02/09/2012 Emerald Necklace Inner Loop:

41 outside sun was shining, I knew this was a rare afternoon in early February season. Inspired from the Annual Bike-Detroit meeting from 10 days ago I was set, bound and determined to ride this newly proposed mid range bike route. Basically a 23 mile route that interconnects 20 Parks along the path less traveled. This was our proposed ‘Inner’ loop of our 3 part offering of the ‘Emerald Necklace’ plan we have been working on for the past 3 years.

It was a great first time out, many Parks were open and others were land grabbed shut? I wonder who I can contact at the city about this? Do any of you know where I might send an email to? Okay back to the trail…. I found 4 great pedestrian ways of getting over the expressways and railroads. A few of the areas out near west Chicago and Wyoming did not particularly feel that good. The route was edited earlier this morning! All told 28 miles traveled including turn around. One historic footnote to bring high end camera, shoot and share Cooley High School etching and symbolism left in and over many an outside wall, so that in turn we can share with all of our friends.

I am thinking 1 more edit session and 2 more test runs to make complete. Our hope is to finally have all of our maps published by March 15th, just in time for the 2012 season.

Bike Detroit! J. Meyers, Bike Explorer

02/03/2012 After Work Run

Thanks again to brother Dan, today’s exploration ride was once again inspired by his research and intuition. We have been talking about the original city founder’s intentions for the Boulevard systems as of late and have amended our 2012 rides this season to share with people the original trails created by these remarkable men. For me, staring at the maps that had been so badly scarred by the freeway systems, it was hard for me to imagine the reasoning beyond the French influence of design, most notably the Boulevards of Paris and France and how wonderful they felt. Yet again my good friend was on to something so I decided once again to travel down a trail as of yet unexplored by our group.

In honor of the French Connection today’s journey started out the old Log Cabin Farm as it appears to me, time and again that many a Masonic trail concluded here, the old Log Cabin sitting center to the Old Log Cabin Farm, lost for ever as it once set amongst the fairways and Greens of the now private Golf club. The clock read 2:30 as I started out from the Palmer house and made my way to La Salle Boulevard. Today’s journey would be French in a couple of different ways. French for the Boulevard, La Salle named after one of the founders and thanks to my Grandma the 25% Francis flowing through yours truly. Skipping around the Northwest corner of Highland Park at Log Cabin road a few blocks further west and I found my street and turned left and entered on in.

A beautiful collection of classic 20’s residential architecture waits for the traveler just south of McNichols. I said to myself wow this is beautiful and yet another viable collection of homes that must be added to the ‘University District’ conversation. Crossing over Puritan the tune changes a bit. As I approached the Lodge Freeway I wondered east one block so I could catch the pedestrian bridge/overpass that was waiting for me, all-be-it without a Kerb cuts, just at the end of Baylis. A quick jump up and over the Kerb I darted left up and onto the overpass. I once again found myself smiling at the joy of an elevated view over a sea of endless automobiles. I wondered to myself if people would ever see how urban sprawl, commuting and burning fossil fuel really doesn’t work? Once across I found La Salle again and headed across Fenkell Ave. and on down La Salle Ct to see if there was a trail thru all of the apparent land grab, make shift barricades and illegal dumping piles. Nope, just another armpit of neglect, in need of a good cleaning and a shave. I looped back North to Fenkell and headed west on the south sidewalk turning left onto Linwood Ave. A quick left onto Oakman and I soon found myself back on the La Salle Trail.

From Oakman down to Buena Vista the traveler will be delighted to find another beautiful collection of apartment buildings similar to the Historic Palmer Park collection. Similar in differentiated style’s, set upon a smaller scale or footprint if you will. All of the lawns were cut and trimmed, no weed trees devouring fence lines. Another sight for History’s sore eyes, as the group managing this space seemed to have not lost the fight.. I continued south through a somewhat debilitated section but as I approached Courtland Ave the tune started to change. What greeted me next made me slow down. The site before me was Central High School!

The Masons once again left a mark, so clear and so concise that it made me stop in my tracks to Marvel the Cathedral/Lodge Room that stood silent before me. The center portion of the old school building felt like I was back in Europe on one of my study tours. Adorned in full symbolic array and constructed from Magical proportions, that would make Pythagoras smile, I wondered if any of the students could feel the energy of the amplified space or ever had cause to wonder what all of the Symbolic accents and Latin words meant? Slowly I circled the entire structure, enjoying the message from the still in good working order sidewalk that surrounds. From there I continued on South to the K-8th grade school, made smaller in scale yet set with Magical proportions and symbolism from the Quatrefoil to the founders Latin cryptic message still in plain site. With our kids faces stuck in hand held media streams I wondered if any, would get the founders message?

Smiling with yet another beautiful discovery, to carry with me in my heart, I continued on and down the grand old Boulevard anxiously awaiting what ever would meet me next. Boston Edison is most beautiful west of the Lodge. The sections near Woodward perhaps are grander in scale but the overall feel and sense of community, at least to me, appears warmer west of the ‘Lodge’ freeway. West Chicago, Longfellow all of the way to Blain all sang in similar tunes. With a brief zone of decay passed on thru, I was floored but what came at me next. ‘La Salle Gardens’ might just be the most beautiful neighborhood in all of the city of Detroit! That’s right, that’s what I just said and to think of it before today was unimaginable, as I had never seen what now stood beautifully set before me!

La Salle Blvd. South dead ends and or becomes interrupted by the beautiful La Salle Park set as a center square surrounded by a magnificent residential collection. I ditched on the idea of the central sidewalk and decided to drive around the square, not once but twice so I could marvel at the beautiful collection and expressions of Architectural history that stood there in front of me. Before today I could not even imagine the phrase Colonial-Art Deco but believe as you may, two incredible examples of this only-ever-seen style can be found on this square. To that you can add everything else you can imagine. Colonial, Art Deco, Spanish, Moorish, Tudor, Tudor Revival, Greek Revival, Stream Line, Modern and all points in-between can all be found in this one beautiful place. No other neighborhood I have ever seen, throughout the entire world, could ever boast such a display of residential Architecture!

Shocked and still amazed I continued on South through the narrows, La Salle becomes 16th or 15th it is rally hard to say. I crossed over I-94 on 14th and found my way back to 15th and took it till it dead-ended into Grand River. From there I did kind of a ‘Boomerang’ move northwest on Grand River one block to 16th and then swung in and continued south again. Crossing Warren, Forest and Buchanan the area is empty with a few houses darted inbetween the fields waiting the plow. I made my way to Butternut, (yes the white form of Walnut tree) and headed back east to 14th and on down to the River.

From that point it was a sprint, as the new viewing/recording was now done, as fast as I could peddle I passed many a mail truck rig along Jefferson Ave, onto the River walk, up the GM ramp and on through Greek town. I sharked on by the Park Bar and made my way to MCB for a break, water and refreshment. From there it was a sprint through Wayne State all the way back up 2nd to our new Palmer Home.

Bike Detroit! James Meyers bike explorer

01/28/2012 Homeless Barbeque Run:

Mike called up early and said that his daughter and friends were heading on down to the Park at Selden and 2nd to help out with the Barbeque event, and then asked me if I was available for a ride. Snowing Blizzard like conditions at times I said, sure why not, after all this would not be equal to some of our more extreme rides of past. We met up at the Palmer House and decided to chart our way down along a different path. A path through Hamtramck I knew was there we just had to find our way thru.

We darted north to 7 mile to pick up the asphalt trail into Palmer Park and into the woodland trails that were sure to be frozen on a day like today. We came out of the forest at Woodward across from Nevada and headed east. To Orleans, right on south, cross 6 mile snaked our way over to Goddard St. and kept on south. Snaking around we slid down Lumpkin then on over Brombach south again to Holbrook a quick right past Kolowalski Meats and then left again down Lumpkin. We hit Euclid, south to Clay, west again, south on Melrose than a quick left on Milwaukee and then finally onto Russell all the way down through Eastern Market connecting onto Rivard on our way down to the River.

With the 30+ mph wind at our back we blasted east to see if Andrew’s was open? Not, crap! No warm up before we turned back around to face the blasting wind. We Kind of, if we can even say that, crawled on back to the river walk trail, to the Ren/Cen, North through Greek town and finally on over to Honest Johns. Needless to say when we got there we were frozen a wee bit to the bone as the MPH and wind chill made its way through our layers. Thankfully his daughter had parked the car a block away and we loaded um up as Big Mike ran me back to Palmer prior to coming back down to pick up his daughter, from there it was on home.

Bike Detroit! J. Meyers, Bike Explorer

01/29/2012 Blog and Ride Updates

Mike called me out on Saturdays ride asking why it had been over 2 months since my last Blog post. He went on to tell me that we have somewhat of a following on the Blog and added that not only should I continue but he would be joining in on his own accord soon. Well I have really no reason or excuse for my absence, but I will however share with those interested that the last 2+ months I have been busy helping out at home, spending more time with the family than ever, loving every minute of it!

The fact is the rides have continued throughout the winter and my thought was not to try and re-create the sense excitement and adventure now/considerably after the fact, but rather offer some dates and notes about the journeys, saving my ‘In the Moment Passion” for the next true Blog entry.

November saw the Wed before Thanksgiving ride which has now become something of a tradition. Big Mike and yours truly rode the Modified East Emerald Necklace route as well as we considered further revisions to the trail that we are proposing, (tomorrow night at our annual meeting we will be finalizing and voting on our Emerald Necklace Plan).

December saw a trip down to Sanibel Island in Fla. We went there for a long weekend and simply enjoyed the best biking infrastructure ever designed for a Golf Coast/Caribbean Island or Key. If you have not been, pack up the bikes and the whole family and go on down and enjoy bike paths that are as extensive as the road infrastructure. Finally a place where bike paths approach the 50% mark, a balance in comparison to the street and road footprints. December’s warm weather also gave re-birth to the Southfield trial system. I rode it twice, once alone and once with Mike. Again it rings true in my heart that all of the maps have to be available to the public. I am hoping this is completed in time for the early spring rides.

January saw our 5th annual New Year’s Day ride. Many promised but only Mike and I showed up at Palmer Park to begin our ride. We headed down south against that amazing Westerly cross breeze, it was like sailing via tact. We headed South down 3rd crossing over near Wayne State to Cass Ave. and continued our ride on down to the river to see the rolling white caps pushing the surface of the River against its flow, smashing East onto the tip of Belle Isle. Wow is a word that could never do the experience justice! As we headed back up along the Ren/Cen we were blown out like a Bowman’s Arch, having to hit the east sidewalk to cross the Jefferson, for try as we might we couldn’t have gone straight if our lives depended on it. Heading through Greek town we stopped at Honest Johns to pay new owners Jeff and Kelly a visit. We decided since this was the place it had all started back in 2001, we would schedule 25-50% of our Thursday night rides to depart from the good ole bike friendly place for the 2012 season. With the warm weather I was able to take out the old Diamond back and do a solo run down against the clock, out of shape on 26″ rims and still done at 59 minutes. Thanks to Dan I was able to dry out and catch a ride back vs. riding back into the wind.

Bike Detroit! J. Meyers, Bike Explorer