep quite the tongue, which with wisdom, can conjure to speak and utter such things.

Blasting North Wayne State Campus was quite as I made my way on through.  The rest of the journey home was one of deep breath and contemplation as I asked the angels what they thought about tonight’s conversation and Irene’s situation?  All the while my heart and head were as one, me feet were on another journey attempting to match my earlier efforts all of the way back home.

Bike Detroit!  J. Meyers bike explorer

Mapping of the Birmingham Trail System 6/8/2010

With the Southfield trails done earlier in the spring tonight was the night that I was committed to continuing the view so that others may enjoy the paths that we have re-discovered.  The truth of it was that it was the last thing I wanted to do after a 12 hour day.  My supporting wife inspired me once again, and with Trac Stick on board I went for the 24+ mile journey.

The next day we linked in with Google Maps only to discover that the technology that I had just purchased would not work under the dense canopy of trees.  Crap!!!  I will have to finish this up in the fall. 

Please look for our map section as it will be up by the month’s end.

Bike Metro Detroit!  J. Meyers bike explorer

6/3/2010 Thursday Night Ride

Most people called to cancel saying that work and other things had got in the way.  Undaunted Jen and I figured it would become a date night of sorts and we loaded up and were on our way around 4:50.  Dan was there and anxious to learn which way we would be heading tonight?  I decided to take our small group of three out to Johnny’s Place in Dearborn adjacent to the Ford Rouge Plant so that they could met the owner and see for themselves what a local factory pub was really all about!

Canfield west over the Lodge turns into Buchanan Street which is fast becoming our favorite Midtown Westerly trail.  Jen had never been before and was a little surprised by the prairies and meadows that have turned fallow and are consuming the old and odd abandoned architecture.  Turning south we found that we missed the northern entry to Patton Park and found ourselves sorely tempted to enter into Woodmere Cemetery.  Flowing west and on by we made our way onto Dearborn street were we turned right and made our way North up to Eagle Street. Another quick right and we landed.

We and our bikes were welcomed in as usual.  We were warmly greeted by Johnny and he asked were big Mike was?  I told him that he was at his daughter’s softball game tonight and we both agreed that family is more important.  As we sat down at the bar a fellow in his mid 50’s started to crack off like a young rooster.  I said to myself, “not another Freer Bar incident please”?  Once this guy found out that I was a Ford owner he backed off a bit.  Next thing we know he is up off his seat, walking out on the main floor to deliver his speech on Buggery!  Full of F’s and others he went on and on about what he does to his wife.  Jens mouth was open in disbelief as she gave me one of those looks like why and the hell did you bring me to this place; I thought you said it was a friendly nice pub?

As he sat back down on his stool I quipped that a Gentleman would perhaps not speak of such things out in public and further more he might consider what his wife’s true interests were before conducting himself as earlier described?  A few minutes of disbelief went by and the next thing I see is a guy in his mid fifties walking into the bar, barking, spinning around and then turning to come straight on at this guy.  BAM he put everything he had into his over hand right and as he was summoning up the blow he made mention, “Don’t you ever disrespect my family like that again”!  Pow right in the mouth!  Mr. Loud Mouth sort of slumped down on top of the bar and the guy that threw the punch, spun into the adjacent wall as a by-product of his efforts.  I was up immediately putting myself between them and Jen.  The guy that through the punch found his footing quickly and exited stage right just as fast as he had entered in.  All we could think is that instant karma just paid this fellow a visit and that perhaps next time he might think before he professes his philosophy again?

Needless to say we were gone next and back onto the bike for a trip into Patton Park as we made our way back home.  Snaking through and in and around we found a virgin group of white oaks and a picnic table were we took in a few minutes of good conversation.  From there on we found ourselves on Selden Street and once across I-96 we rode our bikes by the Ferguson Academy for Young Girls.  For those of you not informed, this school and its students are the subject of the award winning documentary titled ‘Grown in Detroit’.  The documentary inspired me to take up the study and in turn create the ROI Urban Farm Concept.  As we rode past the school I was blessed with an epiphany.  My Idealism was nothing more than a trumped up form of narcissism which in most cases is simply unrealistic.  With a glaring view from Dan and a wry smile from Jen, the message from above finally hit home!  Al Fields I now finally understand what you were saying about our goal for future employees with regards to the Owen Park Urban Farm Hub.

The long and the short of it is that the journey of growth is never over and as long as you surround yourself with good friend’s eventually one day you will come to see your shortcomings in the cathedral of the church of the rolling wheel.

Bike Detroit!  J. Meyers bike explorer 

Thursday Night Training Ride 5/27/2010

Around 5 o’clock I decided to just go.  I had been waiting all week to hit it hard and push myself to the limit.  With track stick on board I decided to take the Far East route into the city.  One that has been traveled many times but is now for the most part all but forgotten?  Lincoln through R0yal Oak and onto Hilton is always fun.  Hilton and slipperiness on through various neighborhoods back onto John R. for some muscle and announcement, ‘Hey Cars bikes are allowed on the road too’.

The heat seemed to have had an affect on the street walkers as all the ladies were absent from their usual corners.  Once around the Henry Ford Model T plant John R. feels great and is always worth the trip.  A few times on tonight’s ride I slowed way down and tried to reach out into the bright parts of various neighborhood-collections.  Passing through the Boston Edison district I saw to neighbors, one w-ite and one b-ack working on their yards stopping at the kerb to catch up and say hi, I waved and said to myself, at the end of the day this is really what the city is all about.  Race, sexual orientation, religion, pro life vs whatever…? Who cares???  If you feel good that’s all that matters.  If you keep it real then it is.

Passing by the DIA I found my vigorous passion once again and was moving hot my way on through down to the MCB for a break once again.  Tonight I was able to sit at the bar, (did not stink to bad, no meat = no smell 🙂 It was fun getting to know the people who had been smellingly-serving me all of these years.  A fine fellow even accepted my offer to buy him a beer as we talked about sponsoring a bike ride out of the city, up to Cranbrooke and back again?  (Any one who is interested contact Dan at the Brewery for scheduling a date and time).  Saying my goodbyes, I took my aching thighs and walked out the door once again.

I took it slow through Wayne State Campus as many upon many people were walking numerous imaginary trails almost as in like a make believe world of their own.  I decided to surf instead of shred for in the end which one really feels better? Is becoming older/more mature mean that I can now realize when to turn off the spew of self centered dew?  Geeese I hope that this is true!

Second on up to Mr. Palmers Fountain/End I turned right this time and decided to Bomb Woodward up to Ferndale to visit Matt who did not make tonight’s ride.  Rosie O’Gradies is the place to be if your single and available.  All who are please see for yourself.  Not pretentious, not attempting to be perfect, only good enough to look, feel and smell good, male or female, what else would you really want anyways?

I decided to load the bike up on Matt’s trusted bike rack and take a pickup truck bike ride through the back streets that connect us all from anywhere on home.

Bike Detroit J. Meyers bike explorer

Thursday Night Ride 5/20/2010

Mike made the call that he was in along with Matt and Dan, we were a tight group of four.  Tonight’s journey was to ye old tap room on the east side.  We make this ride at least a once every year as the place is considered by many to have the finest beer selection, period.  As we began our ride on Canfield left I decided it was time to start to push the speed up a bit, as all present were good with a bike and we could maintain the speed as a group, 16mph was the bottom tonight. 

Big Mike has never really cared for this run as the time he was present 3 years ago it was shall we say a little tense going through some of the neighborhoods NE of Jefferson.  This time we dipped south of Jefferson and hit Freud street so as to miss the chance at any ‘Human’ friction, (you see we avoid amped up car energy as well as amped up human/neighborhoods as well).  We made a stop at Algonquin Park to show mike the Romanesque water entry steps were he and his lovely wife Lisa could walk their kayak’s into and onto the Detroit river.  From there it was up and on over to the tap room.

Matt said he had never been here before? Thought he had been at least once?  A few Belgium selections were well received and soon we were oft at a higher clip pushing our way back across the rail road track overpass and on to Goethe once again. Coming west we had fun with all of the switch back turns along this street.  As we approached the point of Mt. Elliot the question was posed, do we make a river run?  The group decided naa and we peddled back quick to the MCB.  Dan and I went home to the family and Mike and Matt went in for the best Pizza in town. 

Bike Detroit!  J. Meyers bike explorer 

Thursday Night Training Ride 5/13/2010

It had been raining most of the day and as per usual the weather men had called for thunder storms for late afternoon/evening.  I decided to pack heavy and bring a complete change of waterproof clothing with me for tonight ride.  Given the temperatures and weather prediction I decided to leave straight from home rather than swinging by Catalpa Oaks Park in hope of finding any would be fellow.  So with rack and luggage secured and aboard I took my heavy train and peddled out of the driveway and began my way down with track stick mounted and ready for recording.

There are about 7 different ways/approaches into the midtown district.  Given my load and bike selection I thought it would be best to record one of the most direct and easy routes.  People coming from Pierce or the suburbs can easily find the starting point and travel on down any time they wish.  Derek and Andrea are working on the map section of our web site so that finally we can show all of the ways in, our Thursday night journeys and most importantly the trail networks and how to connect them without the use of primary or main roads.

The way down as always was fun.  I made it down to the MCB in just over an hour for which I had considered not bad given the heavy load.  My plan was just to head down and come back along one of the 7 routes we have established and be done with it.  Dan spotted me sipping one of his and John’s brews and asked if I wanted to take a detour and head out to Digman Park next to the now closed Chadsey High School?  We learned of this park in a meeting earlier that day as we continued on with our discussions with the city’s Department of Recreation concerning our urban farm interest). 

As we stopped near the corner of Cecil and McGraw we were amazed that the park was for the most part well maintained and that groups of kids and adults were playing ball and soccer which all felt good to us.  There was no way that we could even consider coming up with a plan to bulldoze what we were witnessing only to then in turn create a farm?  Talk about not being well received by a community?  With our site visit done we decided to explore further west in hopes of finding a watering hole to refresh and continue our conversation.  Down onto to Michigan Ave we spotted the Freer Bar and decided to pull on in.

As we opened the door to ask if we could bring our bikes in we were greeted by a sign that warned all Motorcycling gang members to not show their colors in the bar.  With that being understood and since we were on two wheels as well I chose to keep my second shirt on so as to effectually ‘keep my colors quite’.  In all of our travels and in all of our trails throughout the city, spanning the last seven years, we have never encountered what was to happen next at this place.

From the moment we stepped in we were met by a ‘Motor-cycle guy in his fifties with black leather ball cap and wallet chain a hanging off his butt.  He told us he just might have to ‘steel one of those bikes’ bla bla bla.  I quipped that he really would not get that far if he attempted to do so.  Then the ‘I will f_ck you up and mother f_ckers came next.  I just shrugged it off and his drunken belligerences as he walked a little to close on the way back down at the far end of the bar.  Next thing we know he is back out at the front door, holding it wide open,  looking straight at  me in my eyes and saying “Queer get the f_ck out”.  Are you kidding me?  This is an event which sorely tested my ability not to take things personally and in turned out to be a spiritual growth opportunity.  The kind  of opportunity that Father Phil was so good at, by being an empty heartfelt frame we can become a doorway to heaven, a release of anger and rage through the doorway of you or me is being of service to our fellow man.

Dan was perched ready to go when the king of enablers/bar tender came across the counter to quite him down a bit as again he came at me telling me how he would F_ck me up, blab la bla.  The bar tender made numerous apologies and said that he had been in drinking all day and that he was quite drunk and should be excused?  In my younger more reactive days I would not have passed what I considered yet another Heavenly test.  I guess there is another upside to getting older, it is called maturity.  The wisdom to see things as they are while keeping the negative/dark energy stream outside of oneself can be of great benefit.  Compassion, thanks to my friend Matt has taken the place of where rage once stood in my youth.  For this, all who were in attendance may someday be thankful?

With the Miller High Life all the way down Dan and I parted company.  He went east and back to home as I made my way north to do the same.

Bike Detroit! J. Meyers bike explorer