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Home > Magazine > City > Team OYB at Detroit Critical Mass & Vintage Bike Fest!

Team OYB at Detroit Critical Mass & Vintage Bike Fest!
July 04, 2012

Last Saturday was the annual Americane' Vintage Track & Road Bike Festival at Bloomer Park, Rochester Hills, near Detroit, MI.

The evening before was the Detroit Critical Mass.

I was lucky enough to attend both for the first time!

The Vintage Fest was combined with the state track TT champs which started near the end of the fest.

Dozens of sweet bikes with sweet pedigrees were on display, from the 1800's to the 1980's.

My bro Tim was the co-organizer, along with Mark Agree. He's a good photographer and took a lot of pics. I'll post some of my faves here. (See em all at

It was neat seeing so many youngsters and women racing. I'm sure they're out there in the metro area anyway, but also a track is safer than the road and so might be more family-friendly. But in the end there were a couple youngster crashes -- which, again, weren't as bad as if on the road. The worst was when a strong teen girl forgot about her fixedness at the finish of her 200m flying TT. Ouch. A total face/body slam. But she got up and walked away! Wow, an old fart wouldn't've been so lucky. I suppose it's a downside to a TT event -- some roadies show up for their day of track racing each year and aren't tuned in well enough to the fixie vibe. (I've done that 'try to coast' thing after track sprints, since I too was a roadie dabbling in track. Never hit the boards, but sure got scared!)

An old pro pal was racing and mentioned that he's only a couple clicks off the podium at nat'ls. It's amazing how driven these people are. Still striving. Sometimes it seems like they don't enjoy the fact that they're the state champ or how totally buff they are. That was one of the weirdest things about racing to me: how everyone got pushed up to the point where they failed. Hopefully there's satisfaction for them in just participating at such levels, but they don't seem to always express it. They always seem disappointed and crestfallen to come up short. As soon as you get good at one level they throw you in with the lions at the next level up. Well, I hope it's fun for them just to be there. It was fun for me to watch them last Saturday!

I got to ride that track for the first time. I helped one day decades ago to screw in the boards for it. It's a rare all-volunteer built track. But I hadn't ridden it. I've ridden other tracks but their banking was less steep. Steepness is scary! It's tough pushing a big gear nowadays, too. Seems big, anyway. Hard to believe my loaner bike had just a 50x15, or whatever is the standard. Well, that's why they have windtrainers for warming up -- you feel like you have to go all-out just to make it work. It's 200 m, 44 degrees. A black diamond ski slope is only 35 degrees.

A young commuter/bike-advocacy friend -- cubicle nerd -- gave track riding her first try. Very brave! She's not a racer type. More a grocery basket biker type. But she took the quick intro class and did it! She was shaking for a long time afterward due to adrenalin, she said. Then she was back out there! It really was a thrill. We both went out 3 times. My legs were tired afterward.

It was also great to see a lovely vintage Cinelli track tandem out on the track. That's an extinct event, I think, as there are no longer World/Oly events for it. But tandems going 40+mph on the track are a true thrill!

Quite a few vintage attendees had their bikes in action.

Some of the carbon speed wonders were also sweet to see -- one had a gorgeous weave on display.

It was mesmerizing being at the track. I had a hard time leaving (stayed a couple hours but had to pull the plug eventually). They don't have any snack concession there, though they did have some spectators. There was some radio music. I think it would be supercool to have snack/food, infield tables, and all sorts of music.

Maybe next year for the Vintage event they could do it up like the old 6-Days and have vintage jazz, VIP tables and food/snacks. Plus the bike show. Plus vintage bikes riding the boards!


Prior to the Vintage event I had spent the night at a friend's house in Bloomfield. A group of 8 us had ridden the Detroit Critical Mass the evening before. Most of the group were on Rivendells! Nice to see all that sweet paint and lugwork in action. (Two other new-to-CM riders joined us. They'd been instructed but hadn't quite gotten the CM picture and were riding race bikes, dressed to race. They did bring blinkies but no headlights. I'm pretty sure they were told it was a party! What's more it turns out that one of the guys was Mike, a good pal from ski racing! When I teasingly introduced myself he didn't catch on that he knew me already due, I say, to milieu-switcheroo.)

CM had 600 riders! Everyone got along fine with the cars. Good traffic self-policing, smiling, waving. But Detroit isn't crowded with cars anymore anyway. Very interesting to see the prairie/frontier-like ghettos mixed with recovering and/or grand neighborhoods. No racial tension that I noticed -- riders and locals were intermixedly diverse and all got along and were cheery.

I've always enjoyed how poor city people are outside and hang out on lawnchairs under shade trees on porches. It's the well-off and middle-class locales were the humans are invisible -- inside cars and buildings in all weather.

I tell ya, I loves a bike parade. There were SO many kinds of bikes and bikers at this CM. I was blown away. Kids, old farts, everybody was there. Various kinds of boombox bike music, too.

The route was both inland and also went out onto Belle Isle with views of the lovely Detroit River and hundreds of African American picnickers, one of whom handed me up a nice cold beer as I coasted past.


It's Parade Day today -- yesterday I thought to ask our local Chamber if I could enter a bike float and they said Sure, but it was too short of notice. Oh well. Bikes on parade are great for PR!

The Helmet War reared its head as I discussed the float idea with locals before canceling. Since it is SO HOT out I was likely going to just wear a nice straw hat and seersucker and ride my vintage Brompy. Someone said we should wear helmets as an example since so many out there do not. I had 2 reactions to that: I don't see any "so many" around here at all. Nobody bikes except to train/exercise. A very few commuters. I could see not wearing a helmet to give the example that biking is safe. I think the general public idea of biking is that it IS done with helmets and when done by enthusiasts it also involves lycra. I could see if a racer type wanted to represent racing in the float then they could wear lycra/helmet. No other parade people wear helmets. Motorcyclists no longer have to in MI. Now, if the float was under the auspices of the local bike club then they have a club rule to wear helmets. I suggested the float be indie. We would represent bikers not a bike group. Basically, the free people could wear what they liked and there wouldn't need to be any debate. Not that a debate would resolve anything, only power could force apparel selection with nothing actually resolved. It's interesting how avoiding controversy in this case can only be done by obeying others.

BTW, I attempted to do the club ride last night. 95F/humid. I wore madras shirt and shorts and brought a helmet but didn't wear it on my ride to the ride. I wear a lid on group rides, but would rather be hair-free at 95+. I was a bit late and saw the lidded, lycraed group riding off. I decided to bail and not try to join in and hear the harpies harping. I would have to use the "It's a free road" gambit and be in the ride but not of it. But they woulda given me a ration of doo-doo for not lidding up. It sure was nice'n'breezy just wearing hair and sweatband. I do feel muffled and sometimes get stars in my vision after riding in heat awhile with the lid (and a sweatband -- it might be that my sweatband prevents some air circulation). I love working out in the heat, though, and went for a run after my ride.

My cousin remarks that a helmet makes wind noise for him and that he feels exposed unless he can hear cars unimpeded with his rearward stereo-hearing. But then I've heard that rearward collisions aren't a big risk anyway. Still, they're the main risk for us empty-flat-road rural types. I say "wear what fits the situation." In a race, or on a race group training ride, or on fast singletrack, or in twisty hills, a helmet seems dandy. Sometimes, though, less so.

Not exactly vintage. Probably 1990's. This bike was part of the TT races and not there for the Fest. Several other older steel bikes were being raced also. This Colnago's tubing was great to feel -- it's "lobed" (fluted?) like a Colnago "club." The owner says it accelerates like no other bike he's ridden.



Track tandem that saw action.

The owner rides this one in the local CM!

Nice bars.

Hetchins Magnum Opus, I think this is called. (Wild guess, anyway.)

Track tandem in action!

Nice red. Nice lugs.

Nice red.

Nice. (My bro Tim took this and the following dozen or so pics.)

My idea of an allrounder bike.

I like patina.

Nice British garishness.

Kids, teens and moms getting ready to race.

Here's Lauren, our bike advocacy friend, daring the steep boards for the first time!

A glorious garage!

Schwinn Crate

Club music.

Rap music.

Back over the Belle Isle bridge.

I like patina.


My first visit to Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project.

Massing up downtown.

A coupla highwheelers.

Rarin' to ride!

Bike diversity.

Friends riding to the CM start.

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