Category Archives: News

Breathing new life into the Minnesota oldest bike ride, that has connected families and friends for decades, moves to Shakopee, MN, Sunday, July 15.

The MN Ironman Bike Ride returns this summer to Shakopee

from Free Bikes 4 Kidz

A Minnesota-based non-profit is breathing new life into the Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride that had connected families, friends, and communities for decades. Sign up by June 1st, before the price goes up!

On hiatus since 2017, the ride will now benefit the efforts of Free Bikes 4 Kidz (FB4K). After providing more than 50,000 free bikes to kids across Minnesota, this will help FB4K expand their program. At the same time continue the legacy of the state’s first organized recreational bike tour as the ride moves to Shakopee, MN, on Saturday, June 15, 2019.

MN Ironman Bike Ride

Over the year’s, the MN Ironman Bike Ride is always fun!

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is rejuvenating the oldest bike ride in the state

“This is an opportunity for us to bring families together for a day of fun while supporting our
efforts to positively impact more children,” said Tia Martinson, Executive Director for the
Minnesota division of Free Bikes 4 Kidz. “We’ve heard so many stories from people who are
passionate about this event. The ride will retain the same look and feel Ironman riders knew
and loved, but there will be many new activities afterward. Families and friends can continue
making memories together all day.”

This Bike Pic, yeah it's Friday, we captured this biker dude out with his daughter enjoying some spring riding as the grass greens up.

A great ride for family time.

The MN Ironman Bike Ride

Presented by Apple Autos, starting 7:30 a.m. on Saturday, June 15 at Huber Park in Shakopee, several route options are available. Depending on age and ability, several ride itineraries are available and they include a five, 37, 68.5 and 100-mile course. A Family Fun Ride will also be taking place beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Rider registration

Each registration allows Free Bikes 4 Kidz to provide a bike and helmet for at least one child, and early registration for the ride costs $55. The ticket price will increase to $65 on June 1st. Registration can be completed online at https://ironmanbikeride.org/. Riders can also register the day of the event for $80 on-site. For local lodging and visitor options, click here.

Riders will return to a “Big Taste of Fun”

The MN Ironman Bike Ride and Free Bikes 4 Kidz have partnered with The City of Shakopee and
JCI Shakopee for the “Big Taste of Fun” at Huber Park. The free event includes live music,
beverages and food trucks from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. There will also be a giant slip and slide
and a movie in the park after dark. “We are thankful for the partnerships that have been formed to make this entire day possible,” Martinson added. “We know Ironman riders will appreciate the opportunity to reconnect with each other during the ride and afterward at Big Taste of Fun. And as riders discover the bike-friendly attributes of the Shakopee Area this activity will benefit  the need for kids bikes all across the state.”

The MN Ironman Bike Ride is fun for all ages!

The MN Ironman Bike Ride is fun for all ages!

About Free Bikes 4 Kidz

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a non-profit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier,
healthier childhood by providing bikes to those most in need. The public donates gently used
bikes; we organize thousands of volunteers to clean and refurbish them, and then we give them
away to kids in need. www.FB4K.org

Sadly, it is sometimes unavoidable to ride in the rain. So, when you do get caught in the rain, use these bike maintenance tips to protect your equipment.

Quick and easy post bike maintenance tips after riding in the rain

by John Brown

Sadly, it is sometimes unavoidable to ride in the rain. In my experience, the rain actually waits for me to get as far from home as possible before starting. So, when you do get caught in the wet weather, how do you protect your bicycle from the damages of water? Read on for a few helpful bike maintenance tips.

The First Step In Bike Maintenance Tips Is Get It Clean!

The first step after riding in the rain is to get your bike clean. Road grime, mud, and other muck that has accumulated on your bike will hold moisture and encourage corrosion. A bucket of warm soapy water and a sponge is the best way to clean out that crud. Try to resist the urge to point a hose at the bike because pressured water gets into bearings promoting wear.

The Second Tip – Get It Dry

Once your bike is clean, use an old towel to get it dry. Rubber parts like tires and grips don’t need a lot of attention, rather focus on all the metal parts. Really try to address the steel hardware and make sure it’s dry to the touch before you’re done.

Then, Clean The Rims

Unless you have disc brakes, riding in the rain takes a toll on both the rims and brake pads. All the road grime that attaches itself to the rim works like sandpaper, wearing both the rim and the brake pads when you stop. Therefore, after riding in wet weather you will want to focus on getting all that abrasive grime off the rims and pads. If the dirt is left in place, your brakes can start making noise, be less efficient, and wear out quicker.

Lube The Chain

Water and motion will do a good job of scouring all the lubricant off your chain. Additionally, the same road grime that wears rims and brake pads will wear your chain. Additionally, that wear leaves your chain particularly susceptible to rust. To lube your chain, start by propping the bike up so you can rotate the cranks backward freely. Next, Backpedal the bike, while dripping lubricant onto each chain link. Once the chain is well saturated, give a few moments for the lubricant to penetrate the chain. Finally, wrap a rag around the chain, backpedal, and remove all the excess lubricant. Done!

Lube The Cables

Like the chain, cables will lose lubricant and wear quicker in the rain. To keep your bike shifting and braking well, drip a small amount of lubricant onto the cables where they enter the housing. Once capillary action carries a few drops of lubricant into the housing, shift through your gears a few times and squeeze the brakes repeatedly to help the lubricant find its way.

Drain The Bike

A bicycle may appear to be sealed from the elements, but it is, in fact, able to take on water when you ride in the rain. The water that collects inside the frame of your bicycle can destroy bearings, rust a frame from the inside, or freeze in the winter and burst frame tubes. To drain a frame, pull the seat and seat post out of the bike, and turn the bike upside down. Leave the bike for a few hours to drain and then replace the seat and post.

Overall, when servicing your bike after you ride in the rain be aware of the corrosion and wear rain can cause. Focus on getting the bike clean and re-lubricated, ready for your next ride.

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

Family fun spring bike-bird opportunities in the Willmar Lakes Area

Looking for a bird-bike destination with endless opportunities for a family outing, a place to explore with friends 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 to small-town charm and a sprawling countryside full of birding opportunities. To the naked eye it may seem like just another rural prairie community, but head out on a bike with your binoculars and the area presents its many birding haunts. Here along this major migrating flyway, you are sure to spot many species from the Minnesota Prairie Bird List, that nest in the area.

Now, as warmer weather approaches the trees and marshes along the trails and roads here become a special place to visit. Allowing birders and cyclists plenty of great outdoor space, in Kandiyohi County, for biking and birding.

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 perfect 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 that has been 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 Cyclist, 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 a great area for bird enthusiasts. Sibley State Park is one of the most popular areas, so make sure you 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 trail 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.

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

Bring the binoculars along, for some birds sittings along the trail!

Sibley State Park and Mount Tom

Once you get there, hike up Mount Tom. It’s worth the walk and will give you a bird-eye view, of a 50-mile radius at the summit, of the areas patchwork of forest, farmland, prairie knolls and lakes. Along with prime birding activities here with interpretive programs in the spring, it is also open year-around.

In the park, you will find nearly two miles of paved trails that link Lakeview Campground and the Interpretive Center. With a slight elevation change, another favorite haunt is the Pond View Trail loop offering 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.

Willmar and the surrounding area makes it easy for everyone to enjoy the outdoors. 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.  From the trail, you can also reach Robbins Island Park and the park at Green Lake.

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

Willmar also has the Yellow Bike program that places bikes at different spots throughout town. Community members and visitors can use these bikes free of charge during the day.

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, Then, after your ride enjoy a refreshing beverage as you take a break from the outdoor activities in this scenic prairie lakes area.

Bike commuting is an easy way to increase fitness, jump start your energy level, and enjoy nature. Read and learn about what you need to commute in comfort.

Bike commuting necessities and niceties to make your ride great

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Bike commuting is an easy way to add miles, increase fitness, jump start your energy level for the day while enjoying nature, especially with warmer weather finally here. Once you start commuting by bike you will find the hassle factor lessen while your overall trip acts as your workout for the day. Saving you hours in the gym. Here is a list of several other beneficial necessities to make commuting by bike that much more enjoyable.

Bike Commuting Necessities

While commuting by bike, there are very few items you need to have to get started. Ultimately, the only thing that you actually have to have is a bike. However, for added comfort and safety here is a list of items that will make your ride safer and a few items that will make easier to function at work or class properly once you are there. Past functioning, you need to stay safe on the bike also, so I consider all these things necessities.

Helmets

First and foremost a helmet is the most important product you can buy after the bike. While typically, self-preservation keeps us upright on our bike, while commuting we need to consider there is a vast amount of other actions we need to protect our self from. Now that you’re commuting, wearing a helmet isn’t just a logical safety choice, but can be very comfortable. Read here to learn how helmets protect you better, have become lighter, fit better, and are more comfortable than ever before.

Lights

While the helmet is a key safety product, it is not the only important one. Lights, no matter if it is day or night or your level of bike riding skill, are essential to make sure you have the safest ride possible. Additionally, sometimes when you’re riding in conditions without optimal visibility, you need a little added illumination. That’s where proper lighting comes in.

Locks

When commuting, you can’t be with your bike at all times. You’ll have to leave it unattended for extended periods of time, which make it susceptible to theft. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t help protect it. Here’s some info on the different kinds of bike locks, and other tips to ensure your bike’s safety.

Waterproof Bag

Being caught in the rain is not a possibility when commuting, it is an inevitability. In order to protect your possessions, invest in a waterproof bag. For example, a messenger bag made with a PVC liner can easily carry all your stuff, and keep them dry. For riders looking to carry their things on the bike, there are plenty of waterproof panniers available.

Bike Commuting Niceties

The following items aren’t a necessity for commuting, but make your trip quicker and more comfortable.

Shoes and pedals

Most riders look at clipless pedals as a competitive advantage only, but nothing could be farther from the truth. When riding a bicycle, few things are as effective as clipless pedals and cycling shoes. There is a simple equation that always holds true: control = comfort. In the quest for more control of your bicycle, secure your feet in place on the pedal. By doing this, you can use muscles more efficiently, be connected to your bicycle more directly, and relieve excessive strain on your feet. Read here to see how easy it is to learn to ride “clipless”.

Rain gear

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. A jacket and pants are a great way to start, but socks and gloves make the outfit complete. In their most basic form, a lot of materials are waterproof, but as soon as they are 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,” understand that all waterproofing is not the same.

Cycling shorts

Shorts come in all shapes and sizes. Tight shorts are popular because they offer great comfort as well as unencumbered movement around the bicycle. Baggy shorts are very popular for their casual look and the advent of pockets. There are even cycling skirts (called skorts) that offer excellent comfort and great off the bike look. Whatever short you decide on, the padding will make your ride more comfortable.

Fenders

Fenders are a standard option for many. They are light, sturdy, and keep you dry when riding in wet conditions. If you don’t want to keep them on your bike at all times, snap on style fenders are available, while a more permanent option is a bolt on the fender.

For winter, studded tires are helpful

Like winter tires for your car, there are also studded tires available for your bike. They usually have a few hundred carbide metal studs inserted in the tire to give you traction in icy conditions. These tires are typically twice as heavy as a non-studded version so be sure to use them only when necessary.

Bike commuting is a great way to enjoy the outdoors while traveling to and from school or work. It is an excellent form of exercise that will give you better attention, higher energy levels, and some free time to critically think without major distraction.

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 that you may want to add to your True Noth list of places to explore. Check out several bike trails in the north suburbs of the Twin Cities Gateway this spring and summer. Ground truthing the maps in the MN Bike/Hike Guide our interests were piqued by the many birding haunts that we noticed in the community of Shoreview.

An area once inhabited by Dakota and Ojibwe tribes, today the Shoreview community has many parks along its lakes. These parks provide both residents and visitors places to enjoy bird watching. While here, from these areas alone 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 Summer 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 view of the lake, 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 is 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.

A safety list for bike touring around the world

from Fat Bike Tours                                                                                                                                          

A bike is the top form of transit around the world and for good reason: they’re relatively inexpensive to acquire and maintain; they don’t pollute, and they keep their users healthy. You don’t even need to own one! Bike share programs are on the rise globally, making them accessible to everyone.

World travelers benefit from not needing to worry about renting a vehicle or having an international driver’s license and insurance. Instead, they can focus on a more immersive, full-contact experience of their destination.

This increased exposure does require that riders be careful, taking precautions to remain safe in their surroundings. Below you’ll find recommendations on what to bring with you so you can make the most of your ride, as well as some regional-specific tips to help make your trip easy and fulfilling – no matter where you travel.

Personal Safety Gear and Bike Accessories to Carry With You

Between scenic paths in the countryside and jam-packed urban streets, you’ll likely experience a wide range of environments on your bike. Smart cyclists make sure they can get by, even when seemingly stranded in the middle of nowhere. Here are some items you want to make sure you bring:

  • ID – Whether you’re making a quick trip to the corner store or riding on a remote mountain trail, you want to make sure you have a way to identify yourself. Even though you don’t need a license to ride a bike, you are still subject to traffic laws and ticketing – including bicycle DWIs in some areas. The safest choice of ID to carry with you internationally is your passport. Be very protective of it, and familiarize yourself with common passport scams. It is good practice to carry a photocopy of your passport in case it gets stolen.
  • Credit card, traveler’s checks, or other forms of secure payment – Carrying cash is generally considered to be a poor choice since it makes you an easy target for theft with little you can do to protect yourself should something happen. Many tout credit cards as being the safest form of payment to carry, since most have zero-liability policies in case they get lost or stolen. Many cards don’t charge a foreign transaction fee when used abroad. Traveler’s checks – which are now packaged as prepaid credit cards, sometimes even with chip-and-PIN features – can be replaced within 24 hours if they are lost or stolen.
  • Bike helmet – If you are renting/borrowing a bike, check with your provider to see if you can rent a helmet. Many cities around the world are now requiring bikers to wear a helmet, so you should check the laws in your destination. Even if it’s not the law, you should still wear protection since you will be riding on completely unfamiliar terrain as well as likely distracted by the novel sights. If you cannot borrow a helmet, make sure you either pack one in your luggage or else buy one when you get to your destination.
  • Cell phone – In case of an emergency, you’ll want to have your cell phone on you. Before you set out, save the number for the local police and emergency services. Make sure your phone is fully charged; consider bringing a back-up battery or even a charger.
  • Camera – Many phones come with a built-in camera, so make sure it’s functional or else bring one. Not only will you want to take pictures to remember your trip, but in case something happens – such as you encounter a strange plant or animal, or get into some sort of accident – you’ll want to have a way to document it for later reference. Bonus points if you can capture video (hello, GoPro!). That said, always ask before you take a picture of local people.
  • Translation device – Ask Siri or Cortana for help translating on your iPhone or Android phone, consult with any number of translation apps available online, use Google Translate, or refer to a designated translation device (and make sure it’s fully charged!). Make sure you have a way to speak to the local natives in case something happens.
  • Water bottle or canteen – This might not be absolutely necessary on a quick city trip, but it’s definitely essential for nature rides of any length. Newer stainless steel models keep your water cold for as long as a day while still being lightweight.
  • First aid kit – Even a skinned knee can quickly turn nasty if not tended to quickly! Some of the most common bike injuries are minor cuts and scrapes, as well as bug bites or rashes. Always carry bandages, ibuprofen, duct tape, Benadryl (for strings and allergic reactions), and safety pins with you in your first aid kit, just in case. A common injury on mountain bike rides is a broken clavicle, which you can identify when you feel pain upon touching a lump that appeared on your collarbone after a fall; if this happens to you, move your bike to safety, then fasten your shirt over your elbow using a safety pin, bending your elbow at a right angle. Use your phone to get help before you aggravate the injury further. Whatever the injury, make sure the first thing you do is pull off the road to get to safety.
  • For cyclists as well as cars, here is more information on road safety, thanks to our friends at http://teens4safety.com/

 Bike Safety Rules By Region Around the World

Fat Bike Tours provides safe, fun and unforgettable bicycle experiences through superior customer service that creates memories and smiles that last a lifetime. Learn more about their tours and company here.  

Common cycling mistakes are something we as humans can't escape, but nobody is perfect. That said, consider taking a look below at some of the most common and damaging cycling mistakes

Common cycling mistakes and the ways you can easily solve them

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Mistakes are something we as humans can’t escape, but nobody is perfect. That said,  what we can do is try to eliminate some of the simple errors we may make without ever realizing we are proceeding down the wrong path. Consider taking a look below at some of the most common and damaging cycling mistakes made by both occasional and seasoned cyclists.

Cycling Mistakes #1 – Only wear a helmet when you think it’s needed

Many riders make the mistake of thinking “I don’t need to wear a helmet, I’m only going around the block with the kids”. This mentality is often responsible for the catastrophe. The truth is you never know when an accident can happen, so you should always be prepared. As an example, the worst crash I have ever had was when riding from a campsite, down a straight gravel path to the washroom. Before I knew it, I was smack dab on the ground faster than I could get my hands up to catch myself. Moral of the story Is to wear your helmet any time you ride your bike.

mistakes

Helmets are always in style

#2 – Believing you have plenty of air in the tires without checking

Frequently, I see riders headed down the trail with tires so low you can hear the rim bouncing off the ground with each pedal stroke. Low tire pressure can lead to pinch flats, and more importantly, loss of control. The inner tube that holds the air in your tire is naturally porous and lose air naturally over time. In fact, a tube can lose between 3-5 PSI a day. At its extreme, your tire could go from full pressure to less than half pressure in the span of one week. Be sure to protect your ride by checking tire pressure before each ride.

#3 – Lube the Chain After Every Ride

Believe it or not, an over lubed chain is more damaging than an under the lubed chain. While I am not recommending that you ride around with a dry chain, knowing when to lube is important. Having a ton of lube on your chain will not protect it any better. In fact, too much lube will attract dirt and debris, creating a harsh slurry that covers and wears your drivetrain. The best way to lubricate your chain is to apply lube to the chain, allowing it to soak in for a minute and then use a rag to wipe off as much excess as possible. When done, the chain should feel almost dry to the touch.

The right amount of lube is a great thing

#4 – Use the water hose to clean your bike

After a dusty or wet ride, many riders reach for the hose to spray dirt off the bike. Sadly, while the bike may look clean, the bike will be in worse shape than if it hadn’t been cleaned at all. Pressured water that comes from a hose, can displace grease and leave nothing behind. Now, with no grease, the bike wears out at an accelerated rate. Instead of using a hose, try instead a warm bucket of soapy water and a big sponge.

#5 – Bring water along only on some rides

Many times, riders will assume that because the weather is cool, or a ride is short, they don’t need to bring water with them on a ride. Truth be told, the biggest drain to your energy while riding can be related to dehydration. Stay hydrated by bringing water or a sports drink along on all rides.

mistakes

Yay Water!

#6 – Assume cycling shoes are only good for clipless pedals

If you don’t want to ride clipless pedals, I get that. There are tons of reasons clipless pedals are great, but at least as many reasons why they aren’t right for everybody. What you can do is use a cycling specific shoe with your flat pedals. A cycling shoe has a stiff sole and additional arch support to disperse pedaling forces over the entire length of your foot. Therefore, you have more efficiency and less discomfort.

Mistakes in general

Overall, it is a good idea to think about what you are doing before you ride your bike. Make sure your bike is ready for the ride, be equipped to take care of yourself during the ride and be sure you are prepared to reach out for help if needed. Once you go through that mental exercise you will see the common cycling mistakes melt away. Have Fun!

Kids 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 kid’s mountain bikes, to teach them to love the sport too. 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 that will determine the overall bike size. Be sure to find the right size at your local bike shop.

Teach to shift

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 being used on the pavement and the lower gears for off-road conditions. By teaching your kid(s) how and when to shift will them become more comfortable while riding over varying trail conditions. I find it is easy to teach this on the sidewalks in front of my home. Have your child ride down the sidewalk in one gear, then shift to an easier gear and ride on the grass back. By shifting between gears and conditions, kids can get a great feel for how the gears work.

Teach to brake

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 when the wheels skid, you lose control. I found an easy way to teach this balance is to find a short but steep hill with a clear run-out at the bottom. Stand at the bottom of 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 squeeze a little less and feel the difference. Have them apply the front brakes more or more rear brake on each successive trip. After a little while, they will have a good feel for the way the brakes work.

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 other than a board. A 1×6 piece of wood that’s about six feet long works best. All you need to do is 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 trying to ride along its length, helps teach control. A great part about the Board trick is that it gives a visual indication of where to ride without any 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. Take a minute to show them where to ride to get over it. Have them back up, get a moving start, and take a run at the object. By standing over that object, you can be a safety net in case it doesn’t go too well. Reach out, straighten them out, and congratulate their try. If your trails don’t have a good 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

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, in that they aren’t above bribes. I always take my son for a treat after the ride (our current favorite is a Smoothy from Wendy’s). This Pavlovian exercise can do wonders to reinforce the fun experience that is a mountain bike ride and encouraging the fun is the most important part.

Biking into New Orleans on the Mississippi River Trail in April the flowers are blooming.

New Orleans on two wheels at the end of the Mississippi River Trail

by Russ Lowthian

New Orleans, A Fun Biking Haven

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Driving your bike around New Orleans, bike lanes and low traffic one-way streets make it easy and safe to get around.

Seeing the city of New Orleans and its parishes on two wheels can be a fun way to experience the last section of the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). So if you are a northerner like me and need a brief reprieve from the cool spring elements the upper Midwest can dish out, this is a bike destination to consider. As the area continues to rebuild from Hurricane Katrina, the city has quadrupled its miles of bike-ways making it easy for both residents and visitors to take to the streets by bike.

Even the League of American Bicyclists has recently taken note, awarding this city the Silver, bicycle friendly community designation. So, if you looking for a fun time, here are some ideas and opportunities for that #nextbikeadventure to the Big Easy.

New Orleans – Culture and Area

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Some of New Orleans parks draw visitors for both the art objects and wildlife in the background.

In the springtime the fragrance of jasmine whispering through the air. Because of this, on our last visit, we wanted to experience the city, only using bikes and public transportation. Besides the non-stop fun in the French Quarter, touring on two wheels we were able to find many other community pockets to enhance our visit. This included places with delicious meals, art, and music hotspots. Along the bike-friendly streets we rode, many were influenced by Creole and French cultures. This gave the homes in the area a wide array of tropical colors which is different from what we usually see in most northern states.

We discovered that driving your bike was the best way to see all the neighborhoods and experience, New Orleans.  Thanks to the NOLA printable bike friendly map and the Big Easy Bike Coalition at BikeEasy.org, getting around New Orleans was straightforward. Besides, the miles of bike lanes, bike sharrows (painted V-shaped arrows that are stacked like sergeants stripes on a shirt sleeve that point in the direction of traffic flow of a bike route) and trails, the majority of the city is laid out with one-way streets alternating back and forth, North/South and East/West to get around.

Beginning a Bike Adventure in New Orleans

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Bicyclists tend to stroll along with pedestrians while taking in the music and fun along the French Quarters in New Orleans.

First, we downloaded Joey’s digital version of the map for planning. After that, finding a printed edition at a local bike shop or one of the tour companies listed below – was a bonus!

The bike map gave us a great chart to maneuver through the neighborhoods when the main bike routes were detoured by one of the many events going on or construction updates. Using a combination of the above map options made it convenient to go from the French Quarter: up to City Park, one day; to the Garden District and Audubon Park another day; and then across the Mississippi River and back, by ferry, to Algiers for another New Orleans bike adventure. Plus, in April, the humidity is still relatively low.

Lakeview Area and City Park

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Here Marcy Kelash found the outdoor scale model railroad setting, amongst the flower gardens in Lakeview Park quite exquisite.

Well worth a 15-mile round trip from the French Quarter, we found the Lakeview Area breathtaking. We even spent several hours at the City Park – that turned out to be one of the highlights of our visit.  Here the gardens and sculptures in the park were impressive. Plus, in April, you will find many varieties of roses and several exotic flowers in bloom in the area. Into trains? The outdoor scale model railroad exhibit in the park was quite extraordinary, detailed with authentic replicas of buildings and tracks of the southern Louisiana area.

Lake Pontchartrain Area

In the Garden District you will find several walking tours and stately homes to bike by.

In the Garden District, you will find several walking tours and stately homes to bike by.

Also, being so close to Lake Pontchartrain, we added several more miles to our day of riding through this section of town. This part of the Big Easy is quite different from the colorful Creole-influenced shotgun houses we biked past near the French Quarters. It was picture perfect riding in the area. Riding through the high-end neighborhoods where sycamore trees shade the architecturally present and pristine lanes there an enjoyable adventure touring the northeast section of the Big Easy.

Algergers Neighborhood and the Last Section of the Mississippi River Trail

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Crossing the Mississippi River to the Algergers neighborhood by ferry is free for the passage for bikers and walkers.

In the Algergers neighborhood, after crossing the Mississippi River by ferry, (free passage for bikers and walkers) you will find a bike trail that follows the river up steam. This is the last section of the MRT before the Gulf of Mexico. Here, riding along the river, you can view some of the big boats coming in from the Gulf and the skyline view of Downtown New Orleans. Plus, if you are lucky when passing by the warehouses along the trail, you may see some of the Mardi Gras floats – sometimes open for a tour.

Marigny/Bywater Area

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Dr. Bob is a New Orleans self-taught folk artist who has made the phrase “Be Nice or Leave” a part of his identity.

A ride back on the ferry, another Creole-influenced neighborhood is the Marigny/Bywater area. This is a great place to discover the soul of New Orleans. Here you will find many artists and several hole-in-the-wall places offering great food and music. For ribs, some of the best we have ever feasted on, try the “Joint.” For other great entrees, check out Elizabeth’s on Chartres Street.  And don’t forget to stop at Dr. Bob’s Art Gallery.

Dr. Bob is a New Orleans self-taught folk artist who has made the phrase “Be Nice or Leave” a part of his identity. Here we found objects many everyday objects he has transformed into his artwork.  You’re sure to be interested in the eclectic mix of Southern Louisiana influenced art that you can find in his gallery of fun objects. Just pull into the double gates of the complex, pass the lumber yard, park your bike back by the trailer, and introduce yourself.

Other Areas in New Orleans

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Around New Orleans, several other guided biking and walking are available, with recommendations for places to visit on your own.

Visiting the Carrollton, Garden District, and Irish Channel Area from the French Quarter, discover the ease of riding the new bike lane on Magazine Street. Once you arrive in the Garden District, several guided biking and walking tours are available. The tours are well worth signing up for, to maximize your Big Easy bike experience. I would recommend taking one or several of these tours on the front end of your visit to maximize your time pedaling around this area. Plus, you will get the inside scoop to good places to eat and local music that showcases the soul of the New Orleans.

Bike Rental in New Orleans

A fun print displayed in one of the art shops in the French Quarters, in New Orleans.

A fun print displayed in one of the art shops in the French Quarters, in New Orleans.

If this is your first time planning a trip to the Big Easy and exploring the city on two wheels, leave your own bike at home – unless you are serious about packing on the miles. Most points of interest are less than a 20-mile meandering round trip from the French Quarter area. If you choose to rent and plan to cover more than 10-miles in a day, pay a couple of extra bucks for a bike with five-to-seven-gears. Though the terrain is fairly flat, it is not uncommon to encounter a headwind – coming or going – in or out of the different neighborhoods. For shorter distance sightseeing opportunities or when combining public transportation (bus/cable car with bike racks) on your excursion, single speed cruisers bikes work well.

Our Bike Rental Picks

Biking near the French Quarters you will notice the colorful Creole and French influenced shotgun homes there.

Biking near the French Quarters you will notice the colorful Creole and French-influenced shotgun homes there.

I found several bike rental shops, most around the French Quarter.  Rental options, I checked out and was impressed with included: Michaels Bicycle Sales, Rental and Service on Frenchman Street and Ride This Bike Rental and Folding Bike Sales on Dauphine Street. Both places had Joey’s Bike Map, were friendly, and they were helpful with tips on riding around the Big Easy.

Looking for neighborhood bike tours that include a rental (most have single speed bikes with coaster brakes?). We enjoyed a tour of the Marigny/Bywater area led by the staff of the Confederacy of Cruisers Tour Company.  Not only was the tour fun, but our guide also offered many suggestions on food and music hot spots, that we checked out later on in the day and fully enjoyed.

Places to Stay in New Orleans

For lodging options throughout the city,  places to eat, events and festivals to see, the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau web site is a great place to look for more information when planning a bike visit to the Big Easy – the last city on the Mississippi River Trail.

Bike clubs progressive ride series cheats Mother Nature last Saturday

As last Saturday’s rain, sleet, and snow hindered many to the north and south of the Twin Cities, the first of twelve progressive ride series scathed Mother Nature’s ill mood.  With partially cloudy skies and temps hovering in the low 50’s the Hiawatha Bike Progressive Ride Series held its first ride in Roseville MN. An effort by Hiawatha Bicycling Club (HBC) and D’ Amico’s Restaurants to help more get in shape with upcoming bike activities and the club’s annual Tour D’Amico (TDA), 4th of July bike ride. The HBC Series offers three complimentary rides in four locations, Wayzata, Golden Valley, Edina, and Roseville. The first of three in Wayzata, MN starts this Saturday.

Participants on the HBC Progressive Ride I in Roseville leaving the Bicycle Chain Bike Shop

Participants on the HBC Progressive Ride I in Roseville leaving the Bicycle Chain Bike Shop

About the Progressive Ride Series

The total miles of the first ride of each ride location is approximately 12 to 14 miles. The second Ride will be approximately 16 to 18 miles and Ride III at each location will be approximately 22 to 24 miles. Each progressive group rides is carefully planned and ridden by HBC members that use these routes regularly, using a combination of trails and quiet neighborhood streets to give you a sampling of fun ways to get around each area.

Riders on the HBC Progressive Ride I, in Roseville, leaving D' Amico's who provided some delicious snacks

Riders on the HBC Progressive Ride I, in Roseville, leaving D’ Amico & Sons who provided some delicious snacks

Halfway through the ride participants will enjoy a scheduled rest stop at D’ Amico & Sons Restaurant. Those on the ride will enjoy a complimentary ‘tour salad sampler’ and a chance to taste D’ Amico’s Gelato Ice Cream. The terrain on these rides is rolling with a few modest hills, to test your stamina. Don’t worry, no one will be left behind as a ride leader will follow from behind to make sure everyone arrive back to the start, safely.  Kids under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate.

Hiawatha Bike Wayzata/Long Lake Progressive Ride I (this Saturday)

On Saturday, May 4, 2019, at 1 p.m. sharp, Ride I will offer you a chance to meet some new riding friends. With the opportunity to discover some new route options HBC offers through the year in the Wayzata area. The rides will start at Gear West Bike Shop, 1786 Wayzata Blvd, Long Lake, MN (parking one block north in the park). Remember to bring your helmet and if you need air for your tires or minor bike adjustments, please come early so the staff at the bike shop has time to help you before the ride.

HBC Progressive Ride II will be on May 18 and Ride III will be on June 8, see more details on the HBC Ride Events Calendar and RSVP.

Hiawatha Bike Golden Valley/Hopkins Progressive Ride I  

On Saturday, May 11, 2019, at 1 p.m. sharp, Ride I will offer you a chance to meet some new riding friends. With the opportunity to discover some new route options HBC offers through the year in the Golden Valley/Hopkins area. The rides will start at Tonka Cycle Bike Shop, 16 Shady Oak Rd, Hopkins, MN (parking one block north). Remember to bring your helmet and if you need air for your tires or minor bike adjustments, please come early so the staff at the bike shop has time to help you before the ride.

HBC Progressive Ride II will be on June 11 and Ride III will be on June 29, see more details on the HBC Ride Events Calendar and RSVP.

Hiawatha Bike Edina/Richfield Progressive Ride I  

On Saturday, May 18, 2019, at 1 p.m. sharp, Ride I will offer you a chance to meet some new riding friends. With the opportunity to discover some new route options HBC offers through the year in the Edina/Richfield area. The rides will start at Brown Cycle, 2323 W 66th St, Richfield, MN (parking lot rear of store). Remember to bring your helmet and if you need air for your tires or minor bike adjustments, please come early so the staff at the bike shop has time to help you before the ride.

HBC Progressive Ride II will be on June 2 and Ride III will be on June 22, see more details on the HBC Ride Events Calendar and RSVP.

Hiawatha Bike Roseville/N. St Paul Progressive Ride II 

On Saturday, May 18, 2019, at 1 p.m. sharp, Ride II will offer you another chance to meet some new riding friends. With the opportunity to discover some new route options HBC offers through the year in the north St. Paul area. The rides will start at Bicycle Chain (parking lot near the street at 1712 Lexington Ave North). Remember to bring your helmet and if you need air for your tires or minor bike adjustments, please come early so the staff at the bike shop has time to help you before the ride.

HBC Progressive Ride III will be on June 8 see more details on the HBC Ride Events Calendar and RSVP.

About the Tour D’ Amico

Find old and new friends on the Tour D'Amico Bike Ride

Find old and new friends on the Tour D’Amico Bike Ride

For more information on the Tour D’ Amico on the 4th of July, check out their website here.