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With spring here, we wanted to share another bike/birding hotspot we have enjoyed over the years that you may want to add to your list of places to explore.

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

With spring here, we wanted to share another bike/birding hotspot we have enjoyed over the years. Check out several bike trails in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities Gateway this spring and summer. While ground-truthing the maps in the latest MN Bike/Hike Guide, we noticed many birding haunts in the community of Shoreview, MN. And a fun bike-friendly destination that you may want to add to your True North list of places to explore.

An area once inhabited by Dakota and Ojibwe tribes, today the Shoreview community has many parks along its lakes with bike trails. These parks provide both residents and visitors a place to enjoy bird watching. Areas you can spot an impressive list of songbirds, hawks, and waterfowl.

Looking for some new birding spots to explore?  The Twin Cities Gateway has you covered, starting with a local apple orchard. From there, we have identified several additional birding hotspots 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 warmer weather will soon be upon us, many bird nesting sites can be found in the Victoria Valley Orchard’s apple trees. This is a good place to spot many seasonal birds and hawks. Like many groves around the country, orchards are rich in nesting habitat as the birds 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 for apples, they are only open from early September through mid-November if you would like to buy some of the 19 varieties they grow there. 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 is at the grassy area just off the trail. With a few potholes and a line of trees partially blocking the view of the lake, you may spot several varieties of warblers. 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 next two 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. Here, the forest area 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 are 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 deepwater cattail marsh with floating mats, on both the east and west shorelines of the lake, patches of oak can be found. There is a mixture of swamp shrubs and grasslands that are prevalent on the north side of the park. 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, and many sparrow species stopover here during their return 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. The 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 both the Shoreview Bike Map and 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 options can be found on the Ramsey County Maps.

The maps in the 2022 MN Bike/Hike Guide offer many fun places to ride

Now in our 13th year of publishing the MN Bike/Hike Guide, tied to all the information at HaveFunBiking.com, we hope you find the bike-friendly maps inside helpful in planning your next adventure. To help you plan some fun times with family and friends, we have added some suggested route options to most of the maps here in the new 2022 edition. Go to and bookmark the Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide so it’s ready and at your finger for that next bike adventure.

Where to find a printed copy of the MN Bike/Hike Guide?

The handy 2022 Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide

As in the past, the Minnesota guides will continue to be available at most Minnesota Welcome Centers and libraries. These handy pocket-size guides are perfect for paging -through, copying a map, or jotting down a few notes when planning your #NextBikeAdventure.

Please help us by sharing your comments on this year’s Bike/Hike Guides

As we continue to update the guide, we would like to hear from you. What do you like about the MN Guide, and how can it be better, so we can continue to add more helpful information in future editions. Please page through this digital edition of the guides and give us your comments at [email protected] – Thanks!

Check out our ‘Social Distancing tip sheet.

Along with the general safety tips for riding a bicycle, info from the CDC, and other social distancing activities. Here are some helpful Social Distancing Tips to incorporate into your solo ride activities.

So have fun, keep riding a comfortable distance apart, and stay healthy!

Cycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise and when you plan properly it can be a great activity year round! Here are some top tips for staying safe when cycling at times when Mother Nature seems to throw a wrench in your plans

Cycling tips on driving your bike in inclement weather

by Personal Injury Help

Don’t let poor weather conditions stop you from biking. Cycling is one of the healthiest forms of exercise, and when appropriately planned, it can be a great activity year-round! With spring around the corner, here are some tips for staying safe. Especially when Mother Nature throws a wrench in your plans on that next bike adventure.

Inclement weather and the rain

Lighten up

Stay visible by using both headlights and taillight and wearing clothes motorists can see.

Stay visible by using both headlights and taillight and wearing clothes motorists can see.

Visibility is the key, along with staying dry. It is harder for motorists and pedestrians to see you when it’s raining out. You can wear a reflective and fluorescent vest to stand out and attach reflectors to both your bicycle and helmet (which you should always wear!). Flashing lights on the front of your bike and your saddle are also very eye-catching in the rain.

Avoid non-porous surfaces

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Driving your bike on brick, metal, or wood surfaces becomes very slippery when wet. Try to avoid traveling over these surfaces when raining. If you must ride on these smooth exteriors, do so without turning your handlebars to prevent skidding and slow down.

Dress for the temperature

In inclement weather and rain, when cycling, wear a light wicking layer under your rain gear and have a dry layer tucked away if you become wet.

In inclement weather, when cycling, wear a light wicking layer under your rain gear and have a dry layer tucked away if you become wet.

It is tempting to bundle up with multiple layers when you’re cycling in the rain with the hopes of preventing the water from soaking through your clothing to you. Unfortunately, what will probably happen, all your layers will become wet from sweat, and you’ll be stuck wearing multiple layers of wet clothing. When it’s raining out, dress according to the temperature outside, not the volume of rain. If you don’t have any waterproof clothing, a very thin poncho or large trash bag with holes for arms and head to slip through can do wonders.

Inclement weather and the snow

Bikes with low tire pressure offer more stability on slippery roads. Adding studs to the bikes tires adds more control.

Bikes with low tire pressure offer more stability on slippery roads. Adding studs to the tires of the bike adds more control.

Slow down—it’ll take twice as long to stop in the snow than in clear conditions. When approaching stop signs or intersections, give yourself plenty of room to prevent and avoid skidding.

Use fenders—when you put fenders on your bicycle, you not only stop snow from splashing all over yourself and your bike but also keep your cycling neighbors day. A win-win!

Use an old mountain bike—fat tire bicycles are great, especially when it snows or is icy. If you have an old mountain bike gathering dust in your garage, it’s often an excellent and cost-effective way to get outside when you don’t want to use your regular bike. You can also buy winter bike tires with studs if you’re so inclined.

Wet weather and the heat

In hot weather stay hydrated by taking a few sips of water every few miles.

In hot weather, stay hydrated by taking a few sips of water every couple of miles.

Get acclimated, mainly if you are used to going 15-mile, and the temperature suddenly jumps up into the 90s. Add higher humidity to the equation, and it’s not safe to expect to take the same route in the same timeframe. It can take weeks to get used to cycling at high temperatures, so try taking it easy for a while to get used to the heat.

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Stay hydrated—a 150-pound cyclist will need to drink at least one 16-ounce bottle of water per hour. Plus a glass of water about 45 minutes before leaving. If you’re heavier or riding a challenging route, you could need up to four bottles per hour.

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Stay loose—you’ll want to wear loose clothing and keep you cool when you’re sweating. Avoid dark colors, but more importantly, avoid something heavy and form-fitting.

This article was created by Personal Injury Help (www.personalinjury-law.com), an organization dedicated to providing the public with information about personal injury and safety information. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice, and it is intended for informational use only. Review your local cycling ordinances to ensure you ride safely and legally!

From Giants Ridge, the Mesabi Trail Towns offers history and great biking adventures.

Many bicycle adventures await your visit to the Mesabi Trail Towns

by Andrew Ellis

In Minnesota’s far north mining region, the towns along the Mesabi Trail hosts several of the state’s historical gems and a family fun destination to explore on a bicycle. A none mountainous area, here you will find over 25-small mining communities along this well-known paved trail system. The Mesabi Trail is an easy way to travel from town to town by bike. From Grand Rapids on the western end to Ely, 135 miles to the east, there are a lot of fun sights to see as you ride. For the mountain biker, this area has left many rugged deposits to perfect your skills. The area also boasts some of Minnesota’s best scenic road touring routes, with low traffic roadway loop options returning back to the Mesabi Trail.

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing

Mesabi bike trail near Hibbing.

More About the Bike-Friendly Mesabi Trail Towns

The area is vast, and the Mesabi Trail Towns string through the Iron Range, covering many mining towns you can start and stop at. They include Grand Rapids to the west; and further east Hibbing, Chisholm, Mt. Iron, Virginia, Eveleth, Gilbert, Biwabik, Aurora, Hoyt Lakes, Embarrass, and now to Ely. Along the way, there is no shortage of walking tours.

While here you can visit Bob Dylan’s childhood home, the Hull Rust Mine overlook, and Greyhound Museum in Hibbing. You can look into the history of the Range’s “Queen City” at the Virginia Heritage Museum. Take a walk around the US Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth. To enjoy the scenic thrills of mountain biking, there is Giant Ridge, near Biwabik. There are also plenty of lakes to drop a line, swim, or enhance your tan.

The area may cover many miles, but it’s all very accessible – especially if you’re using your bike. The Mesabi Trail makes for a convenient connecting point for all the communities. So it’s easy to travel around to all the unique stores, eateries, and more pedaling on two wheels.

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Mesabi bike trail near Virginia.

Biking Opportunities in the Iron Range

There are several opportunities for biking in the Iron Range. If you’re into mountain biking, it’s just a matter of where you want to go first with four different systems to choose from. You can also extend your adventure using the Mesabi Trail to connect to various forest and mining roads.

The Mesabi Trail

Besides mining, bicycle tourism is the other attraction that connects the communities. An amazing adventure in its own right, the trail takes you through the beautiful northern Minnesota trees, hills, wildlife, and more. With so many scenic views, there’s no doubt you’ll be stopping to take a picture to add to your memories.

And don’t forget the Great River Energy Mesabi Trail Tour in 2022. Ride for fun or ride for the challenge. Either way, mark your calendar for Saturday, August 20, 2022, for the most fun you can have on two wheels!

With several mountain bike parks there is something for every skill level.

With several mountain bike parks, there is something for every skill level.

Mountain biking here includes an edgy new park.

The Iron Range may not have mountains, but there are plenty of trails and loops for mountain bikers to battle down. Especially the new Redhead Mountain Trails, near Chisolm, they say it will rock you. This huge park with over 30 loops, covering over 25-miles, offers giant views of reclaimed mine lands, bright blue pit lakes, and more. See the map of this edgy-designed park with remarkable terrain makes it one of the most anticipated new parks in the country.

Further east is Giants Ridge offering over 24 miles of trails and loops to challenge you and offer up great scenery. Big Aspen offers a whopping 21 miles of trails on old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades. The sections vary in difficulty with many loop opportunities that offer many scenic vistas.

You can also check out Britton Peak, which offers a 3-trail system that takes you through Superior National Forest and includes one for the three main skill levels: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. There’s also Lookout Mountain, thanks to the hard work of the Iron Range Off-Road Cyclists, which has over five miles of single-track and over six miles of the multi-use rideable ski trail.

Road Biking Options

While the Mesabi Trail connects helps connect the Iron Range towns, each town has its own road system that allows for easy bike travel and loop options. These roads allow you to navigate from place to place and let you explore each town as in-depth as you wish. On the east end, the Superior National Forest has plenty of roads you can use to explore the area.

See more at At-A-Glance Mesabi Trail.

The trails are scenic and fun in Minnesota's Hometown feel community, Hutchinson.

Bike around Hutchinson and enjoy Minnesota’s hometown feel

by Andrew Ellis

As tourism opportunities open up again, I wanted to revisit Hutchinson, MN, and their map on pages 46-47 in the MN Bike Guide. A bike-friendly community with a hometown feel and small-town charm, Hutchinson is worth checking out. A short drive west of the Twin Cities, it’s one of those areas where it’s easy to lose track of time as you enjoy all the fresh air. Arriving in town, you have several biking options around lakes and parks nearby for added recreational pleasure. Enjoy pedaling around rather than driving your car here; you will have no trouble creating some new memories while riding your bike in Hutch.

Riding the Luce Line Trail through Hutchinson

Riding the Luce Line Trail through Hutchinson on the Jaycee’s Water Carnival, June 8th.

Aside from mountain biking, trail riding, and touring, the countryside offers more opportunities than you can cover in one day. Besides, you can immerse yourself in the local arts created by those who inspire the natural beauty around them. Spend some time learning about the town’s history. Or, if you are looking for a unique place to eat or a gift to take home, there are plenty of opportunities waiting for you to discover.

Minnesota’s hometown feel is in bike-friendly Hutchinson

Located a little over an hour from the Twin Cities, the community here is also known as ‘Minnesota’s Hometown.’  It’s a great place to escape the often road-rage inducing atmosphere of the big city. Here you can ride the Luce Line State Trail to clear your mind and let the calm country scenery work its magic.

Nothing is better than McCormick’s Family Restaurant in Hutchinson to start your day and plan your ride. Voted the number one place for Eggs Benedict in Minnesota, their pancakes and waffles are good too.

When it comes time to take a break from pedaling, there is no shortage of attractions to keep your adventure moving forward. Hutchinson has its share of one-of-a-kind eateries, and if you’re looking for some more action outside, you can try your hand at some paintball.

Riding opportunities in and around Hutchinson

Its easy to get out to Stahls Lake Park, from Hutchinson.

It’s easy to get out to Stahls Lake Park from Hutchinson.

Like many small towns in Minnesota, pedaling around isn’t difficult. Here in Hutchinson, there is one big trail system that takes you beyond the town limits. In fact, you can ride the trail all the way to the Twin Cities. And, if you’re up for the challenges, you will find a few mountain biking opportunities.

The Luce Line State Trail

The Luce Line State Trail stretches 63 miles (from Plymouth to Cosmos) and is a popular attraction for bikers, hikers, snowmobilers, and equestrian enthusiasts. The paved trail includes about 21 miles from the west Carver County line, through Hutchinson, to the west McLeod County line. To learn more about the Luce Line, go to www.luceline.com.

Mountain Biking

Tartan Park is located in Hutchinson and is a skills park that is perfect for beginners to advanced mountain bikers.

Tartan Park is located in Hutchinson and is a perfect skill park for beginners to advanced mountain bikers.

Those wishing for more than paved, level trails are in luck. Thanks to the Hutchinson Area Mountain Bike Association, there are two tracks within reach: Tartan Terrain Park and Stahls Lake Park. Tartan Park is located within the town limits and is a skills park that caters to beginners and advanced. If you want to venture outside the town limits to Stahl’s Lake Park, there’s a nice single-track that caters to all experience levels. Two double track loops range from .5 miles to 1 mile long. One single-track loop is over 2 miles.

Road Biking Opportunities

Like many of Minnesota’s smaller communities, navigating the area on your bike couldn’t be easier. The roads allow you to see all the area’s beautiful scenery, perfect for your next Instagram post. You can use the roads to explore the area’s parks, shops and more. Plus, you will find plenty of city trails that help you around as well.

Come, enjoy the bike-friendly fun in Minnesota's 'hometown feel' of fun.

Come, enjoy the bike-friendly fun in Minnesota’s ‘hometown feel’ of fun.

For more information on playing or staying in a community with Minnesota’s hometown feel. Check out our HaveFunBiking, At-a-Glance Hutchinson article for your next bike adventure. For places to stay and campgrounds, see Explore Hutchinson.

Kid’s mountain bikes: tips and tricks to get them on the trail

by John Brown,

I love riding my Mountain bike and want to share that passion with my boys. I am dedicating weekends to kids’ mountain bikes to teach them to love the sport. The sense of freedom and excitement it gives me has been amazing to experience through their eyes. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Kid’s mountain bikes

Dozens of companies produce kid’s mountain bikes. They often have suspension, brakes, and gears similar to adult versions. The kid’s bikes usually have either 20″ or 24″ wheels to determine the overall bike size. Be sure to find the right size at your local bike shop.

Teach to shift kid’s mountain bikes

One big difference between riding around the neighborhood and on trails is the need to shift quickly and frequently. Most kid’s mountain bikes have between six and 21 gears, with the higher gears used on the pavement and the lower gears for off-road conditions. Teaching your kid(s) how and when to shift will become more comfortable while riding over varying trail conditions. I find it is easy to train them on the sidewalk, in front of my home. Have your child ride down the sidewalk in one gear, then shift to an easier gear and pedal on the grass when returning. By shifting between gears and conditions, kids can get a great feel for how the gears work.

Teach braking on kid’s mountain bikes

Stopping on kid’s mountain bikes is about balancing two things; stopping power and control. Most brakes can easily produce enough stopping power to skid the wheels, but you lose control when the wheels skid. I found an easy way to teach this balance: find a short but steep hill with a clear run-out at the bottom. Position yourself below them on the hill as a safety precaution and have your kid head down. The first time down, tell them to squeeze the brakes (front and rear) as hard as they can.  On the second trip down, have them squeeze a little less and feel the difference. Then have them apply the front brakes more, then more rear brakes on each successive trip. After a little while, they will have a good feel for the best way to use their brakes.

Standing position

When kids learn to ride a bike, they do so sitting down. While sitting is fine for smooth roads, it can become uncomfortable when riding over rocky trails. Try to teach your kid to stand while riding, using your legs to absorb bumps. You want to encourage them to have some bend in their knees and elbows and keep their weight back over the seat. This position lets them absorb all the rough terrain they might encounter.

L-r: Matt Johnson and his sons Jack 10, and Cole, 9, mountain bike in Salem Park in Inver Grove Heights on Sunday, June 12, 2011. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)

Board trick

A fun trick to teach some skills involves nothing more than using a plank. A 2×6 piece of wood that’s about six feet long works best. You need to set it on the ground and have the kids ride over it. Riding perpendicular helps them work on absorbing impact in the standing position while riding along its length, which helps teach control. A significant part of the board trick is that it gives a person a visual indication of where to ride without penalty if they can’t stay on.

Up and Over

Once they get comfortable with the standing position, you will want to teach them how to get over objects. To start, find an object on the trail that might be challenging for your kid to ride over. Please take a minute to show them where to ride to get over it. Have them back up, get a moving start, and run at the object. You can be a safety net by standing over that object if it doesn’t go too well. Reach out, straighten them out, and congratulate their try. If your trails don’t have an excellent place to practice this, you can build an obstacle with a pair of two-by-fours and some lengths of PVC (see picture below).

Short and sweet

Please do your best to keep it fun. Pack treats, snacks and drinks, and take a lot of breaks. If a section of trail was super fun, turn around and do it again. Keep the pace slow and have fun. If you meet a puppy, stop and pet it. Do anything you can to keep it fun, and a big part of that is keeping it short. Rides over an hour can start to wear out new riders and take some of the joy out of it. And regardless of the duration, be sure to encourage the things they did well.

Bribery

Kids are like politicians, as they aren’t above bribes. After the ride, I always take my son for a treat (our current favorite is a smoothy from Wendy’s). This Pavlovian exercise can do wonders to reinforce the fun experience of a mountain bike ride, and encouraging the fun is an essential part.

The best way to stay dry is to wear waterproof clothing. While most synthetic fabrics still insulate when wet, being wet diminishes their ability to keep you warm.

Staying dry with waterproof clothing is a sure fire way to stay comfortable

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Staying dry is the most critical and challenging part of riding when biking in the rain as spring arrives. The best way to keep warm and dry is to wear waterproof clothing. While most synthetic fabrics still insulate when wet, being damp diminishes their ability to keep you warm. Therefore, a waterproof jacket and pants are a great way to start, but waterproof socks and gloves make the outfit complete. While many materials are naturally waterproof, once perforated with stitching, zipped closed with generic zippers, and left to be loose at all the cuffs, their waterproofing goes out the window. Before you go out and buy anything labeled “waterproof,” read on to understand that all waterproofing is not the same.

Waterproof Clothing and Gear for Staying Dry

To keep water out, look for waterproof clothes that have sealed or welded seams (see image). Also, look for waterproof zippers (pictured) or large flaps that prevent water from driving through the zipper. Make sure all the cuffs are adjustable enough to be snuggled tight against your skin.

Examples of cycling clothes with taped seams (Left), welded seams (Center), and a waterproof zipper (Right)

A waterproof garment is measured in mm of fluid. For example, a fabric that was 5,000  mm waterproof is tested as follows. The fabric is placed over the end of a long tube. Following that, the tube is filled with 5,000 mm of water and the fabric needs to support the pressure without leaking. Take a look at the table below for a quick reference.

Rating Resistance Weather Conditions
0 mm – 1,500 mm Water-resistant/snowproof Dry conditions or very light rain
1,500 mm – 5,000 mm Waterproof Light to average rain
5,000 mm – 10,000 mm Very Waterproof Moderate to heavy rain
10,000 mm- 20,000 mm Highly Waterproof Heavy rain

 Breathe Sweat Out

In addition to measuring waterproofness, textiles are also measured for their ability to breathe water vapor out. Breathable means that water vapor (sweat) being produced by your body can escape through the fabric. Breathable fabrics work because water vapor is smaller than water droplets. In order to breathe, the material will be perforated with holes small enough to stop water droplets from getting in, but large enough to allow water vapor to escape.

Breathability is important because, as far as insulation is concerned, it’s just as bad to get soaked with sweat as with rain. Therefore, using a breathable material in tandem with base layers designed to pull moisture off your skin is a sure-fire way to stay dry and warm.

Breathability is expressed in terms of how many grams (g) of water vapor can pass through a square meter (m2) of the fabric from the inside to the outside in a 24 hour period. To that effect, the larger the number, the more breathable the fabric. For example, a coat with 5,000 gsm breathability, 5,000 grams of water pass through a square meter of the fabric.

Waterproof even when it isn’t raining

During the spring thaw snow melts during the day and freezes again at night. In my commutes, during the thaw, I focus on wearing waterproof clothing to keep warm. The rivers of salty water I end up riding through would soak any non-waterproof clothing rendering it useless.

When Waterproof is Not Important

As the temperature rises, waterproofing becomes less and less important. It’s less important because, at a certain temperature, waterproof materials cannot breathe enough to keep you dry. Therefore, if it rains hard enough, and it’s warm enough, you’re going to get wet.

In the spring and fall, be sure to have your waterproof gear ready. The cool temps and wet conditions can be very dangerous if you aren’t prepared. Being dry is the #1 way to maintain your comfort and safety while riding in inclement conditions.

About John Brown, the author

As a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer, John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit and that particular fever is still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. Starting, like most, sweeping floors and learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated as a service manager and then to a store manager.  Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, parts, or just share your latest ride. You can also see more of John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
What started as way to get more people active, the "30 Days of Biking" campaign has grown in popularity and show added heart-health value.

Have fun, stay healthy with 30 Days of Biking in April

What started as a way to get more people active, the “30 Days of Biking” campaign has grown in popularity and shows added heart-healthy values. For many, biking in April leaves much to be desired unless there are above normal spring conditions. But it doesn’t have to be a significant ordeal. With 30 Days of Biking, you sign up with your own rules on how far and where you want to ride each day. It might be as little as a spin around the block, a few laps around the underground parking garage, or spinning at the gym, all depending on the weather. Then as May approaches, you will not only have bragging rights for riding 30 days in April. You will feel a lot better and be at your peak, ready for the summer bike season.

The only rule, dress to meet your own bodies comfort level no matter if its in April any any other time of the year.

The only rule, dress to meet your own body’s comfort level no matter if it’s in April or any other month of the year.

Cycling can improve your health keeping you on top of your game.

Did you know that just 20 minutes of cycling in a day can cut your risk of dying from a heart-related disease?

You will also feel better and may help improve your muscle for walking, general balance, and climbing stairs according to a recent study conducted by Purdue University, in Indiana. The study concluded that regular cycling can cut your risk of heart disease by a whopping 50 percent. Let’s see now, besides bragging rights, if I turn my bike crank each day in April I will feel better – where do I sign up?

Signing up and pledging to ride 30 Days in April biking, it’s free!

The 30-day campaign is a pledge to ride your bike every day in April, any distance, any destination, and share your adventures online at  #30dayikisofbng.  So tell your friends, sign up and ride together and make sure your bike is ready to roll.

Join 30 Days of Biking through April, wearing this tee-shirt and feeling good about yourself.

Join 30 Days of Biking through April, wearing this tee-shirt and feeling good about yourself.

30 Days of Biking is a springtime tradition founded in 2010 by two avid cyclists in Minneapolis. Last year thousands of  bicyclists from St. Paul to San Diego, to Düsseldorf, Germany, join this “community of joyful cyclists.” Will you join them?

It’s easy, just pledge to ride your bike every day in April, no matter, what the weather or if it is 30-feet or thirty miles each day and trainer bike miles count too!

Join 30 Days of Biking biking, April 1 through 30 and be a winner.

Join 30 Days of Biking, April 1 through 30, and be a winner with better health and more friends.

Sometimes you have to bike in the rain as spring arrives, make it fun!

Depending on the weather, you sign up and set your own rules as to how far you ride. It might be as little as a spin around the block.Depending on the weather, you sign up and set your own rules as to how far you ride. It might be as little as a spin around the block when the weather is wet.

Staying dry is the most important and difficult part of riding. The best way to keep dry is to wear waterproof clothing. While most synthetic fabrics still insulate when wet, being wet diminishes their ability to keep you warm.

Quick and easy bicycle maintenance tips for 30 Days of Biking

Like any other mechanical device, routine bicycle maintenance and cleaning will keep your bike in optimal condition when riding 30 Days in April. Additionally, routine bicycle maintenance will make your bike safe to ride whenever you need it. Where do you start? What do you use? Well, here are a few tips to put you on the right track!

After finishing your daily 30 Days challenge here are a few more tips to prepare your bike for the next day.

Get ready, make a pledge to 30 Days of Biking today!

 It’s easy and has no monetary costs to you. Then you share your adventures online with #30daysofbiking #nextbikeadventure and have fun while supporting a good cause, your health!

If you are in the Twin Cities, plan on participating in the 30-Days of Biking Kickoff Ride, on      April 1st at 5 p.m.

As a family, a group of friends or on your own bike-bird opportunities in the Willmar Lakes Area are endless.

Family fun bike-bird opportunities in the Willmar Lakes Area

Are you looking for a fun spring outing with endless bird-bike sighting opportunities for the family or a getaway for yourself? Consider planning a trip to the Willmar Lakes Area. Head west out of the Twin Cities, and before you know it, you will be greeted by small-town charm and a sprawling countryside full of birding opportunities. It may seem like just another rural prairie community to the naked eye, but head out on your bike with the binoculars, and the area offers many birding haunts. Along this central migrating flyway, you can spot many species from the Minnesota Prairie Bird List that nest in the area.

As the trees begin to bud and marshes come alive along the trails and roads in Kandiyohi County, birders and cyclists will find a special place to visit.

A perfect spring bike-bird location in western Minnesota

The Willmar Lakes Area is the perfect place to visit anytime of the year for a weekend bike getaway.

The Willmar Lakes Area is the ideal bike getaway to visit any time of the year.

Species to check off your list when bike-bird opportunities arise in the Willmar Area

Besides the Red Crossbill sighted around the MinnWest Technology Campus in Willmar, many parks here along the trail are also worth checking out. Some of the great birding haunts in the area include; Sibley State Park, Mason Lake State Park, the Prairiewood Environmental Learning Center, and a couple of Big Kandiyohi Lake County Parks, easily accessible from the Glacial Lake State Trail. When visiting here are some of the other birds you may see to check off your list: the Short-eared Owl; Townsend’s Solitaire; Long-eared Owl; Black-throated Green Warbler; Connecticut Warbler; Snowy Egret; Common Gallinule; Blue Grosbeak; Eastern Screech-Owl; White-winged Crossbill and a Long-tailed Duck.

Getting around on your bike in Willmar is more than encouraging. Awarded the Bike Friendly Bronze status by the League of American Cyclists, the community has redesigned its streets and inner-city trails to make it easy to pedal around and explore the area’s attractions and parks.

Getting around Willmar with your bike and binoculars

While biking, this is also an excellent area for bird enthusiasts. Sibley State Park is one of the most popular areas, so bring your binoculars and camera. Around the park, you will have a chance to see many of the 206 different species of birds that nest or migrate through the area. And with the Glacial Trail, it’s easy to get out to the park, by bike, from your hotel room in the Willmar Lakes Area.

About the Glacial Lakes State Trail

Built on a former Burlington Northern railroad line, the trail is generally level and wheelchair accessible. The path is paved for 22 miles between Willmar, Spicer, New London, Hawick, and the Kandiyohi/Stearns County line. This multi-use bike corridor offers many opportunities to look at wildflowers and wildlife along the way—a perfect route to get out to Sibley State Park and Mount Tom.

Bring the binoculars along, for some of the birds sittings along the trail you may see!

Bring the binoculars along for some bird sittings along the trail!

Sibley State Park and Mount Tom

Once you get to the state park, hike up Mount Tom. It’s worth the walk and will give you a birds-eye view of the area. At the summit, on a clear day, enjoy an eyeshot of forest, farmland, prairie knolls, and lakes in a patchwork setting. Along with prime birding activities in the park, they offer several interpretive programs throughout the year.

You will find nearly two miles of paved trails that link Lakeview Campground and the Interpretive Center in the park. Another favorite haunt with a slight elevation change is the Pond View Trail loop, which offers more birding opportunities.

Other parks and trails

Enjoy the miles of scenic paved trails in the prairie lands of the Willmar Lakes Area.

Enjoy the miles of scenic paved trails in the prairie lands of the Willmar Lakes Area.

It is easy for everyone to enjoy the outdoors in Willmar and the surrounding area. With several parks offering recreational activities and trails, those who visit with their bike will find many haunts to pedal to, including Bergquist Park, Ramblewood Park, Rau Park (Scott Park), Thompson Park, and Swansson Park. You can also reach Robbins Island Park and the park at Green Lake from the trail.

Rural road bike-bird opportunities

There are also plenty of bike-friendly Kandiyohi County roads, paved and gravel, to help you navigate the area to reach other marshy areas popular with several bird species here.

More about the bike-friendly Willmar Lakes Area

When you are not riding, the area also offers plenty of indoor attractions when you want to relax. Along with several museums covering different parts of Minnesota’s history, after your ride, enjoy a refreshing beverage or snack as you take a break from the outdoor activities in this scenic prairie lakes area.

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

With warmer spring temperatures drying out the bike trails, we thought it would be 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 enjoy 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, Crosby, MN. photo by Aaron W. Hautala

    For off-road riding, 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 enjoy some quality time together.

    A failure to notice what’s ahead, 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 trailhead.

    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 forest creatures pop out 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.

    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