Category Archives: News

The Ham Lake 10-mile bike loop makes it easy to connect and discover

by Russ Lowthian,

A favorite place for bicyclists to visit, getting around on the Ham Lake 10-mile bike loop makes it easy to connect and discover the area. For summer fun and winter fat biking, Ham Lake is one of the nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway you should consider exploring. With easy trail connections, it’s a comfortable place to ride. It’s almost like there is a bike-friendly road or trail wherever you go. Along with the 10-mile bike loop, with so many options you will find several days of attractions and parks ready to discover.

Riding through the neighborhood makes it easy to connect to the trail.

The Ham Lake 10-mile bike loop

For this 10-mile bike loop, the route travels counter-clockwise and begins in the parking lot of the AmericInn on the west side of Highway 65. Riding a short distance from the hotel on the Service Road the route quickly jogs through a neighborhood, up to Bunker Lake Boulevard. The first two miles are on the paved shoulder, so for safety, drive your bike like you would a car. Then, once you see the ball field it is easy to merge onto the bike trail that parallels the boulevard. At Prairie Road, the trail crosses for an adventure in the county park.

Riding the Ham Lake bike loop.

Explore the miles of trails in Bunker Hills Park

Now in Bunker Hills Regional Park, you will find a series of trails and parkways that crisscross at several locations. The natural setting of the park offers visitors several distinctive flora covings as you ride the trail loops here. At one point you are pedaling through native prairie grassland with patches Bur Oak. Next, you are pedaling through stands of pines that will lead you to shoreline views near Bunker Lake.

The natural setting here offers visitors several distinctive flora covings in the park.

For the 10-mile Ham Lake Loop, we will follow the trail close to County Parkway C, past a series of parking lots, a playground, restroom, and the Veteran’s Memorial site. Soon our selected trail route passes Bunker Beach Water Park and then follows County Parkway A to the south gate. Here at the trail T, our selected route takes a left and heads east.

Leaving the park it may be time for ice cream?

Leaving Bunker Hills Regional Park the trail comes out at the local high school. Here the route continues in an easterly direction on Bengal Drive, out of the school parking lot. At Jefferson Street, the route jogs to the right. Here watch for the trail on your left.  In a short distance, the neighborhood trail here comes out on 127th Ave and zig-zag down to Buchanan Street. If you have a sweet tooth or looking for a cool treat, stop at Big Dipper Creamery, with 52 flavors.  If bike service is need on your ride Pioneer Cycle is across Highway 65, north of Main Street.

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

Now heading north, the 10-mile bike loop takes you back up the Service Road along Highway 65 back to the AmericInn. Back at the hotel parking lot checkout 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 Ham Lake click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Ham Lake click here

For winter fun check out the Ham Lake Snow Bowl

If you’re around in February, with your fat bike, consider the annual Ham Lake Snow Bowl. The event includes a fat bike race, scavenger hunt, ice fishing, local crafts and food, and more.

The Lino Lakes 10-mile bike loop is a true Minnesota experience

by Russ Lowthian,

Here it can feel like you are smack dab in the middle of northern Minnesota, especially while enjoying bike loops along the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes. A perfect place for your next bike vacation the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop and the many trail connections here are worth considering. One of nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, the Lino Lakes area supports a large Blue Heron rookery and hosts the annual Blue Heron Days Festival held in the middle of August. Regardless of when you visit, you are sure to see several species of wildlife to enhance your Minnesota experience while pedaling while biking here.

A true north experience!

The Lino Lakes bike loop is a true north experience

For the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop, the route travels clockwise and begins at the parking lot of the Hampton Inn. After pulling out from the hotel you will find a bike trail running parallel on the east side of Lake Drive. From there It’s a short distance before you are riding in the stunning Rice Creek Park Preserves. One of the largest preserves in the Twin Cities Area the Rice Creek Chain offers both paved and water trails. On the bike route, you are sure to see some of the most significant native wildlife habitat and water resources in the metro area.

The Lino Lakes Area is a family fun location.

Entering the trail system next to the Lino Lakes YMCA the trail circles the shoreline around Marshan Lake, before crossing over the Rice Creek, as it flows out of George Watch Lake. At the next trail T, the route takes a sharp left and runs parallel to the golf course road. After a sharp right curve and before the clubhouse a service road helps trail riders get over to the north shoreline of Reshanan Lake.

From a cottage community to the park it is an enjoyable ride

Passing the Reshanan Lake cottage community, soon Shadow Lake Drive disappears and trail riders are meandering past marshy areas with occasional patches of a forest while making their way to Centerville Lake. Now on E Street, at the boat landing, it’s a short distance along the service road here up to the beach area where you will find restrooms and a visitor center. Leaving the park take the trial to the entrance on Main Street. The Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north, but there is an option if you don’t mind adding a couple more miles. Consider taking the trails south along Main Street and visiting the charming little community of Centerville.

A few more options as the Lino Lakes 10-bike loop heads north

Wildlife viewing along the roads and trails here offers many opportunities.

Pedaling north on the trail parallel to Main Street you will cross Rice Creek again as it flows from Peltier Lake across the road to George Watch Lake. Here from the road look up to the northeast end of Lake Peltier and you can make out the Blue Heron Rookery. Soon you are passing the entrance to Wargo Nature Center. A place devoted to increasing the awareness and appreciation of natural and cultural resources. The center is located on a peninsula surrounded by George Watch Lake and offers activities, labs and equipment rental. For another outing, check out the available rental canoes and kayaks to experience the Rice Creek Chain of Lakes water trail.

Back in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage and fun

After a ride, many enjoy stopping in Lino Lakes for a cool beverage.

After crossing over 35W, on the wide shoulder, you are rolling back into Lino Lakes. As you turn onto Lake Drive consider stopping in at the Hammerhead Brewery before returning to the Hampton Inn. Back at the parking lot, check out the nearby eating establishments and plan another fun adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Lino Lakes click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Lino Lakes click here

The Mounds View 10-mile bike loop connect to parks and nature

by Russ Lowthian,

With a great mix of busy and calm the Mounds View 10-mile bike loop lets you ride your bike along creekside trails from park to park. One of nine Twin Cities Gateway communities, it’s a perfect destination for a bike vacation with all the trail opportunities and connections here. Plus, their annual Festival in the Park event is something to plan for if you want to watch bike racers testing their cycling skills with blood, sweat, and gears. Maybe you want to give it a try yourself at the events beginner race?

Enjoy watching the Festival in the Park bike races or try it yourself.

Regardless when you visit here it’s fun to pedal through many quiet neighborhoods that connect you to trails that comfortably take you from park to parks. Along the way, especially on this 10-mile route, you may catch a true Minnesota wildlife experience along the Rice Creek Trail.

The Mounds View 10-mile bike loop

This bike loop travels clockwise and begins in the parking lot of the Mermaid Entertainment Center or your nearby hotel. Leaving to the west on the paved trail, on County Road H, once you see the soccer field, turn south into Long Lake Park. Now, on  Rice Creek North Regional Trail, enjoy the scenery as you pedal along the east bank of the creek. Now heading west, over the next few miles, you will pedal along the railroad tracks. At Stinson Boulevard the trail turns to the south.

Riding the Rice Creek Trail system is an adventure in itself.

A TrueNorth touch of nature along the Rice Creek

Leaving the RR tracks you will soon be in sight of Rice Creek, as it flows towards the Mississippi River. Here you will take the trail Y to the right and resume riding along the creek to the west. This section of the trail will put you in touch with nature, the forest air, sounds, and wilderness sightings. It will open your TrueNorth senses!

Connecting to trails from bike-friendly streets is easy in Mounds View.

A sweet option, before the next section of the trail

As the trail nears Central Avenue, you have an option. If you have a sweet tooth or the weather is hot, ride 1/2-mile south on the trail parallelling Central Avenue, to Grandpa’s Ice Cream. Otherwise, the Mounds View 10-mile bike loop continues west under the Highway 65 trail tunnel.

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

After crossing under the highway take the upper trail where you will enter into Locke County Park, with restroom facilities. A little further, just past the dog park, the route turns north over the RR tracks and comes out at 73rd Avenue. Here on the south side of the street, you will find a trail that runs parallel as the route now turns back to the east.

Another park and wildlife hatchery

With a slight jog to the northeast first, up through another peaceful neighborhood, the route turns east again to Silver View Park. On the north side of the park, you will find several rest stop options and Cars Bike Shop. The 10-mile loop utilizes the trail around the north side of the little lake here in the park. In the spring of the year, through mid-summer, it is common to waterfowl with their broods of ducklings and goslings sunning themselves along the trail.

Ducks are easily spotted throughout the summer along the trail.

Now on the trail alongside Long Lake Road, the route jogs through a few more neighborhoods on the way back to County Road H and the trail on the south side. Back at the parking lot at the Mermaid checkout a nearby eating establishment and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area. Consider the Rice Creek North Regional Trail up to a chain of lakes?

Printable map and Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of Mounds View click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of Mounds View click here

The New Brighton 10-mile bike loop ties history with nature

by Russ Lowthian,

From its early years discover the historical connection to railroads and livestock this bike-friendly community. Today the New Brighton 10-mile bike loop offers cyclists a mixture of history, nature and many attractions as you ride here. Plus it is easy to add additional adventure with trail connections that will take you throughout the Twin Cities Gateway. With all the opportunities here you will find a picture-perfect destination for your next bike vacation here.

The New Brighton bike loop is fun for the whole family.

The New Brighton 10-mile bike loop

This bike loop travels clockwise and begins at the Homewood Suites by Hilton. Taking a left out of the parking lot onto Old Highway 8, you will find a trail on the west side as you pedal south. Soon after passing Lions Park the route enters a new development on Ring Road and catches the trail. Soon you are making a big sweep through the prairie grass as the trail crosses under the RR bridge near the freeway and takes you out on Beach Road. Lake. After crossing the south shore of Long Lake experience a mix of busy and calm. Now pedaling Manning Trail, along the freeway border wall, to your right enjoy nature along the south shore of Pike Lake. If you want to explore nature along the shoreline there is an optional short loop off the path.

A fun bike loop to explore with friends.

A stop for ice cream while biking to the Rice Creek Trail

Now pedaling to the northwest through the residential neighborhoods on the west side of Pike Lake the route ventures up to the Rice Creek North Regional Trail. On your way over to Central Avenue, if it is a hot day, consider stopping by Grandpa’s Ice Cream, at Moore Lake Road. Now riding north on a trail running parallel to Central, just before at 69th Avenue you are at the Rice Creek Trailhead. Here the 10-mile loop travels back east towards the headwaters of Rice Creeks. An option for future consideration is the Rice Creek Trail West. From Central Avenue, the trail follows the winding flowage to the Mississippi River and its well-known trail, the MRT.

The flavors here are worth stopping for.

The smells, sounds, and wilderness sightings along the trail

Back on the 10-mile route, pedaling east, this section is one of my favorite parts of the Rice Creek Trail. As the route winds back and forth along the waterway under a forested canopy I am amazed. Riding this section of the trail the forest air, noises, and wildlife sightings will encompass you. At the next trail Y, the bike loop pulls away from the creek and continues along a rail line that helped establish New Brighton. After crossing Rice Creek one more time on this bike loop you will be entering Long Lake Regional Park.

Biking along the rail line brings hits from the community’s past.

Stop by the New Brighton History Center, in the park

Here in the park, you will find numerous trails circling around between the east shore of Long Lake and the south shore of Rush Lake. Follow the turn-by-turn cue sheet of the route if you don’t want to miss a turn. There are a lot of intersections in the park. After crossing a final set of RR tracks you will pass the New Brighton History Center. Here you can stop and learn more about the areas past before returning back to the start.

A great place to stay on a bike vacation.

Returning back along Highway 8, it’s just a short distance back at the parking lot at Homewood Suites. After parking your bike check out a nearby eating establishment. Then plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Printable map and  Q (cue)-sheet)

For a printable bike map of New Brighton, click here

For a turn-by-turn, Q-sheet of New Brighton, click here

New Brighton’s annual Stockyards Days

If your vacation plans are centered around the second week in August, consider joining the fun at the community’s annual Stockyards Day’s.

The Shoreview 10-mile bike loop easily connects to a wildlife oasis

by Russ Lowthian,

A community with an abundance of lakes, hence the name Shoreview, you will find an oasis for wildlife viewing opportunities along its trails. While visiting and riding the Shoreview 10-mile bike loop you will find many trail connections here for several adventures. Regardless of when you arrive, you will find bike trails around the eleven lakes here with many natural settings. One of nine communities of the Twin Cities Gateway, Shoreview is a perfect destination for a bike vacation.

Riding alone, or with friends, many wildlife viewing opportunities are waiting.

The Shoreview 10-mile bike loop

For this bike tour travel clockwise and beginning in the parking lots of the Best Western Plus and Hilton Garden Inn. Taking a right onto the bike lane along Gamsie Road, then Chatsworth as the route first travels north. At Snail Lake Road, you will find a trail running parallel on the south side as you pedal to the east. After crossing Victoria Street watch for Snail Lake Park Facilities on the north side of the road.

A broad of ducks sunning themselves along the trail.

The tunnel into Snail Lake Park

At the park entrance, the Shoreview 10-mile bike loop continues on the trail to the north. In Snail Lake Park, there are some nature trails near the lake shoreline and perfect for wildlife viewing. Back on the route the trail now heads to the northeast. So watch the turn-by-turn cue sheet link below to stay on course as you make your way up to the Highway 96 and the bike-ped trail. At the Hodgson Road crossing, for something cool, check out the Big Dipper Creamery on the northeast corner of this intersection.  A mile further, after crossing Rice Street, watch for the trail T, along the highway into Sucker Lake Park.

Enjoying the trail to Sucker Lake.

More wildlife viewing along the trail in Sucker Lake Park

Both the park and trail here are on the west shoreline of the lake and offers many activities and a hiking trail if a closer encounter with nature is of interest. If so, check out the 1.9-mile trail around the lake for a closer look as low land songbirds watch your every move. Leaving the park, the route continues south from the parking lot on Sucker Lake Road. At County Road F, turn east and use the trail on the north side. At Rice Street and then at the intersection of Hodgson/Rice/Gamsie crossing use the trail on the east side to the Grass Lake Nature Preserve a part of the Snail Lake Regional Park system.

Enjoying the trail to Grass Lake Nature Preserve.

Songbirds and wildflowers filled the Grass Lake Nature Preserve

This preserve allows cyclists and pedestrians alike a chance to view songbirds from the paved trail circling around the eastside of Grass Lake. An optional hiking trail takes you out in the wildflower-filled meadow on the west side of the lake. Back on the route the paved trail leaves the preserve and crosses the bike-ped bridge over I-694, onto County Road E. Now pedaling to the east again the 10-mile bike loop makes a sweep through one more park before returning to the starting point. After crossing Victoria Street, the trail enters Island Lake, County Park.

Songbirds and wildflowers fill the nature preserve with opportunities.

Surrounded by busy, the calm is the park in the heart of Shoreview

The park, on the east shoreline of Island Lake, is in the heart of Shoreview.  Along with the general park amenities, the walking trails here will make you feel like you are in a different area, not in the cities. The 10-mile bike loop uses the paved trails up through the park to the north end, then the park road around the upper end of the lake to the parking lot at the boat landing. Here pick up the trail again for one last look at nature in Shoreview.

Now it is over to the trail along Lexington Avenue and north for your return. Back at the parking lot, check out a nearby eating establishment and plan another bike adventure in the Twin Cities Gateway Area.

Bike Route options from Country Inn & Suites in Shoreview

Using the trail parallel to Rice Creek Parkway and then Park View Drive it is easy to get to the miles of paved trails in the Rice Creek North Regional trails system. The trail here to the east follows the Rice Creek up to its headwaters in the Rice Creek Park Preserves. From the chain of lakes here, south of Lino Lakes, both the Rice Creek and the trail corridor meanders to the west into the Mississippi River and the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). Along this trail corridor, you can connect to several other trail systems and parks through the Twin Cities Gateway.

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

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

Quick vacation tips for renting a bicycle and having some fun

by John Brown, 

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

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

 Renting a Bicycle At One of Many Bike Shops

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

renting a bicycle bike shop

Renting a bicycle outside a bike shop

Renting a Bicycle Consider Rental Companies

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

renting a bicycle avalon

Rental fleet

Or Bike Share Programs

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

renting a bicycle citibike

Citi Bike docking station

Renting a Bicycle Touring Companies Also A Option

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

Getting Comfortable

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


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


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


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

Renting a bicycle measurments

Key measurements


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

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

by Russ Lowthian,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What is a safe thickness?

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

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

Asses the area visually

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

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

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

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

The color of the ice

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

The Fresher, the better

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

No ice can ever be considered “safe ice”

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

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

Know the proper rescue techniques

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

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

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

Now have some fun!

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

Finding safe drinking water was easy with the H2gO Purifier

by Russ Lowthian,

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

Converting natures surface water was easy with the H2gO Purifier

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

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

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

How the H2gO Purifier works

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


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

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

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

In summary

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

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

Indoor biking is fun and effective training through the winter

by John Brown

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

Indoor Biking with a Spin Class

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

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

Riding your bike indoors spin class

Indoor biking with a spin class

Using an Indoor Trainer

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

Riding you bike indoors trainer class

Indoor Trainer Group Ride

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

How to Build a Ride

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

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

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

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

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

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

Workout Example

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

5-Min. warm-up

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

4-Min, soft pedal

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

4-Min. soft-pedal

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

9-min. cool down with drills

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

Trainer Pitfalls

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

riding your bike indoors tired

Too Tired!

Low Effort, High Benefit Drills

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

bike indoors

One leg Drill

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

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

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

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

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

Help Free Bikes 4 Kidz put more smile on kids faces

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

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

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

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

Have some fun, help clean and wrench some bikes

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Generous Sponsors of FB4K

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

So do your part making kids smile, volunteer today at

About Free Bikes 4 Kidz

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