Organizers Put the Brakes on Gran Fondo Bike Race Along Woodward
However, one Ferndale bike shop owner still plans to invite 2,000 of his closest friends for a ride up Woodward this June.
If you were looking forward to this summer's Gran Fondo bike race down Woodward, we have some bad news for you.
Last week, Birmingham resident and Woodward Avenue Action Association (WA3) director Heather Carmona put the brakes on the proposed Gran Fondo bike race at the Royal Oak City Commission meeting.
The Gran Fondo, Italian for "big ride," would have been a 54-mile race from Detroit to Pontiac and back along Woodward Avenue, with racers riding through Birmingham.
The WA3, which organized the event, was hoping more than 200 national- and international-caliber riders would participate in a professional race on June 30, followed by a community bike ride.
The purpose behind the race, organizers said, was the promote healthy living, showcase Woodward Avenue and raise funds for sustainable infrastructure and other beautification projects along Woodward.
"Other communities expressed some reluctance ... and frankly, fear," Carmona told Royal Oak officials, adding "It's not a lost plan. There's work that I think we can still integrate down the road."
While some Birmingham officials expressed a few doubts about the Gran Fondo, the Birmingham City Commission eventually threw their support behind the race in mid-December.
"I don't see a problem with our little corner of the world," Birmingham Police Chief Don Studt told commissioners at the time. "There are a lot of problems I can see, but those aren't mine to address."
Those with the biggest concerns were in Royal Oak, including Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue and Royal Oak City Manager Don Johnson.
"We see this as a very high risk/low reward event," Johnson said in early December. "We think Royal has little to gain from a successful event and much to lose should an accident occur..."
Carmona admitted last week that she had not received the support she needed from several other South Oakland County police chiefs as well.
Ferndale bike shop owner plans to host his own ride up Woodward
However cycling fans, take heart: one Ferndale bike shop owner is hoping to host his own big ride on Woodward this June, whether or not it's official.
Jon Hughes, owner of the Downtown Ferndale Bike Shop, also spoke at the Royal Oak meeting last week and said he plans to ride up Woodward on June 30 — and he's inviting 2,000 of his closest friends.
"We're still planning to do a ride on that date," he told Ferndale Patch on Thursday. "We're going to set it up so we go to all the different bike shops that are along the Woodward corridor.
Hughes said the details of his ride are still being worked out, though he said there will be a small entry fee and participants will get a t-shirt or cinch bags along with giveaways at each stop. The ride is tenatively scheduled for 8 a.m. June 30, starting at the Detroit RiverWalk.
"It's all about bike awareness and so we're just trying to get as many people out there as we can," he said. "We think that it's going to have a really good turnout and be a really good ride."