Category Archives: News

I recently spent some time in Philadelphia. While there I enjoyed a few rides, but the most enjoyable one was Trek of Philadelphia’s Doughnut Ride.

Planning a casual doughnut ride for you and your friends

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking

Recently I spent some time in the cradle of liberty, Philadelphia. While there I enjoyed a few rides, but the most enjoyable one was Trek of Philadelphia’s Doughnut Ride. I was reminded of the joys of simple rides and good company, rather than difficult efforts and a competitive pace. Now with 30 days of Biking a few weeks away here is a fun idea you may want to consider with friends, as warmer weather moves our way.

The Doughnut Ride

We left the shop at 7:30 a.m. with a group of eight. Our bikes were a mishmash of road bikes, commuter rigs, single-speed, and an e-bike. When we departed the shop and headed toward the center city, it was immediately clear the pace would be conversational. Our cruise headed out on the river drive bike path, through Fairmount Park, and toward the center city. Rather than stay on the path, we crossed the falls bridge and onto West River Drive. On the weekends, Philadelphia closes West River Drive so we had our run of the entire roadway. After a bit of riding and a lot of talking, we found ourselves at the end of West River Drive and at the base of the Art Museum.

At the Art Museum, our ride began to slip through the surrounding neighborhoods until we reached our hallowed destination – Federal Doughnuts.

After stuffing our face with warm doughnuts we hopped back on our bikes. Full of sugar and fat, we made our way back to the bike shop along the same route. Ultimately, the ride took a little under two hours, including the time eating. Everyone had fun, the conversation was great, and we all got the chance to meet new people.

Why this ride works

The ride was great because the pace and route are clearly stated in advance. Therefore, everyone knew what to expect and where to go. The route itself was carefully chosen to promote great conversation and a casual pace. By including traffic-free paths and streets and a casual destination, every rider could enjoy the trip stress-free. Additionally, the pace is controlled by the ride’s start time. As an example, a competitive minded rider has a list of fast-paced rides leaving on Saturday morning, so there would be no need to come to the Doughnut Ride to try and get a killer workout with so many other options. From start to finish, this ride is a winner.

How to plan your own ride

If you already lead rides for a local club or shop, then setting up a casual ride should be easy for you. If this is your first attempt at leading an organized ride than there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, you want people to be at your ride! To make sure you have attendees, start talking about and advertising (if you’re working with a local club or shop) a minimum of two weeks in advance. Also, make sure all your information explains the pace as well as the payoff (in this case doughnuts) for your ride to build interest. Finally, make sure your route is friendly to a group of riders. As an example, I’ve been on a few rides that required riders to be single file almost the entire time due to narrow roadways. in contrast, the Doughnut ride promoted conversation with wide paths and clear roads.

According to Paul T., Perennial Cycle in Minneapolis does a great job with these types of rides and has a lot of them. Watch for the upcoming events there this season.

The Apres-Ski Recovery Boot works well for post fat biking activities

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Like the Telic’s sandals, the new Apres-Ski Recovery Boot is the perfect footwear, after fat biking the snow-covered trails. With a fun-filled day of pedaling through the woods and open fields behind us. It was time to slip on some comfortable walking footwear and enjoy the local festivities. Here my wife found this Recovery Boot, made for post-ski therapy, perfect for the activities we enjoyed after fat biking.

After a fun-filled day of pedaling through Minnesota’s True North landscape, the boots support technology added to the comfort.

The Apres-Ski Recovery Boot fit

As I mentioned Telic is best known for its comfortable sandal footwear. Telic originally designed the Recovery Boot for skiers in the snow sports industry to help them relax after training and competition. What they found incorporating the Novlaon Footstrike Technology from the sandals, the boot had a soft supportive fit for added comfort for any post-outdoor activity.

Very attractive, I liked the idea that this boot was lightweight, water-resistant, and had a nice traction control outer soles.

Stylish, and very supportive with great shock absorption.

Trying these boots, my wife found them stylish, very supportive with great shock absorption. So we found these boots kept her feet warm while we walked around the apres festivities after fat biking.

The new Telic Apres-Ski Recovery Boot turned out to be the perfect footwear for post-fat biking fun, after riding the snow-covered trails.

What’s an electric assist bike, or e-bike and is it for you?

You have probably read about electric-assist bicycles, commonly known as e-bikes. With many improvements, the past couple of years, this type of bicycle has grown in popularity around the world. So what exactly is a pedal-assist bicycle?

Simply by pedaling, instead of using a twist or thumb throttle, you activate the motor to help turn the drive-train. If you are curious and would like to check them out, stop by a local bike shop or visit the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis. Either option, here are some questions you may want to ask when test riding.

Fun test riding opportunities at the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis

First, how would you use an electric-assist bike

  • commuting to work, running errands or hauling cargo
  • maybe bike touring
  • spending more time on off-road trails
  • or assist with rehabbing after an injury?

Then ask yourself

  • will an e-bike make it easier for me to stay active
  • make it more enjoyable, especially when dealing with hills and headwinds
  • help so I can keep up with friends who ride faster?

Because electric bike technology is progressing quickly, both the batteries and motors are lighter to allow you a better range between charges. Today there are bikes for every conceivable application from hauling cargo to making a climb up a mountain bike trail a breeze.

Choose an e-bike for your style of bicycle riding

Geared to accommodate different kinds of activities, you have a lot of e-bike options. When considering an e-bike are you going to use it for cargo-hauling; relaxed cruising; off-road trail riding; child transportation; road biking; fat bike riding; bike touring; or urban commuting?

With so many e-bikes on the market today, design options vary to fit different people and their preference of use. So it’s up to you to decide what is most important. Is it the ease of riding; the cost; maintenance, dependability, and range – or all the above?

Test ride

Now that you have answered some of the questions, visit a few bike shops or the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis and test ride them. There you will see all the latest brands and models available to ride on the huge indoor test track.

The Fridley 10-mile bike loop lets visitors discover the MRT

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Named for an early settler along the east bank of the Mississippi River. Today the bike-friendly Fridley 10-mile bike loop lets visitors discover art, nature and beautiful flower gardens along the way. With many cycling paths connecting to both the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) and the Rice Creek Trail, bike touring is easy. One of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway, the city of Fridley is located just north of Minneapolis, and a fun place to explore. So, if you enjoy biking along the trails that Red River oxen carts once used we have some options to explore while enjoying the Fridley 10-mile bike loop.

Fun on the Fridley 10-mile bike loop.

The Fridley 10-mile bike loop

Starting from the outer parking lot of the LivINN Hotel, the Fridley route heads out in a clockwise direction. After crossing the Central Avenue intersection, drive your bike by using the bike lane on 53rd Avenue for the next two miles. Now turning to the north on Main Street, once over Interstate 694 you will pass Woodsprings Hotel. For those who would like to begin the 10-mile bike loop from this point, continue north up to 61st Avenue. Here on your left, you are at the Fridley train station.

Passing through Edgewater Garden Park on the MRT.

Taking the tunnel under the RR tracks

On the east side of the Northstar-Line Fridley Station use the elevator. Taking your bike with you down to the lower level and walk through the tunnel to the west side of the train tracks. On the main level, on the west side, the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) is right outside the door and ready for you to venture north again. An option for another day, consider boarding the Northstar Train with your bike and ride it up the Anoka, Elk River or Big Lake, then pedal back to Fridley, on the MRT. See the multi-modal train-to-trail cue-sheet here.

Many roads in Fridley offer trails that parallel for added comfort.

More adventure awaits at the Locke Lake trail T

Flower gardens invite you into the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

Back on the 10-mile bike loop, continue pedaling north on the MRT as the trail passes through Edgewater Garden Park. A little further on, before turning into Locke Lake Park at the trail T, you have a couple more options. If you don’t mind adding some additional miles out and back, continue on the MRT to the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts. With rotating art exhibits, the art center is next to Manomin County Park. Another mile further you will find the Springbrook Nature Center. These three community highlights can add more memorable moments to any bike ride.

Manomin County Park is on the same grounds as the Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts.

Back on the 10-mile bike loop, the trail connects to the Rice Creek Trail in Locke Lake Park. Use caution as you ride your bike through this area. You will need to apply both your front and rear brakes (or walk your bike) as you descend down along Locke Lake on the trail. If you are riding with others allow extra space between each, as there are a few sharp turns passing under the RR tracks next to Rice Creek, as it flows into the lake. Finally, at the next T, the Rice Creek Trail runs through Fridley Community Park.

Now riding east along the Rice Creek Trail

After crossing University Avenue, at the stoplight, resume riding east on the Rice Creek Trail. In this section between University and Highway 65, the Rice Lake Trail offers an upper and lower trail segment. The 10-mile loop uses the upper trail, as it’s a bit shorter and takes you past restroom facilities in the park before reaching the tunnel under Highway 65. After the tunnel resume the route by taking left at the trail T to Central Ave. If you are staying at Budget Host Hotel, or desire to start the 10-mile loop from here, at this trail T take a right and head south a block to the hotel.

Turning south ice cream may soon be an option

The trail route now, heading south, runs parallel to Central Avenue. If you have a sweet tooth and desire delicious Ice cream treat, turn right on Moore Lake Road into Grandpa’s Ice Cream.

The flavors here are worth stopping for.

Continuing along Central Ave, as you reach Hillcrest Drive you have one more option to cool off. If it’s a hot day, half-mile further south is Moore Lake Park where you will find a beach for a refreshing swim. Otherwise, take a left on Hillcrest and the route jogs through several neighborhood streets down to Matterhorn Drive. After crossing over Interstate 694, once more, turn right on Skywood Lane and follow the freeway border wall around to the start.

Back at the parking lot or your Fridley hotel, check out the nearby eating establishments and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Fridley click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Fridley click here

Tern’s HSD electric-assist bike, out of the box and on the road

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking

Every so often, I run across a bike that is truly unique and the Tern HSD electric-assist bike is one, and worth checking out. Especially if you are looking for a comfortable ride with options of hauling cargo or a child. As I look over some of the latest electric bikes that will be available to test-ride at the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis. I had a chance to take this new Tern HSD P-9 e-bike out for a spin.

My initial test ride of the Tern HSD electric-assist bike

Using three parallel streets, on a hillside in my neighborhood as my personal test course. I had a chance to experience the pedal-assist-power and comfort of this new e-bike. On my initial ride, with close to 300 pounds of weight between myself and some extra gear, I found the bike had a smooth acceleration with plenty of power to spare. It didn’t matter if I stopped on the flat or on the 12-degree incline of the hill. Each time I started pedaling, which kicked in the motor, there were no irregular jerk movements, it was smooth. Plus, with the Bosch motor set on the Eco mode (the lowest of four e-assist settings) and the 1×9 gear drivetrain, my cadence was comfortable going up all the hills. It was also reassuring that I still had the Tour, Sports, and Turbo motor settings at my fingertips if needed.

About Tern’s HSD electric bike

The Tern HSD electric-assist bike is a compact cargo bike offering a comfortable ride.

The Tern HSD P-9 is a compact cargo bike perfect for commuting, recreational riding and running errands with some extra space to haul cargo or a child. At 5.5 feet long it is slightly shorter than the average road bike and has a load capacity of 374 pounds.

The HSD P-9 model uses a Bosch Active Line Plus motor and 400Wh battery with a Purion display, with Eco, Tour, Sports, and Turbo power settings. The drivetrain uses a 9-speed Shimano® Alivio Shadow RD cassette/derailleur. So this motor/drivetrain combination was smooth when beginning to accelerate and throughout the ride.

Bonus items that come standard

The HSD comes with a headlight and taillight. A Suntour suspension front fork to help ease bumps, 20″ wheels, an aluminum frame, Shimano hydraulic disc brakes and an integrated Abus frame lock in the rear wheel. Plus, the bike can be stored standing on its rear rack and the handlebar stem folds down flat, making it easy to fit a compact space.

The HSD easily stands on the back rack for convenient storage.

Accessories

You can buy many accessories online, but Tern’s proprietary ones are fit to the bike and add convenience. Specifically, the Go-To bag that attaches to the front of the bike using a Tern Luggage Truss™ adapter. It was easy to fit my laptop inside this bag, and perfect for commuting to work, school or the library.

The Tern Go-To bag comes with a special cover for added weather protection and visibility.

On the rear, Tern’s proprietary cargo hold panniers are weather-resistant and pack down flat. Each pannier can hold up to 60 pounds and closes securely with a magnetic clip. I found I could easily slip in two paper grocery bags on each side, nice!

Need more cargo or kid hauling capacity, test ride all the Tern Bikes

Stop by your local Tern dealer or mark your calendar for the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis, March 28-29, 2020. There you can ride all the Tern Bikes including the GSD on the electric bike expos huge indoor test track. Have Fun!

 

The Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop makes it easy to connect and discover

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

Named for the turbulent Mississippi River waters at the confluence of Coon Creek, the city of Coon Rapids is a fun place to explore on a bicycle. One of the nine communities in the Twin Cities Gateway it’s a perfect destination for a bike vacation using the Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop. Here you will find many connections to hundreds of miles of trails. Both the Coon Creek Trail and the Mississippi River Trail are two greenway systems here that allow you to safely pedal throughout the area. So, if you enjoy biking along rivers and creeks we have some ideas for you starting with the Coon Rapids 10-mile loop.

The 10-mile bike loop is fun for all levels of riders.

The Coon Rapids 10-mile bike loop

Leaving from the outer parking lot of the Muddy Cow Restaurant, or a nearby hotel the route travels in a clockwise direction. Pulling out onto Springbrook Drive this tour safely crosses Coon Rapids Boulevard. Once across, we suggest using the paved trails that run parallel to the street due to heavy traffic. After crossing 85th Avenue, about two miles into the loop consider stopping at the Springbrook Nature Center.

Many roads here offer trails that parallel for added comfort and fun.

Now pedaling along the south side of 85th Avenue, at East River Road cross the street at the stoplight and use the sidewalk on the west side, up to 85th Lane. Here enjoy the quiet neighborhood streets that connect you to the Mississippi River Trail (MRT).  At 86th Avenue continue straight ahead on the MRT up between two residences and the real fun begins. As the trail drops into the forested vegetation along the bank of the Mississippi River its a whole new experience.

The visitors center here makes a great rest stop.

Following the trail along the river to the Coon Rapids Dam, you will pass several trail T’s in the park offering more loop options. One loop in the park circles Cenaiko Lake where you will find many people fishing for trout.

The Coon Rapids Dam and Visitors Center

At the visitor’s center at the Coon Rapids Dam, you will find more information on the area and the history of the dam. The dam is another popular fishing location and a crossing point for many cyclists riding the Three Rivers Trails throughout the Twin Cities Metro.

Riding across the Coon Rapids dam always offers a refreshing mist of cool air.

Turning north to Coon Creek

Riding up Egret Boulevard you can ride in the bike lane or use the parallel pedestrian path.

Now at the Dam, the 10-mile Loop leaves the MRT and heads north out of the park on Egret Boulevard. A bike-friendly road, you can ride the designated bike lane or use the pedestrian path paralleling the street. Continuing north after crossing Coon Rapids Boulevard, at Robinson Drive you will find the Coon Creek Trailhead. On the trail and after crossing the creek, at the trail T, the 10-mile loop takes a right. If you want to add a few for miles to your ride here is another option. To your left, the trail will take you up through the Erlandson Nature Center and further along connects to Bunker Hills Regional Park.

The smells, sounds, and views of nature as you pedal

Now pedaling south alongside Coon Creek, enjoy the smells, sounds, and views of nature. This stretch of the trail is a tranquil wilderness setting as you pedal along the stream through the forested canopy.  After crossing over a creek bridge one more time, pass under the railroad tracks for another option. Stop for a round of bumper boats, go-karts or miniature golf at Lilli Putt before heading east and completing the 10-mile Loop.

Enjoying the enjoy the smells, sounds, and views of nature along the trail.

For the last few miles of the route, the trail runs parallel along Coon Rapids Extension and Boulevard. Back at the parking lot, or your hotel, check out nearby eating establishments and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Anoka click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Anoka click here

Electric bike expo countdown, 50-days until the E-bike Challenge

Electric bike expo countdown – With an expanding selection of electric-assist bikes from around the world, the E-bike Challenge Minneapolis is returning in 50-days.

Thanks for viewing our electric bike expo countdown picture

From a recent article at HaveFunBiking, the E-bike Challenge will again be at the Minneapolis Convention Center, on March 28–29. Here consumers can test and compare electric-assist bicycles on the huge indoor cycle track. In its inaugural year, 2019, it was deemed a success with attendees of all ages and abilities test riding e-bikes. While visiting have fun learning:

What exactly is a pedal-assist bike or e-bike?

Hint – An e-bike is a bicycle that has a battery and electric motor to allow a cyclist to ride farther and with greater ease. However, the bicycle doesn’t do all the work by itself, it only assists! The bicyclist must be pedaled for the motor to engage, enabling an easier ride.

Start your E-bike Challenge visit with a 2020 Bike Guide and the daily E-bike parade

As you enter the bike expo hall and test track pick up your copy of the HaveFunBiking 2020 Bike/Hike Guide, hot off the press. Then attend the e-bike fashion show where you will find all the latest models of e-bikes you can ride, on the runway. Dozens of bicycle exhibitors, to name a few like Bosch, Tern Bicycles, Riese & Müller, Yuba, GoCycle will be there. With more brands signing up each day, you are sure to see the latest and greatest in electric bike innovations.

Find your next adventure in the Hike & Bike Xperience court area

When not test riding all the fun e-bikes, explore the Hike & Bike Camp area in the center of the exhibition hall. Here find information on tourism destinations, trekking, mountain biking, and fun activities.

Plus you will find an interactive Kid’s Area at the bike expo

This family-friendly event will also have an interactive kids’ bike test track for ages 16 and
under, a children’s scavenger hunt daily, a bicycle playground with activities, and more!

Have a great day and mark your calendar for the E-bike Challenge!

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop can add more memories to a sporting event

by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com

With miles of connecting bike trails around the city of Blaine, sports fans and visitors alike will find many phenomenal sights while bicycling here. One of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway this city is a perfect destination for a bike vacation tied to a sporting event. The city offers many trail opportunities surrounding the sports facilities here. So, whether you are an athlete looking for a fun way to get a pre-game workout. Or, a visiting sports fan looking for some added memories we have some ideas starting with the Blaine 10-mile bike loop.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop can add more fun to your game visit.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loop

A perfect bicycle tour before or after a game this bike loop begins in the parking lot of the National Sports Center(NSC). The route heads south using the service road between NSC and Schwan Super Rink and passes through several parking lots south to 101st  Avenue. Traveling in a clockwise direction drive your bike south on Davenport to the stoplight at 99th Avenue and cross Highway 65. If you are staying at the Asteria Inn & Suites, on 93rd Ave, this is a great place to meet up with the 10-mile loop. it is a short 1/4-mile ride, north on Baltimore Street, from the hotel to 99th Avenue.

The Blaine 10-mile bike loo is fun for all ages.

Crossing the highway and enjoying the trails in Blaine

If you prefer staying off the streets after crossing the highway the trail that runs parallel on 99th Avenue, on the south side, for your added comfort.  On Clover Leaf Parkway, take a right and you are soon on a sequence of city trails up through several neighborhoods. For the next couple miles the route meanderers to the north. As you pedal along the trail you will pass several small neighborhood ponds where it is common to view wildlife.

Many roads here offer trails that parallel for added comfort.

At 113th Ave. the route relies on a combination of roads (with parallel trails). These quiet, low traffic city streets connect you to more neighborhood trails on the route up to Paul Parkway. The last stretch on this section takes riders through the Blaine Baseball Complex with several trail options circling the ball fields. One option, if you don’t mind adding more mileage to your ride is taking a left at the trail T to Bunker Hills Regional Park. On the 10-mile loop turn to the east on Paul Parkway where you will find a trail running parallel with the street.

A sweet tooth option at the 6-mile mark

It’s always fun when riding in the Twin Cities Gateway to stop for ice cream.

If you don’t mind adding a couple of extra miles, take a left on Ulysses Street for ice cream. It is approximately a mile, each way, that you will have to add to your total mileage, But the Big Dipper Creamery is worth the extra miles with 52 flavors to choose. For any bike service needs, while touring here, Pioneer Cycle is across Highway 65, north of Main Street.

Enjoying nature along the trail.

Continuing east on Paul Parkway the route crosses over Highway 65 and turns south on Aberdeen St, again with a trail running parallel on the west side. If you have worked up an appetite for breakfast, lunch or some pie,  Carol’s Restaurant is an option. Her homemade cooking is always a treat when I stop there!. Further south, the 10-mile loop jogs to the east and meanders past some more picturesque trail setting that takes you over a wooden bridge.

Returning back to the NSC or your hotel

After the round-a-bout at 113th, the route continues south on Club W. Parkway. For those staying at the Best Western Plus or  Fairfield Inn & Suites in Blaine, take a right on 108th Ave. The Hotel is south of Target, on the east side to Baltimore Street. If you missed the Big Dipper Creamery option, above you will find ice cream next door to the hotel. For bike touring visitors staying at Asteria Inn & Suites, on 93rd Avenue, continue south using the cue sheet link below.

The 10-mile Blaine loop continues south on Davenport, below 105th Avenue and into the National Sports Center parking lot. Back at the NSC or your hotel checkout a nearby eating establishment and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Blaine click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Blaine click here

Picture yourself riding the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) through the wilds of Minnesota, pedaling America's famous 3,000 mile bike system

The Mississippi River MRT in Minnesota, a bike adventure of a lifetime

by Russ Lowthian
Picture yourself riding the MRT (Mississippi River Trail) through the wilds of Minnesota.
Pedal along with family and friends at your own pace on this Bold North adventure.
This is the first leg of America’s famous 3,000-mile bicycle trail system, using bike-friendly roads and multi-use pathways. Leading several MRT bike tours over the years and referencing
my book Road Biking Minnesota, you may find some of my observations, of interest.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The full Minnesota section of the journey, from the Mississippi’s headwaters near Park Rapids to the Iowa border is roughly 620 miles. To keep the daily mileage comfortable for plenty of time visiting the river towns along the way, the following route descriptions are spread over nine days. Depending on how much time you can spend on any given bike vacation, this overview makes it easy to break it apart for multiple bike getaways.

As you read the following, please visit the embedded links offering short video clips and maps of the Mississippi trail system. To get a better feel for what you will see and experience leaving Itasca State Park on the MRT, see the first video clip here. The information in this video and subsequent videos are made possible by the MN DNR; the MN Historical Society; Explore Minnesota Tourism; and the National Park Service.

MRT – Day 1 from the Mississippi Headwaters to Bemidji

 

 

After enjoying a hearty breakfast at the historic Douglas Lodge, in Itasca State Park, it’s time to roll out. First, you will need to pedal a few miles through the towering pines to where the Mississippi River begins. At the Headwaters parking lot, walk your bike down the trail. There, dip your rear wheel in the stream to celebrate the beginning of your journey. You may hear one of Minnesota’s loons cheering you on. Departing out of the parks north entrance, follow the internationally recognized Mississippi River Trail. Pedaling a scenic county road in a northeasterly direction this 30-plus mile stretch offers a beautiful rolling terrain. Smell the air as you pass by patches of pine forests and an occasional old farm setting. Soon you are pedaling into the first city on the Mississippi River.

Rolling into Bemidji

Arriving in Bemidji, the MRT enters on a city trail that connects to the Paul Bunyan Trail. As the current of the river flows into Lake Bemidji, this is a good place to consider for your first evening. While here discover all this community has to offer.

A-League of American Bicyclists (LAB) Bike Friendly Community it’s easy to get around and explore the city by bike.

In the downtown area, you will find metal sculptures, murals and historic architecture on just about every corner. Don’t forget to stop by the visitor’s center to have your picture taken with
Paul Bunyan and Babe, his blue ox. For lodging and more things to do when not riding, see our Bike Bemidji article. You will find camping options in Lake Bemidji State Park.

MRT – Day 2 from Bemidji to Grand Rapids

Back in the saddle, the MRT takes the Paul Bunyan Trail north to where the Mississippi River pours out of Lake Bemidji. As the current flows east enjoy the sites along the Great River Road as it rolls into Chippewa National Forest. This next stretch of the MRT to Grand Rapids is roughly 80 miles. To get a better feel for what’s ahead after leaving Bemidji to watch the 2nd video clip here.

With an abundance of wildflowers along the road, pedal through the enchanted treasures this forested area offers. Along the way notice a huge population of bald eagles and hawks as the
river meanders from one huge lake body to the next. Soon the river flows into Lake Winnibigoshish (Lake Winnie) and the MRT takes a course around the lake’s south shoreline.

To the first Federal Dam on the Mississippi

 

 

 

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Passing several resorts, you may want to stop for a selfie by the big fish monument. Riding up the east shoreline through towering pines, the MRT is soon up to the Federal Dam where Lake
Winnie spills back into the Mighty Mississippi. This dam was created in the late 1800s making
it the largest reservoir on the Mississippi River system. Approximately 45 miles from Bemidji
there is a campground. A couple of miles further east, you will find a restaurant and some lodging options.

As the river meanders, now in a southerly direction, the MRT follows suit, passing through a Native American village called Ball Club. Here the river dips and then flows to the east again. Soon the MRT rolls into Schoolcraft State Park where it meets back up with the Mississippi. This secluded park is the perfect place to take a break. Quiet and peaceful, the park offers a relaxing
environment with a virgin white pine forest that is more than 300 years old. Take a panoramic virtual tour of the area here and then it’s on to some Wizard of Oz trivia.

Rolling into Grand Rapids

This is the town where Judy Garland, from The Wizard of Oz, spent her childhood. Today the community offers visitors many fun options to explore, along with the Judy Garland Museum. Once settled in, visit the Forest History Center and the local art scene. Not only is this area rich in forested beauty it also offers a number of art forms including many bronze sculptures and historic architectural sites. Grand Rapids is also the western gateway to the Mesabi Iron Trail and Range. Another LAB Bike Friendly Community it’s easy to get around this river town and explore the city by bike.  If you have a few extra days, the mining communities along this Mesabi trail are worth checking out.  For lodging and more things to do when not riding, see our Bike Grand Rapids article.

MRT – Day 3 from Grand Rapids to Aitkin

As the Mississippi River pushes against the western slope of the St. Lawrence Divide, it
flows south and the MRT hugs the west bank as it rolls out of Grand Rapids. This stretch of
the MRT is approximately 70 miles to Aitkin. To get a better feel for what’s ahead after leaving Grand Rapids to watch the next video clip here.

Approximately 20 miles south you will come to a crossroads. Here, by taking a left and crossing the river, you’re in the town of Jacobson. If you turn onto this half-mile side-trip adventure, you will discover many pieces of unusual lawn art and a rest stop option.

Rolling into Palisade

 

 

 

Back on the route continue south and you will soon be in a town named for the high banks on each side of the river. This is another intriguing place to stop. The community has a restaurant
and a convenience store if you want to have a picnic or stay the night in the campground
alongside the river. Back in the saddle, out of Palisade, there are two options to reach Aitkin.

You can depart on the Great River Road, now a hard gravel surface for the next 15 miles,
enjoying a peaceful ride along the river. Or take the alternate route, adding eight-miles to your
trip for the day riding on a busy highway with a narrow shoulder.

Rolling into Aitkin

Regardless of the route selected above, you will be rolling into a community
with riverboat history. Once a popular meeting point for both Native American Indians
and explorers, today the town makes a good overnight choice offering both camping
and lodging options. After you settle in, check out the museum converted from the Burlington Rail Depot. Here you can learn about the town’s steamboat history and other interesting facts.  For more things to do and lodging options click here.

MRT – Day 4 from Aitkin to Little Falls

As the Mississippi flows in a westerly direction the MRT roll into Cuyuna Country. Here the river passes on the north side of an iron range of the past. While the bike route meanders around these abandoned open mine pits you can see some of Minnesota’s newest lakes. Now as the river bends to the southwest, the MRT is rolling towards the Brainerd Lakes Area

Rolling into Brainerd

Just imagine riding in an area sometimes referred to as Paul Bunyan’s playground. Legend has it that Paul and his blue ox, Babe (remember that mythical figure you can take a selfie within
Bemidji?) were having fun, wrestling around after a long rain spell. Stomping and tromping the two made a lot of large depressions that eventually filled with water to create the 464 lakes in the area. With the MRT and Paul Bunyan Trail merging back together in Brainerd/Baxter, you will find many fun adventures and good things to eat here. For more see our  Brainerd/Baxter article.

Back in the saddle, the trail and river both head south again. As the Great River Road rolls
along the east bank, passing Crow Wing State Park, agriculture now replaces the forested
landscape. Further down the MRT, cross over to the west bank and visit Camp Ripley which
offers a very interesting military museum. Here see hundreds of exhibits showcasing vehicles and field equipment of Minnesota’s military past. It’s still ten miles of pedaling to reach the next river town “where the river pauses”.

Rolling into Little Falls

For centuries Little Falls has been a place where native inhabitants, early settlers and recent visitors have used as a gathering place. Located where the Mississippi River pauses; this
river community is the town of Charles Lindbergh’s childhood. After settling in, check out the historic attractions and museums, while experiencing the town’s original murals and frescoes. While here, if interested, you can discover who helped finance the original production of the “Wizard of Oz.” For lodging and more things to do when not riding, see our Bike Little Falls article.

MRT Day-5 from Little Falls to Monticello

At the edge of town, cyclists will pass by Charles Lindbergh State Park where his childhood home still stands. Then the MRT passes by the Charles A. Weyerhaeuser Memorial Museum before the river valley floor opens up to more agriculture. To get a better feel for what’s ahead after leaving Little Falls, watch the 4th video clip here.

Rolling into St Cloud

Through this stretch, the river offers several sets of rapids as the MRT rolls into St. Cloud. Another LAB Bike Friendly Community, it’s easy to get around this river town and explore the city by bike. While in this river community, check out some of the attractions including the Munsinger-Clemens Botanical Gardens. For lodging and more things to do when not riding, see our Bike St. Cloud article.

Back on the east side of the river, the MRT and river both swing back to the southeast. Using county roads that parallel several irrigated potato fields, the route takes you to Clearwater. Then, crossing the Mississippi again, cyclists will notice the river is a bit wider here as they pedal to Monticello.

Rolling into Monticello

Here you will find a river town, full of charm, tucked up against the Mississippi River and conveniently located between St. Cloud and the Twin Cities. This vibrant community with many scenic parks is also home to thousands of geese and swans each winter. After settling in, check out the attractions in Monticello. For the lodging option in the area visit the local chamber here.

MRT – Day 6 from Monticello to St Paul

Leaving Monticello, the MRT crosses the river and meanders through the farm fields of specialty crops to Elk River. To get a better feel for what you will see as you ride into the Twin Cities, watch the 5th video clip here.  Stopping in Elk River, cyclists passing through the down-town area will notice the fresco mural on Main Street. You will also find plenty of options for a rest stop here.

As you head out of Elk River, on the Great River Road, you will cross over the Mississippi River again. Soon you are passing through Dayton and entering the northern edge of the Mississippi National River and Recreational Area.

Now, in the next twenty-five miles, MRT enthusiasts will enjoy stopping at several of the Twin Cities Gateway community attractions.

From here enjoy paved bicycle paths through Minneapolis, before reaching the St. Paul suburb of Inver Grove Heights.

MRT Day-7 from St Paul to Frontenac

Currently, as the Mississippi River Trail leaves the St Paul area, the route tentatively detours to the south on its way to Hastings. To get a better feel for what’s ahead after leaving St. Paul, watch the 6th video clip here. Hopefully by mid-summer, of 2018, the paved trail out of South St. Paul will connect to the Mississippi River Regional Trail allowing cyclists a direct route to our next river town.

This new trail near Schaar’s Bluff is already completed on the far end and will take cyclists into the downtown Hastings’s historic district. You can find more about Hastings in our At-A-Glance article, along with a place to stop for cool refreshments or a meal.

Leaving Hastings, the MRT follows the Mississippi, winding along the backwaters of the river and past the Prairie Island Indian Community. About ten miles further and the route enters Red Wing, the next river community on the Minnesota section of the Mississippi River Trail.

Rolling into Red Wing

As the MRT runs alongside the river bank on the Great River Road, you will find the atmosphere in Red Wing both unique and charming. From the beautiful bluffs, historic sites, and world-famous boots and pottery, this river town also offers several dining opportunities for a stop here. If you decide to spend the night, see Visit Red Wing for more options.

Back on the Mississippi River Trail, it’s approximately another 10 miles to Frontenac State Park for the night. The city here is on the National Register of Historic Places and contains a number of homes dating back to the Civil War era. Here you will find the Whistle Stop Café and a convenience store if you choose to camp in the state park for the evening.

MRT Day-8 from Frontenac to Winona

Back on the MRT, the route continues to use the wide paved shoulder of the Great River Road to Minnesota City. With a wide shoulder and rumble strip, dividing you from the traffic, the Mississippi River is in sight, to your left most of the time. When you start to notice the river widening, the Mississippi is now flowing into Lake Pepin and you are close to the ‘Birthplace of Water Skiing’.

Rolling into the Lake City

Here discover the quaint shops and restaurants next to the harbor in the downtown area of Lake City. This river town is also a popular place for touring cyclists. In addition to the Annual Tour de Pepin bike tour, the area offers several other mapped rides. See the Lake Pepin Area Bike Map and checkout Visit Lake City for more options.

As the river flows out of Lake Pepin, the next river community on the MRT is a town known for eagles and grumpy old men.

Rolling into Wabasha

The oldest city on the entire upper Mississippi River, this community has been thriving since 1826. As touring cyclists roll into town they will find 50 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If time permits enjoy their historic walking tour and discover the stories that have made this town so unique. With Bald Eagles in abundance along the river, this is also home to the National Eagle Center, located downtown. Also, with the popular movie “Grumpy Old Men” its sequel shot here, dine at Slippery’s Bar & Grill, for a nostalgic look at this river town. You can find more options at Visit Wabasha.

Rolling into Winona

Taking the MRT out on the back road through the village of Kellogg, it’s about 30 miles of pedaling to Winona, along the bluffs. Arriving in this pristine river town enjoy several views of the city nestled into a valley bordered by bluffs along the Mighty Mississippi. Here in Winona, there is plenty to discover with so many attractions and museums. Be sure to visit the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. You will also notice many of the downtown buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places and self-guided history tours are an option. Being a LAB Bike Friendly Community it’s easy to get around this river town and explore the city by bike. See our At-A-Glance Winona article for more tour, dinner and overnight options.

A stop a the Pickwick Mill, 2-miles off the MRT

MRT Day-9 from Winona to the Iowa Boarder

Leaving Winona, the Mississippi River Trail creatively takes you up into the bluffs past the historic Pickwick Mill and then onto the Apple Blossom Drive Scenic Byway. Here at the top of the byway cyclist in the area enjoy a remarkable view of the Mississippi River Valley. Then it’s a cruise down the Byway, into La Crescent.

From La Crescent, the last leg of Minnesota’s section of the Mississippi River Trail is approximately 24 miles to Albin, IA.

Enjoy!