Detroit Bike City Blossoms into North American Bicycle Week

DETROIT—Like an old bike that's been so tricked out and retooled it transcends its original frame, the annual bike show, Detroit Bike City, is returning to the D later this month in a new and expanded form.

While vendors will still be heading to COBO Center in late March, this time around the expo is just one component of a wider extravanganza called North American Bicycle Week.

Set for March 27-30, NABW will feature daily rides, demonstrations, educational seminars, musical performances and more at various sites around Detroit. Launch events will kick things off that Thursday in both Detroit and Windsor, helping make it a truly North American affair.

Organizers Jason Hall, Mike MacKool and Mike Sheppard have been putting on the Detroit Bike City expo since 2012. They're billing 2014's new expanded festivities as "a four-day city-wide event celebrating the culture and the healthy lifestyle of cycling."

If the names Hall and MacKool sound familiar, there's a reason for that: they're the the folks behind the popular weekly Detroit bicycle ride, Slow Roll. That ride blew up big time last year, eventually drawing crowds of more than 1,500 cyclists during the warmer months.

Hall tells Mode Shift that the recent surge of public interest in the ride helped the expo grow into a multi-day event.

"It was always in the plan," he says. "Really what it was, was the sucess of Slow Roll really pushed us into the next level sooner than we thought. We thought, once we had that type of power and people behind us, 'Lets just go for it!'"

The Detroit Bike City expo will still be the center of the action. This year it's happening at COBO on March 29, and it's open to anyone willing to pay the $12 ticket price. Last year about 2,000 people turned out for the expo, but attendance is expected to double this time.

More than 100 vendors are expected, and the plan is to fill the convention center's 100,000 square-foot Wayne Hall with merchandise and activities.

Every kind of bicycle will be on display: mountain, road, tall and tons of custom designs. There'll also be talks by Mode Shift and others on topics like urban cycling, bicycle advocacy, and cargo bikes, performances by the Rise Above BMX team, a Detroit marketplace, a swap meet section and several best in shows, including one for classic and modern BMX bikes made possible with the help of the BMX museum. Customized bikes will also be in the spotlight.

Beyond the walls of COBO most of the NABW's events will be free with the exception of a few musical events.

"We have seminars going on all over town," says Hall, "The Hub is doing a basic maintenance class, so we can use our power of bringing people here from all over the county and Canada and say not only come to our stuff but go see the Hub. ... We wanted to include all the shops, but not include them in a way that wasn't beneficial to them."

Similar demos and talks are planned for other sites around the city.

Other attractions include BMX demonstrations at the Brush Park bike park, movies at the Boll YMCA, an alley cat race, music by groups like the Suicide Machines and Guilty Simpson, and of course tons of rides.

These bike treks will be sponsored by a variety of groups like Farmada Free Ride and Detroit Synergy. There'll even be a vintage tweed outfit ride that will merge with the Detroit's monthly Critical Mass and end with a tweed-themed party that will benefit the Bike MS charity.

That's a lot to take in, but Hall is confident North American Bicycle week is going to be a blast.

"This show's going to be a bigger spectacle than its ever been. The last couple years, it's been a lot of bikes, it's been a lot of shops. But this year, for the first time, you're going to see multiple attractions," he says. "It's really a show for everybody now."

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