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Spring Rides: Greektown.
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.

The Greektown ride is a Sunday favorite for us. The ride is about 30 miles round trip through industrial Dearborn, Mexicantown in Detroit and then directly into downtown Detroit past new casinos and remnants of old buildings.

Our destination is Astoria Bakery in Greektown on Monroe for their excellent coffee and pastry.

We're leaving Bikesport here headed up Oakwood Boulevard toward Greenfield Village.

The bricks in Greenfield Village are set in front of a full sized reproduction of Independence Hall, complete with the bell. Behind us is the The Henry Ford IMAX theater.

The gates to The Greenfield Village at The Henry Ford are in front of us. This enormous building houses The Henry Ford Historical Museum at Greenfield Village. We ride over the bricks past geese and deer to Village Road.

Our ride takes us past The Wright Cycle Shop formerly owned by Orville and Wilbur Wright.

The Ford Proving Ground is on our right, Greenfield Village on our left as we head east on Village Road. The Proving ground used to be an airport where the Ford Trimotor was built and tested. It is across the street from The Dearborn Inn, the world's first airport hotel. This section of the ride is serene and quiet, except for the occasional sounds of new vehicles being tested secretly on the other side of the wall or the train whistle from Greenfield Village.

Turning right or south out of Greenfield Village our group picks up the Southfield Service Drive going south. The Ford Proving Ground is to our right.

This section brings us to roads that will travel east toward downtown Detroit.

Pavement here is good for us but there is occasional construction and traffic coming off the freeway is fast moving.

Mario has made the left turn on Rotunda and is passing the Detroit Lion's Training Facility at Rotunda and Southfield. The Lion's Training Facility is the training center for the Detroit Lion's NFL Team. We see big Hummers with huge football players coming and going from here frequently.

We're headed due east on Rotunda here near the T.P.C. Golf Course and Springwell's Park in Dearborn.

That's the bridge over Rotunda. Greenfield Road is on top of the bridge. The roads are quiet here on Sunday morning making this a restful, pleasant ride with some great opportunities for hard efforts and stretching your legs. We generally have a tail wind through here during the spring months.

This section takes us toward the Ford F150 assembly plant at Rotunda and Miller, about three miles east of where we are here.

The Ford F150 was the top selling truck for Ford and is built here at the Ford Plant at Rotunda and Miller. It is a sprawling industrial complex with a number of industrial complexes nearby. On any given day youcan see hundreds of new F150 trucks ready for delivery around the world. There is even a tour of the factory and assembly plant that leaves from The Henry Ford.

We take a short jog on Miller Road in front of the factory before turning back toward the east and Downtown.

This is the entrance to the section of the ride known as "Supermercado" for the Mexican supermarkets along the street.

This section is crowded, busy and dangerous with pedestrians and traffic darting in and out. Mario once described this part of the ride as "Being in a video game". There is a northern variation of the ride called "El Danger" after graffitti we saw written on a wall there. We ride with caution through Supermercado and El Danger.

After crossing through Mexicantown by taking the Supermercado or El Danger route we find our way to east bound Fort Street. Fort Street is abandoned on Sunday morning with the exception of truck traffic coming off the Ambassador Bridge and out of the customs offcie on Fort. We head East here with the Detroit skyline directly in front of us. This is a fast section of the ride with a strong tail wind and excellent pavement.

Turning right or south off of Fort Street we can take a little sight seeing detour down to Hart Plaza, Joe Louis Arena and the Riverfront Area. This area is being developed rapidly to include a bicycle through-way that will connect all the way up to Belle Isle.

We almost always see fishermen along the river and people enjoying the passing ships during fine weather.

After surfacing from the Riverfront just east of The Rennaisance Center we make our way north a few blocks to Greektown. Greektown can be busy on Sunday morning with people visiting the bakeries for the famous pastries after church. We are the only cyclists here as few people ride into the downtown area from the east or west suburbs.

This is the Astoria Bakery on Monroe, named by "Hour Detroit" magazine as Detroit's Best Bakery.

We lean our bikes outside the bakery where we can keep an eye on them. Occasionally men who make their homes in the streets around Greektown offer to watch the bikes in exchange for money or food from the bakeries. We've never had a problem with our bikes disappearing in Greektown.

The Greektown Casino is directly across the street from Astoria Bakery.

The hardest part of the Greektown ride is deciding what you are going to eat. Astoria is famous for exotic and creative baked goods made fresh every day in the bakery.

On more than one occasion we've talked about buying an entire cake and splitting it among the ride group. The problem is, no one can agree on which one...

Whatever you pick at Astoria you will be delighted with their wonderful pastery.

Another reason we love Astoria in addition to the other Greektown eateries is the coffee. Astoria's staff brews a light, smooth but subversively powerful cup of java with enough kick to get you back on the bike to Dearborn to burn off the calories from their pastry.

Mario (left) knows the guys who own New Hella's Restaurant just four doors down from Astoria. We occasionally ask them to use their bathroom during our breakfast stop or the bathrooms across the street at the Greektown Casino.

The bakers at Astoria are going around the clock to turn out the fresh cookies, brownies, elaborate cakes and traditional Greek Baklava dripping in honey.

Astoria is a popular tourist destination and landmark drawing patrons from the Ren Cen, Cobo Center, The Fox Theater District and all of the Downtown area.

 

Sometimes it is tough to get back ont he bike after a few minutes of relaxing and filling up on Napoleans and muffins washed down with the smooth black coffee at Astoria.

During the warmer months we often continue east toward St. Clair Shores. This day we gathered ourselves up and prepared to ride into a brisk spring headwind going west back toward Dearborn.

Going the back way out of downtown Detroit North of the Riverfront takes us through busy traffic in a urban setting on rough roads. We're careful and attentive here and stick together in a tight group to give cars plenty of room.

While the downtown area is busy we find motorists generally courteous and careful if we are considerate of them. The unique urban setting makes The Greektown Ride a true gem among our menu of morning rides.

 

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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