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Spring Rides: The Bishop’s Choice.
By Tom Demerly.

Road cycling is dangerous. Cycling in close proximity to traffic is dangerous. This information depicts the ride activities of the author. They are not intended, nor should they be used, as a guide.

Bishop’s Cottage on Grosse Ile was built in 1886 as the summer home of an Episcopal Reverend who eventually raised a family of seven in the Bavarian inspired house. It has been a historical icon of Grosse Ile Island since then, known for its location along the water and its distinctive period architecture. The structure was renovated for Bed and Breakfast use by current owners Katherine and Verne Brockmiller. The restoration is as splendid as it is authentic with delightful still lifes found throughout the house and especially in the huge 800 square foot parlor area.

Cyclists discovered Bishop’s Cottage five years ago on Grosse Ile. The Brockmillers immediately recognized a niche market of tired, thirsty cyclists looking for a pastoral garden setting with refreshing drinks and snacks as a turn-around destination on rides from Detroit, Dearborn, Northville and all points off the island. Even island cyclists convene at Bishop’s Cottage on weekends and weekday mornings.

Kathy and Verne also added a café’ inside Bishop’s Cottage. The Café has become a central oasis for cyclists and a pastoral lounge and recovery area in the lush gardens and garden tables next to the Cottage.

The Brockmillers have built a wonderful retreat from the roads surrounding Grosse Ile and a delightful destination within convenient reach of most Southeast Michigan road riders. Here is a look at one of our frequent visits to our favorite road ride destination, roughly 35 mile round trip from Dearborn:

We go south on Outer Drive as we always have on our Grosse Ile rides from Dearborn. Morning traffic is light and there are seldom strong winds. We cross under several railroad and freeway bridges on Outer Drive headed toward Jefferson.

We turn right on Jefferson, as we head toward Wyandotte Jefferson changes its name to Biddle.

The "Pay Bridge" to Grosse Isle is the only bridge operating to the island. The older "free" bridge is closed for repairs for the next year. As a result, you can expect more traffic than normal crossing the Pay Bridge.

Bridge employees have been allowing cyclists to cross for free. The toll was .50 cents. Motorists on the bridge are used to seeing cyclists and are courteous. Views from the bridge are beautiful but be careful on the steel grating!

The bridge company told us they are waiving the cyclist's toll to speed traffic across the bridge and through the toll gates now that the free bridge is closed.

Most mornings you can expect light traffic on the bridge except at rush hour.

The bridge to Grosse Ile seperates the riding experience from the typical road environment to a truly rural/coastal setting that is very beautiful and unexpected so close to Detroit.

Turning onto East River between the U.S. and Canada across the deep-water channel in the Detroit River.

This may be one of the most beautiful stretches of rideable road in the U.S. with opulent views of million dollar mansions and the wonderful waterfront as a backdrop. Look to your left- on a clear day you can see the GM Headquarters in downtown Detroit at the RenCen.

Conditions here can be windy.

The freighters carrying ore and other cargo make their way up the deep water channel that divides Canada from the U.S. We almost always see freighter traffic early in the morning as ships make their way from the industrial complex in the Rouge area north on the river.

On the weekends the waterways are full of pleasure craft.

Swans are frequently seen along these waters.

The road is generally good pavement with some rough patches and pretty lawns and fields to either side.

This is the last stretch up to the turn on Macomb St. to Bishop's Cottage. It is the one slight uphill gradient on the island.

Bishop's is a cyclist's haven. Since bike riders made Bishop's Cottage a destination Kathy and Verne have been catering to groups of cyclists who ride 50 miles to get to the Cottage.

The meticulously maintained grounds and beautifully designed garden patio is the perfect setting for cyclists looking for a good turnarond point and a place to re-fuel and rest on a long ride.

Here we reach the stone path welcoming riders to the Cafe' garden.

The Cafe' at Bishop's Cottage is a gathering place for bike riders and a chance to buy fresh coffee, muffins, pastries and even smoothies and cold drinks.

Kathy is always quick to heat up muffins and pastries and provide riders with ice for drinks while making sure the coffee is fresh and hot.

Before retiring to a table in the garden for a rest we load up on food and drinks for the ride home.

We've always been impressed with how enthusiastic Kathy and Verne are toward cyclists. They have truly discovered the cycling niche and embraced our crowd as welcomed guests.

Kathy knows the names of most of the cyclists who ride to Bishop's and recounts the people who have come and gone over the previous week from memory.


Water, Coke, Diet Coke, Iced Tea, Smoothies, the best coffee on the river and a host of other refreshements are on ice and freshly brewed in the Cafe'.

On hot summer days the cooler wind off the river and the iced drinks at Bishop's Cottage are an enticing goal at the turn-around point of a ride.

Smooth, hot and strong. Our early morning efforts are caffiene infused from Bishop's coffee.

Kathy fawns over cyclists, putting on fresh pot after fresh pot on the weekends to fuel the stream of riders coming to the cottage. The kitchen is stocked with fresh ingredients for smoothies and a wide variety of pastries and other mid-ride snack items.

Here Mario mixes his special brew with cream and honey as an energy drink for the return trip.

As a coffee lover, Bishop's coffee is rivaled only by that found at Astoria Bakery in Greektown.

Having opened on May 1st this year, the garden patio at Bishop's Cottage is in beautiful condition.

Verne Brockmiller can be seen in the garden daily, trimming and planting, watering and feeding. Birds add a wonderful soundtrack to the garden patio.

Here we chat about the wind on the way home while Frankie does business over the phone. On weekday mornings we usually pick up a moderate tailwind on the way back from the island.

A still life of modern cyclists' gear in the garden at the Cottage.

Bishop's became a destination years ago when Frank Andreu Senior (father of former pro cyclist Frankie Andreu) visited the cottage and struck up a friendship with owners Kathy and Verne. Since then it has become a mecca for road cyclists.

It is common to see a pack of cyclists headed each way on the pay bridge to the island, especially on weekends.

While modern cyclists discovered the cottage a few years ago this photo on the second floor suggests cyclists from a previous era also rode in the area.

Grosse Ile is rich in local history and Bishop's Cottage is a showcase of local historical artifacts.

Bishop's was restored with many period pieces when Kathy and Verne took over ownership.

The decor is delightful and authentic.

One of the garden decorations keeps two green eyes out for butterflies on the patio.

The wondeful attention to detail everywhere you look makes the entire Bishop's experience one you want we've looked forward to every spring since the place became a cycling destination.

We love the whimsical touchs to the garden patio like the green-eyed cat who watches over the songbirds.

The guest rooms on the second floor. More than a few cyclists have discovered Bishop's Cottage during a ride and then returned as guests of the Bed & Breakfast or for Kathy and Verne's Thursday night jazz ensemble in the garden patio.

This beautiful canopy bed is in a room overlooking the garden patio.

Fluffy pillows and regal canopies recall a time when the Bishop actually lived in the Cottage.


An 800 square foot parlor dominates the main floor. This sitting room is a popular common area for guests.

Be sure to look at the antique photos of the Cottage during the winter.

The parlor is also a showplace and gallery for the many antique artifacts on display in the Cottage.


Sunlight casts a warm morning glow on another nice still life in the parlor.

Kathy invites cyclists upstairs for the guest bathrooms.

It doesn't take long to feel at home at Bishop's Cottage. The place has a peaceful, quiet feel that is so refreshing during a tough ride.


Spring sunlight casts warm glow into the parlor at Bishop's Cottage.

On rainy or cooler days cyclists sit in the indoor cafe' next to the kitchen just behind this parlor area.

Kathy and Verne also host wedding receptions, corporate gatherings, private parties and other events at the cottage.

The cottage is closed during the winter which only makes it more of a summer time treat.

After a sporting 17 miles to reach Bishop's Cottage a break gives us the opportunity to enjoy a light breakfast and fresh coffee.

Before each stage of the Tour de France top pro cyclists enjoy a portable village with a patio setting stocked with food and drinks. Nine-time Tour de France finisher Frankie Andreu mentioned how the patio reminds him of his fondest Tour memories.

Kathy Brockmiller doesn't like having here photo taken but isn't shy when it comes to taking care of the many cyclists who visit her and husband Verne at Bishop's Cottage.

You can phone the Cottage at (734) 671-9191 for information and event bookings. The Cottage is located at 7573 Macomb, 48138 on Grosse Ile.

Road cycling is dangerous. Cycling in close proximity to traffic is dangerous. This information depicts the ride activities of the author. They are not intended, nor should they be used, as a guide.

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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