Back in the Saddle Again

We have had a really cold, wet, dismal “spring” this year in the “D”. This weekend was among the first nice ones we’ve had in a while – so the Legal Eagle and I rode through the hood today.

But first, a nod to my new sadddle, a Gilles Berthoud “Aspin”, which my wife found at Peter White Cycles.  La voila:

A birthday gift from the lovely Jennifer

Très jolie, n’est-ce pas? And very comfortable, particularly since I’ve done just about everything but ride my bike this spring. It’s worth considering if you’ve got a Brooks in mind and want to try something different. I have a few other Berthoud items – panniers, front bag, etc., and am really pleased by their quality. Like  Henry Royce said: “The quality will be remembered, long after the price is forgotten”.

Our journey today took us down Kercheval to Van Dyke, up Van Dyke to Nevada (also known as 6-1/2 mile road), over to Woodward, down to the Avalon on Cass, a quick traverse of the Eastern Market and the Dequindre Cut, back up Larned, left on Iroquois, right on Kercheval, and back to our respective homes.

It was a beautiful day in the hood. The Fire Station on Crane near Kercheval has reopened. We spoke to a nice firefighter who was actually on his first day of work.  The station was built in 1900:

Back in Business – serving the neighborhood for 111 years.

Oh, and if you’re wondering (or not, because I’m going to show the photo anyway), this is the home of Engine 14

Engine 14, soaking up the sunlight

A short while later, the Legal Eagle stopped to adjust his front derailleur, as it was rubbing against the chain enough to make us both crazy.  Here he is, ready to repair the faulty component.

The Legal Eagle about to apply his mad mechanical arts skillz

 I thought I had captured most of the photo ops on Van Dyke, but actually saw a couple of visuals that struck my fancy:

No relation to mister arthur, I’m afraid. I dig the crown – but I think “Car Wash” is two words

Mister Splash appears to be quite new, (or at least has a new sign), which is nice, since, sadly, most of the neighborhood is going in the opposite direction.

Here’s a church (there are A LOT of churches on Van Dyke) that uses glass blocks to advertise itself.  It seemed appropriate to snap a photo of this, given that we escaped the Rapture predicted by that nut job from Oakland, California.

Stained glass “window”,  D style.

It wouldn’t be a proper Tour De Hood without a mystery sign or two. A bit farther along, we pedaled by a place for aficionados of previously-ruined vehicles:

I think the font they used for “Cars” is “Junk Regular”.  Please note the star bursts.

The “Tippin Inn” has tipped out, I’m sad to say.  It has a very mysterious message on its sign board, which looks like an especially bad rack of Scrabble® tiles.

I don’t know where to begin.

If you have any idea what the sign said, please send me a note. BWIG BORD UTE TE!

Further down Nevada, (but before the intersection of Nevada and Lumpkin Street), we passed a repurposed small manufactory. It may not be readable in the amateurish photo below, but the building was a temporary  haunted house. Hence the skeleton on the front door.

I guess the market for recaps isn’t what it used to be

There’s a police department building next door. Not that that explains the buoy on the lawn.

Avast, scurvy gangsters!

Across the street is an easier to understand ad for an attorney that gets right to the point:

Everything spelled correctly, except perhaps the name of the artist: Gallary?

The Legal Eagle has a theory that if you see a yellow building, chances are it’s a tire shop. Case in point, this retail establishment that has no evident name, unless it’s owned by Overstock.com.

Open Days. Not sure which ones, or whether that means they’re closed at night.

We also passed a private club that may also be a motorcycle club. Whatever the truth, the Legal Eagle was pleased to note that the Wild Dawgs are (is?) an LLC.

I wonder if Deputy Dawg is a member

That’s all the photos for this week. We did stop for comestibles at the Avalon Bakery, and we had a nice tailwind back up Kercheval.  Lovely day.

Here’s a map of our route for your delectation.

Shout out to Bikes & Murder

Thanks to Bikes & Murder for the shout-out to help promote the Obscura Day Tour De Hood. It’s an interesting site – go ahead and take a look. And join them at the Boll YMCA downtown for Bikes & Movies Night.

From the Bikes & Murder web site

Out-of-Season TDH: First dual-citizenship TDH ride: The Packard Plant

Back in the fall, I took some visitors from out of town and out of the country (plus a newbie from the area), on a Tour De Hood ride. Being from Switzerland and Boston via Seattle, they wanted to see one of Detroit’s iconic ruins – The Packard Plant. I’m not usually into ruin porn, and lord knows there are enough photos of that collapsing disaster available for your delectation, but the ride turned out to be more interesting than I had thought at its onset.  Here we are, prepping for the ride.

From left to right: The Geomaster, misterarthur, Topsider, The Boston Bomber, and Monsieur Tonton

It was a really windy day – not the best of cycling conditions, and getting to the Packard Plant meant heading right into the gusts. So we zig-zagged towards it.

Thar she blows, matey

The zig-zaginess of our travels were not for naught, as we, typically, passed a couple of interesting TDH-like spots along the way.

There was a (defunct?) motorcycle club headquarters:

“BFF” is not something I usually associate with MCs, but what do I know?

We also passed the Husky Fence Co., which, along with fencing, sells Gates, Guards, and, rather unexpectedly, Dirt.

Topsoil’s for sissies. In Detroit, we prefer plain old dirt

Another motorcycle club soon came into view. This example is clearly going for a more butch motif than the scrambled consonants club noted above. They are also fighting a losing battle to have Detroit take away the title of “Sin City” from Las Vegas. (And by the by, doesn’t that “C” look like a Pac Man ghost?

They’re tough. On the English Language. Deciples? Decipies? Decibels?

I hope they didn’t have the spelling error tattooed all over their arms and chests.

Much of the artwork I encounter on my rides is unsigned or unclaimed by its creator. This fella, however, seems to have spent as much time advertising himself as he did creating the dancing machine he painted.

Area Code 313, if you need to contact Bird

Over on Goss, we passed the Houston Grill, which has what appears to be its whole menu painted on its exterior.  I’ll admit, Ham Hocks and Tomales (sic) are a type of fusion cuisine I had hitherto been unaware of .

You say Tomale, and I say Tamale

Does any city in North America have more tire stores per capita than the Motor City?  I’d wager not.  Van Dyke Tire does other work, too: mufflers and brakes.

Guess they specialize in drum brakes: Those are brake shoes, not disc pads

Should you be interested, Van Dyke Tire seems to have pretty reasonable prices on oil changes and hand car washes. They will also clean your vehicle “In 3out” for $60.

I wonder if yellow used tires carry a premium price

On we went to the Packard plant.  We had a very fortuitous meet-up with a group of fellows who live in one of the abandoned garages across the alley from the ruins of the plant itself.  They know everything about the place. What’s safe. What isn’t. Who put the tvs on the roof. They’ve sort of taken on the role of Packard Plant Docents for visitors. Naturally, they gave us a guided tour. The fellow on the left with the brown hat is a reporter who also happened to be there that day.

Meet the Packard boys. And scribe

The Packard Plant has plenty o’ street art festooning its exterior: Here’s a sample you may not have caught elsewhere:

Comely Graffiti, indeed

I stayed outside to keep an eye on our bicycle collection, while Tonton, the Bomber, the Geomaster and Topsider went in for a look-see.  We happened to be outside the section of the factory where Banksy’s artwork had been “curated” (read: Stolen)  either by Gallery 555 or the mysterious owners of the plant itself.  You can read more about Banksy’s visit to Detroit on the excellent Detroit Funk site. There’s still plenty of stuff to see:

A tree

Trash ‘n’ water

There’s also graffiti er, street art, that isn’t done by Bansky. Like this, mmm fish?

This is for you, Al!

And this somnolent looking guy:

There’s a very alert man to our right (his left).

Tour over, we headed back, our fingers numbed and our faces chafed. The out-of-towners were delighted. I got to see my first Dirt Store. All was well in the hood.

Utopia is right around you. All you have to do is look.

I promise to be a little more regular in my “off season” posts. I’ll try and get in some winter tours soon. Until then, best wishes for a great 2011!