Friday, May 20, 2022

Utepils BrewPub Sunday Rides

In our weird post-web post-blog world Utepils brewpub (225 Thomas Ave N #700, Minneapolis, MN 55405) ride information is only available on a Facebook group. Here’s that group's description as of May 2022 (I'll update this when it changes much). They do a ride most Sunday mornings weather permitting. The groups may vary depending on rider volume and leader availability but there's usually a Rec level group for both road and singletrack. In winter there are often 2-3 groups for fat bike rides.

Reminder! Please do not park in the lowest section of the Utepils parking lot. With all of our riders, their bikes, and cars trying to get through the one way lot, it is a lot to handle. Please park in the upper/back lots/on the street and then bike down.

Meet at the brewery at 9:45am

Roll out at 10am

First time riders must sign a waiver (done once per year). Link here:


Sport: 20ish mph paceline with minimal stops. 25-35 mile route

Sport Light: 17-19 mph paceline with minimal stops. 25-30 mile route

Sport Ultra Light: 15-17 mph paceline with a few stops. 20-25 mile route

Rec: 11-14 mph group ride. 15-20 mile route


Sport: Have experience mountain biking and can handle majority of obstacles in Theo/Loppet trail systems

Sport Light: Know what you are doing but not trying to set any speed records

Rec: Newer/want to go at a more casual pace. Comfortable on some obstacles.

The MSP Mississippi river bottom trails

(First published 2015, updated May 2020 and May 2022. I haven't updated all of the original text, but check out the 2020 map links at end.)

Just a quick orientation note on the rather confusing system of interrupted mountain / gravel bike / trail running system more or less along the Mississippi river north and south of I 494. More to come later. For this orientation I’m using River coordinates — so imagine river actually runs N/S and, going N, the left side is always the West bank, right side always East bank. Part of the confusion surrounding these trails is some people use compass north/south and some use river coordinates.

Fort Snelling State Park doesn’t easily connect to the trail system, there’s a large gap on the west bank due to airport and military zone that’s unlikely to close, to connect you need to climb the bluff and take the I-494 walkway trail to get to the East bank.

From Upper Fort Snelling (or lower park if climb) you can take Mendota bridge to trail that runs along East bank from Sibley House south to 494 (confusingly called the Fort Snelling State Park River Bottoms trail, but it’s easiest to get to from Fort Snelling proper, not the lower State Park or to cross the river to Sibley House area.)

A mile or so south of Fort Snelling State Park (you can’t get there thanks to restricted military/security zone), on the West Bank, south of 494, there’s a state park visitor center. From that you can do a loop along west bank that crosses at 77 to east bank and returns on 494 — this includes par of the east bank trail. (There used to be an unofficial way to get from near this visitor center to the next trail south on west bank, but I don’t know if that works now.)

From Old Cedar Ave (9500 Old Cedar Ave South, 55425) you can connect up with 2 trails on the west bank, one runs north, the other south. This is often called the Bloomington Ferry Road Access Point or “west end” (it’s on west bank) entry point, and this is the trail MORC describes as “Minnesota River bottoms” (though it’s really just one segment).

As of May 2020 more frequent flooding has made the trail sandier. Some stream crossing have been washed out or are out for repair (including the famed raft).

See also:
Update 2020 from a Facebook Group post:
Update 2022

A 17-18 mile segment that leaves from parking near Gideon House. It's a relatively new park in 2022, not even well labeled in Google. Has great parking until 10pm. In 2022 the raft is in great shape.

Friday, April 22, 2022

St Paul Gravel Rail Trails

These take advantage of some gravel along rail trails and some sandy trails. It's a route for wet weather or other conditions where we can't ride dirt. 

The reference St Paul gravel trail. It's about 25 miles.

The one I did because a train blocked part of our plan. About 22 miles.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Minnesota River Bottoms paved loop: 35W to 77

There's an emerging paved loop along the MN River Bottoms that can be a good option when dirt trails are too wet to ride. It's possible that one day it will be a good option for inline skating, but as of 2022 I think some parts are too rough or even gravel.

The above screenshot is taken form a RideWith GPS River Bottom route. If you part at the Lyndale lot by I35W bridge you head on paved trails along the MN river. Stay to the right, the fun dirt trails go left to the bluff. Trails run into the MN 77 bridge and that has a bike path that will go across the river. On the other side going downstream there's the dirt trail to Sibley House, but upstream there's a paved trail to 35W. Cross back on the 35W bike trail to the Lyndale parking.

Beyond 35W upstream is an industrial area, I don't think there's any way to cross it.

I think the paved trail extends beyond the MN 77 bridge on the north side of the river, so there's an out and back option there to extend the ride distance.

I hope to update this post with my tracked ride.

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Harriet Island, Lilydate, Great River, Fort Snelling, Minnehaha, Crosby Farm Loop

This is about 24 miles, a good spring ride on a fat bike. Some dirt, some broken pavement trail, some gravel.

1. Crosby Form dirt trails were prime! Not muddy. 

2. At 44°53′46″ N  93°10′15″ W on trails west of marina there’s an old asphalt path that goes up to Shepherd road across from Crosby. Fun descent, good climb. 

3. There are now singletrack paths along much of the paved trail from Hidden Falls to Crosby. Slowly accumulating over years. 

4. The peninsula by watergate marina has many dirt trails. Now is prime time to explore before they get overgrown. Five years ago just a few.

5. Highland Bridge development looks great and has a skate/bike park and big park at south end.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Bandit trails of Utepils Brewing

Utepils Brewing is a truly excellent brew pub, north Minneapolis landmark with a lovely view of a stream and an active bicycling community - singletrack, road and fat.

When nearby Theodore Wirth trails are closed the trail rides explore a surprising range of dirt options. I'm going to try to collect a few Strava Maps for posterity. The winter fat bike "bandit" trails are among my favorites -- even more than the superb trails at Theodore Wirth park.

Summer ride along rails (click to enlarge) ...

There are some fun paths that go by a school in here. Cross a few rail lines.
The Cedar Lake East beach is a well known Bohemian beach (bare butt), I think there's one on the east side of Wirth Lake too but that's not for olds.

Variant of above but satellite view. 
The dense square is a skills park.
And slightly better choice

Saturday, December 25, 2021

All weather (but especially winter) cycling clothing guide (Wheel and Sprocket, with comments)

I came across this on Facebook, but I can't find it on the Wheel & Sprocket site. It's the best visual guide to cold weather clothing I've come across:

What would I add or change?
  • Poagies/bar mitts: If you have straight bars these are a game changer for below 30F. Between 30-40F they let me ride in thin gloves or even fingerless bike gloves.
  • You hardly ever need a "warm jacket". T-shirt + thermal base layer + a good quality wind shell (ideally GoreTex). Below 20F consider adding a down vest that you can take off when you get too hot.
  • You don't need a winter helmet, a balaclava and headband combo will do it.
  • You do need a neck gaiter. Brilliant invention. Mine is some thin synthetic from Outdoor Research.
  • Below 15F winter boots and wool socks may need chemical toe warmers or LiOn electric socks.