Inspired by the previous weekend’s Babes in Bikeland, Victoria and I decided to sign up for the 2012 Minneapolis Bike Tour – a 14 or 36 mile loop around the city of Minneapolis. Organized by the parks & recreation board, this would be a supported ride including a course closed to traffic and organized water/snack stops. Knowing we could change our mind at the last minute if needed, our aim was to complete the 36 mile loop. With the nearly 9 mile ride to the start/finish and back, that would make for a total trip mileage of 54 miles – easily our longest ride to date.
Leaving the house at dark, we pulled into the starting area and registered about 40 minutes before the official start.
Just before 7:30, we rolled our way to the official start, making sure to stay out of the way of the speedier folks up front.
There were quite a few families at the start – a welcome sight. This little girl was raring to go.
Victoria and I both had our moments during the ride. I struggled as we made our way on the Mississippi River Road, around mile 20 of the tour (mile 29 of our trip). I watched Victoria pull away on the uphills as I focused on “turning and burning” my way to the top. A few miles later, as we turned directly into the wind, Victoria hit her “wall” and started to lag behind. To our credit, we both kept the wheels turning during our rough patches.
Then, about 5 miles or so from the end we arrived at Water Stop 4, the last official stop of the ride.
As we approached the stop, it was apparent this was different than all the other water stops. There was a young lady standing at either side of the entrance, cheering as riders either rode past or pulled in. Then, at the stop itself, there was this woman.
Equipped with a PA system, she shouted her goals for Water Stop 4.
“Welcome to Water Stop 4. We will refresh and impress. We’re here to give you energy. You CAN do this! You GOT this! You’re almost at the end – you don’t have as far to go as you’ve already come.”
The back of this woman’s shirt said “Energy is Everything” and at that moment, it was. Between her infectious enthusiasm and the music playing over the loudspeakers, everyone seemed to gather a second wind at Water Stop 4. Two ladies even dismounted from their tandem bike and started dancing as they enjoyed their snacks. After some water, a couple of cookies and a needed energy boost, we hopped back on our bikes and began the last leg of the tour.
We finished in A LOT less time than I thought we would. As we pulled into the post-ride celebration it was a little overwhelming to see just how many people (and bikes!) were there.
Ok, so it was only 10:30am, but we got a bite to eat at the food trucks and V even grabbed a celebratory beer while we enjoyed the post-ride festivities.
It’s never too early for a hotdog!
Here’s a picture of our route (the longer one) for the ride:
Feeling like a badass after 45 miles on the bike (and a beer that may have gone a little to her head), Victoria posed in her new bike jersey.
And here I am, trying to look tough in front of the porta-potties.
Notice how smiley we were. We felt good about getting through the tough spots and making it as far as we had (45 miles was farther than we had ever gone before). But we still had 9 more miles to go before we were finished for the day.
After refilling our water bottles we hit the road again and made our way back to St Paul.
As we pulled onto the Midtown Greenway (a wonderful bike path that cuts across Minneapolis) we discussed whether or not we’d be able to add an extra 8 miles to our ride so that we would complete a metric century (100km or 62 miles). Finally we admitted we were dragging and didn’t think it was a good idea. In fact, what seemed a better idea was to stop at the bike center on the Greenway for a coffee to get a little extra pep for the ride home. So that’s what we did.
With the caffeine boost, we pedaled the last 5 miles or so back to St Paul completing our 54 mile journey. While we were both pooped, we were excited to have accomplished our goal. Next up is a metric century, and then maybe even a century!