A NiceRide 144, um 145 Challenge on June 30th

Correction, there are 145 stations. There is one missing from the image below but the spreadsheet is correct.

This Saturday, June 30th, I’m going to do a NiceRide 144 challenge. As in, try to visit all 144 NiceRide stations in on day. The map above is the approximate course. You’re welcome to join me for all or part of the route.

The Deets*
Who: anyone
When: June 30th, 8:00AM start
Where: Start: Penn & Lowry NiceRide station in North Minneapolis. Finish: Near Boca Chica in St. Paul. They have a nice patio for a post-ride beer.
Why: Something to do.
How: One NiceRide bikes, of course. If you plan to join for this, be sure to have a NiceRide key. The transitions are painful with a credit card compared to the NiceRide key.
Safety: wear a helmet. Don’t do anything stupid.
Be sure to bring a copy of the Station Guide with you.
Note: I’ll park a car or van (depending on how many people plan to show up) at the end, so can shuttle people back to the start. If you’d like to throw a change of clothes or anything else in that, drop it off at my house by Friday at 9pm.
RSVP and find more Deets on Facebook.

The Station Guide spreadsheet below has a list of the stations in the order I plan to visit them. It’s slightly different than the map above because the above map was built using driving directions. I’ve been making a few tweaks to that, such as using the Stone Arch Bridge to cross from St. Anthony Main to downtown to increase efficiency.

I’ve also been adding additional descriptions to stations to expand upon NiceRide’s descriptions. For example, NiceRide has a station called “St. Thomas” which is a very large area to look for a station that’s actually on Grand Ave west of Cleveland near Davanni’s. I don’t want to make this harder by riding in circles looking for stations. The geocodes for each station are provided in case you want to play around with your own mapping options.

* There is nothing official about this. I’m doing it, and you’re welcome to come along.

Questions? Post a comment or email me. My cell is 651-592-4063 in case you want to call or text me about this.

Denver’s B-Cycle vs Minneapolis’ NiceRide

I’ve been riding around downtown Denver on their Bcycle bike system bikes.
Based on my experience with NiceRide, here are my first impression

1. The pricing is similar, with a flat fee for 24 hour access, with extra
charges for keeping a bike out for longer for than 30 minutes. But, it costs
$6 rather than $5 for 24 hour access.

2. The bike baskets are far superior to the ones NiceRide uses.

3. Narrower wheels. They are a bit faster, but the NiceRide bikes roll over

4. Bike selection. Strangely, the Bcycle system asks you to select which
bike stall you’d like to check out from the kiosk screen. I like NiceRide’s
system, where you get a code that can then unlock a bike at the stall of
your choice. Although. I could get in the habit of specing out a bike before

Overall, I’m very pleased with Denver’s system. It’s making my night more

Also, there is an app on Android called CityBikes that shows the status of
bike rental locations for 30 cities, including NiceRide. Geolocation.
Current inventory. Very cool.

Update: They close the kiosks at 11pm? I had to walk home! It’s not exactly 24 hour access if you can’t use the bikes from 11pm to 5am. Also, the CityBikes app didn’t pick up on this critical fact.

Tour de Nice Ride Was an Urban Adventure

Aaron and I did the Tour de Niceride on Thursday night. It was basically a scavenger hunt where we had to make 10 stops around town using the Niceride bikes. A clue was provided for each stop, at one of the 65 Niceride locations around town.

The manifest of clues came out at noon, so Aaron and I worked our way through the clues at that time. We were stumped by a couple, but felt pretty good about it. So we decided to give it a shot. Here is what we thought the venues were before heading out:

View Niceride in a larger map

Our first stop was Common Roots Cafe. We checked out bikes across the street on 26th at Lyndale, went into Common Roots, and found out that it was NOT a stop. Whoops.

Then we headed downtown where we picked up our first stamp at Loring Park, followed by the YWCA, IDS, Metrodome, and Spoonriver. Then we worked our way over to the U of MN to the Gopher stadium. Here’s Aaron on University Ave:

Tour de NiceRide - Minneapolis

And a whole team action shot:

Tour de NiceRide - Minneapolis

After the Gopher stadium, we hit the Birchwood Cafe (the correct answer to the wrong stop we hit earlier). We then shot down to Peace Coffee’s HQ, only to find, well, no one. That was a bad error since Peace Coffee doesn’t have a Niceride kiosk yet.

From there, we hit the Blue Nile, then checked out the Seward Coop, which was where the Peace Coffee sponsored kiosk was. With that, we headed to the Bedlam Theater for the after party, where we found out that Randall Deitel from VeloVeggies had already finished.

Here’s the after-party crowd during the raffle for a lot of cool stuff:

Tour de NiceRide - Minneapolis

Here’s Randall:

Tour de NiceRide - Minneapolis

It’s good to hear that Randall suffered a bit for his first place finish:

Randall on Niceriding

Good times.

Also, as Nick Cross pointed out to me on Twitter, there is a 65 Challenge to bike around town and check bikes in & out of all 65 stations in a single day. You can do it whenever you want, and get a bike jersey for completing it. Who wants to give that a shot?

If you haven’t tried the bikes yet, I highly recommend giving them a try with out of town guests. They’re very convenient to check out (just swipe a credit card) and are a casual and comfortable way to check out the city.

People Who Ride Bikes Spend Money

Hansi Johnson discovered a study (PDF) done by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison (via the Bicycling Federation of Wisconsin) that attempted to quantify the value of biking on Wisconsin’s economy.

Wisconsin has some beautiful trails and awesome country roads that draw cyclists to the state. And it’s also home to some serious bike companies, including Trek, so it’s no surprise that the state benefits from biking. But check out this comparison:

Combined with previous estimates of the state’s bicycle manufacturing, sales, and services industry, this means bicycling generates more than $1.5 billion a year in total economic impact, according to the report. By comparison, deer hunting in the state generates $926 million, according to the International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. And in a 2001 report, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism estimated the impact of snowmobiling to be just under $250 million.

They say that biking generates 13,200 jobs in Wisconsin. Jobs that correlate with healthy lifestyles. Cool stuff.

On a Twin Cities scale, it sure seems like the bike friendliness of Minneapolis brings money into the city. Friends and family routinely come to Minneapolis to ride from our house over to Lake Calhoun on the Midtown Greenway and around parts of the Grand Rounds while dropping cash at stops along the way including Sea Salt, Tin Fish, Freewheel Bike, and the Longfellow Grill.

It would be great to see just a little bit more work done on sections of the Grand Rounds running through North, Northeast, and downtown Minneapolis to make easily navigable and less-interrupted loops for riders. Some serious progress has been made in Northeast along St. Anthony Parkway in recent years, but it’s not quite where it needs to be to have, say, easily understood 10-mile tours. Once that’s in place, the volume of cyclists putting that trail to work will explode.

With a little effort, St. Paul could turn up their trails to a level that would draw cyclists (By cyclists, in this case I’m referring people who enjoy touring a city and stopping for a bite to eat along the way. Tourists.). Wheelock Parkway and Como Ave are close to bike friendly. Shepherd Road is great near downtown but weak up or downstream from there. Bike friendly city maps are nowhere to be found. Heading North-South across St. Paul on a bike remains the city’s weakest link. Phalen Parkway is a step in the right direction. From the capitol, it’s not clear that there are some pretty decent bike trails heading in different directions (Summit, Como, Phalen Parkway, Gateway Trail). Someone should turn this hub and spoke system into friendlier, navigable loops. That will bring the bikers with their wallets.

Minnesota Bike Trails on Trails.com

Minnesota Bike Trails on Trails.com

Trails.com does a nice job mapping out the various bike friendly trails around the country, including those in Minnesota. This helped me discover more trails than I knew were within an easy drive of Minneapolis. MNTrails.com is another good sources for trail info, although they list fewer trails as of this writing.

Registration (and in some cases, paid registration) is required to access detailed info or topo maps. However, once you have a trail’s name, you can normally throw that into Google to find a free source of trail info such as a dedicated website to that particular trail.

On Saturday, I checked out the Lake Wobegon Trail starting in St. Joseph, MN. That trail is around 75 minutes from Minneapolis, in great shape, and had very low bike traffic for a beautiful Saturday afternoon. I highly recommend it.

Biking Between Isabella, MN and Ely, MN

The Other Mike and biked around a good chunk of Northern Minnesota last week with stops in Duluth, Little Marais, Ely, Virginia, Hibbing, and back to Duluth. One day that started out difficult and turned very cool over time was from Little Marais to Ely. Little Marais is around 10 miles up the North Short from Silver Bay. There is nothing there but an intersection, and rumor has it that a local real estate magnate is buying up the land for a family compound.

From the Little Marais intersection, climbing away from Lake Superior is tedious.

Climbing from Little Marais

There is no shoulder for much of the route, but little traffic. In areas where there is a shoulder, it tends to have a vibration cut-in to wake up the dozers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the shoulder particularly bike friendly.

The Knotted Pine is a hunting lodge and bar around 5 miles west of Isabella.

Knotted Pine, Isabella, MN

From this point, the road winds through deep woods and many lakes. This section was described to us as treacherous. Here’s a quick video of what this looks like in action:

The road is similar to this for around 30 miles with no gas stations or even bars, so be sure to take down a frozen pizza at the Knotted Pine before pushing off for Ely. I’d recommend this to anyone comfortable with riding single file. Mike and I passed through mid-day on a weekday, so may have avoided congestion issues. Two cars passing while biking may not fit all that well. It may also be worth avoiding during hunting season for a wide variety of reasons.

Extremely Cold Weather Biking

David Schueller doesn’t let below zero temps ruin his fun. In fact, he’s been biking on Lake Minnetonka in this weather.

How does he dress for it? Layers:

David’s spin: Two days at 20 below

And what do I wear on my feet?

In order: neoprene socks, mountain bike shoes with Time cleats, time trial shoe covers, medium weight booties, another pair medium weight booties, thick-ply paper towels wrapped around them, freezer bags and thick neoprene booties.

See? No big deal.

via Shek

Both West River Road Trails Will Use Asphalt!

This just in from Ann Bernstein on the Longfellow Community Council’s River Gorge Committee mailing list:

It’s my pleasure to share some news that I know will make many runners happy: Nick Eoloff, the project manager for the West River Parkway Trail renovation project, has informed me that the Park & Rec Board has agreed to install asphalt pavement for the walking trail along the Parkway instead of the planned concrete. While concrete is more durable, runners were adamant that concrete is too hard for a running surface, and that they might be inclined to run on the bike trail instead. The bike trail will remain asphalt, as originally planned.

Nick says that this change is in direct response to the overwhelming public comments against the concrete walkways.

Congratulations to those of you who raised your concerns, and a big thanks to Nick and the planning team for listening.

That’s excellent news, and a huge win for everyone who uses the trails along the Mississippi river.

Thanks, Nick, for taking the time to listen to and address the concerns of many of Minneapolis’ most passionate trail enthusiasts.

Saturday Was Fry-Day

My friend Kyle was off fries for all of 2008, so come 2009 he decided he needed to do something significant to celebrate that milestone. (It should be noted that Kyle did lick a fry at Matt’s one night, and still ate tots.)

This led to Fry-Day, which was originally scheduled for a Friday but later moved to a Saturday, causing somewhat intentional confusion when people would say, “Fry-Day is on Saturday.”

What was Fry-Day? A bike tour to some of the Twin Cities’ finest French Fries. Participants were Kyle, Brian Shekleton, and myself. Others participated in parts of the tour, although only the three of us biked and hit all the stops. (Click here for Brian’s report.)

Where we went:

Stop 1: Longfellow Grill for Sweet Potato Fries:

Sweet Potato Fries

I also got some regular fries with my turkey burger (delicious as usual).

Turkey Burger with Fries

Then we hit the bikes:

Biking on Hamline

And headed to The Nook in St Paul for hand-cut fries with Jucy Lucy’s.

Paul Molitor with Onions + Fries

I had the Paul Molitor, which is the Lucy with pepper jack:

Inside Paul Molitor

From there, we went to the Bulldog in Lowertown where I sampled their Hoppy Flight:

Hoppy Flight

Followed by Cajun Fries paired with tots:

Bulldog Fries & Tots

The sun set as we were leaving the Bulldog, and our bike seats were glazed over from freezing rain. Here are Brian and Kyle waiting for a light at Como & Dale:

Brian & Kyle

We ended up at Maxwell’s for their delicious waffle fries. While crossing the Mississippi, snapped this self-portrait:

Ed Iced Up

That was when my camera battery died from the cold.

Picking a winner at among the four stops and five styles of fries is not easy since the styles vary widely, hunger waxed and waned, and beer pairings may have altered my sensitive palate. With that in mind, I’m going with Maxwell’s waffle fries as my favorite simply because they tasted great at a time where I wouldn’t have expected any fries to be appetizing.

This appears to be the start of a new tradition.