On Earth Day, Turning The Motor City Into Cycle City

Let’s face it: Detroit’s reputation as the Motor City is unshakeable. But it’s gaining ground as a city for cyclists.

Racing enthusiasts have revived a velodrome, cycle clubs are growing, it’s easy to find a bike tour and tourism officials took journalists on a ride around Detroit last year. Grown Men on Bikes, a Detroit cycle club, even has its own theme song.

On Sunday, which is Earth Day, the Detroit Tigers want to take all that a step further.

The Tigers' mascot, Paws, with cyclists who rode to Opening Day 2012/ Courtesy Detroit Tigers

The team is hosting its first Ride to the Ballpark event, testing its theory that baseball fans and bicyclists are one and the same.

“Detroit has a very cool, strong cyclist culture,” says Eli Bayless, the Tigers’ director of promotions and in-game operations.

The Tigers are offering a $14 package that includes an upper deck ticket to the game, and a ticket for a bicycle valet. Cyclists will pull up to Columbia Plaza in front of Comerica Park’s Gate A entrance, and check their bikes.

Tickets must be purchased by midnight tonight: there will be no same-day Ride to the Ballpark sales.

As of Thursday, more than 100 people had already bought their tickets, said Bayless, and the team hopes to attract a total of about 250 cyclists/fans. Continue reading “On Earth Day, Turning The Motor City Into Cycle City”

Thunderdrome Roars Into Detroit Saturday

Our WBEZ colleague Robin Amer provides us with this story of rejuvenation — and it could only take place in Detroit.

Thunderdrome is back. It’s the story of a velodrome, a banked bicycle track used in competitive cycling. This one, in Detroit’s Dorais Park, hosted track nationals in 1969 and produced three world champions, all women, before it became abandoned and overgrown in the 1980s.

Racers from 2010 sprint for their bikes. Photo: Detroit News

It was literally unearthed by one of the city’s vigilante lawn-mower gangs — people who mow the lawns at city parks because the city cannot afford to do so. The velodrome, on the city’s east side, was repaired by racing enthusiasts who cut down trees growing in its center and invested thousands of dollars of their own money and over 4,000 lbs of concrete fixing its surface. And now, it has come back to life as home to a variety of competitions. Continue reading “Thunderdrome Roars Into Detroit Saturday”