About the Tour De Hood – If you’re interested.

I started the TDH with the idea of organizing a regular group spin through the East Side of Detroit. So far, that’s happened once, (and it was fun), but hasn’t been a group ride, mostly due to my lax organizational skills.

Now it’s more of an Urban Cycling diary – a chronicle of the most bizarre large city in The United States. Detroit is such a strange place – a city big enough to hold 2 million people, (which it did at one point) which now has a population of about 700,000.  That makes for a lot of empty space, and a tax base so degraded the city can’t take care of its basic upkeep.

Detroit is also a synopsis of America’s rise and fall as one of  the world’s manufacturing powerhouses. It was the “Arsenal of Democracy”.  Much of Detroit was based on making things – from cars and all their ancillary parts, to giant machine tools, to smelting and banging and forging. That’s all gone now, and the hulking remnants of that 20th Century glory still stand, empty, and collapsing, while someone tries to figure out what to do next. (No one’s come up with a workable idea yet).

Detroit was also the home of the rise of the Black/African American middle class, as one of the centers of the great migration North by Blacks and African Americans leaving the then segregated South, looking for opportunities and jobs.

It was also a huge immigration magnet, drawing Poles, Hungarians, and Middle Easterners – first Lebanese, then Chaldeans and Palestinians.

It was the home of  Motown; in my opinion, the greatest American pop music ever created. (Aretha Franklin is from here, too. But she recorded for Atlantic Records).

Now it lays still, slowly turning back into prairie, while an inefficient and corrupt city government (present mayor excluded) fails to take action to fix the danged place.

I think it’s shameful that one of America’s (still) largest metropolitan areas has fallen into such a state; but the rest of the country laughs us off and continues to ignore the real problems that exist here.  Too many people who live in our suburbs are proud to say they’ve never been downtown. How sad.

I like Detroit; I can’t answer why, exactly. It’s bizarre, unique, magnetic in its weirdness.

So every weekend I go on my ride, discovering and noting the eccentric and peculiar objects I find along the way.

I have never felt threatened. I have never been bothered by the people I ride by and  meet. I find the opposite. Most people I see are simply very poor people trying to get on with their lives.

There are spots of hope; here and there I find people trying to re-invent the city.  My friend Joe Posch made a telling and insightful point one day not long ago. He said that (quote not exact)  “suburbanites are always trying to remake Detroit into their idea of  what a Detroit ought to be”. That’s doomed to failure. Detroit wasn’t much like that even when I was a kid, and I’m not a kid any more.

Fortunately, a younger generation, who can’t even try to remember was Detroit “used to be”, is accepting what it is, and trying to make something of it. It’s slow, and goes in fits and starts, but at least there are people out there trying.

You should take a ride below 8 mile some day, too. Even those who’ve chosen to live as far away as possible from the city’s center are affected by why happens in it, no matter how hard they try to ignore that fact.

It’s a shame more people won’t bother trying to find out what it’s really like.

29 thoughts on “About the Tour De Hood – If you’re interested.

  1. With this entries fascinating and accurate encapsulation of the city, I’d join you, but am without a ride. I’ll have to work on that part. And, is spandex required or just casual shorts and a t? Helmet?
    Thanks for the insight, Mr. A.

  2. Very interested in joining you. I enjoy taking pics of all the firehouses like your Cousin Paul. It would be great to do it on 2 wheels. E-mail if interested of with future plans of a tour.

    • Robert, the TDH isn’t exactly an organized event like the Tour De Troit. A lot of it depends on what else I have going on. I think I’m going to try and organize a group ride before it gets too cold – I’ll make an announcement on the site.

  3. I just stumbled upon your site and plan on returning regularly. I live in NYC now but grew up around Schoolcraft and Wyoming. I still visit family and what few friends remain several times a year. Mom’s down on Schaefer Road, bunkered down. I follow the police scanner on the internet. Big deal.

    Well, just thought I’d offer support; I love the site and your sense of humor, a rarity in the D. Plan on seeing The Detroit Cobras in Hoboken tomorrow night. Can’t wait. Remain vigilant; be well.

  4. Great concept…. I’ve always thought this would actually make a great business mode….. kind of an “Urban Outfitter” that brings people together for recreational opportunities via urban adventures. Please notify me of your next “Tour De Hood”… would like to join you….

  5. “I like Detroit; I can’t answer why, exactly. It’s bizarre, unique, magnetic in its weirdness.”

    Let me know next time your spinning your wheels around the hood and I’ll ride over.

    Keep riding and shooting!

  6. I miss urban cycling through Detroit with my Pentax. It felt surprisingly liberating, a tad dangerous, but there was always something interesting to see. My fave part was the bits surrounding Eastern Market- some relics up in there.

  7. Mister Arthur,
    Thanks to today’s issue of Model D, I discovered your site and spent a good part of the day checking it out and cross-referencing many of the items it reminded me of. As a life-long east-sider and current resident of Indian Village, many of the sites are familiar. It’s funny but even after visiting Paris and Prague, two of my favorites for “most beautiful city in the world”, I can come back to Detroit and still find beauty: Granted, you might have to look harder and squint your eyes sometimes, but it’s still there (at least for some of us).
    Please keep posting

  8. Mister Arthur,
    Also connected via Model D, and enjoyed seeing someone else who rides the hood besides me and whomever I drag along. I may have passed you on the road. What days or times are best to get a little ride going? My son, husband and I recently did the Tour as well as the Synergy ride to Delray, but we actually like our own small group wanderings best for flexibility and sheer adventure. We ride everywhere from Packard to Corktown, and last week we rode to the old velodrome. Snow’s coming soon, let’s ride!

  9. HI,
    Recently came across your blog.
    I have often thought about biking through some of the off beat and interesting areas of Detroit, as I did when I lived in 1300 in my 20’s. I am now 58. Even then downtown on Sunday and at night was deserted and eerie.
    It is fascinating and sad to think about the city as it was.
    I can remember someone who worked at one of the woman’s shops on Woodward saying she would know what kind of a day they would be having by the number of limos out front. This was well before I lived there.
    Please let me know about your next adventure.
    Thanks. Mark

  10. Pingback: Tweets that mention About the Tour De Hood – If you’re interested. « Tour De Hood -- Topsy.com

  11. As a kid I delivered the morning free press on my bike before school that experience set me up for a life of early to rise and a life time of riding a bicycle and have enjoyed every mile touring a lot of different places in Detroit and around in other states is nice to see Detroit becoming a very bike friendly city.

  12. I just came across this site, and it is one of the happiest finds I’v ever made on the web. Having never been to Detroit (not yet, but soon), I have always found its unique circumstance fascinating. Love seeing how it is from and insider’s eyes.
    Thank you for creating this!

  13. I grew up in SouthWest by the underpass that you pictured at Junction and Mcgregor, awesome pictures, brought back a lot of memories. Dulys Coney Island was the best in the city, I hope to get back to Detroit sometime to tour.

  14. I was happy to have found your page. I have had my share of bike adventures in the D as well. Great times, interesting sites, and…not the scary scene the rest of the world paints of the place.
    I dig your blog! Would/Could be fancy meeting you for a pedal tour. Organized or not. Carry on!

  15. Don’t want to be a downer, but have a couple constructive comments for you: 1). The “About” section has multiple grammatical errors. 2). Don’t assume that none of the readers are from Detroit.

  16. When I get to the D Im be riding all day every day. Because I’m coming from chicago and I will be without a car. I really am looking forward to living in detroit and your photos and stories just confirm how awesome the city is, and makes me look forward to being there! Maybe we can ride when I move in may. ANy way peace,keep it up, awesome blog!

    (Ps the poster above, who cares about grammatical errors! this is real human language, not spell check!)

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