Backyard Gravel

Whenever I return from an elongated work trip, I immediately jump right back out into the Delaware State Forest. Pedaling from home, gives me the freedom to pick my routes and decided just how long and how far I’ll ride.

A Hunting Cabin on Little Mud Pond

This summer, I’ve found some new roads and trails that have sparked my interest. This ride was no different. I set out at around noon and rode through my community to the deer trail that leads to Five Mile Meadow Road. A new layer of gravel made for a slower journey, as the loose surface had not yet been packed down by the many trucks that will populate the forest in about 5 weeks (hunting season). A right on Silver Lake Road, a half mile climb and a right onto Little Mud Pond Road.

Little Mud Pond

I crossed Silver Lake and dropped into the Burnt Mills Trail System. After about 4 miles, most of the Rip Rap is gone, except for the last half mile. Right before the trail crosses Bushkill Falls Road, I hung a left on Thunder Swamp Trail. A Jeep Trail, that has a sand surface in spots, Thunder Swamp loops back around to Coon Swamp Road and onto Flat Ridge Road.

Burnt Mills Snowmobile Trail

I headed back on Five Mile Meadow Road, after looping through Little Mud Pond once more and made my way home. It Just happened to be a beautiful day. After a month in the Midwest, it’s good to be home in my backyard gravel playground. I’ll make another trip. This time to Missouri, in three weeks time. I’m told that the Katy Trail, which traverses the entire state, goes right through my base camp, Maryland Heights. I’ll have to figure out how to get my gravel bike there to explore this iconic trail system.

What’s playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding), today – Joe Jackson – Look Sharp

Joe Jackson – Look Sharp!

Minnesota Fats

For those of you that did not grow up in the last 30 years, you know what this title refers to. I couldn’t wait to use it here. Minnesota Fats was the quintessential Pool hustler and Billiards player that inspired the character in the 1961 film, “The Hustler”, played by Jackie Gleason. Fats’ career spanned for more than 50 years. 
Now, if your thinking that the title infers that suburban Minneapolis is hilly, think again. I did log a few rides with over 1,000 feet of elevation, but I had to really get creative. After a little over 200 miles in 5 days, I found Bloomington to be a community built around cycling. 


With bike lanes and paved bike paths all around Bloomington and parks littered with trails and paths (called cycleways in Minnesota), there’s a place for anyone to ride. Bloomington is also home to QBP, one of the world’s largest bicycle and parts distributors. 


Now, there are some hills here, not the long, steep hills we see in the northeast or the high elevation, monster ascents in the Rockies, but short punchy climbs, just difficult enough to get your attention. I did find myself doing some repeats up these hills towards the end of my rides. Normandale Mt. Road jets up off Normandale Blvd, through a suburban neighborhood, reminiscent of the start of some of the most iconic European climbs. 


But the real gem here are the bike lanes and sidewalks built for cycling. Both sides of almost every main road has either a bike lane or sidewalk, designed around fitness activities. You would think that with the cold, snowy, long winters, cycling would have a short season. Not so, Minnesotans ride year round. After all, it is the home of the fat bike. Even in summer, Minnesotans pedal these beefy machines on the streets, trails and in the parks. So, there you have it, Minnesota Fats.

Whats Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding). Today – Simon and Garfunkel – Homeward Bound

The Twin Cities – Part 2

I was finally able to get out and explore Minneapolis yesterday. With extremely hot and sticky weather, I left my hotel at 8am and drove into downtown, parking at the bottom of Portland Street at Mill Ruins Park. My goal was to circumvent the city on the Grand Rounds Bike Path. I hopped on and rode along the Mississippi River through the downtown area and out past the University of Minnesota.
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There was a lot of construction and the detours made for some nifty adjustments as I fell off the path and ripped through the park and back onto the blacktop trail. This was not going to be a speedy ride, it was more like a tour of Minneapolis. Latte sipping youth, walking 2 and 3 across made for some sudden stops and quick reactions.

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The Basilica of St. Mary

I pedaled out through some gorgeous neighborhoods and into the lake regions. Circling Lake Harriet and Lake Bde Maka Ska, I saw an amazing amount of people kayaking, paddleboarding, running, cycling and camping all right inside the city limits.
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Minneapolis has a very small downtown, but large suburban type neighborhoods with endless miles of bike trails. It really is a great outdoor city. That said, I got turned around in the lake region and headed back towards the car down Hennepin Avenue to Washington Avenue, back to Portland Street and into Mill Ruins Park.

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This week, I’ll explore suburban Bloomington and points north of the city.
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The Twin Cities – Part 1

After 4 months of discussing the pandemic, riding in the pandemic and our new environment, my job has decided that business travel is safe again. So, I arrived in Minneapolis on Wednesday and will make this my home for the next 3 plus weeks.

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The Mississippi River from Shepard Road

I’ve heard a lot about what a cycling friendly city Minneapolis is, so of course, I brought a bike along to escape the long work days in my hotel room and to explore everything the twin cities have to offer.

1B307729-EB70-4092-8958-E1D7CD2816FCMinneapolis and St. Paul are littered with bike lanes through both cities. I parked at Crosby Farm and rode down Shepard Road in St. Paul, along the Mississippi River, passing numerous parks, The Hidden Falls and through beautiful neighborhoods. Shepard Road brought me through St. Paul and into Minneapolis. I don’t know if everything was closed because of the pandemic or because it was 6:30am, but it was extremely empty as I cruised down S. Washington Ave.  I made my way up Lexington Prkwy. and hopped back across to St. Paul and dropped back onto Shepard Road.

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Neither city is huge, but Minneapolis has a larger, more urban feel to it. St. Paul, while having its own trendy downtown, has a more suburban feel to it with seemingly less traffic. Together there are about 800,000 people in the Twin Cities.
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Pedaling through Minneapolis was fun, but slow. The bike lanes are multi use and lots of people use them to walk, 2 and 3 abreast. So, extra attention is needed to avoid walkers and oncoming cyclists.

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A St. Paul Police Officer, keeping the bike lanes car free

Minneapolis has a paved bike trail that goes completely around the city. This 50 mile stretch of well thought out urban thoroughfare is called the Grand Rounds. I Will check it out one day this week, although, I’ll need a very early start to avoid the foot traffic. I intend to bring my coffee and make the most of the morning. Stay tuned….