Tuesday, June 21, 2011

MRT - Biking Day 1

Coon Rapids, Minnesota to Hastings, Minnesota

Time: 4:57:45

Distance: 59.180 miles

Average Speed: 11.9 mph

Max Speed: 27.6 mph

Calories Burned: 1881.0

Fat Burned: 195.0 g

We started our day at the Coon Rapids Dam County Park. We pumped our tires, packed our bags, and snapped some “before” photos before waving goodbye to our awesome SAG drivers and hitting the road. Or trail in this case.

The Dam Visitor Center

The “before” photo

My bike’s “before” photo at the dam

Hitting the trail

We followed the bike paths through the park until we connected to some neighborhoods, which we rode through until we got into Minneapolis. I don’t know if it was the weather (chilly, rainy, gloomy) or riding on bike trails and through neighborhoods (which is not my favorite… all that stopping and looking for the next turn and whatnot) or lack of coffee, but it took me a loooong time to warm up today. I really didn’t start to enjoy the riding until about 15 miles in when we stopped on a bridge to take pictures of another dam and downtown Minneapolis and then visit the Guthrie Theater for a bathroom break where I also got some mango green tea. We also encountered a Segway tour on the bridge, which I found quite entertaining. And the Guthrie Theater was a really cool place to pop into.

Minneapolis. I loved all the cool old-timey signs on top of the buildings.

Pedestrian bridge we stopped on. You can see the Seqway tourists if you look closely.

View of the dam from the bridge.

Picture of an old burned down mill which is now a museum.

Minneapolis, with more of the cool signs on top of the buildings

View of Minneapolis from the Guthrie Theater. This picture was taken from the giant cantilever style walkway with a balcony at the end. Really cool.

We continued through Minneapolis and stopped for lunch at a place called Baker’s Square where I had a delicious Cuban sandwich and a slice of peach pie and some much needed coffee. After refueling, we were back on our way. We navigated through Minneapolis and back onto some bike trails that followed the river. Unfortunately, the rain this year has been fairly insane and many areas have experienced flooding, especially along the Mississippi. We soon found ourselves on a path that was covered in approximately 4 inches of mud. We rode as long as we could, but soon found ourselves having a miniature “off-road” hiking adventure when fallen trees and fishtailing bicycles prevented us from riding. We came across some park rangers who told us that the path had been under 4 feet of water just a couple weeks ago. So really, I’m not complaining about walking a jaunt, because at least I didn’t have to swim!

Evidence of our hiking trip. This is typically a nice, paved path.

We had to wait on a crane that was in the process of clearing a section. After that, we were able to continue our riding.

We made our way into and through the next twin city St. Paul and on towards Hastings. We ran into some pretty nasty weather. While the morning had been threatening rain and occasionally actually raining, the afternoon made good on the threat. We had pouring rain and nasty headwinds. We even stopped to take shelter under a bridge where we realized there was a tornado siren going off. We waited for a bit, but it didn’t really seem like it was going to let up, so we pressed on. Besides, we were already wet. We eventually stopped at a gas station for Gatorade and snacks. I bought these little Andes bars, which were a perfect pick-me-up. We had a few more spats with rain and wind, but eventually it cleared up and we were able to enjoy some nicer weather for a while. We even got to put away our rain coats! We saw some egrets, which were beautiful, and some nice Minnesota countryside.

An MRT sign. Notice the gloomy weather.

Minnesota countryside

One of the egrets we saw today. Beautiful birds.

We crested a hill and then the sun came out and we were treated to this lovely view. I made Jack stop and take my picture.

Eventually we headed back towards cities and after some tricky maneuvering on roads with heavier traffic than I prefer, we arrived in Hastings and Day 1 was done.

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