Related: 40x40 List
Date completed: Sunday, August 2, 2015
Because of my love affair with walking, I rarely feel the need to ride a bike. I am not super comfortable riding a bike on streets and many of the trails in the Twin Cities are crowded with experienced (read: fast) riders. Also, I don't own a bike. Bottom line: there are enough obstacles both imagined and real making "ride the entire length of Midtown Greenway on a bike" 40x40 list worthy.
One of the many reasons I like walking is that it requires minimal preparation and gear. On the continuum of gear needs, biking is low but still required more forethought than our walks.
Fortunately, we had easy access to a couple of helmets we bought from Venture North. Our thinking at the time was that owning helmets would lead to riding bikes. Nope. They sat in our closet unused for more than two years.
Around the same time that we bought helmets, I bought a bike at the University of Minnesota annual bike sale. I rode it exactly one time and somehow screwed up the brakes and seat rendering it useless in our garage until I figure out a way to get it fixed. Nice Ride Bikes to the rescue!
Picking up our bikes
The closest Nice Ride station to the start of the Midtown Greenway is at W 36th Street & W Calhoun Parkway. After paying for our day pass and unlocking our bikes, we hopped on the Grand Rounds bike trail and rode on the western edge of Lake Calhoun. We then made our way over to the Greenway on city streets - and I survived to tell you about it!
Scott and I have walked the Midtown Greenway many times and I wasn't expecting the bike ride experience to be much different. It only took a short time on the bike to realize I was wrong. I don't think one way is better than the other - just different. On a bike, I look at my surroundings further in the distance and with a wider lens while on walks I zoom in on details and look up and down more often. Scott and I agreed that it was great to cover so much ground in a shorter period of time and having the breeze from the bike kept us much cooler.
Midtown Greenway & Lake Street
The great thing about Midtown Greenway for both locals and visitors is its proximity to Lake Street. There are a lot of great local businesses to support long the ride. There is a lot to explore on your feet and wheels along this corridor. In fact, Lake Street is one of my favorite streets to be on dreary, grey days because it's so colorful.
After reaching the Mississippi River, we rode along the Grand Rounds Trail up until the section that is currently closed due to a mudslide in 2014. We decided to return our bikes near Longfellow Grill at E Lake Street and W River Parkway.
We timed this ride with the Open Streets even on East Lake Street event so before going home, we experienced the vibrant community along that stretch of Minneapolis. Here's a recap of the event on Storify (my tweet with Scott drinking a beer made the cut!).
Scott and I had a great time riding our Nice Ride bikes on the Midtown Greenway and also on the Grand Rounds trails. We even experimented with riding on city streets and it wasn't as scary as I was expecting. The biggest surprise is we both agreed that we'd like to ride bikes more often. To ease into this, we are going to buy an annual Nice Ride membership. If we find ourselves riding bikes more often, we'll consider buying our own bikes in the future.
The Nivens Family