Tag Archives: Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride

Riding into the Monday morning sun on the last day of 30 Days of Biking. Today's photo was taken couple years ago of these two biker chicks, on a Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride

Bike Pic April 30, riding into the Monday morning sun

Riding into the Monday morning sun on the last day of 30 Days of Biking. Today’s photo was taken couple years ago of these two biker chicks, on a Minnesota Ironman Bicycle Ride. What a fun way to enjoy the weather and end #30Daysofbiking in April!

Get into the zone and plan your next bike outing with family and friends at one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations. View all the fun ideas and bike destinations in the new HaveFunBiking Guide.

Thanks for viewing our ‘Monday Morning Sun’ 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 ahead!

Happy New Years as you begin 2018, we hope its you best year yet! Start the year off right with a resolution to do more biking like this father/son duo, in the photo at last years Arctic Fever Fat Tire Race, in Excelsior, MN.

Bike Pic Jan 1, father son duo plans for the Arctic Fever Fat Tire Race

Happy New Years as you begin 2018, we hope its you best year yet! Start the year off right with a resolution to do more biking like this father/son duo, in the photo at last years Arctic Fever Fat Tire Race, in Excelsior, MN.

Join us there January 13th, then, see all the other places to explore in 2018 by downloading the new Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide

Thanks for viewing Today’s 2018 Fat Tire Race 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 day and a memorable new year!

I am happy to say that Sealskinz recently sent us a care package of product right in time for winter. Take a look for details on the Super Thin Pro Socks.

First thoughts and impressions of Sealskinz Socks

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

It was impossible to miss the Sealskinz booth at Interbike this year. There in the center of the exhibit was a huge tub of water with a woman standing in the middle wearing nothing on her feet but socks! When I asked if her feet were wet or cold, she responded casually “nope, I’ve been standing here for an hour and my feet are still dry and warm.” I was intrigued, but not convinced, because I couldn’t help but think “how could it be soft and waterproof”? Well, fast forward a few weeks and I am happy to say that Sealskinz recently sent us a care package of products right in time for winter. Take a look for details on the Super Thin Pro Socks.

Sealskinz socks construction

The Sealskinz’ seminal product was a waterproof, insulated sock designed for the rigors of wet English winters. We received SealSkinz’ new Super Thin Pro sock. The great thing about this sock is it retains all the waterproof and insulating properties of their exiting socks with a third less weight and bulk. To achieve a lighter sock, Sealskinz employed a new knit pattern for the outer layer and bamboo fiber for the insulation layer. Because a sock has a huge hole in the top of it to accept your foot, they cant be 100% waterproof. What Sealskinz does to combat water coming in from the top of the sock, is to employ a silicon band along the inner cuff of the sock. It rests against the skin and seals off most of the water that would normally migrate down into your sock.

How they fit

Immediately upon putting them on I could feel the liner embedded in the fabric. Why they feel different is the waterproof membrane gives the socks a structure that is more substantial than your normal socks. The fabric bonded on the inside and outside of membrane is really soft to the touch and comfortable on your skin. I did have a concern that the socks would not be able to stretch and flex enough to conform to my feet, but I was proven wrong, again. nearly immediately. Also, I had concerns about the silicon cuff. On many cycling shorts with “grippers” at the bottom of the leg cuff can be uncomfortable. I am happy to report that I never felt any discomfort with the Sealskinz cuff.

Socks in the real world

Although I haven’t had a ton of time to ride these socks, I did have an exceptional first experience. My commute to work is about 40 minutes through the rolling terrain of the Twin Cities suburbs. The day I received the socks was just under 30 degrees and spitting a rain/snow mix. I left for work wearing my standard cycling shoes and a good quality wool cycling sock. In those conditions, I arrived at the office with numb toes that when thawed, hurt a ton. Fast forward to the end of the day, where conditions were exactly the same as the morning, yeah! (More freezing temps and rain). In the evening, I wore that Super Thin Pro Sock instead of my wool sock. In contrast to my ride in, by the time I got home, my feet were still nice and toasty. To clarify, I rode 40 minutes in rain/snow mix and 30 degrees with my feet warm and cozy.

Additional testing

So the Super Thin Pro Sock has passed all my initial tests. However, I am ’m not done yet. So over the next few weeks I will test them again. As Minnesota’s temperatures continue to drop I plan to find the lowest temp these socks will work on my feet. Additionally, I have gloves and booties from Sealskinz that will be subjected to the worst Minnesota has to dish out. Stay tuned for more!

 

In this Bike Pic, a student from Washburn High School tests his mountain bike skills on the Jail Trail, near St Cloud last year, on a Minnesota High School Cycling League competition.

Theodore Wirth Park, a gift five minutes from downtown Minneapolis

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the western part of the Twin Cities, nestled between Golden Valley and Minneapolis is Theodore Wirth Park.  A space almost as large as New York City’s Central park. With in Wirth (as it’s known to the locals) you will find several scenic, natural areas around Birch pond and Wirth Lake, plus two golf courses and a fabulous mountain bike trail system.

For Twin Cities cyclists, it’s a natural playground you should be exited too explore.

Theodore Wirth Park History

What would become Theodore Wirth Park started in 1889 when 66 acres were purchased and established as a park. Now Theodore Wirth park (named after the park system’s superintendent from 1906 to 1936) has over 750 acres. The Central to the park is the Wirth Chalet, a stone and timber structure that offers events, and product rentals for snow sports.

Where to go in Theodore Wirth Park

If you are interested in riding the mountain bike trails of Wirth park, I find it easiest to park at the beach  house off Glenwood avenue. From there it’s a quick spin west over to the trailhead. If your interest are in the golf courses or Grand Rounds and Luce Line trails, the Golf Clubhouse on Theodore Wirth Parkway is your best starting point.

What are the trails like in Theodore Wirth Park

The trails at Wirth are predominantly designed for the intermediate rider. As you enter the trails at southern entrance you are greeted with a twisting climb up thorough rolling prairie and into well established woods. The trails themselves are well manicured and smooth with ample bermed turns. Expect to see narrow ribbons of brown winding through ample green surroundings. When you find your way into the northern trails, more rocks get introduced. The majority of the rocks are well embedded into the trails and act as exciting obstacles to manage. The northern trails also exist in denser forests, with far fewer field areas. Overall, the Trails at Wirth are fun and flowie, offer challenges for the most advanced riders while being accessible to casual riders.

Grand Rounds Trail

The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is one of the countries longest continuous urban parkways. It is a connecting trail to more than 300 miles of regional trail around Twin Cities Metro Area. It also acts as the connecting trail between most of the parks in the Twin Cities area. That said, you can enjoy a day trip on the Grand Rounds Trail all over the Twin Cities via protected and paved bike lanes. The Grand Rounds travels through 7 districts:  Chain of Lakes (13.3 miles), Minnehaha (12.6 miles), The Mississippi River (9.2 miles), Downtown Riverfront (1.2 miles), Northeast (6 miles), Victory Memorial (3.8 miles) and Theodore Wirth Park (4 miles). Additionally, this trail is cleared by 6am every day through the winter if you choose to use it for commuting.

 

Luce Line Trail

The Grand Rounds Bike trail here connects to the binning of the Luce Line trail.

The Grand Rounds Bike trail here connects to the binning of the Luce Line trail.

The Luce Line trail is a 63 mile limestone path stretching from Cosmos in western Minnesota to Wirth park. It is available for Biking, hiking, running, jogging, and snow activities in specified areas. This trail is an exceptional way to explore neighborhoods and destinations west of the city.

How to help

If you ride and enjoy the trails at Wirth, consider volunteering for trail maintenance. The Minnesota Off Road Cycling organization (MORC) schedule trail work sessions on Wednesdays through the summer. Consequently, the group meets at 6 O’clock and welcomes anyone interested in helping. Wear long pants, boots, and work gloves because you will be doing hard labor. Moreover, you will find that the hard labor is enjoyable because you are giving back to fellow riders.

Winter riding in Wirth

The mountain bike trails in Wirth Park are extra fun in the winter on a fatty.

The mountain bike trails in Wirth Park are extra fun in the winter on a fatty.

While the trails are open through the winter, Fatbiking is not the only sport you can enjoy at Wirth. Therefore, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, tubing, sledding, skating, and, ice fishing are all available within the park. When planning a ride in the fall and spring, be sure to check the MORC website for trail conditions.

 

The easiest way to eliminate accidents is to assess road hazards in advance.Read on to learn about the most common road hazards and how to manage them.

Staying Safe by Assessing and Avoiding Road Hazards

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Nothing spoils a great ride like a bad accident, but most accidents are avoidable. The easiest way to eliminate accidents is to assess road hazards in advance and avoid them. Read on to learn about the most common road hazards and how to manage them.

Road hazards broken and uneven pavement

The easiest road hazard to spot is broken or uneven pavement. Oftentimes starting at the roads edge (where many of us ride), pavement begins to break and crumble from annual hot/cold cycles. The first and best option is just avoid loose sections entirely, but anyone can tell you that’s not always possible. When you are riding through bad pavement, try to raise your body off your saddle by an inch or so and allow your legs and arms to absorb impact. Concentrate on being loose, allowing the bike to move around underneath you, and keeping your momentum directed to where you want to go. Focusing on where you want to go is the most important part, focusing on objects you don’t want to hit increases the chance of hitting them.

road hazards

Narrow roadways

Sometimes the road narrows, and doesn’t allow for you and drivers to occupy the road together safely. In these situations, it is important to take control of your safety.  Do not try to be off to the side as far as possible, this will only encourage drivers to attempt to make an unwise pass. Instead, give yourself space on the road, and try to be as visible and deliberate as possible. Narrow roadways are the ideal place to use hand signals. Additionally, be aware of what is behind you by looking back more frequently than usual. Looking to see who is behind you will give you the information you need, and let drivers know that you see them. Oftentimes drivers will be more patient if they know you are aware of the situation.

road hazards

Blind turns, driveways, and alleys

You can’t easily avoid what you can’t see, especially if you are going fast. When approaching any blind road or path section, slow down and assume there is someone coming around the corner. Approach the corner with caution, and only accelerate once the coast is clear.

Loose debris on hard surfaces

Sand, Gravel and dirt on pavement can be a recipe for disaster. Any loose debris on the road robs you of the traction you need to ride confidently. Shy of vacuuming every road or trail before your ride, there is no way to avoid the inevitability of debris. What you can do however, is use good judgement when you do encounter it. First, don’t slam on the brakes. Braking shifts your weight forward onto the front wheel making you more unstable in loose conditions. Instead, apply your brakes gently and evenly while trying to remain loose on the bike in case your tires break free. Second, try to keep the bike as vertical as possible and turn only if necessary.

road hazards

Ice and water

Water and its colder cousin ice are a serious road hazard. You will find that roads and paths that are wet offer far less grip than when dry. Therefore, keep your overall speed down on wet days and brake before turning. If ice is in the forecast, the best measure is to avoid it. Start by ditching the polarized sunglasses that will make the ice difficult to see. Polarized glasses eliminate most glare, and glare is a prime means to identify ice. If you do find yourself on ice, be careful! It takes almost no side motion to put you on the ground when riding on ice. I find it best to do almost nothing until you make your way off the ice, that means no braking, no turning, no movement, Just coast.

road hazards

Paint and slippery surfaces (metal, marble, tile) train tracks

The last set of road hazards worth mentioning are slick surfaces. These surfaces include metal (train tracks, manholes, and sewer grates), painted pavement, and smooth aggregate (like marble or tile often found in industrial zones). For metal, try to avoid it when wet (it’s as slick as ice) and cross train tracks as perpendicularly as possible. Painted surfaces and smooth aggregate need to be avoided when wet as well. While they have more traction when dry, it’s still worth being careful.

road hazards

After reading this, you may feel like everything on the road is out to get you. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you have probably encountered all these hazards on your last ride and survived. Overall, road hazards rarely cause an accident but are something to be cognizant of.

 

See how to get the most out of 100 years of technological advancements. You will find adjusting your front derailleur is easy if you follow these steps.

How to adjust your front derailleur for perfect and silent shifting

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

In the late 1920’s, in France, there was a bike race under way and it wasn’t the Tour De France. Instead, this race was a technological race that brought the derailleur into the light. Before 1928, bicycles had a maximum of two speeds, and you needed to remove the rear wheel to change those gears. As there was need for quicker shifting, the bicycle derailleur was born. Initial derailleurs consisted of nothing more than paddles that were actuated by steel rods located between the rider’s legs. Needless to say, there was a lot of finesse that went into shifting those bikes. Then after the second world war parallelogram derailleurs, what we use today, were developed so riders could shift their gears with ease. Read on to see how to get the most out of 100 years of technological advancements. You will find adjusting your front derailleur is easy if you follow these steps.

Front Derailleur

Early “Rod Style” Benelux front derailleur – Yikes

Front Derailleur parts

Limit screws (A) – The front derailleur needs to work within the largest and smallest ring. Limit screws work to stop the front derailleur from shifting outside of its intended range. They are adjustable as to match different types of cranks.

Derailleur Cage – The cage is what holds the chain on gear and what presses on the chain to move it from one gear to the next. The outer portion of the cage (C) is what helps the chain move from larger gears to smaller ones. In contrast, the inner portion of the cage (B) forces the chain from smaller gears to larger ones.

front derailleur

Common parallelogram front derailleur found on Hybrid and Mountainbikes

Derailleur Fixing Bolt (D) – The bolt that holds the derailleur in place on the frame. By loosening this bolt, you can re-position the derailleur for angle and height.

Cable Pinch Bolt (E) – The Cable that controls shifting needs to be held firmly in place. The pinch bolt does that job.

front derailleur

Different Pinch bolt and fixing bolt position for MTB/Hybrid (above) and Road (below) derailleurs

Location, location, location

You guessed it, the most important part of adjusting the front derailleur is its location. If the derailleur is not positioned properly, you will never achieve proper, noise free, shifting in all gears. The reason location is so important is that the front derailleur cage is formed to position the chain in very specific locations.

First step in adjusting the front derailleurs location is to set its height. You need enough room to fit a Nickel between the teeth on the largest chainring and the bottom of the outer cage when they are lined up. Any more clearance than that and the derailleur tends to have issues pulling the chain down from larger gears.

front derailleur

you should be able to fit a Nickle between the derailleur cage and chainring

Once you have the height set, adjust the angle of the front derailleur so that the outer cage and chainrings are parallel. Any misalignment will result in poor shifting and excess noise.

front derailleur

Proper alignment on the left, and misalignment on the right

Lower Limit

Set the lower limit by adjusting the screw marked “L”. To do this, shift the rear derailleur all the way up into the largest cog. Next check to see if there is clearance between the chain and the front derailleurs inner cage with the chain on the smallest chainring. If the chain is running on the inner cage, thread the limit screw out until you have 2-3mm (that nickel distance again!) between the chain and inner cage. When the opposite is true and you have too much clearance between the inner cage and chain, thread the limit screw in until there is 2-3mm of clearance.

Cable tension

Your Front derailleur should be properly aligned and the lower limit should be set at this point. The next step is to attach the cable to the Pinch bolt. Attach that cable by first making sure your shifter is in its lowest gear, Then pull the cable tight, and finally tighten the pinch bolt onto your cable. Usually, you can shift smoothly up from the smallest ring into the next gear right away, but if there is hesitation going up add cable tension either through a barrel adjuster or by loosening the pinch bolt, pulling the cable tighter, and tightening the pinch bolt down again. If the chain wants to shift up from the small ring over the next ring, release some tension. You know you have it right when the chain can pass from one gear to another smoothly and confidently without any banging or skipping noises.

Upper Limit

Setting the upper limit is as easy as getting the chain onto the largest chainring and threading the limit screw to offer 2-3mm of clearance between the chain and the outer cage. While shifting, ensure the chain cannot be shifted over the large ring and off the crank.

Trouble shooting

This guide is great if all the parts are new, but won’t overcome many issues related to worn or dirty parts. The most common shifting issue with older gears is poor upshifting. Chainrings are built with ramps on the inner surface to easily guide the chain from smaller to larger rings. As chainrings wear, these ramps wear as well. If you are having serious issues going from smaller to larger gears, but the gears are silent and problem free otherwise, you may want to consider replacing the chain, chainrings, and gears in the rear.

front derailleur

These Praxis Works chain rings have some of the best shifting thanks to carefully placed ramps.

Another key wear item is the front derailleur itself. Derailleurs are designed to pivot off a parallelogram design that requires each pivot run smooth and precisely. As the Front Derailleur wears, these pivots can begin to bind, while they generate play, leading to poor shifting.

Finally, dirty or corroded cables are a key cause in poor shifting. Replace cables once a year and lube them intermittently to keep them running smooth and freely.

When is enough, enough

Working on your bike is fun, but can be frustrating if things aren’t going according to plan. When things get out of hand, don’t be afraid to start from scratch and go back to step one. Any missed initial steps will make further steps impossible to complete. Also, remember that if it gets too tough, your local bike shop is happy to walk you through the process. You will pay a fee, but the one on one instruction is well worth it.

 

Need to go get a helmet? All the reasons to buy nicer helmet with fit features and ventilation to keep you cool and comfortable.

Consider Buying a Nicer Helmet That Adds Comfort to Bicycle Safety

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

While talking with a neighbor over the weekend, he told me “I need to go get a helmet….to set a good example for my son.” Knowing my background in the cycling industry, he proceeded to ask a few questions about what he should get. In our conversation, I mentioned an earlier article “Riding safely with your kids” and reviewed all the reasons to buy a helmet and how to find the right one. Then I added some additional reasons why buying a more expensive helmet is a really good option.

A Nicer Helmet Adds Comfort to Safety

First, all bicycle helmets sold in the US need to pass CPSC tests. These tests are the baseline requirements for helmet safety in the US. So, if all helmets pass the same tests, why buy a nicer helmet? Well, there are more safety features that are available for helmets, like MIPS. This makes a helmet safer, but the way it makes MIPS safer is not yet specifically tested for. So the first reason to buy a better helmet is safety.

Ventilation and weight

Beyond Safety features, the most compelling reason to buy a nicer helmet is ventilation. Ventilation is the reason helmets become more expensive. As an example, the larger holes in the helmet required for better ventilation makes it more difficult for the helmet to pass safety testing. So, to pass testing more complex molds need to be used to make the helmet, more steps are required to make the helmet and more technology is added to make the helmet. All this added process, makes the helmet both better ventilated as well as more expensive. Also, more expensive helmets are much lighter than their basic counterparts. Overall, a lighter and more ventilated helmet will be more comfortable.

The helmet on the left has a very small amount of ventilation compared to the helmet on the right

A Nicer Helmet Offers More Comfort

Another great reason to buy a nicer helmet is comfort. Nicer helmets are made in many sizes that fit different sized riders more comfortably. Additionally, they use retention mechanisms that hold the sized helmet on your head properly, so the helmet is touching your head as little as possible.

Example

As an example, Lets look at Specialized’s line of helmets. Beginning with the Align ($40), you have a well ventilated one size fits all helmet. Moving on to the Echelon 2 ($70), that helmet has larger ventilation ports, as well as 4 sizes to fit riders better. Finally, we look at the Prevail ($200) which has the largest vents, lightest weight, as well as a Kevlar, internal, roll cage to hold the helmet together on impact. It has the most refined retention mechanism and comes in many sizes to fit riders comfortably.

From left to right: Specialized Align ($40), Echelon 2 ($70), Prevail ($200) and cutaway example of the Internal Kevlar Roll Cage

Testing Helmets

First thing to do is make sure the helmet you select from the many brands available Is comfortable and fits well before you purchase it. Once you find a few helmets that seem comfortable, take them for test rides on your bike (most shops will allow this if you leave an ID behind). Concentrate on what helmet is most comfortable and best ventilated. Then, buy what feels great!

John Brown and Andy Ellis on the Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride April 30, 2017.

A Short Review of the 2017 Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

The morning of Sunday, April 30th started early for me. I hit the road heading to Waconia for my first ever Minnesota Ironman. The temperature was in the high thirties and there was an overcast with a high probability of rain during the day. But, it is Minnesota and the Ironman is a 51 year spring time biking tradition here, right?

The Weather was Still Dry for the Minnesota Ironman Upon Arrival

About a half hour drive from Bloomington, I was in Waconia around 6:30 a.m. I unloaded my bike and was greeted by thousands of riders and several bike shops in front of the Waconia High School. After checking in, the weather was still holding dry at 7 a.m., but where was my riding partner?

Starting the ride early these Minnesota Ironman cyclists made it back in before the rain began.

Starting the ride early, these Minnesota Ironman cyclists made it back in before the rain began.

Once inside the High School, I was met by the Waconia Chamber and several exhibitors including the Waconia Brewing Company. Past the vendors, the registration table was packed with riders excited to embark on the new ride routes in Carver County.

While waiting for my co-worker, Andy, to arrive before finally getting onto the course, I visited with Penn Cycle, Erik’s Bikes, VeloFix, Gateway Cycle and Park Tools.

The Minnesota Ironman Ride

As Andy and I set out on the tan pavement of the route, we were pleasantly surrounded by the pastures and fields of Waconia’s rural area. With excellent road conditions and wide shoulders, the beginning of the ride offered a bike path feel. Our planned route was to head out on the 25 mile course (purple). We would decide after the rest stop if we wanted to tack on the last section of the 100 mile course (orange), to make the whole ride around 40 miles for the day. This flexibility is one of the best parts of riding in Carver County out of Waconia.

Andy has only been riding a bike for a few months, using the Minnesota Ironman as his inspiration. To his credit, he didn’t get an easy ride to conquer this year. Both the amble route and the weather took a left turn. Heading west on County Road 32, we saw its beautiful and quiet charm flanked with tree farms, horses, open fields and the largest goose I have ever seen. The bad news, while on 32, it started to rain.

The largest goose I have ever seen

The largest goose I have ever seen

The Weather Soon Became a Factor

The misty, gentle, northeast wind we started off with became a stinging cold gale once we crossed the Crow River and headed north. The constant headwind and freezing rain combined to make for the most painful type of exfoliation as we approached route 30. Now heading east, riding parallel with the Dakota Rail Trail, the damp wind was cruel. While the Dakota trail was not part of the official Minnesota Ironman course, some took to it due to the stand of trees that would help break the winds that were attacking from the north.

Thank Goodness for the Rest Stop in Mayer

At the end of County Road 30, we hit Mayer and found the Community Center there where the rest stop was located. The volunteers were simply amazing. The food was ample and tasty. Plus, Penn Cycle and Spokes Bike Shop were there to handle any mechanical issues that may arise. Andy and I grabbed a quick snack, warmed up, had the pros at Penn check our bikes and rolled out before the cold set into our bodies. We decided to stick with the standard 25 mile route, concerned that the weather would be getting worse.

Now on route 7, crossing the Crow River again, there seemed to be no end to the beautiful scenery of Carver County. My focus was to get to County Road 10 and enjoy the tailwind as quickly as possible. Any discomfort we felt over the last several miles would soon be rewarded once we turned south on 10. Now the hero, the wind at our backs allowed us to enjoy the gorgeous rolling hills that were breathtaking. Thanks to the tailwind helping us, we flew toward Waconia High School with relative ease. The farms made way for the Wahibo Marsh, home to dozens of beaver dams and countless feathered residents.

Andy Ellis Completing his first Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride in Waconia

Andy Ellis Completing his first Minnesota Ironman Bike Ride in Waconia, MN.

Soon, we spun back into Waconia High School with the wind still at our back. The finish line and Red Bull arch signaled our completion of the 2017 Minnesota Ironman. This also secured our our well deserved bragging rights.

Overall, the only complaints for this ride was the weather, which no one could control. As for the course, support, organization and camaraderie, I give this ride nothing but accolades. I know I will be riding this area throughout the summer. When organizing my 2018 calendar, I will be sure to leave the last week of April open for the next Minnesota Ironman.

Giving back to the trails, paths, roads and events you enjoy is a great way to stockpile some good karma and it’s fun! There are countless ways to give back.

Get Started Giving Back to Your Cycling Community

by John Brown, HaveFunBiking.com

Giving back to the trails, paths, roads and events you enjoy is a great way to stockpile some good karma and it’s fun! There are countless ways to give back. For example, you can volunteer to support rides, clean up a trail system, build a trail, support high school athletes, and get bikes for new riders. Read on for some more details.

Giving back by trail building and clean up

Giving back imba

There are thousands of trails throughout the U.S. and they all need help to stay ride-able. Specifically, repairing places where rain water creates ruts and removes soil. As a result, water damages trails even if riders, hikers, and horses aren’t using them. As a result of this damage, user groups meet to do regular trail work to combat the deterioration of local trails and paths. IMBA (The International Mountain Biking Association) has training programs that teach groups how to keep trails in pristine shape. However, If you are looking for something more immediate, track down a local group, pick up a shovel or rake, and help with the next trail day.

If you are looking for a few other great ways of giving back, IMBA has a concise list.

Volunteer to support others

giving back events

There is always a need for volunteers at bicycle events. Because of that need, many events offer exceptional perks to anyone donating their time. Examples are; being able to earn free entrance into the Bike New York ride, getting preferential registration position to enter into Ironman races that quickly fill up, and meeting professional cyclists at Gran Fondo events. Moreover, the largest perk in giving back is helping your fellow riders have a great time.

Volunteer to lead others

Join a local club and host a ride! Use your love of cycling to teach others a great new route, new trail, or where to stop for the world’s best doughnut. If you haven’t ever lead a group ride, learn the basics here.

Get kids into riding

There are amazing people out there who have dedicated limitless hours to getting new riders on bikes. Two groups that come to mind are Free Bikes 4 Kidz and Trips for Kids. Both have placed thousands of bicycles into the hands of underprivileged kids. Additionally, Trips for Kids also offers rides and training for young cyclists. Check out the overview of each below.

Free Bikes 4 Kidz is a non-profit organization geared toward helping all kids ride into a happier, healthier childhood by providing bikes to those most in need. The public donates gently used bikes and thousands of volunteers clean them, refurbish them, and then then give them away to kids in need. To date, over 32,000 bikes have been given away.

Trips for Kids Started out as a California dream with a handful of volunteers. Trips for Kids has grown into a national movement with over 75 independent chapters running the Trail Rides program.

Keep kids riding

The fastest growing sport in high school athletics is mountain biking. The organization spearheading this movement is The National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA for short). The NICA Volunteer Program is your opportunity to be a part of the high school cycling movement! NICA is always looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people to help with a variety of tasks necessary to promote its programs. Tasks can include calling or mailing campaigns, research, data upkeep, event preparation and execution, and much more. Some volunteer opportunities can even be completed from home.

Road bikes have been popular in cycling for longer than any other category.

Spring is Almost Here and So Are April’s Bike Events

by Andrew Ellis, HaveFunBiking.com

The temperature is starting to rise as we hopefully had our last snow falls for the season. As spring arrives on Monday, soon You’ll start to see more grass and you won’t have to dress like an Eskimo to go outside. April is only 15-days away and that means its time to get your bike ready the spring bicycling season. Start April off with the 30-days of biking pledge.

Bike Events for April

Minnesota

Saturday, April 1st
Begings “30 Days of Biking
World Wide
Gold Medal Park, Minneapolis
Pledge to Bike

30 Days of Biking is a pledge to ride your bike everyday for 30 days in April. Also, there is no minimum distance requirement so you can even ride your bike around the basement for a little bit. Just have fun, or be as serious as you want. And if you miss a day, it’s okay, just keep riding. Also, Remember to share your adventures online, and include the hashtag #30daysofbiking.

BMX

Saturday, April 1st
Saturday Racing Action
Registration: 2: 00 PM – 3:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These races are for every skill level, and perfect for putting those new skills to the test. And if you just want to watch, then you can get into these bike events for free. Fee is $16.

Sunday, April 2nd
Sunday Funday Racing
Registration: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

You may have to go back to work or school tomorrow, but enjoy Sunday afternoon at the tracks! These races are open to all skill levels. Fee is $16.

Tuesday, April 4th
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Thursday, April 6th
Rum River BMX Clinic
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These clinics are designed to help you improve your skills no matter your skill level. Each clinic will go over specific aspects of BMX racing such as going through the gates and jumping. These sessions are also taught by certified coaches, assistant coaches, and trainers.

Friday, April 7th
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Saturday, April 8th
Saturday Racing Action
Registration: 2: 00 PM – 3:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These races are for every skill level, and perfect for putting those new skills to the test. And if you just want to watch, then you can get into these bike events for free. Fee is $16.

Sunday, April 9th
Northland Fire & Ice Series
Registration: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

This popular racing series will have two races each month and will culminate with the final event in December 2017. Also remember that everyone is welcome to race in these bike events. Fee is $16.

Tuesday, April 11th
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Thursday, April 13th
Rum River BMX Clinic
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These clinics are designed to help you improve your skills no matter your skill level. Each clinic will go over specific aspects of BMX racing such as going through the gates and jumping. These sessions are also taught by certified coaches, assistant coaches, and trainers.

Friday, April 14th
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Saturday, April 15th
Saturday Racing Action
Registration: 2: 00 PM – 3:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These races are for every skill level, and perfect for putting those new skills to the test. And if you just want to watch, then you can get into these bike events for free. Fee is $16.

Tuesday, April 18th
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Friday, April 21st
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Saturday, April 22nd
Saturday Racing Action
Registration: 2: 00 PM – 3:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These races are for every skill level, and perfect for putting those new skills to the test. And if you just want to watch, then you can get into these bike events for free. Fee is $16.

Sunday, April 23rd
Sunday Funday Racing
Registration: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

You may have to go back to work or school tomorrow, but enjoy Sunday afternoon at the tracks! These races are open to all skill levels. Fee is $16.

Tuesday, April 25th
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Thursday, April 27th
Rum River BMX Clinic
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These clinics are designed to help you improve your skills no matter your skill level. Each clinic will go over specific aspects of BMX racing such as going through the gates and jumping. These sessions are also taught by certified coaches, assistant coaches, and trainers.

Friday, April 28th
Rum River BMX Practice
6:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

It’s April and it’s getting closer to where it’s time to hit those outdoor tracks. So get yourself ready by getting in some good practice on the indoor BMX track at Industrial Park. You’ll also be able to meet other riders, and hone your skills in preparation for warmer weather. Fee is $11.

Saturday, April 29th
Saturday Racing Action
Registration: 2: 00 PM – 3:00 PM
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

These races are for every skill level, and perfect for putting those new skills to the test. And if you just want to watch, then you can get into these bike events for free. Fee is $16.

Sunday, April 30th
Sunday Funday Racing
Rum River BMX
Industrial Park
Isanti, MN

You may have to go back to work or school tomorrow, but enjoy Sunday afternoon at the tracks! These races are open to all skill levels. Fee is $16.

Other Bike Events

Saturday, April 29th
Falls Duathlon
Hanna’s Bend Park
Cannon Falls, MN
Duathlon

The race is a 2-mile run, 14-mile bike, and 3-mile run. It goes all around Cannon River giving you some nice scenery to look at as you put your body to the test.

Sunday, April 30th
51st  MN Ironman Bicycle Ride
6:30 AM – 5:30 PM
Waconia High School
Waconia, MN
Recreational

This is the perfect way to start the spring season. There are three different length choices available to fit your preference so you can enjoy the ride as much as possible. There is no mass start for the ride. And you can start as soon as you register and get your wristband and official map. Register now for #braggingrightsguaranteed.

Sunday, April 30th
MN State-Mankato Sprint Triathlon
9:00 AM
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN
Triathlon

It’s time to put all that training to the test with a 300-yard swim, 14-mile bike ride, and limit-testing 5k to the finish line. It’s $25 per person to register and you can also register as a team of 2-3 for $60.

Iowa

Races

Saturday, April 1st
Gents Race 7.0
9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Nite Hawk Bar and Grill
Slater, IA
Race

This 5-member team racing event is described as time trial meets alley-cat meets Cannonball Run. The race will cover at least 65 miles of roads surrounding Slater, IA.

Sunday, April 9th
Iowa Spring Classic Hills/Iowa City
11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Old Tap Hills
Iowa Hills, IA

In its 8th year, this ride has two groups for both men women. There’s the beginner races and the advanced races for both mountain biking and road biking. There are also prizes for the first three places of each group. Registration is $20 both before the race and on the day of.

Sunday, April 9th
Single and Loving It!
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Polk County River Place
Des Moines, IA
Mountain Biking

Grab your single speed bike and head over to the Central Iowa Sing Speed Championships. The race lasts an hour which will result in one male and one female winner. Afterparty to follow. Those without single speeds bikes can ride as well. Those bikes will be adjusted accordingly. Cost is a $15 donation to the Young Women’s Resource Center.

Other Bike Events

Saturday, April 1st
6th Annual Q7 Tweed Ride
9:30 AM – 11:00 PM
Iowa City BrewLab

Come on out for a nice leisurely ride through Iowa City. The ride is roughly 10 miles long and there will also be several stops along the way with a nice after party starting at 7 pm. Registration is $20 on the same day and is also available throughout the route. The first 25 registrants will receive a Q7 jersey, and the first 90 will receive an armband.

Saturday, April 1st
15th Annual April Fools Ride!
11:30 AM – 11:55 PM
The Getaway Bar and Grill
LaPorte City, IA
Party Ride

It’s the first time this ride has actually happened on April 1st. There’s no registration or cover charge to join. But get up to the Getaway Bar and Grill wearing blaze orange, the ride’s official color, and get ready for the 24-mile roundtrip ride to Phat’s and Grub in Brandon, IA. There’s the option of taking the scenic Cedar Valley Trail or a low traffic highway route.

Saturday, April 8th
Full Moon High Trestle Bridge Ride
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Slater Trail Head or Madrid Trail Head
Slater or Madrid, IA

Get the experience of riding under a full moon. This ride is scheduled every time the there is a full moon in the lunar schedule. And remember to be prepared for riding in the dark.

Saturday, April 8th
Mr. Pork Chop’s Thaw Ride
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
North Kossuth Gold Club
Bancroft, IA

This is the 5th year of the ride and great way to test your fitness in time for the spring season. You should also be prepared for all kinds of weather. There’s a choice of the 27 mile ride and a 38 mile ride. Registration is $15 for just the ride and $25 for the ride and supper. All registrations are final and non-refundable. Click here for mail-in registration form.

Friday, April 14th
20th Annual Lizard King Annual Good Friday Ride
11:00 AM – 5:15 PM
Prime Time
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Party Ride

It’s 20th anniversary of the 20 mile ride around the 4 Quadrants of Cedar Rapids. The ride starts at Prime Time and then takes the bike trail downtown, and then across the river. The ride will also stop at a few to-be-determined bars before ending back at Prime Time.

Saturday, April 15th
Mayor’s Annual Ride and Run for Trails
10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Richard A. Clark Municipal Service Center
Des Moines, IA
Trail Ride

The approximately 23 mile route will be led by Mayor T. M. Franklin County. There will also be a post-ride meal and entertainment as well as a drawing for a Momentum brand bike. Click here for registration info.

Saturday, April 15th
4th Annual Obro
2:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Cellar Peanut Pub
Oskaloosa, IA
Party Ride

This ride is less than 15 miles and takes you on the trail around Oskaloosa, and there will be a few stops along the way. $20 registration includes one raffle ticket, and $25 membership includes registration, a t-shirt, koozie, and 10 raffle tickets.

Sunday, April 16th
Rock Road Renegades
9:00 AM – 7:00 PM
Coopers Place Main St
Ryan, IA
Gravel Ride

This ride is mostly on gravel and has a 35- and 70-mile option. Also, the 70-mile ride starts at 10:00 AM and the 35-mile ride starts at 11:00 AM. There’s a $20 cash entry fee.

Saturday, April 22nd
Sag & Shandy Ride 2017
12:00 PM – 5:00 PM
The Sag Wagon
Cedar Rapids, IA
Trail Ride

Come ride in support of the Willis Dady Foundation. The ride starts and ends at The Sag Wagon, with stops along the way. The cost is $10 for each rider with all proceeds going to the foundation. There is even chance to win a trip to Chippewa Falls.

Sunday, April 23rd
Bike Lehn 2017
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Sag Wagon Deli & Brew
Cedar Rapids, IA
Trail Ride

Ride 35 miles roundtrip in support of the Dan Lehn Scholarship Fund at Coe College. It starts at The Sag Wagon South in Cedar Rapids and also travels to Sag Wagon North in Centerpoint before heading back on the Cedar Valley Nature Trail. Register before April 13th to get a t-shirt.

Education

Wednesday, April 5th
Women with Wrenches: Basic Maintenance
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
World of Bikes
Iowa City, IA
Education

This women-only clinic will cover every part of your bike. You’ll learn how to clean your bike, adjust the seat height, basic day-to-day maintenance, and more. You can also bring along any tools and small bike accessories you have questions about. Registration is $35.

Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour

Also, think about the Root River Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour, in Southeastern Minnesota this summer. Join the fun as the nine Root River Trail Towns host the 2nd Annual Bluff & Valley Bicycle Tour over the weekend of July 7-9, 2017. A repeat of last July’s successful inaugural Bicycle Tour, this year’s three-day ride offers a whole new set of routes and scenery. Starting in the Norwegian community of Peterson, participants will pedal through some of the most scenic back-county roads and trails rolling through Minnesota’s Bluff Country.

These bike events should help feed your urge to pedal and help get you ready for the spring and summer. If the winter blues are keeping you down just remember spring is on its way. And soon you’ll be on your way to your #nextbikeadventure.