A Pedaling Pack of Wolves

Without the ‘squad,’ Slow Roll wouldn’t exist


Published:

Photographs by Josh Scott

At the core of Slow Roll you’ll find a pack of wild bike enthusiasts known as “squad.” These are the people who make the ride happen week after week, safely leading thousands of riders on the 10-12 mile journey through the city. 

Their canary yellow T-shirts have become somewhat of a trademark for the Slow Roll brand after an Apple commercial featured squad members and Slow Roll co-founder Jason Hall planning a Monday night route with the help of an iPad. 

“Everybody wanted to get on squad, especially after the Apple commercial. Everyone wanted a yellow shirt,” Hall says. 

But you have to earn that shirt. It’s not handed out to just anyone; they aren’t for sale. They’re for select Slow Rollers who have proven themselves.

“The core group of squad started out as my friends ... the people that really bought into it, understood what we were doing, and just wanted this ride to go on and last forever,” Hall says. 

Today, there are six squad captains and dozens of volunteers at each weekly ride. They’re the Slow Roll masters who protect the pack and have watched the ride grow from dozens to thousands of people each week. 

With echoes of “stay riiiiight” or “car back” throughout the ride, squad does an excellent job at keeping everyone alert by enforcing the Slow Roll Code of Conduct. Communication is key, and squad is geared up with walkie-talkie applications on their phones to keep in constant contact with each other. They’re also prepped with tools to take care of any flat tires or other issues that might occur along the way. 

“I’m usually in charge of communication, so I make sure every intersection has a squad member there … while all the sweepers are trying their best to keep their riders to the right side of the road and keep a lane open for traffic,” says squad captain Maria Nash.

In her fourth season of Slow Roll, Nash’s duties go beyond helping fellow bikers. She also stands in the road to direct car traffic from interrupting the flow of the ride.

“We have a pamphlet we hand out to drivers stating who we are, what we do — and the Slow Roll Code of Conduct is on the back,” Nash says. 

Nash is also on a squad with her fiancé, who she met at Slow Roll. And every squad member will proudly tell you that squad is more than just a team of biker friends.

“They become family, man. I’ve never cried more than I’ve cried in the last six months hanging out with these fools,” Hall says. “It’s always somebody’s birthday, or someone’s getting married … our first squad baby [is] coming [in April].”

Starting this season, the squad won’t have to secure the streets alone. Hall has been working with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and city officials to create an even better Slow Roll experience.“The police will be on the rides this year,” Hall says. 

Squad will still play a big role in corralling the Slow Roll crew, but the city is helping plan new routes and assisting in traffic control. 

“They used to say doing business in Detroit was difficult and all this,” Hall says. “But I’ve worked with the greatest group of people that have been so supportive  — from the mayor, to special projects, to the police tactical — everybody’s excited about the energy that Slow Roll brings to Detroit.”

The bottom line is that Slow Roll really does unite all walks of life; it’s a unique experience that is helping build a better Detroit. Squad is there to ensure this special ride lives on forever.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Heavyweight Estate

Cadillac King Don Massey's property hits the market

Metrics of Mary Jane Motoring

Research in a modest lab at John R and Mack addresses questions about cannabis and driving and takes me back to my wayward youth

Best of Detroit 2018

Our reader's picks for the Best of Detroit winners in food, drink, leisure, people, and services

Under Wraps

Lionel Perkins, senior project design engineer for camouflage at GM North America, unveils his latest project

Driver's Ed

We’ve got auto questions, leading authorities have answers
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Under Wraps
    Lionel Perkins, senior project design engineer for camouflage at GM North America, unveils his...
  2. Heavyweight Estate
    Cadillac King Don Massey's property hits the market
  3. Machine Learning
    The next wave of artificial intelligence is making critical decisions in health care
  4. All About the Zip Sauce
    Food blogger and Instagram sensation, Seoung Lee, a.k.a. @chowdowndetroit, says Eddie’s Gourmet...
  5. The Meat of the Matter
    The latest West Village eatery, Marrow, carves a space for Detroit’s meat-eaters
  6. Food Recipe: Middle Eastern Spiced Roasted Carrots
    The mother-daughter team behind recipe development site, Crowded Kitchen, cooks up mindful dishes...
  7. Metrics of Mary Jane Motoring
    Research in a modest lab at John R and Mack addresses questions about cannabis and driving and...
  8. Detroit’s Got Spirits
    Inside the local craft distillery boom from Ferndale to Ann Arbor and beyond
  9. Eating in Translation
    What happens when centuries-old vegetarian traditions are transported across oceans
  10. Driver's Ed
    We’ve got auto questions, leading authorities have answers