The 1984 Detroit Tigers, a near riot, and a 30 year international quest finally realized

I finally took the time to do something that I first attempted to do in 1984, when I was a teenager. That Summer a friend of mine and I decided to ride our bikes from our homes in Novi, Michigan, 25 miles straight down Grand River Ave. to the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit where we would cross to Canada. We had heard that bicycles were allowed on the bridge, and we thought it would be cool to ride to another country and back. Unfortunately once we got too the bridge an employee on the American side told us that a group of cyclists had gone before us just a couple of hours earlier, and that one of the riders fell and broke his neck. There would be no more bicycles on the bridge after that. The whole thing sounded like a big story someone would tell a couple of teenagers, but regardless, we had made it all of the way to the Detroit River and would go no farther. We could see the Windsor skyline, but would not get to ride that last mile or so over to ride its metric-measured roads, meet their cute Canadian girls with their cute Canadian accents or to buy candy bars with bilingual wrappers.

Our setback quickly turned into a win after we rode over to the corner of Michigan and Trumbull, the site of the old Tiger Stadium. We arrived just before an afternoon weekday game, and scored two free tickets from two businessmen who had decided to give their extra tickets to these two kids riding around on their bikes. It was a perfect moment in a baseball season that went on to see our Tigers win the World Series at that corner. This same friend of mine and I were also there that October when the Tigers won the AL Championship series against the Royals. In the riotous post-game celebration, we climbed the outfield fence only to see a line of horse-mounted police on the warning track. That was all of the warning we needed and we sheepishly climbed back down, but not before stealing a giant chunk of Tiger stadium sod from another hooligan who had gotten onto the field and rolled up several yards of the Major League Baseball Sod right off of the outfield. I planted that piece of Tiger sod, approximately one square foot in size, in a planter in my parent’s Novi home where it stayed until they sold the house years later.

The Ambassador Bridge still doesn’t allow bicycles to cross. The State of Michigan and Ontario are working on building a new bridge connecting our two nations, and it will include a bike path! Unfortunately, it won’t be open until 2016 at the earliest. There are, however, two ferries along the St. Clair River that transport cars, small trucks, pedestrians and cyclists between the two countries. This would be my ticket into Canada. Two weeks ago I finally took the time to complete my international cycling adventure. If the winter holds off for a few more weeks I’d like to repeat the trip again this year. Otherwise, I’ll return in the spring. The boat ride alone is worth the trip, and only $1.

Limited truck parking is available in Marine City at the Pacific Pride station at 6040 King Road.

Click here for a map of the route I took.

Click here for a map of the route I took.

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Ferry dock in Algonac, Michigan

Ferry dock in Algonac, Michigan

This Marine City, Michigan church was built on land granted to the congregation by President John Q. Adams.

This Marine City, Michigan church was built on land granted to the congregation by President John Q. Adams.

I just recently learned that there is now a growing numbered U.S. bicycle route system, just like the one we have for cars.

I just recently learned that there is now a growing numbered U.S. bicycle route system, just like the one we have for cars.

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The St. Clair River from the Canadian side on Walpole Island

The St. Clair River from the Canadian side on Walpole Island

Oh, Canada!

Oh, Canada!

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About kevinmckague

I left my former dead-end job in 2006 in order to become a truck driver. I wanted a career that was recession-proof, and that offered more opportunity for adventure. Now I travel the country with my bike in the passenger seat, and look for new places to visit whenever the opportunity presents itself.
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