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