By AMBER AINSWORTH, A&E Editor
I love Detroit. Since I was young, I have heard horror stories about how dangerous and, dare I say, worthless, the city is; I was told it is a lost cause. I was advised to avoid visiting at all costs, so as soon as I could drive, I headed to Detroit. Last week, I decided I would visit Detroit to participate in Slow Roll.
From spring until fall, Slow Roll Detroit draws crowds from all over Michigan and Canada into Detroit to experience the city in a way like no other.
For cyclists of all ages and levels of experience, Mondays provide a night of community and exercise. Since its start five years ago, Slow Roll has rapidly expanded from just a cruise around the city to a mob of bikers taking to the streets, with new bikers constantly joining. In fact, Slow Roll has expanded outside of its hometown, with rides that take place in multiple other major cities, including Buffalo and Cleveland.
On Monday, Oct. 26, over 3,000 bikers gathered at the Fillmore to pedal over seven miles during the annual end-of-the-year Halloween ride.
For a first-timer at the event, it was a memorable and truly amazing experience. As I rolled through the city, clad in a penguin suit, it felt as if I were in the middle of a giant family. While many in attendance are regulars and do know each other, everyone was welcomed and embraced by the group. The night was a chance for me to see the city from an angle that simply cannot be experienced by just taking a drive or even a bike ride alone.
For the city of the Detroit, an event like Slow Roll is essential. I have been to Detroit during concerts and sporting events, and I have never seen so many people filling the streets at one time. Especially with Detroit pushing for revival, a huge group of people experiencing the city in such a positive way is a perfect example of the city’s potential.
Slow Roll brings together not only those on bikes, but also an audience and the police in the city. Riding while being cheered on by officers who seemed thrilled to be part of the event was refreshing and exciting.
Slow Roll has only added to the love I feel for the city. While other events bring people together for a night, Slow Roll brings together a family week after week. There’s no fear while journeying through a city that often makes people give me safety tips when they hear I am going there. While I knew Slow Roll was an activity that was growing in popularity, I had no idea what I would see when I arrived.
There aren’t really words to describe the feeling of being in the middle of Slow Roll. Between the lights, costumes, and overall camaraderie, it’s no doubt it has grown into something riders anxiously await each week. A party, located at different venues depending on the week, also enhances the community aspect; attendees get a chance to unwind after their ride and mingle with others.
I have had plenty of fun in Detroit, but it is safe to say Slow Roll is the best time I’ve had.
Slow Roll Mondays are done until spring, but until then, check out their website, slowroll.bike, and interact with their Facebook group, Slow Roll Monday Nights.
I would recommend that any person with a bike experience Slow Roll at least once. I know that biking around Detroit at night may not sound like the most appealing idea, but I guarantee that night will be worth it. Drop the stigmas you have about Detroit, immerse yourself into the overpowering crowd of Slow Roll, and take in Detroit for what it is, in all its raw beauty. Detroit is far from a lost cause, and a quick spin through the city with a few thousand others definitely proves that.
By JENNA WOS, Copy Editor
When I heard that Amber and Hannah were going to Halloween Slow Roll, I knew I couldn’t miss out. I had always wanted to join in on the leisurely bike ride I’d heard about, and getting the opportunity to do so in costume intensified that desire. Clowning around in a polka dot dress, rainbow striped stockings, and borderline creepy face paint, I was ready to ride with my penguin and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle editors.
Rolling up to Elizabeth Street, there was a swarm of celebrities, characters and creatures. Prince, clad in a velvet purple suit and curly black wig, rolled up next to us, blasting “Little Red Corvette” out of a stereo. In front of us, the Wicked Witch of the West had a broomstick attached to her bike, seeming as though she was flying through the crowd with her black cape undulating behind her. Among other riders were Marge Simpson, Scooby Doo, Neil Armstrong, a tube of Crest toothpaste, a crab and a fisherman, and Elliott with E.T. in his front basket.
Not only was the dedication to the holiday a treat, but so were the decorative elements that last all year — the tricked out bikes.
My own bike wasn’t functional at the time, so I had to borrow one of Amber’s. Sure, it was a nice shade of purple, but once I saw everyone else’s, I was ashamed. Before we even left the parking lot, I saw my dream bicycle — a pastel green, old-fashioned Schwinn with a white basket (I wanted to bring my dog) — but I had no idea how impressed I was going to be. I was shocked by how many bikes had light-up wheels of every color, spinning along the streets and illuminating the path for those of us left in the dark. If the light wasn’t enough, plenty of people had stereo systems attached to their transportation — sounds of Michael Jackson and other pump-up jams could always be heard.
I was impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm of veteran Slow Rollers, putting as much effort into their bikes as some people do their cars. It inspired me to get my own butt in gear and get myself a fascinating bike to ride alongside these spectacular spinners next season.
By HANNAH GENIG, Sports Editor
It’s just like riding a bike.
Being an obsessive sports fan and lifetime athlete, the thought of riding a bike for seven miles at a relatively slow pace seems like an easy task, in theory.
Boy, was I wrong.
Because there are so many people, the pace is set comfortably to accommodate every rider and allow for the sightseeing to happen.
For this ride, I was fortunate enough to be using a nice mountain bike with great gears and a good set of brakes. Dressed from head to toe as Raphael, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, I was empowered and optimistic for the first few miles.
It was not until we approached the Mount Everest-sized hill that I thought to myself, “How on earth do people do this every single week?”
Aside from the incredible number of people who participated in the theme by dressing up, a surprising amount of “serious bikers” were strictly there for the exercise in their tight compression shorts and neon Nikes.
Every so often these intense athletes zoomed by, almost as a way to show off and completely defeat the entire purpose of a slow roll.
The fact that these riders gather every week to participate shows the exceedingly high level of dedication that people have, not only to Detroit, but also to physical activity.
Unfortunately for me, this ride was not as effortless. With a burning sensation in my knee, cramps in both calves and an embarrassing general fatigue, I was clearly not equipped.
Looking back, I think I will decide to blame my athletic inability on my costume choice that night. After all, I chose to dress up as perhaps the slowest animal on the face of the earth and learned an important lesson after a cold drink and a great night.
Slow and steady wins the race.