FEATURES

JASON HALL, SLOW ROLL DETROIT

JASON HALL, SLOW ROLL DETROIT

Jason Hall is one of the radical minds behind Slow Roll, the weekly bicycle ride that’s taken over Detroit. And it’s of no surprise, since he was born and raised right here in the city and his earliest memories involve a bicycle, friends and neighborhood exploring.

“I’ve always been the independent kid. Skateboarding and bike riding were my thing,” Hall said.

Hall’s parents raised him on organization, passion and inspiration and he took it all into his adulthood where he traveled to Miami for his first gig at a news station in 2007. It wasn’t what he thought it would be and he missed home, so before long, he was back on his way to Detroit.

Slow Roll started from a pretty selfish standpoint, Hall said. He was in a professional slump and wanted to ride bikes with his friends, drink wine and goof off around the city. By late 2008 and into 2009, things started to change for Hall.

“I started to reconnect with the city,” he said. “I was in love with this city like you wouldn’t believe.”

On a bike, Hall realized you have to pay attention to everything and you can’t shut out your surroundings like you do in the car.

“On a bike you have to deal with everything and there’s something real about that,” he said.

Hall and his friends hassled more friends and they all started biking regularly in the evenings and people were catching on to the growth. Once they realized people were there to tour the city and follow them, they understood that this movement could be bigger than they thought.

That was the first catalyst, Hall said, and the second was when they would go from restaurant to restaurant and people would ask about who they were with and what they were doing as a group.

They wanted to make it a ride for anyone and everyone, so they thought to put slow in the name to make it more appealing. They toyed with slow ride and other names that didn’t stick and then Slow Roll was born.

“No one was really ready for what this was,” Hall said. “We’ve always been doers and it sort of became this thing we can do.”

Since the inception, Slow Roll has recently become an official nonprofit organization, with a five member board of directors and a volunteer base of about 60 people. Slow Roll has been contacted by nearly 100 cities across the world and as of 2015 they’ve launched rides in 12 other cities. Hall plans to spend the next five years launching rides in those other 100 cities and doing so by pushing the brand of Detroit.

“We’ve evolved from a bike ride to a movement,” Hall said.

Hall also has plans to create kids only rides and eventually develop an Olympic team of all black student riders.

When Hall isn’t coordinating rides and working toward opening their future office at the Brewster Wheeler Recreation Center, he’s in and out of meetings and on the road with Apple and Shinola, supporting each other as businesses and Detroit cheerleaders.

The favorite part of his day is when he wakes up and checks his email, though, because that’s when “the crazy stuff happens,” he said. He loves to see which country is looking to launch a ride and which organization has just heard of Slow Roll and wants to work together on a mission.

On top of the travel, the emails, the planning and the connecting, Hall tries to get his miles in for the day to remind him where this all started.

Check out upcoming events and keep connected to Hall and his team via social by way of slowroll.bike.

Erica N. Rakowicz/After 5