Bottomed Out

While in Minneapolis this weekend, I finally got a chance to ride the Minnesota River bottoms on the Ox.  We’d ridden hard at Carver Lake the day before, so our Sunday morning ride was all about mellow cruising and basking in the warm November sun.

We started at Sibley House and rode the trails southwest along the Minnesota River, then crossed  the river on the Hwy 77 bridge and rode back northwest to the trailhead on American Blvd. From there, we took the LRT to 46th St and rode to Angry Catfish for coffee and bike-nerdery. After that, we rode the paved and unpaved trails through Minnehaha Park back through Fort Snelling and crossed the Mendota Bridge on the MRT to get back to the car.

The entire ride was, in a word, sublime. It’s a fat-biking paradise.

Only an idiot would thinking paving any of this a good idea.

13 thoughts on “Bottomed Out

  1. Apparently, there was a bunch of good riding across the country over the weekend. Your looks as good as anything I’ve seen (and mine was pretty amazing too). Glad you enjoyed it.

  2. It was definitely a fine weekend for riding. Looks like you had a great ride in your neck of the woods; I really must turn up for that one someday.

  3. Eh, we had a suck riding weekend up here. The bitter irony was I scuttled a ride on Saturday because of promised 1-2 inches of rain. And, nothing happened. Well, it was windy.

    Anyways, looks like you guys had a good time!

  4. That’s sorta why my general policy is to ride even if rain is forecasted–as long as it’s not pissing down when I start. Around here, at least, it doesn’t seem to rain as much as people think it does.

  5. I generally ride if/when rain is forecast. However, once the forecast got dire, whatever interest in the ride quickly fizzled. Plus, I’d have to take transit for an hour to get to the start, so I wasn’t that excited about getting all the way out there if it was going to pour on me.

  6. Transit to go ride bikes? What a fascinating notion…

    But I can see you’re point. Sitting on the train while it starts to rain on your ride would be particularly dispiriting.

  7. Yep, Portland is a thoroughly modern metro area. 😉 But seriously, it is great that we have light rail that extends out to the hinterlands. It makes getting to better rides easier. You don’t have to slog through a couple hours of suburban crap to get to the good stuff.

  8. Madison was threatening to become throughly modern, but that passed with certain changes in local and state administrations a while back. And even though it’s a bit sprawly, it’s not a big place by any measure (I often tell people from real cities that Madison isn’t a city, but a suburb of itself). I can ride from one side of town to the other in less than an hour and can get out of town and onto country roads in anywhere from 10-30 minutes, depending on which way I go, with most of the longer escape routes using a substantial amount of bike path.

    So it’s not terrible. But being able to put my bike on the light rail, or connect to the rest of the world by train — it’s one of the reasons why we consider relocating to Minneapolis now and again.

  9. Yeah, I hear ya. A good friend of mine grew up in Madison, and he said that they almost got Amtrak back (I think in the 90’s) but it didn’t happen. And I did remember reading that Madison was going to get rail again a few years ago, then Mr. Walker Goes to Madison. Hey, maybe 2020 will be the decade!

    But it is also nice to live in a small metro area that takes care of your basic needs, and you can get out of via bike pretty easy. It’s not hard getting out of PDX by bike, but it’s not as easy as it could. Wish there were more long distance trails here, but Portland did not have the rail network (and then abandonment) like most of the Midwest. Much of what we built, we still use as railroad. So it’s nice having light rail. We just got the new line opened, and the end of the line conveniently connects to a bike trail, so options are expanding.

  10. It’s true: Madison has flirted with some kind of passenger rail service off and on for quite a long time. I moved here in ’84 (just before high school) and got to watch all of it come up and then fizzle away in political infighting and worse.

    And don’t get me wrong: Madison is a great place to live in many ways. Excellent place for cycling, lakes in the middle of town for paddling and sailing, lots of good restaurants and bars (and a few truly great ones), more than our fair share of breweries and brewpubs, a reasonably vibrant culture (in which the university offsets the politicians and their minions), and increasing infill to counteract the sprawl.

    The biggest thing that has us looking to relocate–though not looking very hard, mind you–is that Wisconsin seems to be on the downward slide these days. And, I’m going to have to find a new job one of these days anyway, as my federally funded position at the UW will only last for another year or so unless Congress can manage to pass the transportation bill in conference right now, and our program comes up for another competition and we win another round. Lots of ifs, you might say.

    And then I go to Minneapolis to visit friends and spend a weekend riding awesome suburban single-track one day and then the river bottoms + LRT + other paths the next day.

  11. I don’t live in Madison, but it just seems like rail transit to, at the very least, Milwaukee, would be such a no brainer. But I don’t live there. I’ve only visited Madison a couple times and liked it, but would definitely have visited more if there was an Amtrak stop there, not 30 odd miles away in Columbus. (For the two times I visited, one of those times was passing through on a bike tour, the other I took the bus from Chicago and the bus to Milwaukee.)

    I like Minneapolis a lot, and it would be my top pick if I moved to the Midwest. I just don’t know how I’d cope with winter, since it’s been fifteen years since I had to deal with “real winter”, which doesn’t happen out in Portland. It could be fun…

  12. Yes, rail connections to Milwaukee at the least and also Chicago and Minneapolis from Madison: definitely a no-brainer. It was a huge loss and a missed opportunity to get funding that won’t likely come up again for years, if at all.

    Of course, then there’s the utter silliness of not running Amtrak through Madison in the first place, instead of bringing it no closer than Columbus. Just the sort of thing that happens when the government doesn’t actually own the infrastructure.

    As for winter, I’d take 20 degrees and snowy to 40 degrees and raining any day. I spent several winters in Charlottesville while I was at UVA and they were miserable and uncomfortable in ways that “real winter” has never been. Besides the cold rain and persistent damp, here in the Midwest we actually insulate our houses, install double- or triple-pane windows, and have proper heating. There, not so much–and certainly not the places we lived.

  13. After 15 years of living in PDX, I actually sort of like damp and 40! But I get it that others don’t, and yeah, Portland is also one of those places that likes to pretend things like insulation (or sometimes heat!) isn’t needed. I also appreciate the fact that I can camp in the winter. (Yes, I know you can snow camp, but that takes some special energy to muster, usually part of a snow adventure vs. “I just want to go camp tonight”.)

    But it is fun when we get an infrequent and usually not that significant snowfall. A little snow shuts down the city, which seems absurd to anyone who lives in a regular snow climate. But the nice thing about it is: on a snow day, no one really expects anyone, even adults, to do anything “productive”. So you can enjoy a snow day like you were a kid!

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