This is Part 1 in a series from the gents at The 450 to Detroit chronicling their four-day bicycle trek through Detroit, dubbed the “D-Venture.” The introductory post to their adventure can be found here.
Pat and I glanced at each other with a slight look of consternation and wondered if what we just heard were in fact gunshots. I grew up around guns, but haven’t heard them fired in anything but target practice. We stubbed out our hand rolled cigarettes and followed the rest of the people into the backdoor of the Scott building, the headquarters at Cass Community Services (homeless shelter in Detroit if you are not familiar).
It doesn’t take a genius to understand how group-think works when you hear a volley of gunshots on the other side of a brick wall from where you are sitting. We fell into line with the rest of the people hanging out in the courtyard who were probably far more accustomed to the sing-song of gunfire. After a moment’s reflection it was obvious that the gunshots were fired from a passing car, and not from the scene of some gun battle.
“Welcome to the hood honey” the lady behind the security desk bellowed. We smiled and shared a goofy laugh. Pat and I waited around for some seasoned employees to do a cursory scan around the building to ensure there wasn’t a shootout in progress, and that the troublemakers had left the area.
Over the next few hours we heard a few more spurts of gunfire coming from places around the neighborhood. Nothing more than some people snapping off some rounds in drunken revelry. However, over the course of the weekend, and into the following week there were 17 shootings, with a total of seven fatalities in the city but I am not hear to speak about the horrors, and foul statistics leaking from Detroit on a daily basis.
Pat and I were at Cass Community Services to write about some of the great things being done by great people in a great city. Also it was the first stop on a four-day Tour De Detroit. We had set out on Saturday night with packs on our backs and bikes under our butts to get to know the city a little better, and see what kind of material we could dig up in the big D. Remember you don’t have to go far to travel, and sometimes the greatest journeys happen close to home. It was a bit like camping in your backyard as a child. Still close enough to home, but a world apart. Detroit is enigmatic metropolis filled with interesting characters and shocking poverty. Per usual, our friends and peers thought we have lost the plot and our minds, but yet again, Detroit provided us with a treasure trove of material and memories. Memories that will be hard to shake from my mind, and ones that have worked their way up onto the podium of my experience.
Pat and I are going to write a series of articles about our trip to Detroit. It may seem counter-intuitive to spend four days with your belongings on your backs and bikes as the only transportation in your own city, but to us it seems the only way to explore. Over the course of our trip we weren’t attacked by a pack of wild Pit Bulls, stabbed by bloodthirsty bums, sidelined by constant flat tires, or crushed by unaware drivers. Quite the contrary: we were welcomed in with open arms, given constant hugs and high fives, and left the city wondering how we could top the Motor City by bike trip.
Stay tuned for an in depth look into how Cass Community Services is changing the game in finding solutions for some of the most pressing problems in the City of Detroit.