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I love my commute to work. Yeah, I said it. Most people would compare their commute to getting a root canal or listening to the sweet sound of a baby screaming. But not me. Some days I drive the 10 miles from Ferndale to Quicken Loans' headquarters on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit; other days I take the bus. But my favorite way to get to work is by bike.
People don't think of Detroit as a bike-friendly city, but in fact a few of Detroit's most well-known innovators, the Dodge brothers (Horace and John) and Henry Ford, revolutionized their industry by first dabbling with bicycles. The Dodge duo invented the first ball-bearing bike and later went on to assist Ford in creating automobile engines. Ford's first automobile, the Quadricycle, was made using four bicycle tires. See what he did there? It's like a bicycle, but because it has FOUR wheels, he called it a Quadricycle. Oh Henry, you jester you.
That little fun fact is fine and dandy, but you may be wondering why I choose to ride my bike in Detroit. The answer is simple. Biking is the best way to experience the outright beauty of the city and the renaissance that is happening on its streets. Buildings are being renovated, people are bustling around, businesses are open and active, and the city is thriving. On bike, you can see someone's smiling face, smell the amazing breakfast at the Hudson Café and hear the music being played at Campus Martius Park. You just don't feel that same energy if you blast by in a car. I readily encourage everyone who comes to Detroit in fairer weather to give pedaling a go. You'll see a new side of Detroit that you might not have expected.
If you take your wheels one mile northeast of downtown, you'll find another sensory-filled destination in Eastern Market. This national historic site and farmers market is chock-full of vendors every Saturday and on Tuesdays July 10-October 30 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Everything from peppers, potatoes and tomatoes to fresh-cut flowers and shrubbery are ripe for the picking. Pack up your load in a bike basket and you're good to go, but don't leave the market without discovering the best pizza the city has to offer at Supino Pizzeria. Trust me when I say you won't forgive yourself if you miss this treasure stop, conveniently located on the market's main artery, Russell Street.
If you're biking downtown, make sure you cruise past the recently renovated Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority and travel the paved and always busy and beautiful Detroit RiverWalk, where you can see another country, Canada, just across the Detroit River. Take a jaunt over to the scenic island park of Belle Isle or ride up the Dequindre Cut, the railroad line turned paved pedestrian and bicycle path. It's part of the 40+ miles of designated bike lanes and paths that currently exist in Detroit. (Visit bikedetroit.com for routes and maps.)
What's exciting about this whole travel-by-two-wheels idea is that when you start to hit spots by bike, you'll soon realize that the final destination is only part of the fun. That's what still happens to me every time I ride. I've met friendly people, discovered interesting and transforming spaces and seen a vision of Detroit's future by working, playing and biking in the city. But don't take my word for it. Find out for yourself. Get on your bike and ride.
Find Me a Bike
Plenty of retail and rental bike shops and organized bike rides can be found in Detroit. Here are a few of them:
Motor City Bike & Brew Tours
Tour de Troit. (Sept. 15, 2012)
Critical Mass Detroit
Our D-centric bike journey only scratches the surface when it comes to Detroit's eclectic hot spots and new, colorful, and yummy dining options. Here are a couple other exciting musts — some old, some new, some renewed — that deserve a mention and your consideration. All are worth the travel, the time and, in some cases, a taste.
Completely renovated and located in the heart of downtown, Bleu is one of Detroit's premier nightclubs. Dance to the best electronic music from Detroit and the world in this two-level club, or relax and watch the party in one of the VIP areas. If you're looking for an even more laid-back vibe, sneak downstairs to UnderBleu — a low-key lounge where you can share a drink and a nice chat with someone special.
1540 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, 48226 DD
Leland City Club
Located a stone's throw from Greektown, the theater district and other quintessential Detroit attractions, the historic Leland Hotel beautifully merges Detroit's past with its future. Step into the lobby and be whisked away to the 1920s. And if you're looking for a place to dance the night away, the after-hours bar and industrial nightclub, City Club, is conveniently located in the hotel. The music matches the dark and mysterious atmosphere.
400 Bagley St.
Detroit, 48226 DD
London Chop House
Experience the revitalization of Detroit while dining on some of the city's most exquisite offerings. One of Detroit's most legendary restaurants reopened this year, and it combines Old World charm with today's styles to give a fine dining experience without a stuffy, pretentious feel.
155 W. Congress
Detroit, 48226 DD
Mercury Burger & Bar
Nestled in bustling Corktown, Mercury Burger & Bar is the new kid on the block, opening this spring. The obvious mainstay menu item is the burger. You can pick from beef, turkey, salmon, Portabella and other varieties. The rings and hand-cut fries are tasty, too. And you can decide if you want to wash it all down with a gourmet milkshake or a handcrafted brew. On sun-drenched days, enjoy the attached open-air patio/biergarten. Another wild side note about this joint: It also serves a full breakfast menu.
2163 Michigan Ave.
Detroit, 48216 DD
Texas de Brazil
Located downtown in the Compuware Building (which is also Quicken Loans' headquarters), Texas de Brazil will meet your meat needs … and then some. Prepare to feast on countless varieties of seasoned meats, carved right at the table. And don't have any preconceived notions about the salad bar. It's more like a second feasting area, overflowing with appetizers, gourmet vegetables, soups and salads.
1000 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, 48226 DD
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Belle Isle Park
Campus Martius Park
Detroit International Riverwalk
Dutch Girl Donuts
Bundle up for the Plymouth Ice Festival in January because there are many detailed ice sculptures to admire.
Opened in 1904 and designed by Albert Kahn, the Conservatory features five sections and is open year-round Wednesday-Sunday.
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