Bikeverywhere News

Gray’s Bay Dam

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 20th , 2018.

 

The source of Minnehaha Creek at Gray’s Bay has always been a mystery to me, so when Dave Olson, who regularly launches his canoe at the Gray’s Bay Dam, told me about a new bike bridge at the dam, I decided to check it out. By the end of the day, I had cleared up the mystery, ridden a beautiful boardwalk dividing the bay from the creek,  and explored the shoreline of one of the most scenic bays on Lake Minnetonka. The new route, which incorporates these features, connects Minnetonka Blvd with McGinty Rd.

This is one percent territory so the mansions are massive, the lots bigger and the shoreline of the bay has a highly manicured feel to it. It’s attractive, in an over-the-top opulent way and anyone with a desire to explore has many options for side trips into the neighborhoods surrounding the immediate route.

The new route and many other changes are available on the updated mobile Twin Cities Bike Map. The map update happened yesterday, July 19. The newest version is the only version with the Gray’s Bay bike route. As always, if you’ve downloaded the 2018 map once, all updates are free.

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Dakota Rail Trail

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 20th , 2018.

Vicky and I explored the western two thirds of the Dakota Rail Trail, from Mound to the end of the paved trail near Lester Prairie. This is a scenic part of the trail. It skirts Lake Waconia and flows through deep woods and open farmland, Most of the trail is shaded, so it is a good option for hot summer days and should be attractive for a fall color ride.

The trail also has two major attractions in Gale Woods Farm, a working educational farm run by Three Rivers Parks, and Big Stone Mini Golf, a quirky course with its own versions of the Spoonbridge and Cherry and the Bean among hundreds of other statues, pools, vegetable gardens and other attractions.

The Farm and the Golf Course supply meat and produce for Dakota Junction, a Farm to Table restaurant located on the trail in Mound.The restaurant is a good spot to start and end your ride, although the total distance from Mound to the end of the pavement near Lester Prairie is 20 miles, creating a round trip ride of 40 miles.

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Twin Cities to Winona Bike Tour

Posted by Doug Shidell, June 28th , 2018.

Bike touring from the Twin Cities to Winona offers a little bit of everything: The unique structures of UMore Park near the Dakota County Technical College, a Buddhist Temple siting, the Cannon Valley Trail, Minnesota’s hilly and scenic Driftless Area, quiet roads along the Mississippi River, Lock and Dam #4 at Alma, Wisconsin, a houseboat village near Winona, the Minnesota Maritime Art Museum and a three hour Amtrak ride back to the Cities.

The Twin Cities to Winona mobile map is broken into three segments, each segment representing one day or 50 to 65 miles of the tour.

Day 1 gets you out of town. Highlights of the tour include the Cedar Avenue Bike Bridge, the unusual structures of Umore Park near the Dakota County Technical College and a siting of the Watt Munisotaram Cambodian Buddhist Temple.

Route selection out of town focuses on low traffic roads over faster, but busier, through routes. The country opens up to rolling hills and wide open spaces about 15 miles into the day’s ride. Approximate distance 45 miles.

Day 2 is challenging and beautiful as it rolls through the Driftless Area of SE Minnesota, but it starts out deceptively easy with a 20 mile slightly downhill roll from Cannon Falls to Red Wing on the Cannon Valley Trail. The first big hill kicks in as you leave Red Wing and the valley of the Mississippi River. Two more large climbs and fast descents follow as you roll into Lake City and climb back out of town. The roads have little traffic and generally good pavement. The scenery is a mix of woodlots, small farms, ridges and narrow valleys. Approximate distance 65 miles.

Day 3 follows the Mississippi River on the Wisconsin side, takes in Lock and Dam #4 in Alma and finishes with optional side trips to the houseboat village and the stunning Minnesota Marine Art Museum in Winona. You should have plenty of time to do both before catching the 7:10 pm Amtrak back to Union Station in St. Paul.

Be sure to reserve a space for your bike when you book your ticket on Amtrak. Bikes travel for $20 and don’t have to be broken down. Just remove your panniers and hand the bike to the baggage handler. The train has a limit of 6 bikes, so book early to guarantee a spot.

Twin Cities to Winona Bike Tour

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Updated Mobile Twin Cities Bike Map

Posted by Doug Shidell, June 8th , 2018.

I had to remove one of my favorite roads from the mobile Twin Cities Bike Map 2018 for this update. Rich Valley Road, through Apple Valley and Rosemount, was a favorite escape route and recreational ride down to the Dakota County Technical College and the unique structures and quiet roads of UMore Park.The road rolls through farmland behind the Koch Refinery. It used to be a low traffic, scenic ride that occasionally offered some amazing natural phenomenon such as an epic battle between two Bald Eagles. We watched as the two eagles, locked in battle, fell behind a ridge, possibly to the ground. Today, a blacktop manufacturing plant and a landfill generate heavy truck traffic on this narrow road with no shoulders. It is no longer safe to ride.

I spent most of an afternoon looking for alternate routes without success. The only direct route, Akron Rd, is gravel, and two large housing developments are under construction on the south end. The road will probably be paved within a year to handle the new residents. I hope the new road will come with wide shoulders or a separate bike path, making it a good alternate to Rich Valley Rd. I’ll return to the area next spring for another evaluation.

The latest update also includes a significant number of revisions based on an intense spring of research, especially in the less explored regions of the Twin Cities. If you’ve already downloaded the 2018 Twin Cities Bike Map, go back to Avenza and download the free update. If you haven’t purchased the 2018 version, I strongly recommend getting this update. I expect to continue doing extensive research this riding season and will make significant changes and updates to the mobile map throughout the year.

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Carver Park Reserve Adds Bikes Only Campsite

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 24th , 2018.

 

Last year Carver Park Reserve opened a new bikes only campsite at their Lake Auburn Campground. I tested the site last year and again this year. Here is the story I published in the Star Tribune about the campsite.

http://www.startribune.com/three-rivers-parks-creates-site-at-carver-park-just-for-bike-campers/483610131/

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Trempealeau County Bike Rides

Posted by Doug Shidell, April 26th , 2018.

Trempealeau County, in the heart of Wisconsin’s famed Driftless Area, is a road rider’s paradise. Low traffic, paved roads weave through narrow valleys and along the wide open spaces of ridge tops. The mosaic of farm fields in the valleys give way to woodlots on the hillsides and the southern tip of the county touches the Mississippi River at Lock and Dam #6.

The Trempealeau County Mobile Bike Map offers 20 loops ranging from 15 to 60 miles in length. The loops have been designed by local riders and start from towns throughout the county for the greatest diversity of terrain and scenery. Many loops overlap, providing endless opportunities to customize a route to fit your needs.

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Gary Sjoquist 20 Years of Bicycle Advocacy

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 26th , 2018.

Gary Sjoquist has been a professional bicycle advocate for 20 years, long enough to accumulate a rich trove of stories that put him in the middle of some of the most significant advancements in recent bicycle history. Hired in 1998 by Quality Bicycle Products, Gary says he was given a “long leash” to do what he could for the promotion of bicycling in Minnesota and across the nation. His fingerprints are all over the $25 million federal grant to promote bicycling in Minneapolis, he was a founder and early executive director of Bikes Belong, now People for Bikes, he was instrumental in Safe Routes to Schools, Cayuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails and most recently the NICA High School Mountain Bike League. He’s been inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame in the Marin Museum of Bicycling.

Gary told his story this weekend at the last of the 2018 SpokesPeople series at the Cycling Museum of Minnesota. His entertaining talk was rich in anecdotal information and creative tactics for getting everyone from powerful congressmen to local business leaders on board with bicycling programs. He makes bicycle advocacy sound like fun.

Thanks to Gary for his tireless advocacy on behalf of bicyclists and to the Cycling Museum of Minnesota for their wide ranging SpokesPeople series of talks.

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2018 Twin Cities Bike Map is Available

Posted by Doug Shidell, March 5th , 2018.

The 2018 Twin Cities Bike Map is in stock and ready to ship. The updated map reflects the last three years of research into the best and most scenic trails and bike friendly roads in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the entire Twin Cities metro. This is the twelfth edition of the Twin Cities Bike Map and it’s the most up to date and accurate map you’ll find in the Twin Cities. New roads have been added, some roads that no longer qualify as bike friendly have been removed and many trails have been added, tweaked and aligned to meet the changing bike environment of the Twin Cities. use the paper Twin Cities Bike Map to plan your next ride, then download the mobile Twin Cities Bike Map to your phone and use it to track your route, make adjustments on the fly and add your favorite points of interest directly to the map.

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Biking the Stillwater Bridge

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 19th , 2017.

The new Stillwater Bridge across the St. Croix River has a wide, protected bike and pedestrian lane for crossing the river between Minnesota and Wisconsin. During our visit this weekend, we also discovered that the bridge is a popular destination for folks who want to get to the middle of the river to take in the scenery. The bike/ped lane has observation areas looking upriver toward Stillwater or the active boating scene on the water.

The crossing starts at a bike lane on Hwy 95 north of the bridge and runs two miles to County Rd E, nearly a mile inland from the Wisconsin bank of the St. Croix River. The bridge is accessible by bike from Stillwater and points south and west, but the layout of the roads and trails has changed considerably.

We spent Sunday afternoon logging the changes. Those changes have been added to the mobile Twin Cities Bike Map and the map has been updated on Avenza. The update is free if you have already purchased the 2017 version.

The biggest disappointment is that the Wisconsin side of the crossing drops cyclists off at County Highway E, a busy road with only 18 inches of striped shoulder. There’s a lightly traveled option to return to the old river crossing, and Highway 35 south may work as a gateway to the vast network of paved rural roads in this part of Wisconsin, but it will take some research.

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Bikes Only Campsite at Carver Park Reserve

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 5th , 2017.

Stopped by the bike camping site in Carver Park Reserve. The site has been expanded, adding more space for tents and at least two extra hammock options. The site also has a couple of picnic areas and the LRT trail from Hopkins has bike camping signs at The Depot and at the turn to the bike trails in Carver Park Reserve.

Darren Drummer, operations supervisor for Carver Park Reserve, has additional improvements in mind for the site, including pavers around the campfire and movable seating with backs (bicyclists rarely carry chairs on camping trips),

The site has been used over 35 nights since opening in June, which averages to about one out of every three nights. September and October are prime camping months, so the totals should go up. At $10 per tent and no reservations, this is the perfect site for a spontaneous overnight getaway.

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