Bikeverywhere News

Explore the east shore of Lake Minnetonka

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 4th , 2018.

Looking for a place for some unstructured exploring?Try the southeast shore of Lake Minnetonka and areas east. This is an area where you can wander around on low traffic roads that twist and dip and wind through towering trees and tony homesteads. The best places to explore are the peninsulas that define Lake Minnetonka’s iconic bays such as Gray’s Bay, Robinsons Bay and Carsons Bay.

The attached map shows a recent ride with Dave Olson. The route starts in Hopkins, works its way northwest, then drops down to cross the Gray’s Bay Dam. From there we wandered through Woodland, Deephaven and anywhere we thought might be interesting. This isn’t meant to be a tour guide, just a hint of where you can explore. The two red pins, or placemarks, mark the location of the stone arches shown below, two of the more unusual discoveries along the route.

Mobile Twin Cities Bike Map

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New Trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 4th , 2018.

The new Trailhead at Theodore Wirth Park is an impressive building with the potential to strengthen outdoor activities in Minneapolis. This has been part of a long term project to bring mountain biking and cross country skiing into the city and make these sports available to a more ethnically and financially diverse group of users.

Currently it’s just an impressive building and some new mountain bike trails, but a restaurant, classes and new activities are in the works.

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Updated Twin Cities Bike Trails

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 4th , 2018.

The mobile map Twin Cities Bike Trails 2018 has been updated. Based on feedback from users, the comments boxes have been removed and replaced with a single chart showing trail information and descriptions. This change makes navigating the map easier because the boxes aren’t covering essential areas. The map also reflects all new research on trails throughout the metro area.

The focus of the map is on metro area trails. It does not show bicycle friendly roads except on the rare occasion where a connector road ties together a couple of trail segments.

This is an update to an existing map, so if you have already downloaded the map, the update is free.

Twin Cities Bike Trails

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Trout Brook Trail Extended

Posted by Doug Shidell, September 4th , 2018.

A short extension has been added to the Trout Brook Trail, which branches off the Gateway Trail just north of the State Capitol. Functionally, the only advantage is that riders can cross under Maryland Ave on the trail instead of crossing several lanes of traffic. The noteworthy addition is the artwork in the tunnel. Thanks to Dave Olson for checking out the change and sending the attached photos.

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40th Street Bike Bridge

Posted by Doug Shidell, August 5th , 2018.

Wondering why I-35W is closed again this weekend? One reason is the removal of the 40th St bike bridge. The bridge will be out for at least a year. The 38th street bridge is open again. It’s functional, but boring.

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Bike Routes in Downtown St. Paul

Posted by Doug Shidell, August 1st , 2018.
 
I spent the afternoon exploring Downtown St. Paul, looking for better routes through the area. The good news is that the Gateway Trail has been extended through Downtown to the riverfront trail along Shepard Rd.The two-way trail takes up one lane of Jackson Street. According to one traffic engineer, the trail won’t freeze up in winter even with ice and snow. Impressive, if it works.
 
The bad news: That’s it for Downtown St. Paul except for a single path along the south edge of CHS Field. Downtown lacks bike lanes, sharrows or designated routes. The city makes no effort to guide riders to Rice Park, the Farmer’s Market, Landmark Center or any of the major employers. Access to the area is awkward at best from the west.
 
Recreational cyclists do better, as long as they stay away from the center of the city. The Bruce Vento Trail, Lafayette Bridge and river front trails offer good recreational riding.
 
The attached map shows the new alignments I suggest for riding through Downtown, They aren’t great, but offer some guidance. The photo shows a single sign post along the Bruce Vento Trail. The purple signs direct you toward Downtown, but don’t expect additional signage as you get closer. You will be on your own.
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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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