Martin Sabo Bridge Closed

Posted by Doug Shidell, February 20th , 2012.

The Martin Sabo bike bridge over Hiawatha Ave broke a cable this morning or late last night and buckled. Traffic and trains were blocked from going under the bridge for the day. The bridge should be stable enough so crossing under it will be safe by tomorrow. Bicyclists, however, won’t have access to the bridge until the concrete surface is stabilized and repaired. The city hasn’t specified an official detour for bicyclists to date.

From the Midtown Greenway going east, I suggest turning right at 28th street and crossing Hiawatha Ave at grade. You can pick up the Greenway on the east side of Hiawatha.

Riders who prefer to cross on a bridge can go north to 24th St, cross on the bridge, then turn south on Minnehaha Ave. Minnehaha Ave connects with the Greenway on the east side of Hiawatha Ave. Accessing 24th Ave will be tricky until the Sabo Bridge is stabilized. After it is stabilized, riders can turn off the Greenway at 28th and follow the bike path to Hiawatha Ave, then turn north on the path that runs parallel to Hiawatha.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc

Bikeverywhere at the Green Gifs Fair November 19

Posted by Doug Shidell, November 14th , 2011.

Bikeverywhere will be at the Green Gifts Fair in the Global Market on Lake Street this Saturday, November 19. This is the 6th annual event and one that we’ve enjoyed being a vendor at for almost that many years. Stop by to talk about bicycling in the Twin Cities and beyond, then spend some time visiting the 70 plus other local and green vendors who have gathered for this popular one day event.  Global Market is located on the first floor of the old Sears Building at Chicago and Lake Streets in Minneapolis. After visiting the local green vendors, check out the unique blend of independent businesses, representing all of the ethnic groups of the Twin Cities, that  make up the year round Global Market.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc One Comment

Two Women and Their Bikes

Posted by Doug Shidell, August 9th , 2011.

“Be careful, the gap is narrow.” It was the kind of remark a mother would make to her child, but when I looked, I saw two young adult women coming up the sidewalk toward me. The narrow gap was the handicap ramp from the street to the curb.  The woman in the back was riding a low slung one speed city bike with swept-back handlebars and large fenders. She rode in high heeled shoes and a short skirt, one hand on the handlebar and one holding a cup of coffee.

“EEEE!” the woman in front squealed. ” A  hill!”  A hill? I looked up the street and realized the woman was referring to the 15 foot rise on the other side of the intersection. I felt envious. These two women were having more fun and adventure on the sidewalk by my house than I’ve felt on most rides for years. It was if the bikes had taken them back to a childhood age where the smallest adventure was a thrill.

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Bikeverywhere is Looking for a Web Designer

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 27th , 2011.

Bikeverywhere is looking for a freelance web designer who can maintain the current site in WordPress and has extensive experience working with shopping carts. The current shopping cart is called SHOPP and works with PayPal. I’m open to trying a different cart. Interested designers can contact Doug Shidell via the contact page.


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Two Minnesota state trails turn 25

Posted by Doug Shidell, July 25th , 2011.

Now that Minnesota is back in operation, I’d like congratulate the folks at the Cannon Valley Trail and the Root River Trail for providing riders with two great trails for 25 years.

The Cannon Valley Trail, just 40 miles from the Twin Cities, draws a lot of visitors for day trips through its varied landscapes. From Cannon Falls in bluff country to Red Wing in the valley of the Mississippi River, the trail alternately hugs the Cannon River, passes under towering cliffs, runs through prairie grasslands and explores river floodplains. The center of the trail, near the town of Welch and the Welch Ski Hill, is also one of the most popular starting points. From there you can go upstream toward Cannon Falls or downstream to Red Wing.

One of my favorite activities is to ride the trail on a frosty, full moon night in October or November.

You can download the Cannon Valley Trail chapter of Bicycle Vacation Guide or pick up the book and get all of the major trails in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

The most popular town on the Root River Trail is Lanesboro with its entire downtown list on the Historic Register of Places. The trail follows the scenic Root River through the bluff country of southeastern Minnesota. It’s a beautiful trail with bluffs, deep woods, the river and rural landscapes sharing the corridor of the Root River.  The Harmony-Preston Valley Trail branches off the Root River Trail and follows a quiet creek upstream to bluffs, then climbs for nearly a mile to the small town of Harmony. Explore some of the unusual destinations in Harmony such as the wood carving museum and the toy museum, then fly back down the bluffs on your way back to the Root River Trail.

You can download the Root River chapter of Bicycle Vacation Guide or pick up the book and get all of the major trails in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.

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Bike To The Bakken

Posted by Doug Shidell, June 21st , 2011.

This from the Bakken Museum:
Celebrate pedal power! The Bakken Museum is partnering with Bike Walk Twin Cities (BWTC) to improve the health and safety of our communities by decreasing driving. This summer, ride your bike to The Bakken Museum and receive one free admission with one paid admission.

To redeem one free admission with one paid admission, park your bike outside, and check in at the museum’s Visitor Service desk inside. This offer is valid June 1, 2011-September 30, 2011, and may not be used in conjunction with any other offers or discounts. Limit 4 free admissions with 4 paid admissions per group, per visit.

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Wisconsin Bike Tour cont.

Posted by Doug Shidell, June 10th , 2011.

To co-workers and friends I billed it as an “Extreme Leisure” bike tour. It was an intentional spoof and antidote to the extreme rides some had taken recently, like the Arrowhead ride; 138 miles of snowmobile trails in the dead of winter, or the Continental Divide Race; from Canada to Mexico on jeep tracks and mountain bike trails at a pace of 120 miles per day. My plan: 50 miles per day, lots of lounging, photos, talking with the locals.

In reality, it was a little tougher, with one 88 mile day and several days of 60 plus miles. I also rode through temperatures over 90 degrees, with high humidity and one day that started in the 40s, with 20 mph winds. Today, my last day, looks to be in the low 50s with a light drizzle.

I wandered off the planned route several times just because the road ahead looked better than the one I was on. I also spent several mid-days laying on picnic tables in the shade whle waiting for the most intense heat and sunlight of the day to pass. Met a Mennonite family and talked with them as I was buying asparagus directly from their garden and spent an hour in a bar, drinking a beer and eating pork rib sandwiches as my phone charged in an outlet. Spent one night in a campsite next to a gurgling, boulder-filled river and a couple of nights in a state park with warm showers. Those are the experiences that make a bike trip for me. Mega miles and extreme conditions test your limits and provide their own kind of experience, but they don’t work for me.

I finish this afternoon. Total miles will be approximately 370. My only regret is that the trip wasn’t longer. It takes several days just to settle into the routine, and my trip was broken up with a visit to family- enjoyable, but it diisrupted the flow I was developing. I’m hungry for another tour.

My apologies to anyone who didn’t get their orders fulfilled immediately while I was on vacation. I made the best arrangements I could think of, but some things fell through the cracks.

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Wisconsin Bike Tour

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 31st , 2011.

I leave Saturday for a bike tour across the state of Wisconsin. I’ll ride from the Twin Cities to Green Bay, approximately 325 miles. The tour will be self contained, about a week in length and the first significant bike tour I’ve taken in over 20 years.

My original plan was to ride the Mountain Bay Trail from Wausau, Wisconsin to Green Bay, but that changed a couple of weeks ago when I had the chance to test ride the eastern end of the trail. The ride began at the end of an all day rain. The first thirty miles were on paved road, then I jumped on the trail. It took only a couple of meters for me to realize that my speed on the trail would be permanently reduced from about 16 mph to 11 mph, and even that reduced speed required a substantial increase in effort. The trail in this area, near Shawano, looks and feels like a jeep trail with two narrow tracks, soft wet gravel and occasional puddles. I turned off at the first cross road that went in the direction I was heading.

Wisconsin has an extensive network of paved back roads, some of them with as little as 50 cars per day, or one every half hour. Central Wisconsin was flattened 10,000 years ago by glaciers, so the road system is pretty much in a grid. With a resource like that, all I had to do to get to my destination was ride generally northwest by going first north, then west and making my turns almost at random until I neared my destination. For me this is the essence of bicycle touring- to get from Point A to Point B, but not necessarily in a straight line. I look forward to a week of similar meanderings.

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Dads, Kids, Bikes and Camping

Posted by Doug Shidell, May 14th , 2011.

I met Mike Vanderscheuren at the Living Green Expo last weekend. Mike is one of the owners of Banjo Brothers, manufacturers of panniers, messenger bags and gear for the urban cyclist. This isn’t about their gear. It’s about an annual bike camping trip Mike and a group of dads do with their kids every year. It’s part of a growing trend I’ve seen over the years: Biking families taking short bike camping trips within the metro area. Here’s Mike’s story, in his own words.

Carver Bike Camping

For the past 5 years a small, but growing group of dads have organized
an annual kids/dads 2 day bike camping trip to Carver Park. The trip
architect was Peter Leugers, the brother of my business partner Eric,
(Peter is also a bike rep for RP Active Sports — Bell, Hwy 2, etc) who
mapped the original route from South Minneapolis to Carver. The idea
was to be fully self-supported and to go by bike. Since our kids were
much younger 5 years ago, the early trips were navigated by
trail-a-bikes and loaded bike trailers with gear.

The first few years we split up the responsibility for meals among the participants. So
each dad had a responsibility for feeding the camp dinner night one,
or breakfast day 2. Each dad brought their own snacks.  At Carver their is potable water and Camelback bladders were used to keep a supply at camp for cooking and dishes. Someone brought a collapsible water jug last year.

Typical breakfasts were oatmeal, dry cereal with powdered milk. PBJ and lunch and Mac and Cheese at dinner. Because you were dragging kids and gear, you tried to keep the gear at minimum but you
had to have some creature comforts for the kids, beach towels, fishing rods, etc. Cooking is done on camp stoves and over the fire.

This is not gear intensive trip and bikes range from mountain bikes pulling trailers to co-motion tandems with a trail-a-bike and a trailer attached (How’s that for a rig!). We use a lot of our $40
waterproof panniers as luggage. At 9, the kids on their own bikes could handle a pannier or two packed with lighter stuff, greatly helping out the dads. This trip is within reach for any family with a
little ingenuity and adventurous spirit.

At Carver you can buy firewood, so after tents were set up, someone was dispatched to load a Burley full of wood for campfires. The first few years the kids were all 5 or younger. As the groups got larger the
range was more spread out and ranged from 5-11. At camp, there is a nice playground and as the kids have gotten older, they enjoy the freedom of just playing on their own terms heading over to the park on their own, making up games, with several hours spent down at the beach.

Three years ago, a really nice grocery store opened in Victoria, so now we have less on-board supplies and we usually make one or two grocery runs as the store is only 2 miles away into town. We’re also not that militant about inviting only Dad’s who bike, so we usually have at least  one dad who drives. This person usually ends up with some extra duties (beer – though not sure it’s legal at Carver), chairs, or more ice. I think we’ve topped out at 6 dads and 10 kids.

The trips have always been two nights and we always tried to leave mid-morning on Fridays, meeting up behind Punch on the Greenway and heading west. We usually keep the kids stoked by promising ice cream at the Cottagewood Country Store (http://www.cottagewoodusa.com/). There are always stops for potty breaks, the occasional convenience store stop for drinks or snacks. The shaded trail on the LRT provides a nice canopy and we’ve traveled in both good weather and less than ideal conditions with kids bundled in raincoats and dads pedaling their rear off trying to get out of the rain. Normally, there is very
little complaining on the trip out.

It was a big transition a couple years ago when the older kids started rinding on their own bikes. Some
of that didn’t sit as well with the kids on trail-a-bikes as they weren’t as comfortable being one-upped by their older siblings or friends,  but this is usually pre-trail and once everyone is rolling this dissipates. The nice thing about having oder and younger kids is for the most part they travel in packs and outside of being supervised at the beach the entire group has tended to hand together for the weekend.

Carver is a really nice family park. There are sites with campers but the pit toilets tend to keep out the riff raff.  Outside of the beach, the lake has a lot of vegetation so you don’t have jet skis, etc. Other than maybe being able to hear a little traffic on Hwy 7, it feels very remote. At night, to this point, we’ve resisted letting the older kids bunk together, keeping the families in tact to make sure the kids get enough sleep.

We’ve survived a couple of storms  and some rainy days. It tends to make the stay-at-home spouses more nervous than the dads. It should be noted the park staff is also excellent with weather-updates.  (There is a nature center not too far away.) We also have a tradition of having a really nice dinner one night – we’ve grilled pizza, had steaks. etc.

On Sunday we have group breakfast and then break camp. We stop at Cottage wood on the way back too to break up the trip up.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc

Biking to the State Fair

Posted by Doug Shidell, August 31st , 2010.

It’s a little unnerving to stand on the Sustainability Stage in the Eco Experience building, dripping wet with sweat, to explain that I ran into a bike detour and the power is out so I can’t show the Power Point.  Some of it is my fault. I left too late and rode too hard through 68 percent humidity. No way to show up fresh for a talk under those conditions. I also should have anticipated that the bike lane on Como Ave would be closed during the Fair. Como is the busiest street anywhere near the Fairgrounds during the fair.

I didn’t anticipate the power outage. Apparently a truck ran into a power pole and took out the electricity to the fairgrounds.

We made it through, though. One gentle woman handed me a tissue to wipe my brow, a staffer brought over a water bottle and the folks in the audience adjusted to the lack of visual stimulation by asking lots of questions, providing personal insights and generally tolerating the unexpected circumstances.

The presentation was about the rail trails and back roads of Minnesota and Western Wisconsin and was based on Bicycle Vacation Guide. I enjoy giving this talk. When the power is on, I use the Power Point to introduce general information about the trails of Minnesota and Wisconsin, then open up the talk by asking the audience to suggest a trail or area of the state to talk about. I can then jump directly to that trail and talk about it. Even without the power, we were able to carry on the discussion.

I’ll be back at the Eco Experience Building on Labor Day for a 4:30 discussion. This time I’ll leave early so I can arrive and cool down before the presentation. I assume that we won’t have another power outage, so I’ll bring the Power Point again. Stop by to say Hi.

Oh yes,  despite the detour and the overheated intro, I still think riding to the fair is a blast, and the calories burned reduce the guilt about eating calorie packed Fair Food. If you want to bike to the State Fair, check out this map, created by Bikeverywhere.

The Eco Experience Building is on the north side of the Fairgrounds so the nearest bike parking is in Lot 2.  If you are coming from the west, however, I suggest going to Lot 3 and walking across the Fairgrounds. Lot 1, the busiest of the three, requires negotiating traffic or walking to access.

See you at the fair on Labor Day.

Filed under: Bikeverywhere News, Misc