There are few times Americans can hop on their bikes and go for a ride in a foreign country. On June 12, some 200 riders will do just that — when they take part in the upcoming Bike the Bridge 2011 event from Detroit, Michigan to Windsor, Ontario over the Ambassador Bridge.
The ride, which is now in its third year, came about as riders from both sides of the Detroit River expressed interest in a meet up.
“It is basically cyclists getting together,” say event co-coordinator Mary Grant. “There was talk about the difficulty of crossing the bridge with a bike, and difficulty of crossing the border in general.”
The event, says Grant, has just taken on a life of its own, and become a friendly international experience for cyclists.
Given that the Ambassador Bridge is privately owned, however, and spans two countries does mean there are some serious logistics to overcome before riders can cross over the river. The organizers work with the bridge owner and both governments to make the event happen.
“Everyone has been helpful with this event,” said Grant, explaining that the event has roughly 200 riders signed up. “The organization isn’t really that hard, but it is limiting the participation.”
Signing up for the event requires would-be riders take a few extra steps. Riders must be 16 years of age or older, and must preregister online via EventBrite by May 27. Additionally, riders must have a valid passport, a passport care, enhanced driver’s license or Nexus card to participate.
Grant says that they haven’t really thought about what a participant cutoff would be should the event grow.
“We haven’t really gotten to that point. There are logistical issues that come up however,” she says. “The bridge can’t stop car traffic for very long.” Grant adds that trucks follow as sweepers should there be a problems that make it difficult for riders to continue.
Additionally, while the highlight of the Bike the Bridge is no doubt crossing over the Detroit River on the Ambassador Bridge, it is just one part of the 15-mile short tour or the 45-mile long tour of the Detroit waterfront.
Christopher Beck, who helps organize the route, would like to see it grow – possibly mirroring some aspects of the Detroit Marathon, which begins in Detroit, crosses to Canada and then comes back under the river via the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.
“I know what I would like to see,” says Beck. “I would like an over the bridge, tour in the Windsor countryside, and back through the tunnel.”