Category Archives: News

Fun biking, skiing or walking on water with these ice safety tips

by Russ Lowthian,

For many, not familiar with the bold north, biking or walking on water is a fun winter tradition when incorporating a few ice safety tips into the experience. Here in the upper Midwest, Mother Nature’s annual temperature swing allows many to safely move or frolic on frozen water, by December. Then, typically for three to four months, riding a bike across a body of frozen water is a regular occurrence. This year, with below-normal temp’s early, ice is already forming and the fun may begin sooner and extend the season.

Biking across a lake opening up new places to explore and view the shoreline from a different angle.

Biking across a lake opens up new places to ride and view the shoreline from a different angle.

Along with the proper clothing for a comfortable ride in the winter, here are some ice safety tips you need to know to ensure a safe time pedaling across a lake or stream frozen over.

Ice safety tips – First and foremost know the thickness of the ice

There’s no way around it. While many visual cues can help you determine if it is safe to roll out or step onto the ice, the most reliable way to find out is to measure the thickness.

There are a few tools you can use to measure the ice. An ice chisel can be stabbed into the ice until it penetrates all the way through. A cordless drill with a wood bit also works well to auger a hole to measure the thickness.

What is a safe thickness?

Any ice thickness less than four inches, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources states on ice thickness, should be avoided at all costs. At four inches the ice can support activities like bicycling, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and walking. At five to seven inches the ice can sustain the weight of a snowmobile or an ATV, while eight to twelve inches is needed to support the weight of a small car. And while these guidelines are generic, ice conditions vary, and the above is for newly formed ice. Make sure to read more on thickness before going out there.

Measuring in one place is not enough. Take measurements in several different areas (approximately 150 feet apart) to ensure that the entire area is safe. Ice thickness can vary, even over a relatively small area—especially over moving water.

Asses the area visually

A visual assessment can help supplement your measurement, and can also help if you’re relying on someone else’s measurements.

Visually keep an eye out hazards that may be developing in the ice.

Visually keep an eye out hazards that may be developing in the ice, especially through connecting lake channels.

Watch for signs of danger like cracks, seams, pressure ridges, dark areas (where the ice is thinner) and slushy areas—even slight slush signals that the icing isn’t freezing at the bottom anymore, which means it’s getting progressively weaker.

The color of the ice

Check out the color of the ice. Clear, blue or green ice that is thicker than four inches should be ok enough to bike on. White ice typically has air or snow trapped inside, weakening it. Dark ice might be an indication that the ice is quite thin—probably not thick enough for biking or hiking.

The Fresher, the better

New ice is typically stronger than older ice. As time passes, the bond between ice crystals decays even in freezing temperatures. When the spring thaw begins, the ice weakens considerably. It can be tempting to head out for one last ride across the ice, but it is safest to say no. Even if ice fits the measurement criteria, it can still be hazardous.

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice”

Along with knowledge of the thickness of the ice and a visual assessment here are four more suggestions to help minimize the risk when biking on the ice:

  • Carry ice picks and a rope
  • Have a cell phone or personal locator beacon along
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

Know the proper rescue techniques

Anyone doing anything on the ice outdoors should know the ice rescue technique. Even kids should be familiar with the protocol, so be sure to educate them ahead of time. If someone in your party falls through the ice, the first thing to do is call 911. Anyone still on the ice should slowly lie down, distributing their weight over a larger area.

Reach the person in the water using a long-reaching assist—a large stick, a rope or a ladder if available. The person in the water should be instructed to kick and slowly ease their way out of the water. Once they make it to the surface, they should crawl or roll away from the broken ice area.

Anyone on the ice, including the victim and rescuer, should avoid standing up until they are far away from the broken ice. As soon as possible, get the victim into dry clothing and treat them for hypothermia.

Now have some fun!

Enjoy the ice safety tips for a safer true north experience!

Finding safe drinking water was easy with the H2gO Purifier

by Russ Lowthian,

When mountain biking or hiking, it’s nice to find the right gear that can help cut down on carrying extra weight, like water. On a recent backcountry field trip into Minnesota’s north woods, I had the opportunity to use the Aqua Research H2gO Purifier. This purifier was the perfect device to provide safe drinking water without adding additional weight to the gear I packed. No regrets choosing the H2gO Purifier for this Bold North trip was easy to use and safe. This compact purifier will be a mainstay accessory in my luggage when water is questionable on future trips.

Converting natures surface water was easy with the H2gO Purifier

I planned to spend four days exploring the mammoth Beltrami Island State Forest, near Roseau, MN. Even though there were a couple of well water locations in this forest covering over 700,000 acres, five rivers with headwaters here aloud for more convenient water options. With primitive campsites along the 140-miles of logging roads and trail, I wanted to maximize my time on my off-road bike exploring the area. Using the purifier to disinfect water along the trail allowed me room to pack several other luxury items of comfort.

Stopping alongside a stream it was easy to process safe drinking water.

The H2gO Purifier is small and easy to pack and works well eliminating any harmful organisms from the lakes and streams I stopped at for water. The coffee I brewed after processing this True North water was enjoyable too. Only one time did I wish I had a filtering device along? There were some specs of sediment in the water, but a sock from an extra clean pair I had worked.

How the H2gO Purifier works

This handheld purifier works by converting table salt and water into a disinfectant through an electrolytic process. Easy to perform in the field, first I mixed the salt and water in a small applicator bottle. Once the salt dissolved, I then added the solution into the reaction trough on the front side of the H2gO Purifier. Next, I selected the amount of water I wanted to purify (1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 liters). Then holding the button for two seconds, the reaction starts. It takes approximately 15 seconds per liter to create a disinfectant concentration. Then ready, I poured the disinfectant from the purifier into the water I planned to consume. Finishing by shaking or stirring and then after 30 minutes, depending on how clear the water is, it is ready to drink killing all pathogens.


This purifier is certified by the World Health Organization (WHO) meeting their classification for Household Water Treatment Systems. A single dose from the H2gO Purifier meets WHO treatment standards for viruses and bacteria. While in-house testing shows multiple doses of in-activate protozoan cysts like Giardia and Cryptosporidium.

The purifier also has a built-in solar panel for alternative charging and an LED flashlight for added functionality. The unit can also run off your cell phone battery for charging.

The H2gO Purifier comes complete with a detailed instruction manual, salt mixing bottle, safety indicator strips, a micro USB cable with a wall charger, and a mesh carrying bag to keep everything together.

In summary

In my experience using the H2gO Water Purifier is an ideal device when the water you want to drink is questionable. This purifier creates a disinfectant to kill organisms in your drinking water. Be aware of your surroundings (mine pits, old wells, etc.) as this purifier will not remove heavy metals or sediment. In comparison to other chemical purifiers, this is far superior as the taste is better, works faster and is much easier to transport, not to mention safer.

No matter how brave you are sometimes weather conditions keep you from conquering those trails. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun with indoor biking.

Indoor biking is fun and effective training through the winter

by John Brown

No matter how brave you are sometimes weather conditions keep you from conquering those trails with indoor biking. This is especially true as the mercury drops and turns our beloved Earth into something reminiscent of the Russian front. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to have fun with indoor biking.

Indoor Biking with a Spin Class

Most gyms offer spin classes. These classes use a stationary bicycle, music, and instructors to guide a class through about a 1-hour workout. Spin classes are a source of indoor biking, and it gets you out of the house.

There are, however, a few downsides with spin classes to keep in mind. One issue is that a spin bike won’t fit the same as your own bike. To fix this, many riders will install their own saddle and pedals on a spin bike before each class. The other potential problem is that the classes are not tailored to your personal goals. The classes are usually high tempo, high effort workouts that might not fit with your training plan. Some riders find they like the community of spin class but not the specific ride, so they opt-in or out of certain portions of the workout.

Riding your bike indoors spin class

Indoor biking with a spin class

Using an Indoor Trainer

Riding an indoor trainer has gotten much more popular for riders of all ability levels, and it’s the kind of indoor biking where you can use your own bike. A trainer is a device that holds your bicycle upright, creates resistance when pedaling, and simulates an outdoor ride while riding your bike indoors. Using an Indoor trainer, you can ride from the comfort of your own home, or in a group setting (most bike shops have trainer nights through the winter).

Riding you bike indoors trainer class

Indoor Trainer Group Ride

There is usually a leader when riding with a group, but if riding alone, you can still have fun. It’s best to start with a plan. If you intend to just get on the trainer and ride for 60 minutes while watching TV, I hate to break it to you, but that quickly gets boring. So how do you keep the ride fun? First, you cannot rely on terrain to supply stimulus so you must create your own intrigue. There are no hills, descents, turns, or beautiful vistas to keep you interested. But you can use your trainer to mimic the efforts of a great outdoor ride.

How to Build a Ride

As an example, let’s describe a normal outdoor ride, then create a workout to mimic that ride on the trainer. The ride starts by carving through a neighborhood on our way to open roads. Snaking through our neighborhood would require some turning, braking and acceleration (a great natural warm-up), so on the trainer, you would do something like:

  • Pedal in an easy gear for one minute
  • Then for the two subsequent minutes, increase your pedaling speed (called Cadence)
  • Follow that by slowing that cadence down over the next two minutes.
  • Repeating that two or three times is a great way to get your legs moving

The next obstacle on our imaginary ride is a hilly section of the road. To mimic hilly terrain when riding your bike indoors, try the following:

  • Shift into a harder gear and pedal at 80% of your maximum effort for 2 or three minutes
  • Followed that by one or two minutes of soft pedaling (hard effort for the climb, followed by no effort on the descent).
  • Repeat this type of interval in groups of three.

Finally, our ride concludes with a series of city line sprints (earn those bragging rights over your friends). To simulate this action, try the following:

  • Shift your bicycle into a difficult gear
  • Ride at 80% effort for one minute
  • Then sprint all out (max effort) for fifteen to twenty seconds.
  • Follow each effort with some soft-pedaling.

Workout Example

A written cue sheet of this ride would look like the following:

5-Min. warm-up

1-Min. 50% effort low cadence                                                                                                                       1-Min. 50% effort medium cadence                                                                                                           1-1-Min. 50% effort High cadence                                                                                                                 1-1-Min. 50% effort Medium cadence                                                                                                               1-Min. 50% effort low cadence                                                                                                                                     Repeat 3x

4-Min, soft pedal

3-Min. 80% effort                                                                                                                                             2-Min. soft-pedal                                                                                                                                                          Repeat 3x                          

4-Min. soft-pedal

1-Min. 80 effort                                                                                                                                               15-Second sprint                                                                                                                                             45-Second soft-pedal                                                                                                                                                  Repeat 4x                           

9-min. cool down with drills

A ride like the one above takes one hour, keeps you moving, and only involves hard effort for ¼ of the ride. By switching up different intervals of effort and rest, indoor biking can be beneficial and very fun.

Trainer Pitfalls

Time on the trainer can be very beneficial to your riding, however, it can also be very hard on you if done improperly. When riding outdoor, you have natural portions of rest while coasting or descending, but on an indoor trainer you cannot coast. People tend to pedal at effort on a trainer throughout the entire ride and overdo it. A good rule of thumb is to balance high effort with rest at a three to one ratio. If a ride calls for 10 total minutes at 80% effort, be sure to include 30 total minutes of low effort work.

riding your bike indoors tired

Too Tired!

Low Effort, High Benefit Drills

How do you keep the ride interesting without effort? Try including drills like one leg drills, high cadence drills, spin up drills, top only drills, and toe touch drills. These require very little effort but build new skills.

bike indoors

One leg Drill

  • One leg drills – As they sound, these drills are done with one leg (see above). Clip your right leg out of your pedal, hang it away from the bike, and pedal with only your left leg. Try to get the pedal stroke to be as smooth as possible, without any noise or bumps.
  • Spin-up drill – With your bike in an easy gear, try to spin the pedals as quickly as possible. Keep increasing your cadence until your upper body begins to bounce, then taper back to a normal speed. Repeat, each time trying to get faster while keeping your upper body still (this whole drill takes about 30 seconds per spin-up).
  • High-cadence drill – With your bike in an easy gear, spin at the fastest cadence you can without your upper body bouncing. Hold that cadence for one or two minutes.
  • Top only drills – Try to pedal using light effort and attempt to keep the top of your foot in contact with the top of your shoe throughout the pedal rotation. You won’t actually be pressing down on the pedal during this drill, but instead pulling up.
  • Toe touch drills – While pedaling, attempt to touch your toe to the front of your shoe at the top of each pedal stroke. While this isn’t possible, it will help teach your body to begin the pedal stroke earlier in its rotation.

With a little research and a little experimentation, indoor biking can keep you satisfied while you wait for the weather to get better.

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For every new bike there are bike accessories you should consider getting. Accessories will make you more comfortable, more informed, and more prepared.

Quick vacation tips for renting a bicycle and having some fun

by John Brown, 

Taking your bicycle with you when you travel is not always possible, but don’t give up on the idea of riding altogether. Renting a bicycle is an easy way to experience new places. Plus, it gives you a chance to try a new bike out that you may want to buy when you get home. Before you travel, here are a few tips to get you going.

Here in the photo above a visitor to the Twin Cities is being helped by the staff at One Ten Cycles in Mendota Heights, a couple of miles south of the MSP Airport.

 Renting a Bicycle At One of Many Bike Shops

As bike trails and paths are becoming more commonplace, more bike shops are entering the rental market. Before you travel, find a few area bike shops and call about renting a bicycle. Be sure to ask about both rental fleets (typically made up of basic mountain bikes, cruisers or hybrids) as well as “Demo” bikes. Many shops that don’t rent bikes have demo units used to let potential buyers try before they buy. The fee for a demo is usually higher than that of a standard rental, but the bicycle quality is also typically higher.

renting a bicycle bike shop

Renting a bicycle outside a bike shop

Renting a Bicycle Consider Rental Companies

In most major cities or tourist destinations, there are businesses that only rent bikes. Finding one of these companies is as easy as a google search or ask the hotel you are staying in. Many rental companies have services in place to deliver a rental bike to the hotel. If you are going to the rental shop understand They usually operate on a first come first serve basis, so be sure to get there early if you are trying to ride on a busy weekend.

renting a bicycle avalon

Rental fleet

Or Bike Share Programs

Bike shares are becoming very popular throughout the US and abroad. Companies like BCycle, Zagster, and Citi bike offer options to rent “as you go” with tons of locations around the US. Bike shares are a great option if you are touring a city because you can pick up a bike in one location, explore, and then drop the bike off at a docking station any time of day or night.

renting a bicycle citibike

Citi Bike docking station

Renting a Bicycle Touring Companies Also A Option

Many bike tour companies have bike fleets. Tour companies such as Trek Travel and Backroads offer tours around the globe and supply bikes as part of the cost. The benefit of taking a dedicated tour is support. Lodging, Equipment, route, food, and guides are all included in the cost of the trip.

Getting Comfortable

The most important trick to make sure you have a great bike rental experience is to make sure the bicycle is comfortable. Your own pedals, saddle, and the right size bike are a great way to start.


If you don’t have a bike, ask for the brand and model of the bike from the rental company. Then, try to find a local bike shop that sells that model. If you stop into the shop and explain your situation, they can typically let you know what size you ride. As a side benefit, If you like the bike you rented, that local bike shop would be a great place to buy one to keep at home.


If you use clipless pedals, remove them from your bike, drop them in a ziplock bag, store them in your riding shoes, and bring them with you. Once you get your rental bike, have your pedals installed. Having a familiar pedal can go a long way to make a new bike feel like your bike at home.


Measure your saddle height. Do this by rotating your pedals until a crank arm is in line with the seat tube of your bicycle. Use a tape measure to measure from the top of the saddle to the middle of the pedal (in line with the seat tube). Also, measure the distance from the tip of your saddle to the handlebars and the height of your handlebars. Once you get your rental, ask to have it adjusted to be as close to your own bike’s measurements as possible. Keep in mind that one bike will never fit exactly like another, so close is great.

Renting a bicycle measurments

Key measurements


After measuring the height of your saddle, remove it from your bike and bring it with you. Having the rental company install your saddle on the rental is a nice way to make an unfamiliar bicycle comfortable.

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Put more smiles on children's faces by volunteering with Free Bikes 4 Kidz to clean, prep, or wrench some of the 5,000 bicycles collected this last month.

Help more kids smile by volunteering to prepare all the bikes donated

In the Twin Cities, help the Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K) program in their 12th year. Volunteer to help put more smiles on children’s faces. Donate your time to help clean, prep, or wrench some of the 7,000 plus bicycles collected this year. Back in Bloomington, MN, FB4K is busy preparing all the bikes donated to prepare for their distribution drive before the holidays. For the 2019 season, the old Toys R Us building at 7839 Southtown Center, is a fitting location and easy for volunteers to get to. A convenient site so the distribution of bikes can begin in November, please consider helping.

Help Free Bikes 4 Kidz put more smile on kids faces

Free Bikes for Kids helps kid's smile with the 2016 season Bike Collection Day, on Saturday, October 8th, Donate your bikes to help more kids.

FB4K helps kids smile with their annual Bike Collection Day, a few weeks ago

Now through Wednesday, November 30, several daily shifts are available to volunteer at. If you have extra time, please use the FB4K’s registration system to sign up for a shift you are willing to help out at. They need volunteers of all skill levels to clean and fix bicycles, no experience necessary!  Volunteer on your own or line up a large group. FB4K will be open seven days a week to fit your schedule.

If you have any questions, reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator, Laurie Toll,

Have some fun, help clean and wrench some bikes

Put a smile on many kid’s faces by signing up early and often to help clean and wrench on some bicycles. Head to and register for your shift today!

freeBy volunteering today to help clean some bikes for FB4K's will help create some fond memories for you and future memories for children who receive them. bikes4kids-4

Create some fond memories for yourself and for the children who receive them.

Sign up today as a volunteer and find out more about these added benefits.

Volunteering and putting a wrench to a few bikes will create more smiles.

By volunteering and cleaning or wrenching some bikes will create a smile on your face and the kids who get them.

The Generous Sponsors of FB4K

Though the generosity of key partners like Allina Health, QBP, Penn Cycle, Park Tool, and Nice Ride MN, FB4K has gone far. However, they still need your support in building the foundation and to help every kid ride into a more memorable childhood. Why volunteer, why not?

So do your part making kids smile, volunteer today at

About Free Bikes 4 Kidz

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a non-profit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing free bikes to those most in need. When the public donates gently used bikes, FB4K organizes thousands of volunteers to clean and refurbish them, and then they give them away to kids in need. They started in 2008, fixing and giving away 300 bikes and in 2014 they reached the goal of 5,000 bikes. In the last seven years over 25,000 bikes have rolled through the FB4B’s giveaways and their sights in the future are set on other locations throughout the U.S. and the world. See more at

Tips on cleaning and storing your summer bike gloves for next year

As winter soon approaches it’s time to store away your summer gear. Especially your bike gloves which shouldn’t be ignored when putting them away. Besides their intended use, gloves are often used for wiping the sweat away and worse as a tissue. That makes them disgusting bacteria collectors if not cleaned regularly and before storing. So what is the best way to clean them, as a good pair of gloves can be a bit expensive and may not be machine washable?

A gentle washing with a little bacterial soap and /or white vinegar may clean and sanitize them.

Gentle washing with a little bacterial soap and/or white vinegar may clean and sanitize them

Preparing bike gloves for storage

Thankfully, like shorts, jerseys and other articles for bicycling, most bike gloves are made from materials that can be machine washed. By using a little care and hanging them up to air dry, many gloves can easily be machine cleaned. So, before packing away your summer bike gloves follow these steps for healthy and extended use – whether they are cloth and leather.

Supplies you may already have on hand for cleaning your cycling gloves:

  • Antibacterial hand soap
  • Detergent
  • Leather conditioner
  • White vinegar

Cloth Gloves (handwashing)

Step 1 – Close the Velcro or other glove fasteners.

Step 2 – Wash the bicycle gloves using cool water and mild liquid soap in a sink. If the gloves are dirty/smelly, add 1/8 cup white vinegar to your wash water.

Step 3 – Rinse the gloves well and inspect them for soap suds. Rinse again if necessary.

Step 4 – Lay the gloves flat or hang them up to dry. If you can hang them out in the sun, that is even better. The sun is a “natural sanitizer” and can also disinfect your clothes. Plus, if you dry your gloves under the sun they will smell cleaner and fresher.

Cloth Gloves (machine wash)

Step 1 – Close the Velcro, snap, or button that is on your gloves.

Step 2 – Put the gloves in your washing machine, set it on cold water and add laundry detergent. Do not use bleach. You may wash other items with the gloves. If your gloves are particularly smelly, add 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the fabric softener slot of your washing machine.

Step 3 – Rinse the bike gloves by hand after the wash if any soap suds remain.

Step 4 – Lay the gloves flat or hang to dry. Again, if you can hang them out in the sun, that is even better. The sun’s ultraviolet rays will help kill bacteria on your workout clothes, but only if your clothes dry completely in the sun.

Leather Gloves (handwash only)

Step 1 – Put on the bicycle gloves. Then, run some cool water over your hands and then apply a very mild soap, such as castile soap or leather soap, into the dirtiest parts of the glove.

Step 2 – Rinse the gloves well, spending two to three times as long on the rinsing as you did on washing to make sure all the soap is gone. Do not wring the moisture in the gloves. Squeeze gently to remove water.

Step 3 – Remove the gloves from your hand and place them between layers of a bath towel. Then press to remove excess water.

Step 4 – Put the gloves back on and flex your fingers a few times to mold the gloves back into shape. Then, remove and lay the gloves flat to dry without pressing them again.

Step 5 – If desired, massage your cycling gloves with a pea-sized amount of leather conditioner when almost dry – use less conditioner if only part of the glove is leather.

Other Helpful Tips

  • In between washing your gloves in the steps above, if they become smelly and damp while on the go, keep a small bottle of white vinegar close by. While wearing the gloves, lightly rub some vinegar into them and let them dry as you ride.
  • Both leather and cloth gloves may be stiff once dry, but they will soften up with a little use.
  • Wash leather gloves as infrequently as possible. If you are a dedicated long-distance rider, they may not last more than one season regardless of how often you clean them.

by Sommer Adams, a HavefunBiking contributor

Anoka, a fun place for a fall trail ride especially around Halloween

With many trails rolling in and around the city of Anoka, the charm of this riverfront community is everywhere that you turn, especially in the fall. One of nine towns of the Twin Cities Gateway, Anoka is the Halloween Capital of the World and offers a vast network of bike-friendly roads and trails. A perfect place to start your ride is the park alongside the confluence of the Rum River as it meets the Mississippi River. Here it’s easy to explore with your bicycle the community history and attractions which are near the trail and historic downtown Anoka.

A great destination for the whole family riding the trails and bike friendly roads in the Twin Cities Gateway.

A great destination for the whole family riding the trails in the Twin Cities Gateway.




Fall trail ride especially around Halloween ar fun

Along with the many paved trails to ride in the area, the history and Holloween decor is another reason why you should consider visiting Anoka in the fall. Stop by the local Chamber or call and ask about the festivities surrounding the week of Halloween.

Each October, planning a fall bike ride here adds to the fun

Anoka has many happenings throughout the year that you’ll definitely want to check out. But in the fall, the most memorable event here is the Anoka Halloween celebrations where you will find spooktacular events, late October.

Known as the Halloween Capital of the World, the city brings out all the stops with everything from the largest pumpkin contest to a scavenger hunt. There are also two main parades: Light Up the Night and the Grand Parade that takes place before Halloween.

The finale of the Halloween Capitol of the World is the Grand Day Parade - the largest in the state.

The finale of the Halloween Capitol of the World is the Grand Day Parade – the largest in the state.

Area trail to explore any time of the year

Riding the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) into Anoka.

Riding the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) from Elk River, back into Anoka.

Two major trails in Anoka are the Rum River Trails and the Mississippi River Trail (MRT).  Looking at the Anoka Bike Map here provided by the Twin Cities Gateway. The Rum River Trail offers a scenic view of the river and several historic artifacts as the paved trail passes through the downtown area and connects to the MRT. Along ‘Old Man River’ there are connections to the Mississippi River Trail on both sides of the river.

Expand your options with a multi-modal tour

If you are staying in the area for a few days, consider a multi-modal tour. Board the Northstar Train, with your bike, to a station upstream or below along the MRT and ride your bike back. Just buy a ticket and hop on board. The train will drop you off close to the Mississippi River Trail so you have plenty of time to ride your bike back to Anoka.

Then, when you arrive check out some of the dining establishments there to fuel your body before or after your ride. Here are a couple of my favorites before, after or in between a ride.

Hans’ Bakery

The bike ride to Hans’ Bakery, about a mile south of the downtown area, will excite your sweet tooth with a delicious assortment of legendary pastries. This establishment started as a diner by German immigrants. Now as you step through the door it’s like you have been sent back to a simpler time with a menu tasty items are on a chalkboard. The only modern amenity they have is an I-tablet to ring you up if you select to pay by credit card.

With many specialties, al well-known favorite is the Texas Donut. The name speaks for itself and comes in a couple of different versions. No political jokes here, but it is larger than most peoples’ hands.

Avant Garden

This little cafe tucked into the historic downtown area is a great place to stop by if you’re looking for a supreme coffee fix that is local. This establishment has everything you would want from a popular cafe too. In addition, their own unique daily sandwich options, your selection can be enjoyed with a Coke from a glass bottle, making it extra special!

Historic homes to see while visiting Anoka

Ticknor Hill Bed and Breakfast, in the Twin Cities Gateway

Each year, mid-summer, the Anoka Heritage Home & Garden tour will take you on a very memorable journey covering Anoka’s history. A time when the gardens are in their prime. For a fall visit, ride your bike south of the downtown area into the historic Slabtown, Whiskey Flats, Swede Town or Fireman’s Grove neighborhoods. With many homes in the area decorated with Halloween decor swing by the Ticknor Hill Bed and Breakfast, on the National Registry of Historic Places. Then the Woodbury House is home to the Mad Hatter Restaurant and Tea House. These are just a few of the historic treats that will tease you to come back in the summer and explore more of the area.

So come and discover Anoka’s history, food, and bike-friendly attributes for your next adventure. You will find plenty of lodging opportunities in the Twin Cities Gateway to make your stay memorable.

by Russ Lowtian, the editor at

Not realizing why old buildings and streets were laid out the way they were, a Magical History Tour changed all that.

A magical fall bike ride and history tour of the south Twin Cities Metro

It is amazing the things you don’t know about an area you have been pedaling around by bike, for many years. Though you may have wonder why an old building or a street is designed the way it is? But it’s not a top priority and you put off finding the answer. That all changed when I had the opportunity to tag along on a special ride of the Hiawatha Bicycling Club.

The ride called the Magical History Tour was lead and narrated by Joe Metzler, one of the club’s many ride leaders. Joe is an architect and enjoys the history of the building landscape in the Twin Cities. On this 24-mile tour, Joe took us through neighborhoods in southwest Minneapolis, St. Louis Park and Edina.

Gather for the Magical History Tour in south Minneapolis.

Gather for the Magical History Tour in south Minneapolis.

A History Tour of south Minneapolis

With close to 20 riders on the tour, Joe stopped periodically to share some unique facts about the buildings, streets, and structures along the way.

Joe,, leading the group head north to the tours fist stop.

Joe, leading the group heads north to the tour’s first stop.

Leaving from the Lyndale Farmstead Park, in south Minneapolis, MN, our first stop was at a porcelain-steel prefabricated building used to sell hamburgers. From there the history tour meandered a few blocks further north, straddling Lake Street to view a 1907 needle manufacturing site, purchased by a greeting card company that renamed the building. Further along, the tour stopped at a fountain on the north end of Lake of the Isle. Originally built to honor fallen horses of World War I, it’s still a mainstay attraction to the parkway. After visiting a few homes, associated with Frank Lloyd Wright, Joe lead us into St. Louis Park.

The first stop on the tour was White Castle #8

On the history tours first stop the group learned more about White Castle #8.

On the history tours first, stop the group discovered several interesting facts on White Castle #8.

Located at 3252 Lyndale Avenue. in south Minneapolis, the porcelain-steel prefabricated building was modeled after the Chicago Water Tower. In the picture above notice the octagonal buttresses, crenelated towers, and parapet walls. The structure was designed to be dismantled and then reassembled when needed. However, after moving it the 3rd time to its current location it was moved in one piece. See more on the history of this site here.

Here Joe share information on the many uses of the Buzza Building.

Here Joe shares information on the many uses of the Buzza Building.

The Buzza Co. Building at 1006 W. Lake St, Minneapolis

This building was purchased and renamed after the second-largest greeting card company in the early 20’s country. After the business folded around 1942. Then the building was been used by the War Department; followed by Honeywell, the veteran’s administration and later by the Minnesota military district, dubbing it “Little Pentagon”.  See more on the history of this site here.

After stopping at the Purcell-Cutts House you will want to come back for one of the scheduled tours.

After stopping at the Purcell-Cutts House you will want to come back for one of the scheduled tours.

Purcell-Cutts House (Lake Place) at 2328 Lake Pl, Minneapolis

Considered by many a Prairie Style masterpiece the design of this 1913 residents was intended as a house for “modern American family life”. The home is now owned by the Minneapolis Institute of Art and is open for tours the second weekend of each month. See more on the history of this home here.

The Peavey Fountain, a gift to Minneapolis for watering horses is a gem to the Lake of the Isles Parkway.

The Peavey Fountain, a gift to Minneapolis for watering horses is a gem to the Lake of the Isles Parkway.

Peavey Fountain on Kenwood Pkwy & W. Lake of the Isles Pkwy

This was a gift to the city in 1891, from Frank Peavey a local grain broker. The fountain was to provide drinking water for horses. After World War I the fountain was rededicated to honor horses from the 151st Field Artillery, killed in action. See more on the history of this fountain here.

A pictuques setting for a Frank Lloyd Wright designed home.

A picturesque setting for a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home.

Neils House at 2801 Burnham Blvd, Minneapolis

One of only two homes in Minneapolis designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. This home, built-in 1950-51, was the only house Wright designed that used marble wall cladding, or “culls” leftover from other building projects. See more on the history of this home here.

Tour riders found a charming neighborhood round-a-bout on their way to the next stop.

Tour riders found a charming neighborhood round-a-bout on their way to the next stop.

The history tour moves on to St. Louis Park

Pedaling to the southwest, into St. Louis Park the group of inquiring minds used the south spur of the Cedar Lakes Trail to stop at a park. Here they viewed the beehive barbeque and a tower in the background dubbed “Peavey’s Folly.” The next stop on the ride was to McDonalds #93. This restaurant location St. Louis Park was the second to open in Minnesota, in 1958.

More info on the tour

In Lilac Park the group viewed one of the remaining Beehive Grills here.

In Lilac Park the group viewed one of the remaining Beehive Grills here.

Lilac Park (originally part of Roadside Park) at SE corner of Hwy 7 & Hwy 100, St. Louis Park

The last of five parks along “Lilac Way” (now Hwy. 100), these parks were originally built in the late 30s by WPA artesian stonemasons. The fireplace here, along with another located in Graeser Park, are the only two remaining beehive fireplaces in the nation. Find out more here.

Riding out of Lilac Park back to The Cedar Lakes Trail.

Riding out of Lilac Park back to the Cedar Lakes Trail.

Peavey-Huglin Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator east of Lilac Park of Trail

Due to skyrocketing insurance rates from the constant threat of wooden grain terminals catching on fire, Frank Peavey had the Peavey-Haglin Experimental Concrete Grain Elevator built-in 1899. The 122-foot structure was dubbed “Peavey’s Folly,” by skeptics who expected it to crack and explode. Now a National Historic Landmark it is on the grounds of the Nordic Ware company, just east of Lilac Park. Find out more here.

McDonalds #93 at 6320 W. Lake St, St. Louis Park

In 1958, this location was Minnesota’s second, and the world’s 93rd McDonald’s ever built. At the Gala Grand Opening, there was a line that stretched more than a city block long, waiting for hours to be served. You can find more info here.

Having fun on the HBC bike tour

Having fun on the Hiawatha Bike Club bike tour.

The history tour now rolls into Edina

Now pedaling along Minnehaha Creek the group discovers how Edina got its name when stopping at a mill site that once operated here. Another interesting stop was the Grange Hall. Both the building and organization were established to improve life on the rural farm and a place to socialize. This practice was helpful for the women at the time who had little opportunity to interact with others outside of the farm. After visiting a few more historic buildings in Edina the ride now turned back to the northeast, following the old Minneapolis Streetcar (right of way) that once stretched all the way out to Lake Minnetonka.

More info and stops along the tour

The stopped here at the Grange House.

The stopped here at the Grange House.

Grange Hall at 4918 Eden Ave, Edina

Even before Edina incorporated as a village the Grange Hall served the area with many historic events, including the final decision to name Edina. This is one of the few remaining Grange Hall structures standing in the State of Minnesota today. You can find more info here.

Cahill School at 4924 Eden Ave, in Frank Tupa Park, Edina

One of Edina’s oldest surviving buildings, built-in 1864, the Cahill School continued to serve children of all ages until the 1950s. It is one of the few remaining one-room schoolhouses in the State of Minnesota. Find more info here.

Stop at the park where remnants of the old Edina Mill can be seen.

Stop at the park where remnants of the old Edina Mill can be seen.

Edina Mill at West 50th St and Browndale Ave, Edina

The Edina Mill was one of the first gristmills to be built on the Minnehaha Creek between 1855 and 1876. The mill and the tiny settlement that sprang up around it was originally named Waterville Mills. After being sold in 1869, the new owner gave the mill and the city its present name. Edina was a nickname the new owner had for Edinburgh, Scotland, that appeared in a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. Find more info here about the mill and how Edina progressed.

The oldest house standing in Edina, The Grimes House is a rare, well-preserved example of cottage architecture from the early settlement period.

The Grimes House is the oldest house standing in Edina.

Grimes House at 4200 W 44th St, Edina

Built-in 1869, it is the oldest house standing in Edina. Stopping by and viewing it from the street, it is a rare, well-preserved example of cottage architecture from the early settlement period. The Grimes who settled here also established a 16-acre ‘Lake Calhoun Nursery, which is the present-day neighborhood of Morningside. Find more info here.

The tour circles back into Minneapolis on the old streetcar route

If you look carefully, while out in front of the Grimes house, you can see traces of the old streetcar right-of-way that provided public transportation, back and forth, from Minneapolis, through Edina and out to Lake Minnetonka.

Streetcar Right of Way through the Linden Hills Neighborhood, Minneapolis

Through this neighborhood, you can still see remnants of the old streetcar right-of-way line. The Linden Hills neighborhood was at the end of the line for commuters coming from the inner city of Minneapolis. Then in 1905, the line was extended out to Lake Minnetonka, making Linden Hills a transfer stop between the two rail lines. See more info here.

A brief stop in an area once covered by cottage homes.

A brief stop in an area once covered by cottage homes.

Chadwick Cottages at 2617 W 40th St, Minneapolis

The two cottages here were originally built by Loren Chadwick in 1902 and combined in 1972 as a single dwelling. The individual cottages were typical of the size home being built in the early 1900s as a resort area. This is the reason the neighborhood was known as “Cottage City”. See more info here.

Here stopping on this bridge, where the streetcar tracks run below, the group had a chance to see a modern day trolley pass by.

Stopping on this bridge, where the streetcar tracks run below modern-day trolley passes by.

Interlachen Bridge at William Berry Dr. over streetcar tracks, Minneapolis

The oldest reinforced concrete bridge in Minnesota covered by a stone veneer. The bridge was built using a system patented in 1894 by a Swiss engineer. Steps on the west side lead down to a streetcar stop known as the Cottage City stop.

Pond Cabin Site/Lyndale Hotel Site at 3450 Irving Ave S, Minneapolis

Overlooking the eastern shore of Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun) the Pond brothers built a cabin when they came to Minnesota to convert Native Americans from the Dakota tribe to Christianity. Then on this same site in 1877, the Lake Calhoun Pavilion (later named the Lyndale Hotel) was built with the streetcar line passing by. In the ECCO neighborhood in the Minneapolis, the original streetcar alignment crossed 36th St. on an overpass and continued along the top of the bluff, passing the Lyndale Hotel and overlooking the lake on what is now a walking path. The resort was a popular stop offering guests a dancing hall, billiards and a wide variety of recreational activities centered around the lake. Find more information here.

Even with cool temps in the mid-forties everyone was smiling as they returned to the starting point.

Even with cool temps in the mid-forties, everyone was smiling as they returned to the starting point.

This brought this Magical History Tour back to the park where the ride began. Joe says, he has a couple more Magic History Tours in mind that he plans on leading, through the club next year. If you would like to go on one of his rides, check the Hiawatha Bicycle Club ride calendar periodically.

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Here these cyclists are enjoying Minnesota's peak riding time on the Red Jacket Trail, near Mankato.

Fall colors are still prime in southern Minnesota this weekend

As the Fall colors continue to lose their brilliance or drop, throughout the northern half of the state, many southern sections of Minnesota are just peaking or still in their prime. To find a perfect fall colored adventure this weekend check the Minnesota Fall Color Website, brought to you by Explore Minnesota and Minnesota State Parks and Trails.

Trail options with fall colors in their Prime

From the site, it looks like southern and parts of western Minnesota are still offering a kaleidoscope of prime fall colors for your bike touring pleasure this weekend.  Here are a few areas to check out.

Cannon Valley: This 19.7-mile trail between Cannon Falls and Red Wing is a popular Rail-to-Trails attraction here in Minnesota. It’s a beautiful, shady ride above the Cannon River with a picnic area in Welch, its midpoint. It is maintained by a trail association and there is a daily fee of $3. See more at Cannon Falls Tourism at the west trailhead and Red Wing Tourism at the east trailhead, near the Mississippi River.

Douglas: This is a 12.5-mile rolling trail ride through rolling farmland between Pine Island’s city park and the northern outskirts of Rochester. For more information see Rochester Tourism.

Great River Ridge: This 13-mile paved trail connects the southeast Minnesota towns of Plainview, Elgin, and Eyota and is near Whitewater and Carley state parks. The first half follows a winding creek. Also, the five miles from Elgin to Plainview are slightly uphill and follow the highway. See more at Plainview/Elgin/Milleville Tourism.

And still more Southern Minnesota Trails

Shooting Star: This 22-mile trail follows the Shooting Star Scenic Byway from Austin to LeRoy. LeRoy is on the Upper Iowa River near the Iowa border and continues towards Austin, just south of I-90. Then, in the eastern half, the trail goes through Lake Louise State Park. After passing through Adams and Rose Creek, the trail rolls into Austin’s bike-friendly atmosphere. See more at Austin Tourism.

Winona’s Trails: The terrain around Winona is looped by spectacularly beautiful bicycle trails and routes aimed at a variety of riders. Whether you are out for a scenic ride with the family on the 5-mile paved trail around the lake or the bike-friendly street routes in town, there are great backgrounds. The Mississippi River Trail leading in and out of Winona will have colors that can add excitement to your adventures and memories, and this is even true if you decide to sample the mountain bike trails here. For more, see Winona Tourism.

South and Southwest Minnesota trails

Root River/Harmony-Preston Valley: Between Fountain and Houston, the 42-mile Root River Trail, in the lovely bluff country, is one of Minnesota’s pride and joys. Then add the 18-mile, Preston to Harmony trail section and you will find more spectacular colors on this rolling terrain. For more, see Root River Trail Towns Tourism.

Blazing Star: This paved trail currently runs from the lake with the same names as Albert Lea to Myre-Big Island State Park. The total trail distance of paved is approximately 20-miles. Along the route, you can enjoy the natural environment that includes wetlands, oak savanna, big woods, and prairie. Also, the park is a great birding spot, especially during fall migration. See more at Albert Lea Tourism.

And one Western Minnesota trail option

Luce Line State Trail is a 63-mile long rails-to-trail route that starts in the Plymouth and stretches out west 30-miles west, on a limestone surface trail, to Winsted. From Winsted to Hutchinson the trail is paved, See more at Hutchinson Tourism.

Ride safe and enjoy the colors!

Minnesota High School MTB races challenged by Mother Nature

After a successful MN MTB League Race #1 in Austin, MN, the last week of August. Races #2 and #3 of the Minnesota High School Cycling League were challenged by Mother Nature with wet weather, cancellations and a shorter race track. As racers and spectators arrived at Lake Rebecca, near Rockford, MN for Race Weekend #2 on September 7th the rain arrived soon after. But, even with damp and soggy race conditions, the racing excitement stayed strong for the day. With strong rains pounding the area through the evening, Sunday races had to be canceled. The following weekend rainy weather returned to haunt Race #3. But the community had a couple of tricks to keep the race running and stay-off another cancellation.

Race #2 photos by Todd Bauer and David Markman

MN MTB races, weekend #2

On Sat. Sept. 7, in-between light rain showers, 42 teams prepped their middle school racers for racing at Lake Rebecca. For some of these teams, this was their first race, due to a 2019 bye week system designed to manage field sizes.

Race #2 photos by Todd Bauer and David Markman

In between raindrops, the 6th, 7th, and 8th-grade racers were able to test their skills on the fast and flowing tracks at Lake Rebecca. But, the weather was not as kind for the high school racers.

Racing Sunday was canceled due to heavy rain

Due to continual heavy rain in the early morning on Sunday, Sept. 8, concerns of rider safety and trail damage were evaluated. A joint decision between Three Rivers Park District and Minnesota High School Cycling League was made to cancel the high school races.

“Everyone did an amazing job helping to tear down the venue, racecourse, and team tents after the cancellation,” said Josh Kleve, Executive Director for the MN High School Cycling League. “Granted no one wanted to cancel the races, but everyone knew, in the interest of safety, it was the right decision to cancel the high school races.” Click here for more Race #2 results.

Racers avoided another cancellation on Sunday of Race #3 by using a short crit course. photos Todd Bauer and David Markman

Race #3 highlights

A couple of weeks ago, starting on Saturday, September 14th, half of the 63 MN League teams (due to the bye-weeks) headed to Western WI for a full weekend of mountain bike racing at Summit Lake Farms in Stone Lake, WI. In addition to the races on Saturday and Sunday, some of the racers also took part in the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival, held in the Cable/Hayward area on Sat., Sept. 14.

At the Chequamegon Short and Fat event

The podium was filled with Minnesota League racers. Braeden Anderson, Crosby-Ironton, took overall first place and Zoe Camp, Southwest Mpls., was the first female across the line! Team jerseys from Prior Lake, Highland Park, Hopkins, Washburn, New Prague, Edina, and Blake/Breck were just a few of the teams which had racers competing at the event. Even the race announcers commented on the number of high school racers at the event and thanked the efforts of National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) to help get young kids involved in the sport.

Middle school racers got underway at Summit Lake Farm

Race #,3, photos Todd Bauer and David Markman

As the racing excitement wrapped up at Fat Tire race in Cable, middle school racers got underway at Summit Lake Farm. However, only the 6th – 8th-grade girls and 6th-grade boys were able to get their races in before the weather turned. After consulting with the team coaches, and evaluating the larger storm moving in, it was decided that out of the safety of the student-athletes, volunteers, coaches and spectators and to not damage the trail, the remaining races would be postponed until Sunday.

Sun. Sept. 15 – Heavy rain and wet trails led to a race format change

After a torrential rainstorm that evening, a review of the racecourse the following morning left race officials and coaches with a choice, cancel the high school races or shorten the course and run a crit race with marathon timing. It was decided to try the new race format and let the racers compete. So, instead of a cross-country race, racers were challenged to see how many laps, on a shortened course, they could complete in 30 minutes.

The high school races were on! With not a drop of rain in the sky and the sun shining, all of the high school racing categories were run in the new race format. Coaches, racers and spectators were supportive of the efforts to ensure the kids were able to race. Click here for more Race #3 results.

Tipping the race helmets to salute the community

“Big thank you again to our community for their support and help to avoid canceling the race completely,” said Josh Kleve, Executive Director for the MN High School Cycling League. “We are grateful to all the coaches and volunteers that stepped up today and helped us to continue the race day with a modified program. It was great to see people camping all weekend and enjoying the new venue despite the damp weather.”

A crit course was a success. Photo Credit:

The MN League is the sanctioned NICA organization of mountain bike racing for middle school and high school-aged student-athletes, since 2012. View the full schedule of racing for the 2019 season.

About the Minnesota High School Cycling League

The Minnesota High School Cycling League is a state-wide independent activity provider for student-athletes in 6th to 12th grade. Their mission is to build strong minds, bodies, character, and communities through cycling, regardless of ability level. Each MN League season includes summer programs, a seven-race series, wilderness first aid certification courses and a Spring Leaders’ Summit for training and certification of coaches. The MN League exists by virtue of a range of fundraising activities, as well as generous donors, and MN League sponsors. For more information on the MN League, visit