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Allowing motorists the option to pass a bike in a no passing zone makes the Share the Road campaign, 'Allow 3 Feet When Passing,' safer.

Take the worry out of your next bike ride with Cycling Savvy

Here is a course that will help you feel more comfortable and confident riding your bike. Cycling Savvy is returning to the Twin Cities area again this summer with a three-part bicycle safety class. By enrolling in this class you will feel secure going anywhere on your bike safely and confidently.

Bike with Hokan and John Hardy doing a “chalk talk.” Sign up for Cycling Savvy to learn more.

Bike with Hokan and John Hardy doing a “chalk talk.” Sign up for Cycling Savvy to learn more.

Course structure and content for a safe bike ride

While Cycling Savvy inevitably teaches some of the same essential traffic cycling principles and skills as other cycling courses, it is an entirely new curriculum.  From the ground up, it is built upon an understanding of the needs of adult learners. The course addresses the challenges of today’s changing behavior that is strongly rooted in our traffic culture. Much of the content in the Cycling Savvy curriculum is completely original. Traditional content is framed and delivered in unique ways to maximize the learning process. It is a modular course, consisting of three, 3-hour classes, with seasoned certified instructors to help you along the way.

Class I (Train Your Bike!)

This three-hour session is conducted in a parking lot. It consists of a set of progressive drills designed to increase students’ control and comfort handling their bikes in various situations and includes:

  • Start/Stop, Power Pedal & Balance Stop
  • Snail Race, Slow-speed Balance
  • Drag-race, Gears & Acceleration
  • Ride Straight, One-handed
  • Shoulder Check
  • Object-avoidance Handling, Weave, Snap
  • Turning: Slow-speed Tight Turns, High-speed cornering, Emergency Snap-turn
  • Emergency Braking

Reserve your spot today for session-one: Friday, June 8th; Friday July, 20th; or Friday, September 21. Class hours are from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. each session. Location will be at the Ski-U-Mah Parking Lot near TCF Stadium, 6th Street Southeast Minneapolis, MN 55455

Class II (The Truth & Techniques of Traffic Cycling)

Through guided discussion with video and animation, this three-hour session will familiarizes students with bicycle-specific laws, traffic dynamics and problem-solving strategies. Students discover that bicycle drivers are equal road users, with the right and ability to control their space.

Options for Class II are: Saturday, June 9th; Saturday, July 21st, or Saturday, September 22. Class hours are from 9 a.m. to Noon. Location for this class will be at 110 Union Street S.E., room 107 Minneapolis, MN 55455

Class III (Tour of Minneapolis*)  (3.5 hours):

This session is an experiential tour of Minneapolis roads. This 3.5 hour final course includes some of the most intimidating road features (intersections, interchanges, merges, etc.) a cyclist might find in his/her travels. The students travel as a group, stopping to survey and discuss each exercise location. After observing the feature, discussing the traffic dynamics and the best strategy for safe and easy passage, the students ride through individually and regroup at a nearby location.

Please note, the Tour of Minneapolis session* above is only available for those who take the full course. The first two sessions may be taken á la carte, in any order.

Options for Class III are: Saturday, June 9th; Saturday July 21 or Saturday September 22. Class hours are from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Location for this final class will also be at 110 Union Street S.E., room 107 Minneapolis, MN 55455.

For more information on driving your bike like you do with a car see Cycle Savvy.org

Finding a birding hotspot to check in Shoreview is easy with all the park and trails.

Bike/Birding hot spots in the Twin Cities Gateway to enjoy

With summer soon upon us, we wanted to share a bike/birding hotspot we discovered to add to your list of Minnesota places to explore. Checking out several bike trails in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities this summer. Ground truthing the maps in the MN Bike/Hike Guide our interests were piqued by several birding haunts that we noticed in the community of Shoreview. An area once inhabited by Dakota and Ojibwe tribes, today this community has many parks along its lakes. These parks provide both residents and visitors places to enjoy bird watching. Why here? From these areas alone you are able to spot an impressive list of songbirds, hawks, and waterfowl. Looking for some new birding spots to explore? We’ve got you covered starting with a local apple orchard. From there, we have identified several additional birding hotspots in the Twin Cities Gateway that is worth checking out.

A Birding Hotspot – Victoria Valley Orchard

Another birding hotspot to see hawks is the victoia Valley Orchard, in Shoreview.

A birding hotspot to see hawks is at the Victoria Valley Orchard in Shoreview.

As September will soon be upon us, many of the nesting sites in the apple trees at the Victoria Valley Orchard have fulfilled their use. One task finished, they are now a good place to spot many seasonal birds and hawks. Like many of the groves around the country, the orchard here is a rich habitat for nesting birds as they forage nearby. Here are a few of the birds that have been observed here: the Baltimore Oriole, Blue-Winged Warbler, Chimney Swift, Osprey, Red-Shouldered Hawk, several species of sparrows, and the Scarlet Tanager.

Location: The Victoria Valley Orchard is located at: 4304 North Victoria Street, in Shoreview, MN. You are welcome to wander the orchard throughout the year to spot the different birds that live or pass through here. Commercially they are only open from early September through mid-November if you would like to buy some of the 19 varieties of apples that they grow. For more information please visit their website at: http://www.victoriavalleyorchard.com/.

A Birding Hotspot – Snail Lake

A birding hotspot can be found along most of the paved bike trails that meander through the parks in Shoreview.

A birding hotspot can be found along most of the paved bike trails that meander through the parks in Shoreview.

Another birding hotspot on our tour in Shoreview is the trail along Highway 96. This trail borders the north side of Snail Lake. One of two areas to observe the birding activity here is at the grassy area just off the trail. With a few potholes and a line of trees partially blocking the lakes view, you may spot several varieties of warblers, if they haven’t left. Plus, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Red-Shouldered Hawks. A variety of other marsh birds that use this area can also be seen here.

Location: The trail location is on Highway 96 and across from the Shoreview Public Library. There is a public park at the south end of the lake for another viewing location.

Birding Hotspot – Sucker and Vadnais Lakes

Now heading further east along Highway 96, our tour of birding hotspots takes us first to Sucker Lake. Then, across County Road F, the trail takes you into Vadnais Lake’s park area. Both these lakes and the park areas are a part of the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park and are reservoirs for the St. Paul Regional Water Authority. These lakes are fairly deep and the wetlands are composed of extensive tamarack and shrub swamps with large marshy areas. The forest area here is mainly mature pine plantations with some oak woods for nesting Pine Warblers and Red-Shouldered Hawks. A variety of marsh birds use the shoreline here. Along with the fall migratory waterfowl activity of both lakes, this area is also good for migratory warblers and Red-Breasted Nuthatches.

Location: Just south of Highway 96, take the Rice St. exit from I-694 and go north. The north access and parking is east of Rice St. on Sucker Lake Road. The south entrance is east from Rice St. on County Road F, then north on Sucker Lake Road.

Another birding hotspot is in some of the open meadows that paved bike paths pass through the par

Another birding hotspot is in Grass Lake where paved bike paths pass through some of the open meadows.

Birding Hotspot – Grass Lake

Another birding hotspot in Shoreview is Grass Lake, which is also a part of the Vadnais-Snail Lakes Regional Park system. The main vegetation here is the deep water cattail marsh with floating mats. On both the east and west sides of the lake, Oak woodlands can be found. On the north side of the park there are a mixture of swamp shrubs and grasslands that are prevalent. Here at Grass Lake is where Marsh Wrens, Osprey, and Red-Shouldered Hawks commonly nest. Common Loons are often seen in the spring and summer along with many sparrow species that stopover during their migration.

Location: Grass Lake is reached by turf and paved trails from the parking area off of Gramsie Road. The parking lot can be reached by taking the Victoria St. exit from I-694 and going north to Gramsie Rd., then east to the MacKubin Rd. intersection. Entrance is on your right.

For more information on these birding hotspots and others, contact Ramsey County Parks and Recreation Department at (651) 748-2500 or www.co.ramsey.mn.us/parks for more information.

A 12.5-mile Bike Loop to Shoreview’s Birding Hotspots

For those interested in riding their bicycle to the above parks described, we have identified an easy path to take to have optimal bird watching capabilities. Please download the 12.5-mile Turn-by-Turn Route to begin your bird watching journey by bike to see some of Shoreview’s birding hotspots.

More map options can be found at the Ramsey County Maps.

 

Brown's Bicycles service area/teaching center

HaveFunBiking’s product editor has opened Brown’s Bicycles!

Over the past two years HaveFunBiking (HFB) readers have enjoyed reading many product reviews, how-to articles and helpful tips by John Brown. Now, John has opened a bike shop of his very own, called Brown’s Bicycles. Located a few miles west of HFB, the shop is at 2323 W 66th Street, right here in Richfield Minnesota. Don’t worry, he will still be contributing to the HaveFunBiking blog, but this new development gives our HFB readers the chance to continue learning about bicycles through print as well as face to face!

Brown’s Bicycles continues to educate

John has designed the layout of Brown’s Bicycles specifically to continue educating riders about the joys of all things bike. The open service area is purposefully modeled to operate as a functioning repair area as well as classroom.

A full service bike shop!

While Brown’s Bicycles is founded on the concept of educating riders, they still offer a complete line of new bicycles from Giant, and Jamis as well as a rotating stock of used bicycles. If you need accessories or parts, Brown’s Bicycles offers a curated selection of the best products available. If they don’t have what you need in stock, your special orders are usually available within 24 hours.

As a thank you to the HFB readers, Brown’s Bicycles is offering a tune up special! Mention HaveFunBiking for $20 off your next Basic Tune Up or $25 off a Deluxe Tune Up until June 15th. Additionally, in at stop the new shop for a Richfield bike map not found in the 2018 Minnesota Bike/Hike guide!

Riding with young kids can be fun and easy with these options

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Spring has sprung and you may want to get out with your kids for a ride. For younger toddlers who aren’t riding yet or are still on tricycles, riding more than a few blocks is unfortunately not possible. Don’t be deterred though, there are many different ways to get out, ride and bring your young ones along.

Rear mount baby seat for younger kids

Rear mount child seats have been around forever. They are mounted to the back of a bicycle, typically on a touring rack, over the rear wheel. They are great for kids between one year and up to 40 or 50lbs depending on brand. Thanks to the height of these seats, they offer a great view. Additionally, most of these seats can recline slightly to allow the child to be comfortable. They also have at least a three-point retention and a cross bar to hold the child in place. These seats offer safety by having a tall, ridged, back rest that wraps around the child protecting their head and body from the sides and back. When using these kids seats, remember, It can be tempting to allow the kickstand to hold your bike and child, but they don’t offer enough stability to be safe.

Rear mount baby seat kids

Front mount baby seat

Front mount baby seats attach to the handlebars of you bicycle. Because of that, they give your kid the very best view of what’s going on around them. Unlike the rear mount seat, front mount seats don’t have a tall protection around the child. Also, by being mounted to the handelbars, they have a more negative effect on control than the rear mount seat. Again, be sure to hold the bike rather than relying on a kickstand.

Kids trailers

Trailers are the top end as far as child carrying is concerned. They can hold up to two kids and a maximum of 100 pounds. Beyond just carrying the kids, trailers can carry a lot of stuff for the kids as well. They offer at least a 3-point harness and a ridged roll cage that goes around all the way around the children. Trailers offer tons of accessories that include, rain shields, sun screens, and attachments that can turn the trailer into a jogger when detached from the bike. They are usually fold-able and pack-able. Additionally, Trailers will stay upright even if the bicycle towing them falls over, another reason they are the safest.

Kids Trailer

Tag-along bikes

Tag-Along bikes turn your standard bicycle into a tandem with your child following behind. They are attached to the seatpost of your bicycle and can be quickly removed if you are planning on doing a solo ride. Tag-Alongs are fit based on wheel size, with the 20” version being for smaller kids and the 24” being for the larger ones. Kids get comfortable with balance and speed of a tag along, and transfer that feeling into their own bikes. Consequently, these bikes help teach kids to ride their own bikes. If you are concerned about drag, know that they don’t have a brake (so your kids can’t squeeze a brake and act as an anchor).

Kids trail a bike

However you plan to get your kids out riding, remember to keep it fun. Pack lots of snacks, encourage them to explore, and try to choose a destination that interests them.

During bike month and any time of the year Winona is a fun place to visit with a bike.

It’s bike month in Winona and fun anytime of the year to visit!

Celebrating communities coast to coast with National Bike Month, we wanted to share what residence of Winona, MN are saying. A Bronze Bike Friendly Community, this area offers many bike related activities for you to enjoy any time of the year while visiting.

Located in Southeast Minnesota along the Mississippi River, the city is a very comfortable place to explore on two wheels. Thanks to Pam Eyden, who profiled the following cyclist, we think you will agree that Winona is a place to consider while visiting with your bike.  Don’t miss the fun, also check their May Bike Month web page www.visitwinona.com/may-is-bike-month to find out what’s happening.

Fun anytime, biking around Winona, Profile #1

Kay Peterson, client services coordinator at Winona Volunteer Services, loves bicycle riding. She has six bikes — a road bike, a fat-tire bike, two mountain bikes, a winter bike with used snowmobile bar mitts to cover her arms, and her everyday bike, which she calls her “horse.” She rides her horse to work, a four-mile round trip most days.

Kay Peterson, in front of Winona Volunteer Services

Kay Peterson, in front of Winona Volunteer Services

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years,” Kay said. “I started when I had an old car that burned gallons of gas just to drive short distances. It was a waste of money! I thought, ‘This is such a small town, I’ll try riding everywhere.’ After I started, I was hooked.”

She rides all year, even in the depths of winter, when wind chill temperatures are way below zero, in blizzards, ice, snow, wind and rain. She’s got the gear, she’s got the clothes and swears she never gets cold. Or not very cold.

Biking clears her mind, she said. New ideas come to her while she’s wheeling down the street. In the summer she also loves gardening. “Biking and gardening are always competing for my time,” she laughed.

Mountain biking

A few years ago a friend persuaded her to try mountain biking. She soon came to love the challenge and the thrill of it. Her favorite trails are at Cherry Hill, in the Bronk Unit (location). “It’s a hidden gem,” she said.

She encourages friends and clients to get on bikes and ride. In an effort to get bikes to people who need them, she coordinates the Winona Volunteer Services Bike Program. Adventure Cycle and Ski accepts donated bikes, fixes and tunes them up, then the Bike Program donates them to qualified people who need them. The program has given away 160 bikes in the last ten years.                                                                                                                                    — Pam Eyden

Bike around Winona, Profile #2

Emily Krall, 31, likes biking for the freedom and for the convenience of it. Manager of Blooming Grounds Coffeehouse, in downtown Winona, she usually bikes to work, at least when the weather’s good. She lives just a couple of miles away and could easily drive or walk, but biking is best. “I haven’t timed it, but biking is probably faster than driving,” she said. “Besides, the great thing is I don’t have to find a place to park! Before I got my bike I got lots of parking tickets. I work full time — having to move my car every two hours all day is no way to live.”

Emily lives just a couple of miles away from work and could easily drive or walk, but biking is best.

Emily lives just a couple of miles away from work and could easily drive or walk, but biking is best.

She also rides her bike to do errands, like to pick up a few things at Target. She carries purchases home in her backpack, which works fine, she said, because she’s not a person who likes to buy a lot of new stuff. She prefers the side streets and always rides defensively. “I trust that no one will hit me, but I watch everything,” she stated.

Bike touring after work

After work she enjoys touring around Lake Winona and out to Prairie Island on a 13-mile loop near the river that passes the Minnesota City Boat Club and the airport.

Access to the natural world is one thing Emily loves about Winona. She recently moved here from Greenville, North Carolina, a city of 80,000, where the traffic was bad and biking was difficult. “Greenville wasn’t bike-friendly at all. I had to drive a couple hours just to find a place to ride in nature. Here it’s so easy! There aren’t a lot of bike lanes in town, but Winona is surrounded by so much beauty!”

Emily bought her bike on Craigslist for $150 from someone whose family had had it for three generations. It’s a classic Schwinn, with original green paint, original logos and original seat. She mostly rides alone now, but will soon have company. Her four-year-old daughter is about ready to ride along.                                                                                                 — Pam Eyden

Bike fun, Profile #3

Bicycling has become part of the culture at the Winona Police Department. Twelve of the department’s staff are avid road bikers, mountain bikers or both. Here Paul Bostrack, Anita Sobotta and Jay Rasmussen from the department share their experiences.

Many of the Winona Police Department staff are avid cyclists.

Many of the Winona Police Department staff are avid cyclists.

Paul Bostack

Police chief Paul Bostrack rides his new Trek mountain bike at least twice a week on the trails at Cherry Hill or Holzinger. When he was younger, before he had kids, he used to ride everyday and in all kinds of weather. He gave it up for a while, but now that the kids have grown up a bit, they’re getting him back into it.  “They fell in love with it. Then we went riding in Montana and it kicked me into gear. Biking is a lifetime activity,” Paul said. “I got a new bike so I can almost keep up with them,” he laughed. “Bikes have changed a lot. There’s a lot of new technology, but biking is still biking.”

Anita Sobotta

For patrol officer Anita Sobotta, road biking through the hills and valleys of both Trempealeau and Buffalo Counties in Wisconsin (across the river from Winona) is a welcome chance to get away from everything.

“Riding clears my mind,” she said. “I get away from cell phones and leave all other technology behind. It’s just me and the scenery, the birds and the wildlife.”

It’s also a good workout, which she relishes. Besides biking, Anita runs those same hills, and is training for a marathon race. She always wears a helmet, but would not ride her bike in town because she doesn’t like riding in traffic.

Jay Rasmussen

For Winona patrol sergeant Jay Rasmussen, who works the afternoon shift, biking is both a great stress-reliever.  Especially right now, with his job and it’s a great family activity. He rides with his nine-year-old daughter to school every morning and takes his three-year-old with him whenever he goes out for fun. “I have four kids,” Jay said, “so when I go riding I always have KJ with me.”

Right now KJ rides in a special seat in front of his dad. He likes the trails through the woods, but loves road biking down hills. KJ will say, “Dad, let’s scream!” when we go down hills. “So we do and sometimes we ride down Garvin Heights Road, although my wife doesn’t like us to do that,” Jay said.                                                                                                                             — Pam Eyden

Getting around Winona by bike, Profile #4

When Jo McGrath moved to Winona, from Rochester in 1997, friends told her to bring her bike because the town was flat and bikeable. She can’t remember why she was skeptical, but she did as they advised. Twenty-one years later, she’s still riding. She never bought a car. “I have a big bike with three baskets. That’s all I need,” she said. “If the weather’s bad or the trip is long, I can put my bike on the bus — although not if the baskets are full.”

Jo, who retired from work as a nursing assistant and personal companion, now volunteers one day a week at the Catholic Worker’s Bethany House. She lives on West Broadway and rides her bike to town several times a week — to the Bluff Country Coop, the library and farmers market. She also rides over to the river to see how the floodwaters are doing. “I just do the normal things,” she said. “I stay off of Broadway and take Seventh St. instead, which is easier.”

Using Winona’s quite neighborhood streets to get around

She used to go on biking adventures with her husband and she also rode with the bike group at the Winona Friendship Center. One of her four daughters leads bicycling tours in Europe, but biking is just a part of everyday life for Jo. She’s happy riding her bike to the Center in Winona to play ping-pong. “As a child, I had training wheels on my bike until I was in seventh grade!” she said. “I didn’t give them up until my friends wanted to go on a picnic at Mayowood. Then I learned. I was not going to ride with training wheels on my bike that day!

Jo is quite comfortable riding at her own speed, on side streets, but she’s watchful.

Jo is quite comfortable riding at her own speed, on side streets, but she’s watchful.

“We all have to be aware of each other. Bikers can do crazy things, so can walkers and drivers. I believe in mindfulness. Of course putting it into action is another thing!” she laughed.                                                                                                                                          — Pam Eyden

A mountain biker, Profile #5

Sheldon Morgan discovered the sport of mountain biking in the late 1980s and has been doing it ever since. Now he rides his mountain bike at least eight hours a week and travels to other parts of the country for trail events and races, besides organizing rides here in Winona.

Sheldon commutes 20-mile round trip with his everyday bike.

Sheldon commutes 20-mile round trip with his everyday bike.

Winter he rides fat-tire bikes in the snow

To work at his office in downtown Winona, where he consults on IT projects, he rides his everyday bike — a 20-mile round-trip commute. I ride more miles on roads, but more hours on trails,” Sheldon said. “I mostly ride on roads when the trails are wet.”
Mountain biking is number one for him. Trails put him closer to nature, which he enjoys. Riding through the woods is solitary and challenging. Endorphins and risk are also addictive.
“Even riding the same trails, you can always improve your speed, your grace, and your not-falling!” he said.

The Hillbilly Gravel Grinder

In early May he organized the Hillbilly Gravel Grinder, a 100-mile ride on the gravel county roads of Winona, Fillmore and Houston Counties. About 25 people started out at 9 a.m. and most completed the route by 6 — nine hours, including breaks. People enjoy the county roads because there isn’t as much traffic. “I ride for the mental stability and the exercise. I like to run, too, but I can’t run as long or as far as I can ride,” Sheldon said.

Winona’s mountain bike trail design

Over the years, Sheldon has developed an interest in and an expertise in trail design. He and a partner formed a business, Dirty Deeds Earth Services, LLC, to help with trail maintenance and design at Holzinger Park, which, he says has “old school” trails, not well designed to counter erosion. He’s also helped the city at Sugar Loaf and has designed and created single-track mountain biking trails at the Bronk Unit of Minnesota’s Richard Dorer State Forest. This area, called Cherry Hill, is one of his favorites in the area.

Trails at Holzinger and Sugar Loaf will get a new, close examination for sustainability during the Winona City park planning process this summer.

Trails can be a great therapy for kids

Sheldon believes mountain biking could be great therapy for kids who’ve lost touch with their roots and with nature. “There’s a lot of stress on teenagers these days. It’s higher than ever, because of social media and access to all kinds of media,” he said. “They need to re-engage with the world.”

Sheldon points out that parents and peers can do a lot to encourage kids, first maybe by getting on a bike themselves. “The city has to provide the infrastructure, but parents and peers bring will kids in.” That’s how he learned. “My whole family was very active in outdoor sports. It’s in my DNA, I think?”

He and his 26-year-old ride together, as they have for years. They go on mountain bike journeys together, riding and camping, and taking a break once in a while for rock climbing.
Biking, rock climbing, running and kayaking — he loves it all. “And it’s all right here in Winona!” he exults.

Come for the trails, see the views, then stay stay for the hospitality.

Come for the trails, see the views, then stay stay for the hospitality.

National Bike Month

May is National Bike Month, sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast. Established in 1956, National Bike Month is a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try. National Bike to Work Week 2018 will be held from May 14–18. Bike to Work Day is May 18!

Family rides are the perfect time to teach your kids about riding safely.

Demonstrating safe riding practices teaches kids valuable skills for life

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The summer months ahead will play host to countless hours of family riding fun. During these bicycle outings its the perfect time to teach your kids about riding safely. All things considered, there are just a few topics to teach. Please read below for the details.

Safe riding starts with a helmet

First and foremost, a well-fitting helmet cuts down the risk of serious injury by half. As a result, helmets are the single most important piece of cycling gear for kids, and sadly one that is not used by many riders under 14. As an example, a well-fitting helmet will be snug on the rider’s head. Additionally, the strap toggles are located about ½ inch below the ear lobe and the chin strap is tight enough to hold the helmet on your head, but not so tight it chokes you. Furthermore, be sure to consult the manufacturers recommendations for when to replace your helmet. Important to realize, is that helmets lose effectiveness over time, so review it’s production date.

Helmet fit

Be sure that your child is comfortable on their bicycle and it is sized properly. Bikes that are too small or too large are difficult for children to control. As an example, good fit is when your child can stand over the bike with 2-3 inches of clearance between the top tube of the bike and them. Also, the kid can easily sit on the bike and pedal without their knees raising so high it impedes their ability to ride. Additionally, a child should also be able to hold the bars without stretching so far they cannot confidently handle the bicycle. If you have concerns about the fit, visit your local bike shop to have the bike adjusted.

Bike function and riding safely

Verify that the brakes work, tires are inflated and controls are tight. Be sure that your child can squeeze the brake levers easily and stop the bike. If they struggle to squeeze the brakes, have the bike serviced at your local shop. Additionally, keeping proper air pressure in the tires will limit flat tires and aid in control.

Visibility and Riding Safely

Kids bikes are required to be sold with reflectors on the bars, seatpost, wheels, and pedals. Those reflectors should be considered the most basic level of visibility. Add to that visibility, by having your kids wear brightly colored clothes, installing lights and a flag on the bike. With young kids try to avoid riding at night or at twilight.

Riding skills

If your kids are better riders, they will be safer. Teaching basic skills can be fun and easy. Find a flat section of low grass (like a high school football field) and have them practice riding with one hand off the bar. Use the Board Trick to learn how to handle riding over obstacles. Another great way to learn riding skills is to enter into bicycle rodeos (many local shops put these on).

Learning to signal

When riding a bicycle on the road, you are required to follow posted traffic laws as well as signal your directions. Teach your kids the basics of signaling turns and navigating on roads.

Sidewalk and Bike Path Courtesy

Riding to the right is the most basic rule of riding on sidewalks and bikepaths. What is more important than that rule is the courtesy of riding around others. If you are trying to pass a rider you should verbally signal where you are passing. A quick “on your right” is all it takes, wait for the rider ahead to move over and allow you to pass safety. When being passed, be sure to yield the path by moving over and allowing the overtaking rider to pass safely. If you are stopping on a bikepath look for a wider section of trail or a clearing. Make sure that all members of your group are off the side of the trail and leaving ample area for others to ride past. Being courteous is the best way to make sure everyone has fun.

Ride with them

Kids learn a lot from the example set by their parents. Ride with your kids, show them the right things to do with your actions and teach them the right things to do with your words. Make safe riding part of the fun.

Keep senses clean

It’s tempting for kids to try and bring a phone or iPod on a ride with them. They may want to be able to check their texts, listen to music or just have their digital device with them. Those distractions are a detriment to your child’s safety. Keep your digital toys in a backpack or better yet at home and focus on the world around you.

 

Tips for a fun bike ride on or off the paved riding trail

With warmer temperatures drying out the bike trails for another riding season we thought it be a good to repeat a message developed by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). These tips work well for courteous conduct on both shared-use paths and lanes. Keep in mind that procedures for yielding and passing may vary in different locations or with traffic conditions. By following these six ‘Rules of the Trail’ everyone should have a fun and memorable season.

Bike trail etiquette for a safer ride

Bike riders enjoying the Root River Trail with the majestic bluffs in view and whispering in the breeze, "Come Explore."

Bike riders enjoying the Root River Trail with the majestic bluffs in view.

  1. Ride open trails:

    Respect trail and road closures — ask a land manager for clarification if you are uncertain about the status of a trail. Do not trespass on private land. Obtain permits or other authorization as required. Be aware that bicycles are not permitted in areas protected as state or federal Wilderness.

  1. Leave no trace:

    Riding the red dirt of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail, north of Crosby, MN. photo by Aaron W. Hautala

    Riding the red dirt of the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail, north of Crosby, MN. photo by Aaron W. Hautala

    Be sensitive to the dirt beneath you. Wet and muddy trails are more vulnerable to damage than dry ones. When the trail is soft, consider other riding options. This also means staying on existing trails and not creating new ones. Don’t cut switchbacks. Be sure to pack out at least as much as you pack in.

  1. Control your bicycle:

    Here a father and son are out on a Mountain bike trail enjoying some quality time together. Photo taken on a trail near Lakeville, MN.

    Here a father and son are out on a Mountain bike trail enjoying some quality time together. Photo taken on a trail near Lakeville, MN.

    Inattention for even a moment could put yourself and others at risk. Obey all bicycle speed regulations and recommendations, and ride within your limits.

  1. Yield appropriately:

    A little bit of traffic congestion near a local Minnesota mountain bike trail head, as everyone is having fun.

    A little bit of traffic congestion near a local Minnesota mountain bike trail head.

    Do your utmost to let your fellow trail users know you’re coming — a friendly greeting or bell ring are good methods. Try to anticipate other trail users as you ride around corners.                                                                                                                                                           Bicyclists should yield to other non-motorized trail users, unless the trail is clearly signed for bike-only travel. Bicyclists traveling downhill should yield to ones headed uphill, unless the trail is clearly signed for one-way or downhill-only traffic. In general, strive to make each pass a safe and courteous one.

  1. Never scare animals:

    With a full moon gracing the night skies the next couple days, even in the daytime it is not uncommon to see a deer or other wildlife pop out from the bushes onto a road or trail in front of you.

    It’s not uncommon to see a deer or other wildlife pop out from the bushes onto a road or trail in front of you.

    Animals are easily startled by an unannounced approach, a sudden movement or a loud noise. Give animals enough room and time to adjust to you. When passing horses, use special care and follow directions from the horseback riders (ask if uncertain). Running cattle and disturbing wildlife are serious offenses.

  1. Always plan ahead:

    Here a mountain biker walks his bike back to the trailhead after missing a technical turn along the trail.

    Here a mountain biker walks his bike back to the trailhead after missing a technical turn along the trail.

    Know your equipment, your ability and the area in which you are riding and prepare accordingly. Strive to be self-sufficient: keep your equipment in good repair and carry necessary supplies for changes in weather or other conditions. Always wear a helmet and appropriate safety gear.

Search here at:  https://www.imba.com for more riding information in your area or see the new bike guides at: HaveFunBiking.com

 

Full of bicycle routes and trails for your next adventure. AAA -The Auto Club Group invites you to stop by one of their branch offices to pick up a copy of the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide, learn about their bikes benefits program and register to win.

Plot your next adventure and win a bike tour pass from AAA

They’re available for your next adventure, the updated Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide full of bicycle routes and trails to explore in the state. AAA -The Auto Club Group invites you to stop by one of their branch offices to pick up a copy of the new bike guide. When stopping in to pick up a complimentary copy you can also register to win a ride tour pass to one of the three popular Minnesota rides.

Tour of Saints riders having fun on this annual June ride.

Tour of Saints riders having fun on this annual June ride.

Imagine a free wheel pass to the: Tour of Saints; the St. Paul Classic Bike Tour; or the Mankato River Ramble that will be drawn on June 15th. Plus, when you stop in to pick up a guide, learn about the exciting new bicycle benefits program at one of the following AAA branch office locations:

 Burnsville, 600 West Travelers Trail, Burnsville, MN 55337

Coon Rapids, 2170 Northdale Boulevard, Coon Rapids, MN 55433

Duluth, 2520 Maple Grove Road, Duluth, MN 55811

Mankato, 1930 Adams Street, Mankato, MN 56001

Maplewood, 1727 Beam Avenue, Maplewood, MN 55109

Rochester, 1535 Greenview Drive, SW, Rochester, MN 55902

Roseville, 2483 Fairview Avenue N, Roseville MN 55113

St Cloud, 3959 2nd Street S, St Cloud, MN 56301

Your next adventure may be the new bike guide

The Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide is a handy pocket sized booklet available in print and online. This year’s edition offers a 100 pages of bike friendly maps, ride events and helpful tips to create fond memories for you and your family or friends.

The new bike program at AAA my add security and a peace of mind

When you have a mechanical problem with your bike AAA is just a call away.

If  you have a mechanical problem with your bike, AAA is only a call away.

When picking up a copy of the new bike guide, ask about the AAA Bicycle Benefits Program.  This new benefit is like having a support vehicle in your back pocket when riding. Rest assured, if your bike has a mechanical failure, help is only a phone call away. AAA Auto Club now includes roadside tows for bicycles as well as vehicles.

Remember to register to win a ride tour wheel pass

The St. Paul Bike Classic is another family friendly ride that happens the first Saturday in September each year.

The St. Paul Bike Classic is another family friendly ride that happens the first Saturday in September, each year.

The Tour of Saints is scheduled for July 8th, starting in St. Joseph, MN. The St. Paul Classic Bike Tour is scheduled for September 9th, on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, MN. And the Mankato River Ramble is scheduled for October 7th starting in North Mankato, MN. Further information is available on these bike tours and more at a AAA branch office locations in your area.

Now, have fun biking with AAA information and support this summer!

Many Cyclists riding around Albert Lea Lake enjoyable

Biking around Albert Lea may add a little Rock n’ Roll to your summer fun

by Andrew Ellis

It will soon be summer and I have a big decision to make. Where should I go for my first out-of-town summer getaway? For me, a favorite is Albert Lea, with their beautiful bike routes around Fountain Lake and the Blazing Star State Trail. I also learned that that this year on Saturday, July 14th there is a new ride called Rock n’ Roll the Lakes. I hear there will be a 10, 25 & 50 mile fun bike ride around the scenic lakes, along with food and music!

Bike-friendly Albert Lea

Less than two-hours down Interstate 35, after passing passing the I-90 crossroad pull into Albert Lea and prepare for a weekend of outdoor fun. The town is also known by another name: The Land Between the Lakes. That’s because the city sits between Fountain Lake and Albert Lea Lake and both are prime destinations for soaking in the rays. Getting around on your bike in Albert Lea is easy with city’s low traffic bike lanes and trails. After checking in at one of the hotels its exciting to ride around this southern Minnesota community.

Touring around Albert Lea Lake

The homes along the lake route are very picturesque.

The homes along the lake route are very picturesque.

Touring around the Lake clockwise is recommended and the experience is always reminiscent of riding around Lake of the Isles, in Minneapolis. With beautiful landscaped lawns along the waters edge a ride around Fountain Lake is very picturesque. The popular route is about eight and a half miles around using a combination of trails and quite residential streets.

After returning to the downtown area of Albert Lea, you will find many options for lunch before an afternoon ride out to the state park, just outside of town, on the paved trail.

Myre-Big Island State Park and the Blazing Star State Trail

The Blazing Star State Trail is over six miles from Albert Lea to the State Park.

The Blazing Star State Trail offers over six miles riding from Albert Lea out through the State Park.

Here in the park you will find both a mountain bike and a paved trail system for bicyclists to enjoy. For mountain bikers the park offers about seven miles of wide grass trails in a sequence of three separate loops, strung together alongside the State trail. The Blazing Star State Trail is paved and runs from Albert Lea Lake in Albert Lea out through Myre-Big Island State Park, approximately six miles.

Throughout the park both trail systems wind through generally open prairie with some young wood land, especially nearer Lake Albert Lea. Nice rolling hills, make for a surprisingly good workout and the park is also known as an excellent birding spot.

Road Biking Opportunities

Exploring the area on bike is easy, too. You can use the roads to navigate around town and rural southern Minnesota. There’s even a dedicated bike lane to safely get you in and out of town. Be sure to watch for traffic as you will be sharing the road.

More about Albert Lea 

The bike route around Albert Lea Lake id reminiscent of the Lake of the Isles.

The bike route around Albert Lea Lake is reminiscent of the Lake of the Isles.

Want to take a trip on the water, but don’t own a boat? It’s okay, you can take a tour of Albert Lake on the Pelican Breeze. If you go on Fridays you can be part of their pizza cruise.

When you need a break from the outdoors there’s plenty to keep your exciting adventure going. There’s locally owned shops, one-of-a-kind restaurants and the area history will top of your bike adventure. Check out more here.

The best part about spending time here, it is all easy to get around using your bike as your main means of transportation. Maybe we will see you here for the Rock N’ Roll the Lakes Ride, check it out!

It isn't every day you see a peloton of touring cyclists tow a canoe down the Mississippi River Trail (Hwy 61). After passing by, so I could shoot some photos Amy & Dave Freeman and crew stopped and explained briefly their journey to Washington D.C. with the canoe.

Cyclists tow canoe to Washington D.C. to save the Boundary Waters

by Russ Lowthian

It isn’t every day you see a peloton of touring cyclists tow a canoe down the Mississippi River Trail (Hwy 61). With an exceptional tailwind out of the northwest this last Friday, five bicyclists made good time pedaling south. I caught them a few miles out of Red Wing, MN, along the Great River Road. Once they went by, my & Dave Freeman and crew stopped to explain briefly their journey to Washington D.C.

Here Amy & Dave Freeman stop and show all the people who have already signed the canoe, petitioning to save the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Here Amy & Dave Freeman stop and show me all the people who have already signed the canoe, petitioning to save the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. 

 

Cyclists tow a canoe on a pedaling book tour

It turns out this is a pedaling book tour to save the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), with their book “A Year in the Wilderness.” Checking out their websiteAmy & Dave have been working on this campaign to save the Boundary Waters for years. Now, with added support they are embarking on the next leg of their journey in protecting the pristine wilderness area. Pedaling from Minnesota to Washington D.C. they will collect over 2,000 signatures on the the canoe they are pulling. A two month, two thousand-mile book tour by bike to save 1.1 million acres of wilderness.

Before the bike/book tour

First, they paddled and sailed the Boundary Waters for an entire year so they could broadcast its beauty to the world. Then they wrote the  book, “A Year in the Wilderness.” An illustrated account telling a deeper story of the value, beauty and fragility of this wild place.

It isn't every day you see a peloton of touring cyclists towing a canoe down the Mississippi River Trail (Hwy 61). Here Amy & Dave and crew enjoy a tailwind south of Red Wing, MN.

It isn’t every day you see a peloton of touring cyclists towing a canoe down the Mississippi River Trail (Hwy 61). Here Amy & Dave and crew enjoy a tailwind south of Red Wing, MN.

On this book/bike tour

On this adventure, Amy & Dave will stop at schools, community centers, libraries, bookstores, gear stores and breweries along the way. They will share their stories and images from the book. Along with a video from their time in the BWCA and the importance of this wilderness area. For those who have never heard of the Boundary Waters, here is a chance to experience it through Amy & Dave’s eyes. Those who have been there will see this wilderness area in a new light thanks to their efforts.

Be a part and follow Amy & Dave’s epic tour!

As they depart the Mississippi River Trail and head east, follow their blog and Facebook page. You can also support their Kickstarter Campaign at:  http://kck.st/2w5Zo5d  or #pedaltoDC#savetheBWCA #water