This is the view of downtown Ann Arbor as you come into town from it's northern entrance in Brandemere Park via the bike pathway. It's a whole lot nicer view than what you get by automobile. From the road it is a bit run down, shabby and very industrial, the saving grace is that as you first exit the freeway you get a view from the hilltop of the downtown skyline plus a good view of the University of Michigan Hospital complex, Huron River and Argo Dam. The photo comes from an article about the lack of an attractive northern entry into town. The section of blight is short but it's one of the first things you see after the great hilltop view. It's an incongrous, from beauty to blight and on to big and bustling downtown. It's like it doesn't make sense, it doesn't flow. You can read the story by clicking here. I was on this path on Friday as part of my 9 mile ride, I had started just to the north of this spot by about a mile from the parking lot of Brandemere Park at US23 and Whitmore Lake Road. I was headed in the opposite direction of the cyclist pictured and right after you come off this section you travel over Argo Dam which is pictured in the distance just beyond the RR bridge, where you see it crossing the river. As soon as you come off the dam you enter the new renovated Argo Cascades where a quiet and murky spillway lined one side of a small isthmus. Before the 1.17 million dollar project that created the cascading falls and series of drops the water was stagnated and mostly covered with algae. As that section of the path was the only one not paved, it was pretty rustic and not much more of a rut in a very narrow strip of land that dropped sharply off into the scum filled water on one side or the tree tangled fast current river on the other side. Falling down either bank was not what I wanted to do at all and I generally held my breath through that section and would be happy every time I made it through unscathed.
There were a couple of sections where the rut was eroded and the sand got deep enough to make the hind end of the bike shimmy a bit and fishtail toward the water on either side. That was always good for a little nerve racking jolt. However from last fall onward with earth movers and bull dozers at work the top of that isthmus was flattened out, a nice 8 or 10 foot asphalt brand new path with cascading kayaking falls along side it is now open for riding. The last time I was on this path was the day that a kayaker nearly drowned (you can read that blog post here)on the river side and it hadn't been paved yet so I was unsure what to expect on Friday. Smooth new asphalt was what I was treated to, looks like it may have just opened a week or two before. There is a video clip of the cascades available here and a still shot below. The video and still were taken in the early spring as you can see by the outfits on the kayakers. When I rode alongside the cascades on Friday I was treated to watching two kayakers a guy and a gal shoot through the drops just a few feet away from me. It looked like a blast. After the 4th drop I saw the girl kayaker get turned backwards and shoot through the drop backwards. I'm still unsure if it was intentional or not but the guy behind her made it clear that he was going through backwards intentionally. That was wickedly fun to watch.