Tuesday, June 1, 2010
No blog entry yesterday - I was on the road. Packed up the car and drove from Rapid City to Minneapolis (actually Minnetonka). A long day on the road. That was not helped by me not having reservations. I was going to took for one of the chains I usually use - Choice Hotels or Wyndham. Holiday inn as a back-up - mostly by using points.
At the information desk at the MN state line recommended drive up through Mankato - its shorter and faster. The wrong decision - you don't have all of the options to stop at to get a reservation down the road. I was going to just log into the internet for find a motel - gut neither South Dakota nor Minnesota rest areas have wi-fi (like we do in Iowa).
Anyway - found a Holiday Inn Express in Minnetonka, MN near the bike trails. About 9pm I checked in.
This morning I NEEDED to ride. I rode over to the Minnesota River Bluffs LRT Regional Trail. Lots of climbing to get over to the LRT trail.
Started riding that trail from Rowland Rd (near I-494) East. For the first 2 miles, the trail surface was crushed stone. In Hopkins, the trail turns into the Cedar Lake LRT Regional trail. By then, the trail was paved.
There are informational kiosks along the trails. Someplace I read than they are generally spaced every 2 miles. The top photo is of such a kiosk.
At Cedar Lake, I accomplished my first goal - riding the Midtown Greenway. Riding right on heading East towards the Mississippi River. All this way I was riding in an old railroad right-of-way. Some places, the trail is along active railroad tracks.
I had heard the Greenway described as a bicycle expressway. In a way it is - at least a "limited access" trail. Where the trail grade separation is above street, there is a fence. All along along of the Greenway you find "exit/entrance" ramps. The above photo shows one of such ramp.
Like auto expressways, you will also find police patrolling. If you look closely - in the third photo you see a "Black & White" watching the trail. Of safety, there are also emergency call boxes along the trail system. Literature about the trails say there is no speed limit on the trails - but I thought I saw a sign about the trail rules, setting a limit of 15 mph.
On the Greenway, I realized I was at over 10 miles. Feeling pretty good, I set a new goal - Mississippi River. A cable-stay bridge spans Hiawatha Ave. In the photo of the bridge, notice the lane markings. Trail users obey these markings. A short detour off the old railroad right-of-way, then back up to the river. There, the Greenway unceremoniously ends. From there is a down-ramp to the trail along river road.
At the river, I was debating the head back the way I came or a different route back. another route would add miles and I was already at 15 miles. At a 30 mile round-trip, it was the longest ride of the year.
I opted to back the way I came. As I headed back, I realized I was facing a headwind - light as it was. With that and at about 20-25 miles I was really starting to feel it. The hills along between the trail and my motel was gruesome. I had to walk most of them - just not enough in the legs, yet.
That, and there was an approaching storm - I was happy to get back to the motel. Shower, food, a couple errands, and a nap.
One more photo of the Midtown Greenway. This one was processed with "grunge" effect.