Summer cycling: A road trip for beginners

Categories: Cycling
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Photo by Daniel Murphy
On the trail, dining at Sea Salt, and taking in the Falls
Now that the warmer months are finally here, it's time for a road trip. City Pages has told you which trails to try out, so now it's time to put them to good use. From beginner to expert routes, we've lined up a few summer trips you can take via bike. If you're one of many who took a break from the roads this winter, now's the time to get your endurance back by taking our beginners' trip down to Minnehaha Park and Falls. Once you're there, you can reward yourself with some delicious fish tacos from Sea Salt.

This destination is only five miles out of downtown Minneapolis, and right along a major bike trail, which makes it a perfect trip for first-timers. It's also an easy and quick ride to take with friends or family. If you travel at a leisurely pace, it should only take 25 to 30 minutes.

Beginner Trip: Minnehaha Park/Sea Salt
Trail: West & East River Parkways
Distance: 5.5 miles from downtown Minneapolis
Estimated Time: 30 minutes

How to prepare:

For this trip you don't need much, just a working bike in decent condition and the will to elevate your heart rate for about a half-hour and back. You can bring a bottle of water along, though you really shouldn't have any problems as long as you hydrate beforehand.

You might also want to bring a spare tube or patch-kit in case you blow a tire. However, if you find yourself with a flat, there are several bike shops only a few miles from the trail, such as the Hub Bike Co-op or Angry Catfish Bicycle Shop + Coffee Bar. Hiawatha Cyclery is also only a mile from the park.

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Photo by Daniel Murphy
How to get there:

If you're coming from downtown, simply follow Hiawatha Avenue the entire way until you reach Minnehaha Parkway (hang a left and Minnehaha Park will be in front of you shortly).

If you're coming from anywhere else, however, we suggest taking West River Parkway, which is a gorgeous trail along the Mississippi. While it's a bit older and bumpier, it's still a mostly smooth ride. The parkway will take you the entire way at just a little over five miles from West Bank (or 10 miles from downtown St. Paul).

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Photo by Daniel Murphy
What to do there:

Besides being a quick ride, the final destination features an abundance of activities to do once you're there. Check out Minnehaha Falls, take your dogs to the off-leash park, or ditch your two-wheeler and upgrade to a three or four-wheeler (still peddling, of course). Wheel Fun Rentals offers novelty transportation that fits anywhere from one to four riders for between $12 to $30 hourly.

If you want to save money, the park has plenty of gazebos and tables for picnics, but if you're willing to spend a little, getting some fish tacos from Sea Salt is highly recommended. The destination won our Reader's Choice this year for seafood. You can also try their scallop tacos, oysters, or just kick back and drink from their selection of craft beers, including local favorites Summit and Surly. For those who don't like seafood, Sea Salt also offers their self-proclaimed "worst hotdogs ever."

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Photo by Daniel Murphy
A beer to refuel for the ride home
Next trip: Lake Minnetonka (intermediate)

On our next trip, we'll take you to Lake Minnetonka, which is a little over 20 miles out of Minneapolis. This ride will take a little more planning and preparation. Once there, you'll be able to spend the day at the beach, visit the Excelsior brewery, or just wander aimlessly throughout downtown Minnetonka.

Do you have suggestions for a good summer bike trip? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 comments
abergop
abergop

Peddling refers to selling things from place to place. Pedaling is the correct term for riding a cycle. 

Steve Linabery
Steve Linabery

note that W River Parkway is still closed from the landslide that the original publication of this article predates. the detour is slightly less than picturesque :)

Scott Anderson
Scott Anderson

Why on earth would someone choose to ride the Hiawatha Ave bike trail DT to Minnehaha Park instead of West River Road, even if WRR is longer? If you've spent any amount of time on both (or even just seen them once) there's no comparison.

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