How We Roll in Lansing: the Urban Bike Party
September 20, 2013
[photos by Tim Potter]
[Bump from July 13, 2013]
A report of last night's ride...
Wow, what a night! What a great ride! 10 of us met up at the new Museum to ride the Urban CX Courses of Lansing. I'd never been to one of them. Both are shuttered city parks up for sale as boondoggles. (Does a half-empty town need more condos and offices? Thankfully, though developers are slavering, no buyers yet. What does a troubled city need more: big parks to attract people or a casino to attract addicts?)
The Lansing Bike Party hosts a wide variety of rides. From slow-rolls, urban-style with boomboxes, to a longer faster ride like this going from the eastside to the westside of town out the main vein and back. We announce each ride as early in the week as we can decide it.
We then blasted out to the old Red Cedar golf course at Frandor and did a hot lap of the CX course. I got blissed out on the soft grasses overflowing the trail in variegated colors. Wonderful floral scents. Summer! (It was wonderful flowing our way thru those grasses.)
Then we rocked further out the same big road beyond the Capitol into a gorgeous little neighborhood and past railroads, neighborhood people, and folks hanging outside old bars -- all waving at us -- and beyond huge empty factory spaces to the old Waverly golf course with its sled hill.
On the way we stopped and visited a cool old neighborhood bike shop jammed with salvaged bikes they're fixing up. Dudes were hanging out.
Before we pulled back onto the main drag we saw one of our old group members zip across -- she's been avoiding us of late. My bro tried phoning her to tell her to look back but she didn't pick up. So we stayed purely a "Men Seize the Night" Ride.
A new guy showed up on a Walmart Special, a piece of lead with knobby tires. He was wasted. But he hung in there! He wouldn't quit! We figured out a way for him to be a part. At Waverly he hung out at the Hill to rest up.
We bombed the Hill up and down and then out into the fallow golf course curves and the hay being actively baled right then. We hit the Hill first of all. Hanno nuked it with his freshly built-up THREE SPEED FIXED GEAR. It was total CX action as we plowed through the hay and knee-deep grass around the course. Like the deep sands of Belgian courses. I felt my CX blood rise up as I dialed my power from high to higher. The sun-baked hay smelled great. The farmer waved at us. A dude walking 3 huge Shepherds said Hi. The Shepherds got eye contact and thought we were cool. They had very thick coats of black and brown, like grizzly bears in the tall grass.
Then we rode back up and over the Sled Hill and jammed back down broad Michigan Ave to the Capitol and had a sprint along the wide, smooth, empty finishing stretch of the Crit race course of a couple weeks ago.
Then we pulled over at the MBC brewpub and Big Al's Cigar Shop next door, where I bought a cigar. A buncha dudes were lounging outside puffing. One asked us about our Ride.
Another unique fellow chatted with us. He was tall, half-naked, tan, long grey hair parted Indian style with headband, and said he'd just got out of the hospital. I asked if he was glad to be in this fresh, perfect evening air and he said Yes. He said he got a concussion from walking into a shelf while helping a guy work on a van and it was the worst injury of his life -- and he'd been thru 2 wars, 2 wives and 34 cancer operations. Steve. ...Rockin'.
Back at the pub we had bevs and vittles while next to us dozens of "Lansing Derby Vixens" were partying for their departing coach. (Next bout Sept 21. We'll bring the family -- role models, you know.)
Then we rocked through the dark back to MSU, exchanging fast-paced attacks and leads with blinkies flashing.
3 of us continued on thru town to rural parts east -- one of the best nights of riding yet. Summer nights are made for riding. (C'mon!)
So we're blasting thru the dark, 3 abreast, taking a lane out of town and a guy is riding on the sidewalk who pops down and, of all things, joins us. Nobody does that. My bro says Hi to him and we all cruise along. He says he's in town visiting his folks from Ohio. He says "Is that Jeff Potter up there?" My bro drops his jaw -- huh? "Sure!" "Well, I'm a big fan of his website." ...So, what's that, one-in-a-million? He's in town for a bachelor party. He rides with us a bit. We laugh and say Hi then he peels off.
We keep blazing, out beyond the city lights to the pitch black and the rural coolness, riding, riding...
Once home I hop into our kiddy yard pool to cool off. Swim a couple laps, glide on my back looking up at the stars. I flop into my floaty chair that I just inflated for the first time and lay back, looking up at the stars. There are 4 kinds of trees hanging over. Bliss!
Now I'm having a glass of Vinho Verde (cheap green fizzy wine, $4 at Trader Joe's -- pure summer).
...Thanks, everyone! You know who ya are!
I really dig connecting so many diverse aspects -- like new people, old pals, young, old, big road, trail, tiny neighborhood, waving at people, visiting shops, grabbing a bite to eat, fast pace, slow pace, sightseeing houses, vehicles, historic features, music, different kinds of bikes, riding from day to evening to nite, no-lites then putting on all the lites -- all in a few hrs! These rides relate/bond all these things together like nothing else does, which is why they're part of city uplift.
You can't walk such connections together -- a bit too far of an evening for that. And vehicles, even mass transit, breaks things apart. (The best cities hold together no matter what. Each person can do their own thing and still sense or be a part of the connections. But cities that have been ruined by previous generations need to be stitched back together with intentional projects like Group Rides.)
Why was this ride so sweet? I think it's the accumulation of a buncha great rides this summer. Each one different. So much variety of good exploration just astonishes and keeps the ball rolling. None are better than the others, but they do pile on, so they keep getting better!
It's so much fun exploring abandoned spaces and riding past other abandoned spaces... Of course, it would be better if our forebears would have done things in a way that would've endured so we could ride past civilization rather than devastation. It was their choice, you know. People know when they're opting for a quick buck. But we can thrive with whatever we're given! Lansingites are used to "making do."
[photos by Tim Potter]