Though some would argue that Detroit’s fate will always be tied to the automobile, don’t tell that to the 3,000 folks riding bicycles together every Monday night during the summer and early fall. This super-friendly, two-wheeled congregation is called the Slow Roll, launched six years ago by Detroit Bike City founders Jason Hall and Mike MacKool. It’s Detroit community in full motion. And no matter if you’re sporting a single-speed beater or a fancy cruiser, it’s no doubt the best way to spend two hours admiring the Motor City.
How did you and Mike decide to start the Slow Roll?
We started Slow Roll to reconnect with the city and to show people the beauty of Detroit. We wanted to show people that Detroit is a viable city to live and play in.
In what ways has the Slow Roll changed as it’s grown over the last few years?
Wow, it’s changed a ton. I always joke that for four years we basically ran from the cops. Now we’ve partnered up with the Detroit Police Department and are escorted. We've also added our new membership program. The Slow Roll had to evolve with the times and its growth and we’ve done a great job of doing so.
What’s been the most rewarding part of playing point on the Slow Roll?
The most rewarding part of Slow Roll for me has been my connection to the people and the city. I've really learned to listen to people.
How do you think bicycles can be a force for good?
You see it here. Slow Roll is merely the vehicle (no pun intended) for people to open up and talk. Problems get solved and new friendships are made by being on two wheels.
What are a few of your favorite Detroit neighborhoods to explore by bike?
All of Detroit is my favorite honestly. I'm a lifelong Detroiter and I see something new everyday when I'm on my bike. The landscape is changing so fast. It’s an exciting time for Detroit.
We saw some pretty crafty bikes at the Slow Roll. If you could design a signature bike for yourself with no constraints, what would it be like?
I already have! I got lucky enough to design my own signature model with Mike Sheppard at Detroit Bicycle Works. Custom frame to my size, Velocity A23 rims modified with track hubs, Paul and Chris King components, and a blue Brooks leather seat. It's a single speed with more of an upright stance. She rides like a dream.
If you were building a soundtrack for a Slow Roll ride, who are some of the Detroit artists you’d include?
J Dilla, anything Motown, Flint Eastwood, Almighty Lumberjacks of Death, DEATH, and some Jack White.
It sounds like new Slow Rolls are popping up in other cities like Chicago. If you could organize a ride anywhere else in the world, where would you host it?
If I could host a Slow Roll anywhere, it'd be Hawaii.
What’s next for Jason Hall and the Slow Roll?
Whats next for the Slow Roll? Pushing the national model and opening rides in every city. What's next for Jason? Continuing to evolve and grow as a person.
Describe Detroit in five words.
Hustle. Passion. Love. Beautiful. Changing.