Monday, May 2, 2011

Return of the summer bike trip series

After an April we'd all like to forget weather-wise, I figure my readership could use a little pick-me-up that involves warmer temperatures on the horizon.

Well, here it goes: Back by popular demand is the summer bike trip series.

Over the next few months, I'll be doing occasional entries about destinations in the Mankato area that can be reached on two wheels and a set of pedals (and hopefully with minimal flat tires). Unlike typical training rides, these trips won't be about the speed that one can complete them in. Rather, they will about the appeal of their destinations and the adventure it takes to get there.

It seems like this got a lot of good responses from people last summer. Perhaps others share my cycling-crazed belief that life is simply more exciting on a bicycle.

Similar to last year, I will post a route map of each trip and write about the ease/challenge of the ride, the safety of the ride and the appeal of the destination. Also similar to last year, I will post any trips submitted to me by other riders. Just e-mail your suggestions, photos and maps to

Here are a few guidelines if you're going to suggest a trip:

  • The destination should be a place that has some appeal to it. Maybe it's a restaurant with good food. Or a state park with some cool hiking trails and viewpoints. Or perhaps it's a historical landmark with an intriguing story behind it. Whatever the case, it should be a place you want to stop and hang out at for awhile.
  • Extending the previous guideline further, it should be a place that can be enjoyed by people beyond yourself. Your grandparents' house may be an enjoyable visit for you, but it means little to me (unless of course they're making cookies, then it's somewhat enjoyable).
  • It has to be a destination that a person can bike to and make it back to Mankato in a day. The bike trips are meant to be more of a "fun stuff to do on your day off"-type activity. I enjoy visiting the North Shore area of Minnesota as much as the anyone, but unless you're Lance Armstrong, you're not biking there and back in a day.
  • On the flip side, it also has to be a destination with some degree of difficulty to reach. Reasonable guideline: If it takes you less than 15 minutes to walk there, it's not a challenge.
  • The route should be relatively safe for cyclists. Roads are pretty much unavoidable if you're going to bike to another town. However, there's a big differencTe between biking on a low-traffic country road with wide shoulders than bracing for the constant flow of cars on Highway 169.

Here's a recap of the bike trips I did last summer:

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