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Street by Street, Mower by Mower
There’s been a lot said and written about the decline of Detroit, Mich after its deindustrialization. Long ago dubbed the Motor City, locals tell us that many streets are void of auto-traffic making them great for bikes. There’s lots of people and organizations trying to turn the city around. Folks like the League of Michigan Bicyclists and Todd Scott at Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance are working to re-energize the city through bicycles and greenways. Now they may have some help from the Mower Gang.
Walking through a maze of shrubbery, trees, tires, paint cans and logs the size of wheelbarrows, it was hard to imagine that people raced bicycles there.
“I cannot believe that this has been abandoned in time,” said Tom Nardone, founder of the Mower Gang. The small group of volunteers was standing on the Dorais Velodrome in northeast Detroit on Friday. The motto on their shirts said it all, “Winning Detroit’s Other Turf War.”
Though the concrete velodrome needs quite a bit more maintenance to be race worthy, the group of volunteer armed with mowers and weedwackers did succeed in making it rideable again.
“It’s really not about getting some 45-year-old guy a better place to ride his bike,” said [Tom] Nardone, reflecting on the Mower Gang’s mission. “It’s more about getting 10-, 12-, 13-year-old kids a better place to spend an afternoon.”