by Russ Lowthian, HaveFunBiking.com
On June 21st, the skies were sunny and the raindrops promised to stay away for the day as the 3rd Annual Train & Trail Tour got underway.
Here riders checked in at the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota (BikeMN) table in front of the Minneapolis Parks and Rec Board headquarters, in North Minneapolis, Minn.
With Registration out of the way over 140 riders were eager to ride their bikes on the two miles stretch to the Target Field Station platform and board the Northstar Train.
With bikes and cyclist loaded the destination was Big Lake on the 45-mile train ride. Upon the trains arrival cyclists rolled their bikes off the rail cars to prepare for the 42-mile journey back to Minneapolis.
Here this group of touring multi-modal cyclists are leaving the station at Big Lake and heading toward the Mississippi River Trail (MRT) for the ride back to Minneapolis.
This photo shows several cyclists having fun driving their bikes along the MRT. This is a bicycle route that has been mapped along the river by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The full route winds roughly 620 miles down-river from its source at Itasca State Park, through the Twin Cities, to the Iowa border. Located largely on the shoulders of paved roads and on low-traffic roads, the route also includes relatively long segments of scenic state and regional trails along the way.
A happy biker wearing a Saint Paul Classic jersey enjoys his time on Train & Trail Ride, cruising along the “Great River Trail”.
Here the tour arrives in the city of Elk River, about 10-miles down-river from Big Lake.
In Downtown Elk River tour riders enjoyed a catered lunch in the town square, next to the fountain, in River’ Edge Park overlooking the confluence of the Elk and the Mississippi Rivers.
Here are some hungry riders on the tour enjoyed the picnic lunch near the river’s edge.
Coming into the town of Datyon, this rider was having a little fun in front of the camera.
Here is another group on the tour having fun and enjoying the scenery along the way.
Crossing under the Highway 169 Bridge, in Champlain, cyclist discovered that this stretch of the MRT is on a trail.
A mile past the Coon Rapids Dam cyclists are now crossing over the 610 Freeway Bridge and heading south toward Minneapolis.
Here the tour riders are enjoying the route as they finds the next section of MRT trail that passes under the 696 Freeway Bridge into the North Mississippi Regional Park, in North Minneapolis.
Here are a couple of the Train & Trail riders leaving this beautiful urban park setting along the Mississippi River. From this point it is less than three mile to the end and time for a root beer float at the end.
About a minute after the last Train & Trail rider past by the North Mississippi Regional Park sign above, this white tailed deer appeared watching the cyclist ride off into the city.
A note from David Gepner, the Train & Trail Tour director, “I would like to thank everyone who came out to ride the Train & Trail Tour with the Bike Alliance of Minnesota this year. “A special thanks to Metro Transit for accommodating all the riders and bikes of all types, shapes and sizes on the train. The Minneapolis Park Board for allowing us the use of their parking lot and making access to the Target Field Station easy for everyone to board the train. Thanks also to the Twin City Bike Club for designating the Train & Trail Tour as an official “outreach ride”, and welcome to the Hiawatha Bike Club riders”.
If you were not able to join the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota on the 2014 Train & Trail Tour adventure and would like to experience the route on your own someday, plan your own journey. First check Metro Transit’s Northstar Rail schedule and connection to get you and your bike up to Big Lake or St Cloud from the Twin Cities. Then, study MnDOT’s course map for the Mississippi River Trail routes available to ride back.
HaveFun – it’s a great experience traveling along the river on a bike.