There are plenty of reasons why Minnesota is considered one of the most bike-friendly states in the U.S.; here are some of them.
WHERE TO RIDE
The trail is divided into seven distinct segments and goes around the perimeter of Minneapolis. Coming in at 50 paved miles, it's a perfect way to tour the city in a day.
Root River State Trail
Located in the beautiful bluff country of southeastern Minnesota, this trail follows the Root River between the cities of Fountain and Houston. And, yes, there are some hills on this one.
Luce Line State Trail
Starting in Plymouth, the 63-mile trail goes all the way out to the town of Cosmos. It's mostly made of limestone, making it a bit more tiring, but it goes through some charming small towns.
Lake Wobegon Regional Trail
This 46-mile long trail, located in central Minnesota, connects the towns of St. Joseph and Osakis. The trail has a bituminous surface, so it's a bit easier on the legs.
WHEN TO RIDE
8/7 Tour de Tonka
An annual ride through Lake Minnetonka communities, this ride is fi t for all ages and skill levels. There are a few different ride lengths, anywhere from 16 miles to a grueling 100 miles for veteran riders.
8/21 Tour de'Prairie Lakes
This is a fundraising ride for Habitat for Humanity. The 70-mile ride gives you a tour of west central Minnesota and has a choice of three different routes that vary in mileage.
9/12 St. Paul Classic Bike Tour
This ride is in its 16th year and is well established. It allows the rider a choice a few different routes that tour the surrounding areas of St. Paul.
9/19 Minneapolis Bike Tour
The ride has a short 14-mile route and a longer 36-mile route that follows the Grand Rounds. It hugs the lakes of Minneapolis, and most importantly, afterwards offers free beer and live music.
MINNESOTA'S BIG BIKE SHOPS
Penn Cycle & Fitness was Trek's first customer and now offers one of their most advanced bikes, the Project One 6.5 Madone. This bike took 70 design and redesigns to perfect. It is customizable, and the price ranges from $4,000 to $12,000 depending on how perfect you want your ride to be. penncycle.com
Erik's Bike Shop has the ability to provide a wide range of bikes and some of the newest on the market. New this year is the S-Works Tarmac SL-3 Superlight. This is the bike that the racers at Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Tour of Flanders use to win. It comes with a base price of around $8,000 and goes up with modifications. To help with modifications, Erik's has introduced "Fitlabs" at the St. Louis Park and Roseville stores. The shop takes 3-D video of you pedaling on a stationary bike. Then Erik's biking experts use the video to improve your posture and rid you of aches and pains. eriksbikeshop.com
LOCAL CUSTOMIZED STEEL FRAMES
Curt Goodrich Bicycles
Curt Goodrich has worked for too many bike makers to name in this article, but he started apprenticing back in ‘95. Moving from the bike mecca that is Seattle to the Twin Cities in 2000, he's settled down to use his unquantifiable amount of experience to produce customized steel-framed bikes. Goodrich likens a custom frame to a handtailored suit. "A lot of people can buy [a suit] off the rack and it will be fine. But when you get a really well-tailored, nicely made suit, it takes it up that next notch, and it looks smart, and feels good, and lasts a long time. That's what a custom-made bicycle will do."
Goodrich bases his bikes on a few basic design concepts: the Road, the Cyclocross, the Randonneuse, the City, and the Touring. Each design has its own specialties and benefits and all are a general starting point; customization truly means customization to Goodrich. He is well known for the creation of his Randonneuse bikes, "Rando's" for short. It's a bike designed for longer distances with the capacity to carry extra gear that the rider may need, like food or a sleeping bag. His base rate for a frame and fork starts at $2,800 and has a similar fitting procedure to Chris Kvale. Upon request, he will even assemble the rest of the bike for you, like the gears, tires and brakes. curtgoodrich.com
Chris Kvale Cycles
Walking into Chris Kvale's shop, the first thing you notice is classical music-sometimes opera-playing in the background, instantly giving you the idea that the man may be an old-world artisan of sorts. With 35 years of frame-building experience and a 22-year racing career, Chris Kvale no doubt has been around. He sticks to building steel frames, being an adamant rider of them himself. Though a carbon frame will be lighter, Kvale compares the weight difference to having or not having a water bottle on your bike. There are plenty of advantages to steel frames. They are easily customizable, especially if the rider has non-standard dimensions. They also offer an easier paint-job customization, which Chris does himself, and are relatively easy to repair if something goes wrong. Though Chris has only ridden a carbon frame once, he asserts that most everyone feels a spring and liveliness in a steel frame that a carbon frame doesn't have.
Chris's frames start at a base rate of $2,500, with modifications typically upping the price $200 each. The usual in-shop fitting process takes about three hours, which includes biking with Chris, taking body and previous bike dimensions, and discussing what you are looking for in a bike. It is from this that he derives the seven basic dimensions for a frame. It's a fairly personal experience, made only more so by the tunes. chriskvalecycles.com