Slow Roll may be a household name these days, but it's far from the only bike ride cruising down Detroit’s streets. Motown has a wealth of options to explore for all kinds of riders. Mode Shift compiled several of them here, so you can take part in the fun.
1. Phat Kid Ride
Biking around town can really work up an appetite for some folks. The Phat Kid Ride addresses this issue by making food part of the ride itself.
Every Tuesday, the Phat Kid crew meets up, departs for a local eatery to grab some food, and then takes off from there to find another spot for dessert. Afterwards participants head back to the starting point for a few drinks.
Phat Kid got its start in 2013, when friends Maria Nash, Kendra Colbert and Felicia Nguyen decided to launch their own food-related ride. This year the torch was passed to Detroiters Whitney Ferdon and Melissa Anderson.
"We organize and lead the ride now," Ferdon tells Mode Shift. "So far this year we've done Old Miami to Parks BBQ to Treat Dreams; Third Street to a couple kebab places in Hamtramck to Dutch Girl; Atwater Brewery to Atwater in the Park; Z's Villa to food trucks in Southwest and ate at the Whitney and rode to Shatila Bakery in Dearborn."
The ride is free, but individual riders are responsible for covering the cost of their own food. Ferdon describes it as "moderately paced," averaging about 12-14 mph. It's typically about 12 miles long, but can occasionally stretch to 16. It's a no-drop ride, meaning if people start lagging behind, the ride will try and slow down to accommodate them.
The start place is posted online a week in advance. Cyclists meet up at 6:30 p.m. and depart at 7 p.m. All levels of riders are welcome to join in the fun.
2. Beat the Train
Folks looking to speed up the pace a little should look no further than Beat the Train! For the last six years, cyclists have come together in Southwest Detroit on Saturday mornings to push their limits on a 14-18 mph ride, averaging between 30-35 miles in length. The two-wheeled excursion takes place from April to October.
"We take in the sights of the Motor City from ground level, like you’ve never seen them before," reads a post on their site.
New riders should remember that Beat the Train is not a training ride. Participants are asked to do their best to stick with the group.
The ride’s most popular route takes riders through Mexicantown, Corktown, downtown, Belle Isle, Heidelberg Street, Eastern Market and more before looping back to Southwest Detroit for a post-ride breakfast at Los Galanes restaurant. Riders meet up at 6:15 a.m. at Detroit's Historic Fort Wayne, and the ride itself kicks off at 6:30 a.m.
Folks who drive their bikes in can count on secure guarded parking at the fort. If you plan to participate, please remember to bring a helmet; they’re mandatory.
3. Back Alley Bikes
Who says grown-ups get to have all the fun? Back Alley Bikes, a youth earn-a-bike program linked to the Hub of Detroit bike shop, sponsors a weekly youth ride club that takes place on Saturdays during the spring, summer and fall. The purpose of the club is to have fun while learning safe riding skills. It’s open to youth between the ages of 10 and 17. Parents and guardians are free to tag along too. Safety training is necessary to participate, as are permission slips and waivers. Bike trips start at 3 p.m. and wrap up at 5 p.m. See the group's calendar for specific dates and theme rides.
4. Bikes and Yoga
If you're in the mood for a workout, but want to stretch more than just your legs, Bikes & Yoga is the way to go. As the name suggests, it’s a weekly bike trip—held at Belle Isle—followed by a group yoga session that lasts approximately 45 minutes. Now in its third season, the event is organized by Cindy Spires and Jeffrey Friedland of Detroit Community Yoga and Amber Prystupa of H2O Insightful Creativity. Crowds range from about 80 to 150 people this season, and include people of all ages and sizes from around the region.
"What I like best about Bikes and Yoga each week is seeing all of the new & returning smiling faces who ride and practice with us,” Spires tells Mode Shift. “We are inclusive and hopeful that the inherent nature of positivity that we are cultivating with Detroit Community Yoga will have a ripple effect of inclusivity in the greater community.”
The six-mile bicycle ride loops around the island park, starting at Sunset Point at 6 p.m. The yoga portion gets going at 6:45 p.m. and features different instructors each week. In case of rain, yoga sessions are held at the Belle Isle Casino or the Bath Lunch Comfort Station by the Park Entrance. A liability form must be signed to participate in the event.
“We have no corporate or other sponsors, no financial backing from grant makers,” Spires adds. “This is us three doing it for you all! And we love every minute of it."
5. Motor City Bike & Brew Tours
Sure, there’s been a lot of hubbub about Detroit's biking community lately, but people are also going wild over the city’s craft beer scene.
Motor City Brew Tours brings these two great things together with special history-themed bike excursions that reward riders with beer. Inspired by a wine tasting tour in Southwest Michigan, Steve and Laura Johnson began offering their service, which also has bus and walking options, in 2009.
“We offer guided bike tours within Detroit with history themes from May to September,” Steve Johnson tells Mode Shift.
“All Bike & Brew Tours include experienced and knowledgeable tour guides,” he continues. “We offer a relaxed riding pace for all biking abilities in small 20 person groups. Michigan-made beer and food are included in your ticket and served to you at the end of the ride.“
The bike tours cover themes like current and past breweries, Prohibition Era sites, Corktown and Mexicantown history and the rise and fall of the Purple Gang. The trips themselves range between 8 and 15 miles long. If you’re interested in participating, you can purchase a ticket online for around $30.
Bicycle rentals are available for an additional fee. Riders are asked to refrain from imbibing alcoholic beverages during the ride itself.