There is nothing like the feeling of arriving at a destination under your own power – your human power. As a human, you are an elite organic engine that can adapt and be trained into higher and higher levels of fitness and technique. One of the primary purposes of an engine is transportation, and while it may seem daunting at first to transport yourself to a certain place using nothing but the energy in your body, once you reach your destination you will look back and marvel at what you were able to do.
Soon, the transportation will cease to be a challenge, rather an opportunity to provide for your own needs. No longer will you be a slave to technology or automobiles. You will now have a choice and a means to complete tasks through alternative means. Trade your 3,000 lbs motorized-metal-box-commute for 30 lbs of life-giving effort. You’ll feel the difference.
The Start of an Adventure
Freedom. Transportation. Exploration. Fitness. Health. This is what initially attracted me to cycling. I live in the beautiful city of Minneapolis, one of the most bike friendly cities in the country (when it isn’t snowing and frigid). I began noticing that there were bike paths everywhere, especially along my commute to work. Would I rather sit in my car during a summer rush hour, or feel the breeze on my body as I race under tunnels of green trees on smooth pavement made just for the two wheels beneath me? What a rhetorical question!
I was drawn into cycling with a sense for adventure and a desire for living life partly under my own power. Plus, I had started reading MMM who put into perspective that a car-dependent lifestyle is utterly ridiculous and irresponsible. The fact that a bike could serve as basic transportation, a fitness and health machine, a means to explore the city’s natural beauty and cycling culture, and offer an exciting adrenaline rush riding as fast as the wind, cycling seemed a natural fit for me.
In addition, cycling is generally far less aggressive than running on a person’s body and is a sport that a person can enjoy throughout their lifetime. I am a naturally athletic guy, and it seemed far more feasible for me to ride 50-100 miles than regularly beat my body into submission on pavement running a marathon. With all this information, combined with the social component of group riding, cycling looked to be a life-long endeavor.
But could I sustain my enthusiasm? Could I actually find places to enjoy this new practical hobby?
Where Can I Ride?
The below map shows all the noted bicycling routes on Google Maps in the surrounding 50 miles of the Twin Cities. Once you get into the country, most roads are fair game, though it’s not quite the same as living in Madison, WI, a smaller city with surrounding farm country for hundreds of miles of challenging hilly pavement. Thanks to the rails to trails projects and the numerous preserved lake parkways, bike trails in the Cities are like secret access tunnels to any area around the Metro – and often the best parts! So, where can I ride? Almost anywhere!
With my bike in hand, I was free. I was able. The Cities were my playground. When you explore by bike, you learn the surrounding land intimately. You find critical junctions that serve as launching points for rides in all directions. You find a sense of direction and intuition while getting lost. You find places that only a few people even know of. And you race against the wind and the sun in an appreciation of being able to explore this beautiful world.
A Beginning of a Journey
For me, cycling started as an amazing adventure of my surroundings and exploration of my own personal capabilities. I relished the coolness of the morning air during my morning commute. I savored the summer sun on my back during the long rides, keeping me in high spirits of comfort. And I loved the adrenaline rush of night riding and the unique solitude the air and roads afford.
These solo endeavors strengthened me both in body and mind. I was able to navigate routes with an air of command. And my increased speed and endurance allowed me to catch up to and hold the back wheels of experienced riders. I was to soon enter into the ranks of group riding and experience unparalleled excitement and comradeship as we conquered mile after mile into uncharted territory. This was the start of a journey – one that I shall tell at a later time. However, nothing in my mind can still beat those initial years of exploration through trial and error. For those miles were my own – my introduction.
And Your Introduction
I want to share these experiences with so many. That is why I am writing this post. That is in part why I am writing this blog. To share such wonderful experiences and create an archive for future generations to access the wonders of the area. My intention is to post routes and maps with turn by turn instructions to create a library for all to share. In time, for the adventurous soul, you too can have your own introduction.