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.

Dally in the Alley Day in the D

I had a really nice ride on Saturday, and made it back before the rains hit.  Or should that be I had really nice ride on Saturday because I made it back before the rains hit? Or both? Both it is. The ride through my old stomping grounds (the East Side) was TDH as usual.  I did discover this building, which I haven’t seen before. From what I can tell, the letters that used to be there spelled out F. M. Sibley Lumber Co. Sure enough, it’s got an interesting history.

I think that sign advertised an event on Belle Isle

Sibley’s was Detroit’s second largest lumber company. (This was its office building.)  The interesting bit is that Mr. Sibley, along with a certain Mr. Freuhauf, is credited with inventing the semi trailer. Nifty, eh? The building itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Sad that it sits empty – I’m a sucker for Corinthian columns.

Michigan State was playing Florida Atlantic University (?) at Ford Field downtown, and the Sparty Faithful were out in droves. A fellow was playing alto sax to serenade the crowd. While he stuck to improvisations over the Michigan State fight song, I gave him a dollar, and was tempted to ask him to play “Hail to the Victors”. We agreed that a dollar wasn’t worth the potential injury from wrathful Spartanites.

This guy can really play. That jacket color’s not an accident

The bars around the area were hopping. (Duh). On the other side of Ford Field (actually across the Fisher Freeway between Clifford and Park), I rode by a couple of places I had not visited before.  One featured a sort of urban bowling alley; a peculiar combination of 10 pins, bocce,  and petanque.  I don’t know the rules. Or what you strike the pins with.

Maybe you have to bounce the ball onto the pin platform

Another bar around the corner had a name that made me scratch my head at first. Given the retro-ish nature of the logo, the letters AFB could’ve stood for many things: American Federation of Barbers, Alert Firefighter Building, Accidental Federal Bureaucrats. I could go on. My inventions aside, the real name is superb.

Everything you need, all in one place

The truth, as they say, shall set you free. Or in this case, make you laugh, I hope. Just around the corner (on the bar’s window) the acronym’s revealed:

Hooray! Another effin bar!

The Comet Bar looks as if it’s been around for a while. I don’t know how long this decorative yard art has been uplifting the back area, but it looks suspiciously like Tina Fey imitating Sarah Palin to me.

Shame about the stumpy feet

A couple of weeks ago, I noted that Slows to Go was coming soon. Phil Cooley, Detroit’s one man renaissance machine, is the guy behind Slows. The people behind Phil were hard at work inside the soon-to-be take out and catering headquarters.  I think the husband and wife I met were Phil’s parents. They’re just delightful, parents-of-Phil or not, and graciously showed me the uncompleted space. Here’s where the (giant) kitchen will be:

Smells like sawdust: Will soon smell like dinner

I for one, can’t wait. Aside from the new Slows, Midtown appears to be gathering some development momentum (knock on wood) in general. Toronto’s Globe and Mail had a very complimentary article about Detroit in Saturday’s edition – it concentrated primarily on the Midtown area, and the writer was/is spot on with his recommendations. (Even though he never mentioned this invaluable guide to our fair burg. Boo hoo hoo) I concur fully with his pick of the Avalon Bakery’s Sea Salt Chocolate Chip cookies.

The Saturday after Labor Day is the traditional date for Detroit’s own oddball urban street fair, the Dally in Alley.  Way back at the head of this post, I mentioned that I got home before it started raining. I’m sorry to say that it rained all afternoon and evening, but while I was Dallying, things were in full swing.

There was a band playing on the Forest (street) stage.

I believe Tune and Niche were playing while I was there

Moms against War were parading to the sound of a muffled drum:

What’s a street fair without a silent protest and Polish sausage?

And, in an interesting coincidence, Theatre Bizarre was putting on a show. (Coincidence, because I rode by their, er, headquarters, last weekend, over near the ex State Fairgrounds).  There was a very long line to see the show. I also fell off my bike.

I didn’t see any sign of  Larva Girl, I’m sad to say

I did get to meet one of Detroit’s great poster designers, Carl Lundgren.

Following an aggressively caloric ganache-stuffed brownie at the Avalon, I sped home, abetted by a SSE wind and a strong desire to get back under cover before the rain hit.  Along the way, I was happy to see that the Helen Newberry house for Nurses (across the street from the DMC on John R.) is being rehabbed into what will be, I believe, apartments. It’s a lovely building, and will add to rebuilding Midtown.

Nice old building being reborn. Hooray!

The Hood was alive this early afternoon in September. It’s a nice thing to see.


Support Cycling in Detroit

The Bureau of Urban Living is fabulous store on Canfield and Cass (just off the TDH Route, a block North of the Avalon International Bakery) that sells home goods and gifts. They’ve got a nifty selection of stuff you won’t find everywhere.

More to the point, the First Thursday of every month, they donate 10% of their proceeds to a worthy cause. On August 7, they’re trying to help make Detroit a more bike-friendly city by helping Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, the organization behind the Riverwalk, and, I believe, the Rails to Trails I’ve written about in earlier posts.

The BOUL is open late on First Thursdays, so you have no excuse not to show up. You’re bound to find something you’ll like, and support a great organization, too.