Photos and Blog by Gail Gates
It was on the 10th day of May–1884–that I confessed to age by mounting spectacles for the first time, and in the same hour I renewed my youth, to outward appearance, by mounting a bicycle for the first time. The spectacles stayed on.
– Mark Twain’s Speeches
Can you feel it? Spring is coiled and ready to pounce before summer takes over and expends itself in about two seconds. I don’t know about you, but my summer schedule is so full I’m already sending August apologies…and it is only April! Yikes.
Not to be stopped by little things known as obligations, I want to have fun this summer. Included in my “to do” list:
- suck in gallons of fresh air, pollen, and the occasional slow gnat. (Does anyone else get those buggers stuck in their lip gloss?)
- Allow my winterized skin and cellulite to react badly to genuine sunshine and “I don’t remember these being so tight” shorts.
- Ride a bike and savor–for days–muscles that haven’t been used in awhile (not to mention the hoo-ha area where the bike seat fits. Sorta.)
It’s all about living with pleasure in the few short weeks Minnesotans call summer. And with that, I want to call your attention to a soon-to-be-christened bike trail that cuddles up to a lengthy stretch of Old Hwy. 61.
Here’s the official blurb via MN DOT:
Minnesota’s Newest Bicycle Route
U.S. Bicycle Route 41, designated the North Star Route, connects Minnesota’s State Capitol to Canada.
MnDOT learned while developing its Statewide Bicycle System Plan (PDF) that the public prioritized creating a few key bicycle routes across Minnesota. One of those priority routes was to connect the Twin Cities to Duluth and Lake Superior. In 2016, MnDOT sought public input to plan the route. The route is now designated as U.S. Bicycle Route 41, the North Star Route, which connects Minnesota’s State Capitol to Canada. During open houses and online opportunities, more than 3,600 people helped identify and rank route-selection criteria, comment on a draft and then final alignment, name the route and suggest locations where the route could connect to a future Wisconsin bicycle route. The 315-mile route is approximately 47 percent on state, regional and local trails. It begins at the Mississippi River in St. Paul, at the junction of USBR 45, the Mississippi River Trail. It winds northward and then to the northeast, passing through nine state parks and two national parks, through the port of Duluth, along Lake Superior, and ends at Grand Portage State Park. USBR 41 connects the Mississippi River, the world’s fourth largest river, to Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake.
Ribbon-cutting bicycle ride May 20-25, 2017
MnDOT is planning a ribbon-cutting event in St. Paul that will be followed by a six-day bicycle tour that ends at Grand Portage State Park. The ride is open to the first 32 people to register.
Okay, about the bike ride. There is good news, bad news, and good news. The first good news (I am biased!) is that a portion of the ride will pass through many towns that are part of the Old Hwy. 61 route. (In this case from Wyoming, MN to Mahtowah, MN.) The bike tour then heads into Jay Cooke State Park and on up the North Shore. With overnight stops in North Branch and Moose Lake, participants will have opportunities to learn more about the communities that get by-passed when driving on I35. Yay!
The bad news is that this six night, seven day, bike tour has sold out. There is a waiting list, however. If you have questions call Kerri at 651.280.7299 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Here is a link to a more detailed schedule.
The (second) good news is, well, if you didn’t get in on the Ribbon-cutting Bike Tour you get to plan your own bike trip! That is right. Customize your trip your way. Perhaps you want to break up the ride into multi-weekend segments, taking the time to explore the small towns at your pace and with your interests. You could even submit a guest blog right here to the Old Hwy 61 website. Or share your photos with us on the Old Hwy 61 Facebook page. We would LOVE that. Seriously.
Biking the trails along Old Hwy. 61. What a fabulous way to make memories and slow down. And, if you get any gnats stuck in your lip-gloss or Chapstick, let me know. I will understand and probably hug you.