Amber Hunt is a copywriter for Quicken Loans in downtown Detroit. She lives about 10 miles outside the city in Ferndale. A Detroit evangelist, she is also an avid biker who loves to commute to work on two wheels when the weather allows. Add all those points together and she becomes the perfect person to readily encourage everyone who comes to Detroit in fairer weather to give pedaling a go and recommend where to go while doing it.
You may be wondering why I choose to ride my bike in Detroit. The answer is simple. Biking is the best way to experience the outright beauty of the city and the renaissance that is happening on its streets. Buildings are being renovated, people are bustling around, businesses are open and active, and the city is thriving. On bike, you can see someone’s smiling face, smell the amazing breakfast at the Hudson Café and hear the music being played at Campus Martius Park. You just don’t feel that same energy if you blast by in a car. Bike it, and you’ll see a new side of Detroit that you might not have expected.
Biking through the Detroit Food Scene
Whether I’m riding to or from work, Dutch Girl Donuts on Woodward Avenue, the best doughnut shop in the nation, is a required stop. Yes, Portland, you can keep your wacky, cereal-topped Voodoo doughnuts. I’ll take a straight-up, no frills, piping hot and delicious Dutch Girl over an Oreo-covered monstrosity any day. Open for more than 60 years, Dutch Girl Donuts is ready to meet your doughnut needs 24 hours a day. With a couple glazed gems in my backpack, I’m ready to pedal just about anywhere.
If you get the chance, you must ride through Detroit’s Midtown area. Midtown is one of those energetic and diverse neighborhoods that has literally erupted with activity. Historic buildings are getting face lifts for residential and commercial purposes left and right. Hip restaurants and bars are aplenty. And you can always spot students and resident creative types from nearby Wayne State and the College for Creative Studies hanging around. I like to pop by Z’s Villa. Housed in a three-story, 100-year-old building, Z’s serves up pizza and burgers in a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere. Z’s back patio is a must in the summer. There’s a full volleyball court and horseshoes for you to enjoy while you sip a beer and eat a burger with a polish sausage stacked on top. Yes, that’s right, an entire polish sausage on top of a burger. It’s the American melting pot in burger form. And for those who think my doughnut snobbery contradicts my anything-goes hamburger philosophy, all I can say is that I’m a complex person. I like what I like.
Be sure to follow your nose and ride by El Guapo, the city’s first traveling food truck. Wait, who am I kidding? You can’t just ride past El Guapo — make sure you stop and get a taco or three. El Guapo usually splits its time between Midtown and downtown, but check out their Twitter (@elguapogrill) for the latest on its exact location.
If you take your wheels one mile northeast of downtown, you’ll find another sensory-filled destination in Eastern Market. This national historic site and farmers market is chock-full of vendors every Saturday and Sunday, and on Tuesdays June-September from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Everything from peppers, potatoes and tomatoes to fresh-cut flowers and shrubbery are ripe for the picking. Pack up your load in a bike basket and you’re good to go, but don’t leave the market without discovering the best pizza the city has to offer at Supino Pizzeria. Trust me when I say you won’t forgive yourself if you miss this treasure stop, conveniently located on the market’s main artery, Russell Street.
If you’re biking downtown, make sure you cruise past the Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority and travel the paved and always busy and beautiful Detroit RiverWalk, where you can see Canada just across the Detroit River. Take a jaunt over to the scenic island park of Belle Isle or ride up the Dequindre Cut, the railroad line turned paved pedestrian and bicycle path. It’s part of the 170+ miles of designated cycling lanes and paths that currently exist in Detroit.
What’s exciting about this whole travel-by-two-wheels idea is that when you start to hit spots by bike, you’ll soon realize that the final destination is only part of the fun. That’s what still happens to me every time I ride. I’ve met friendly people, discovered interesting and transforming spaces and seen a vision of Detroit’s future by working, playing and biking in the city. But don’t take my word for it. Find out for yourself. Get on your bike and ride.
Find a Bike
Plenty of retail and rental bike shops and organized bike rides can be found in Detroit. Here are a few of them:
- Wheelhouse Detroit is conveniently located on the Detroit RiverWalk at Rivard Plaza, where they rent and sells bikes. Guided city bike tours with cool themes ranging from Detroit architecture, Eastern Market and automotive heritage are also offered.
- If you like bikes and beer, Motor City Brew Tours is for you. Learn about Detroit’s beer history, get some exercise along the way and, of course, drink a few brews.
- During Tour de Troit, thousands of cyclists take part in this annual ride that explores some of Detroit’s historic sites. After you pedal your heart out, you can cash in your food and beer tickets. Pre-registration is required.
- Critical Mass Detroit is a huge bike ride that takes place the last Friday of every month in cities all over the world, and Detroit is part of the scene. The Motor City version of this ride really feels like a celebration. People are in good spirits, and neighborhoods are happy to see riders.
- Z's Villa
42 Piquette Ave., Detroit, MI 48202313-874-2680 Highlight on map | More Details
- Supino Pizzeria
2457 Russell St., Detroit, MI 48207313-567-7879 Highlight on map | More Details
- Detroit International RiverWalk
1340 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207313-566-8200 Highlight on map | More Details
- Belle Isle Park
Michigan State Park, 2 Inselruhe Ave., Detroit, MI 48207313-821-9844 Highlight on map | More Details
- Wheelhouse Detroit - Rivertown
1340 E. Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207313-656-2453 Highlight on map | More Details
- Motor City Brew Tours
- Dutch Girl Donuts
19000 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48203313-368-3020 Highlight on map | More Details
- Dequindre Cut, Between Mack Ave. and Woodbridge St.
Dequindre Cut Greenway, Detroit, MI 48207, USA313-566-8200 Highlight on map | More Details
- Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority
130 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48226, United States313-259-5091 Highlight on map | More Details