Tag Archives: bike tour

Bike Pic Feb 16, yeah its Friday and time for that next bike adventure

It’s Friday and time to ride off for another weekend of fun that maybe includes planning some bike trips this coming summer. Here in this photo, last summer, we captured a couple biker chicks on RAGBRAI 2017 having fun.  Maybe its time to start planning your #NextBikeAdventure?

What better way to continue enjoying all the fun in 2018. View all the bike travel ideas in the latest HaveFunBiking Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends at one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for viewing our ‘Yeah Its Friday’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 11th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

How do you figure out what is the right bike for you? Like everything else in the world today, there are no shortages of choices when it comes to bikes. With that said, please read on for several helpful tips!

Bike Pic Jan 22, riding into the Monday morning sun

Here in this bike pic, this biker chick is having fun riding into the Monday morning sun in northern Minnesota, near Brainerd on a beautiful summer day last year.

What better way to continue your 2017 riding season fun and to plan your #NextBikeAdventure for 2018. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Monday Morning’ Bike Pic of the Day  

“If you wait for perfect conditions, you’ll never get anything done.” A little Monday winter wisdom to get you through the rest of your week. Just because Winter is upon us, doesn’t mean it’s time to hang up your helmets.

View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in our new HaveFunBiking Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends at one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for viewing Today’s “Monday Winter Wisdom” Bike Pic

Now rolling into our 11th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more destinations you can have fun at we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy!

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger, to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the latest  Bike Guide, mobile friendly as we enter into our 9th year of producing print and digital guides.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our pic’s with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with a HFB camera ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. Capturing you in one of our next ‘Pic of the Day’ posts.

Have a great week!

Steve taking a minute to enjoy the town of Stein Am Rhine on our way to Germany

Exploring the route from Zurich to Germany on two wheels

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

While I wouldn’t qualify my riding history as anything worth bragging about, I have ridden through some spectacular places. One ride I enjoyed was biking through Switzerland, then into Germany on my way to Eurobike. You see, once a year all the biggest bike nerds from around the world descend on the small town of Fredricshaffen Germany to see the newest and shiniest bike goods released that year.

The plan for riding into Germany

About three weeks before we were scheduled to take off for the show, my friend and co-worker Steve brought up the idea of riding the 80 miles from Zurich (where we were landing) into Langanargen Germany where we were staying. Out loud I immediately said “Yes”, but in my head, there were doubts.

I know, why would I have doubts of riding from Zurich through Switzerland’s wine country, along the Rhine, across Lake Constance and through some of Germany’s most beautiful countryside? Please understand, I didn’t have doubts about the ride itself. My doubts came from doing the ride with Steve. He is one of my favorite people and I have ridden with him frequently. On those adventures I have learned a few things that made the idea of a leisurely scenic ride seem impossible. While Steve is one of the nicest people I know, I’m convinced that in a past life he must have committed some horrible crimes? Since he tries to punish himself and anyone else with him, with intense movements. So, I’m thinking its going to be a big job for me to keep this casual.

An un-scenic start to what would be a beautiful ride

Our flight departed Philadelphia at 7 p.m. and landed in Zurich at 6 a.m. I didn’t sleep well on the plane and realized that I would be riding a whole day on two hours of bad sleep. Steve and I busied ourselves building our travel bikes in the airport baggage claim. We gave the balance of our bags to co-workers who were driving into Germany, then set off into a beautifully sunny August day.

Leaving Zurich airport was an un-scenic start to what would end up being beautiful ride. Strangely, the bike lanes around the airport didn’t seem to go anywhere, but “around” the airport. So after circling a few times we decided to ride up to what looked like a highway off ramp. Fast forward through a few minutes of urban riding, we climbed out of Zurich, into farmlands and the town of Bülach. This town was founded in 1384 and offers many historic and architectural beautiful buildings around the reformed Church of Saint Laurentius and the Sigristenkeller gallery. Shockingly, even though Bülach was less than seven miles from the airport, it is remarkably rural.

Looking down on Zurich from the hills above Bülach

Our loose ride plan was to head north until we hit the Rhine, then follow the river east to Lake Constance and then take the ferry into Germany. Both Switzerland and Germany have well established bike routes to guide us through wine country and onto our eventual destination of Langenargen.

Our route from Zurich, across Lake Constance, and into Germany

Steve’s legs take over his brain

Remember Steve and my doubts when planning this trip? From the start there was no relaxing, or enjoying the sights. Steve, as I expected, went full throttle. As I mentioned before this riding trait of Steve’s was going to be a detriment to my enjoyment riding through Switzerland and Germany. Don’t worry, I had a plan. Every time Steve entered into his personal pain cave, I would stop to change tire pressure, take a picture, check the map or do whatever it took to slow him down.

Before you pass judgement of my passive aggressive strategy, realize that I have had conversation with Steve about this ride being a slow one and to Steve’s credit he agreed. What I know from a history of riding with him is that he may agree to one pace. But his legs will invariably pick another pace, intense. So, I hoped that my plan would work to get this ride down to a conversational relaxing speed. Happily, it only took about 15 minutes of stops, pauses and sidetracks to get Steve’s legs into my way of thinking.

Steve’s leg are starting to get the idea. Here he is surveying an empty field while I pretend to adjust tire pressure.

Zurich’s wine country

As we snaked our way down country roads through the vineyards and small towns of Switzerland we crossed many small tributary waterways. These canals are used as irrigation for the vibrant fields this countryside is known for. Our first major crossing, across the river Thur came in the town of Andelfingen. This is the main town between Schaffhausen and Winterthur in the heart of Zurich’s wine country. It boasts cultivated fields, timber framed houses and walking/cycling paths.

Andelfingen is where grapes for Zurich’s sparkling vin du pays ripen in the autumn and is also the home of the Andelfingen castle, a well-kept park open to the public during the day throughout the year. Seeing as we were on our bikes and had to make it into Germany before dark, we did not stop to enjoy the sights here. In retrospect, I would recommend taking more than one day for this ride so you can stop and enjoy the unique personalities of each town.

Emerald landscapes abound in Andelfingen.

Lunch under the shadow of a castle

At the point where Lake Constance again becomes the Rhine River, you will find the little town of Stein am Rhein. It is famous for its well-preserved Old Town feel featuring painted facades and half-timbered houses. It’s also where Steve and I chose to stop for lunch

Stein Am Rhein

Stein am Rhein is a lively and very charming small town. Among the sights are the Monastery of St. Georgen (one of the best-preserved Medieval monastery complexes), the Lindwurm Museum (depicting 19th century bourgeois) and overlooking everything is the Hohenklingen Castle. The castle here was built high above the town in 1225 and recently renovated.

Germany

Stein Am Rhein in the shadow of the Hohenklingen castle

Steve and I walked through the center of town with our bikes in tow. We found a courtyard surrounded by fresca painted buildings and filled with restaurants and outdoor seating. We picked a quaint little place that had old wood paneling and benches as our eatery of choice (great carpentry typically means good food after all). For me, the meal and the company were great. I enjoyed a few local brews and a plate of barely cooked beef that could only be described as meat candy.  Armed with bellies full of meat and hefeweizen, Steve an I set off east along the Rhine.

Our old world surroundings at lunch.

The Untersee and ferry trip

As the Rhine empties into Lake Constance, the first large body of water is called Untersee (or Lower Lake Constance). To our left are miles of beautiful waterway and to the right we passed hop farms, villages and port towns that make up the Hochrhein.  Again, with more time I would have loved to stay and explore, but we were on a schedule. Pedaling along, we ambled along the shore for an hour until we entered the more metropolitan area of Constance and Altstadt. In Altstadt we went north, crossed the Rhine River into Staad then boarded the ferry for the last lag into Germany.

A panoramic picture of the bike path and view along the Untersee.

While traveling by bike is convenient, I must say, getting onto the ferry by bike was a real treat. Our fee for the ferry was far less than that of an automobile. We were also the first ones off the ferry and into Meersburg, Germany. Here we were waved through the border checkpoint at 20 mph and got to zoom past miles of waiting cars.

Into Germany and out of my mind

Of the entire ride, Meersburg is by far the most beautiful scenery. Maybe it was the fact that the sun came out in full force or me being rested from the 45 minute ferry ride. Whatever the reason, the ancient town of Meersburg was breathtaking. The town is built on the steep banks of Lake Constance and was originally a vineyard. It’s heritage as a fortress is apparent in the architecture as well as the walled bike route that snakes along the shore of the lake.

Germant

Meersburg as seen from the ferry

Once Steve and I left Meersburg my body began to shut down. I wish I could give you a rousing account of the great bike paths and warm forests we passed as we rode through Friedrichshafen and into Langenargen, but to be honest, I was operating in survival mode and not really taking in my surroundings. Maybe it was the heavy lunch, lack of sleep or the miles we rode, but moving became very difficult. As I have said before, this is a ride best done over several days rather than all at once. As a result of riding it in one day, I was now suffering through every additional mile we pedaled.  We finally arrived in Langenargen in the early evening. Happily, I checked into my room, took a quick showers and made it to dinner with the rest of the group.

Reflections on the ride

While at dinner, drinking a Dunkelweiss and enjoying my schnitzel, I reflected back on why this ride was so fun. The first thing I must say is that great company almost always makes a great ride. In this case, Steve and I rode at a similar speed and had great conversation throughout the trip. Additionally, we were both enjoying this route together because of our mutual even keeled demeanor. The great company riding together allowed us to stay positive even when we went slightly off course.

Another help was that I was able to send my luggage ahead and ride the route unfettered. Knowing that I had clean clothes waiting for me when I arrived was a large motivator over the last five miles.

Ultimately, I would recommend this route to anyone. The ride was predominantly flat and had ample opportunities to stop and enjoy the scenery. Additionally, there are more than enough great towns to stop at and enjoy. In fact, this ride could easily be spread across a week, with mornings spent in the saddle and afternoons sightseeing on foot.

Springtime is coming and some great rides and races are coming with it. A Bike & Barge cruise in Europe is another fun option .

Great rides you may have never heard of will be this summer’s fun!

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Springtime will soon be here and some great rides and races are coming with it. We all know about the standard rides and races. These rides start when you put your feet on the pedals, follow a leader and finish a few miles later. What you may not know is that there are heaps of other ride and race types out there and they all are really fun.

Food and drink are great rides

Riding to dinner or the bar is a great way to integrate a bicycle ride into your weekly habits. If you want to take that concept to the next level there are guided rides that will help. I recently wrote about a doughnut ride I went on which fits this category and it was a blast. Other such rides include the Sojourn, Sonoma wine tour or the H+I Taste and Trails mountain bike tour of the Scottish Highlands.

bike rides

Mountain biking through Scotland at day, and touring distillers at night.

Poker rides

Unlike the food and drink rides, a poker ride isn’t a tour of underground high stakes poker games. Sadly, you won’t be rubbing elbows with mafia kingpins while donning Lycra. Instead a poker ride is a mountain bike ride, with checkpoints. The checkpoints (5 or 7 depending on the type of poker) gives out a playing card to each rider as they pass each station. At the very end of the ride, hands are compared and a “winner” is declared. Because of gambling laws these rides often generally offer products as prizes and are fun for all, because the “winner” doesn’t have to be the fastest rider.

bike ride

The fox hunt rides

The most popular version of this ride is the Redbull Fox Hunt (check out the video). Basically, all the riders start down a course at once (the foxes). After a few minutes, the “hound” (a really fast rider!) is let loose down the same course. The “foxes” job is to not get passed and the “hounds” job is to try and pass everyone. While still small in numbers, because they end up being so fun, the amount of these rides are growing.

Bike and barge are another type of great rides

Popular in Europe, bike and barge rides are just what they sound like. Sleep and stay in a barge on a canal and ride different portions along  the canal during the day.

Sleep on a barge at night and then ride your bike, passing windmills during the day is a fun way to see Europe.

Sleep on a barge at night and then ride your bike, passing windmills during the day is a fun way to see Europe.

Many of these rides (including one in our Amsterdam review) are similar to food and drink rides in that they dock the barges near great locations.

Enduro Races

An Enduro is probably the most popular new race type in mountain biking. The basic idea here is to ride and race at the same time. How it works is you ride up the hills within a pre-set time then race through timed, downhill sections. At the end, all the timed sections are combined, with the lowest time being the winner.  Overall, these races have a fun and cordial environment, with lots of conversation and community during the un-timed sections.

Grinduro and Gravel Grinders are another option for great rides

Like an Enduro, the Grinduro events have ride and race sections. Unlike an Enduro, Grinduros are ridden on gravel bikes rather than mountain bikes. Gravel bikes also find a home in gravel grinder events. A gravel grinder is either a bike tour or race that covers dirt and gravel roads. Events can be as short as 20 miles and as long as a few hundreds.

bike ride

A scene from 2016’s California Grinduro.

Mountain biking  stage races

Mountain bike stage races are events that take place over a series of days. Each day is a different course and each course often starts and ends at approximately the same place. For most, the Idea of winning one of these races is not the reason they come out. With so much downtime each evening and because most of the lodging or camping is close together, these races take on a sort of festival atmosphere. Additionally, these events are often run in family friendly locations so the whole family can come along.

Hopefully this is the year you will find yourself at a new ride or race. With so many options the fun you and your family can have is nearly limitless.

Fond summer memories on RAGBRAI, of this biker chick, in the saddle, enjoy the country fresh air and lush corn fields while riding across Iowa.

Bike Pic 9, fond summer memories for this biker chick on RAGBRAI

Fond summer memories on RAGBRAI, of this biker chick in the saddle, enjoy the country fresh air and lush corn fields while riding across Iowa.

View the new  National Bike Guide and all the fun rides coming up in 2018.

Thanks for viewing today’s ‘summer memories’ Pic of the Day

Now rolling into our 11th year as a bike tourism media, our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun. While highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more destinations you can have fun at we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. As you scroll through the information and stories we have posted, enjoy!

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each), of who is in the photo (if you know?) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger, to be considered. If we do use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continues to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your next bike adventure – Also, check out the latest  Bike Guide, mobile friendly as we enter into our 9th year of producing print and digital guides.

So bookmark HaveFunBiking.com and find your next adventure. Please share all our pic’s with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the next corner with a HFB camera ready to document your next move while you are riding and having fun. Capturing you in one of our next ‘Pic of the Day’ posts.

Have a great day and a memorable new year!

The big issue with traveling elsewhere to ride is finding the good trails, best routes or fun secret spots that only the locals know about. That's why I recommend you enter a bike race. Not for the race, but for the route.

Bike races are a great way to experience new trails and routes

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Winter is the time of year my thoughts drift to the beautiful surroundings of warmer climates. Having traveled with my bike a great deal, I can attest to the fact that riding new trails and roads will invigorate your riding. The big issue with traveling elsewhere to bike is finding the good trails, best routes or fun secret spots only the locals know about. That’s why I recommend you enter destination bike races. Not to try and win the race, but for the route.

bike race

Stage 1 of BC Bike Race’s 2018 route

How can you enter a bike race, but race?

Any competition is not a race if you don’t try hard enough. So ignore your placement in the race results, relax, and think about the event as a well organized ride instead. This mentality works best for long events. For that reason, road circuit races are out of the question, but there are loads of mountain bike, Gravel, and road events that fit the bill.

Why go to a bike race?

The best reason to register for a race but not actually treat it like a race is the convenience. As an example, If you want to schedule an awesome mountain bike vacation on some of the best trails in the world, going to the BC Bike Race would be a good option. By registering, you have access to lodging, food, bike support, rider support and above all else eight preset courses are offered through BC’s best terrain. While you pay for this convenience, the cost is similar to if you were to plan it yourself with a lot less headache. Also, cycling events are family friendly by design, so bring everyone along!

How do I pick

With all these new options available to you, how do you pick your event? My recommendation is to start with location. Pick some areas you want to visit and ride in. Next check local calendars and see if any events will match up. Finally, register for the event of your choice and plan your vacation!

What to expect

What you will experience at these events depends greatly on the type and size of the event. For the sake of this article I will break the event types up into the two most popular categories: mountain bike and gravel bike

Mountain bike races

Mountain bike races are usually really long (like the Circumburke trail challenge in the Kingdom Trails of Vermont or stage races like the Transylvania Epic in Pennsylvania). The long single day races are fun way to test yourself and achieve a one-day goal and are awesome if you have limited time to get away. If time is not as much of an issue, stage races are where it’s at! Stage races are shorter individual rides spread over a series of days. They usually expose you to many different sections of popular trail networks as well as have a great festival atmosphere.

bike races

There are few joys that compare to experiencing new trails.

Gravel bike races

The popularity of gravel rides has exploded in the past few years thanks to dedicated people putting on world class events all around the globe. Many of these races started humbly but have grown to mythic stature. Events like Kansas’ Dirty Kanza 200 might be a stretch for most with it’s 200 miles of tire-splitting flint rock. However, for those interested in the adventure of a gravel race with a bit more approachable distance can look at Iowa’s Colesburg Gravelpocalypse with routes as short as 20 miles. Whatever your distance, gravel races are an amazing option with events all around the country.

bike Races

Lovely new roads await on countess events around the world.

What to do when you go to “race”

When you sign up for a race, it’s best to come to the event with some fitness and realistic expectations. Plan to take your time and have fun. Most importantly, remember that there are some really fast people out there who are actually racing these events. For that reason wait at the start line when the event goes off. Allow all those looking to compete to get into the race course then head off for your ride. When riding, yield right of way easily to all passing cyclists as some competitive riders may have had to stop to repair mechanicals. Finally, the race is meant to be fun. Feel free to push yourself, but if a section appears to be above your skill level there is no shame in walking it. All in all, enjoy the ride, the atmosphere and allow others to do the same

Bike Pic Dec 18, riding into the Monday morning sun

Here in this bike pic, these biker dudes are having fun riding into the Monday morning sun on  RAGBRIA, bike tour as the ride crosses Iowa on a beautiful summer day.

What better way to continue your 2017 riding season fun and to plan your #NextBikeAdventure for 2018. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Monday Morning’ Bike Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

Here is a biker chick, having fun, riding into the Monday morning sun on RAGBRIA across Iowa.

Bike Pic Dec 11, riding into the Monday morning sun

Here is a biker chick, having fun riding into the Monday morning sun on the annual RAGBRIA, bike tour as the ride crosses Iowa on a beautiful summer day.

What better way to continue your 2017 riding season fun and to plan your #NextBikeAdventure for 2018. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of the HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Monday Morning Sun’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

MRT – Day 1 from the Mississippi Headwaters to Bemidji

 

 

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

Rolling into Bemidji

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

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

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

MRT – Day 2 from Bemidji to Grand Rapids

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

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

To the first Federal Dam on the Mississippi

 

 

 

P

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

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

Rolling into Grand Rapids

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

MRT – Day 3 from Grand Rapids to Aitkin

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

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

Rolling into Palisade

 

 

 

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

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

 

Rolling into Aitkin

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

MRT – Day 4 from Aitkin to Little Falls

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

Rolling into Brainerd

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

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

Rolling into Little Falls

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

MRT Day-5 from Little Falls to Monticello

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

Rolling into St Cloud

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

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

Rolling into Monticello

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

MRT – Day 6 from Monticello to St Paul

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

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

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

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

MRT Day-7 from St Paul to Frontenac

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

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

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

Rolling into Red Wing

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

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

MRT Day-8 from Frontenac to Winona

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

Rolling into the Lake City

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

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

Rolling into Wabasha

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

Rolling into Winona

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

DV IMAGE

MRT Day-9 from Winona to the Iowa Boarder

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

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

Enjoy!

The Tour de Pines id this Saturday, out of Itasca State Park

Bike Pic Aug 17, Tour de Pines still has openings for Saturday

What better way to enjoy the countryside then riding the Tour de Pines, out of Itasca State Park. Select from a 25, 50, 60 or 70 mile scenic tour of this northern Minnesota piney area. The annual ride is put on by Hosteling International to support their Mississippi Headwaters AYH-Hostel, just north of Park Rapids, MN, in the park.

The Tour de Pines, this Saturday is a great place to meet new friends at the Headwaters of the Mississippi.

The Tour de Pines, this Saturday is a great place to meet new friends at the Headwaters of the Mississippi.

What better way to ride through the summer season and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the latest Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Tour de Pines’ Pic of the Day  

We are now rolling into our 10th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward our goal is to continue to encourage more people to bike and have fun while we highlight all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know that we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to: [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 8th year of producing this hand information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo apperance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic’s of the Day.

Have a great day!