DETROIT—Maria Nash, Kendra Colbert and Felicia (Felix) Nguyen lead the Phat Kids Ride on bikes through Detroit and nearby environs. That is, tasty 20 mile rides with at least three edible stops every Tuesday night.
“We focus on cheap eats all around Detroit. We start with dessert. Ride off the calories. Eat food. Eat dessert again,” Nguyen said. “Sometimes we go some extra miles because we ate a lot of food at our last stop.”
Between 15 and 30 riders, a good sprinkling of females, take off from the Bronx Bar in Midtown at 7 p.m. and set out for the next foodie adventure. They post ideas and photos on their Facebook page before, during and after the ride.
“This is a glutinous adventure. We chased down an ice cream truck in Hamtramck, went to Ferndale for burgers at the Emory and ended the night with donuts at Dutch Girl Donut on Woodward. We keep the price of food under $10 so it is affordable,” Nguyen added.
In deference to the owners of small, individually owned restaurants the group frequents, one of the ride leaders will call ahead and reserve tables and maybe chickens for their feast. They've planned rides to Sinbad’s Restaurant and Marina on Detroit’s east side, Sanders Ice Cream Parlor in Grosse Pointe and a few places in Mexicantown.
Nguyen brings a love of bicycling and hospitality. She manages the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest, her executive position in a meteoric career. She rides a vintage 1982 bike she got at a garage sale for $40. “It is heavy as all get out. Makes me pump hard and get a workout,” she said.
Nguyen, Colbert and Nash represent a growing trend in cycling, female cycling. “The movement is getting bigger than middle aged men. I’m glad to see it happening,” said John Lindenmayer, advocacy director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists in Lansing.
In 2009, women accounted for just 24 percent of all bike trips in the USA, but recently there has been a groundswell of local and national efforts, according to the League of American Bicyclists.
Nyugen hopes to add a monthly soup kitchen ride where people would volunteer one evening to ride to a soup kitchen and serve the homeless. Or ride to a park and participate in a community cleanup. For now she is happy when neighbors wave and salute the cyclists zipping past their street at 12 to 14 miles an hour. Slow enough to wave back.
“I’d say the whole bicycle movement is exploding across America,” Nyugen said. “It emerged in San Francisco out of the skateboarding and music scene. People could get places by car and everything whizzed by quickly or they could walk and it took forever. Then it spread because it was fun. People ride because they can see beautiful places and people.”