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  1. #1
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Moving to south Minneapolis area soon -help

    My wife was given a choice of being laid off from her work in the SF North Bay area or transferring to Minneapolis. I may be joining her in the south of the greater Minneapolis area after a few weeks if my current job does not go permanent. Within a few miles of where the 494 and the 35 cross. Having biked in Denver for years I have an idea of how much more gear I will need to bike there; studded tires, extra thermal undies, over booties, etc. When does winter cycling end? I see a lot of lakes. Mosquito problems? Twin Cities Bicycle Club I know of, any other fun clubs in my area? I am a life member of the LAB and the UMCA. I was a USCF official many moons ago. The wife and I both need to know if your buses are bike friendly? Thanks for any help.
    This space open

  2. #2
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Yes! The buses and our light rail system are bus friendly! And the light rail starts out by where you're moving to! So you can go all the way to downtown Minneapolis on the "trolley"!

    It's cold here in the winter. I have never biked in the dead of winter, but there are a quite a few year-round commuters on Bike Forums.

    We just had a big thread discussing the pros and cons of moving to the Twin Cities... you might want to check it out.
    Considering a move to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area...

    The concensus is that it is way colder than anyone not from here can imagine for a couple months of the year, but you'll be happy if you get out every day starting in the fall...you acclimate.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I suspect the Minneapolis area is a lot like Manitoba, where I lived for 13 years. So in answer to your questions:

    1. When does winter cycling end? You could still be cycling in snow in early May, but chances are by early April most of the snow should be gone. Most years the snow melts in April, but I do recall that on May 11, 2004 there was a huge dump of snow. I've got photos. According to the records, there was 29 cm of snow that day. However, that is relatively unusual.

    2. Mosquitoes? You have NO idea!! June is the worst month for mosquitoes, especially if there has been a lot of snow, and thus a lot of standing water after the melt.

    I recall one June was particularly bad ... if we cycled after 8 pm, we didn't stop. It was a rule ... do everything you have to do off the bicycle (i.e. taking a ditch break) before 8 pm. If you stopped after 8 pm, the vampires would get you. A friend of mine broke the rule. We stopped by the side of the road and he hiked down a ways into the bush. I was standing by on the side of the road with the bicycles wishing he would hurry up because the vampires were closing in.

    All of a sudden there was a scream from the bushes and my friend came sprinting out. He was literally grey from the mosquitoes covering him. He did one swipe down his leg with his hand, and probably killed about 100 of them ... and there were more on the other leg and all over him.

    It's not always that bad, but I used to do mosquito bite counts several times through the month of June, and I usually had about 30-40 bites ... most often around my ankles, but also on my hips. The vampires seem to like my ankles, and apparently they are attracted to dark colors, so my cycling shorts attracted them.

    3. Bikes on busses ... I wouldn't hold my breath on that, but I don't know. In Winnipeg, when I left there in 2004, 3 busses had bike racks and you couldn't count on them being on your route. I gather that the prairies don't seem to care much about stuff like that. However Minneapolis could be more advanced.

    I'm also not sure why you'd need them. Unlike SF, you can cycle everywhere in a prairie town.


    Oh ... and when was the last time you experienced -40C/F?

  4. #4
    One Hep Cat Joe Dog's Avatar
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    Solveg's link is a good one and worth reading. Minneapolis is a good place to ride a bike - lots of good roads and fairly considerate drivers. TCBC has an organized ride on Wednesday evenings that leaves from very close to the I-494/I-35W intersection so if you are a joiner you could hook up with a club ride close to home. I don't do much serious winter riding so I won't have much advise for you there, but I do enough to know that you will need booties and a layer or two under a shell and some good gloves to be happy. Summers can be brutal (hot and humid) and the winters are mostly cold and pretty dry (the Moscow of the midwest). Good luck with the move and welcome to Minneapolis - I'll probably see you on the road at some point.

  5. #5
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    I think you'll like it!

    Greetings Ken!

    If you found or read my thread then I you know I just moved to the Twn Cities area. My wife and I love it so far. There are tons of bike friendly paths and streets and a very strong cycling culture -- not as strong as where you're from but probably stronger than Sacramento and definitely more bike friendly. I haven't braved a winter yet, but folks around the LBS talk about riding all but the coldest months.

    One of the LBS techs said he gave up the studded tires because the roads are cleared really well.

    Good luck with your move and the changes your life is facing.

  6. #6
    Old enough to know better efolsom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ken cummings View Post
    My wife was given a choice of being laid off from her work in the SF North Bay area or transferring to Minneapolis. I may be joining her in the south of the greater Minneapolis area after a few weeks if my current job does not go permanent. Within a few miles of where the 494 and the 35 cross. Having biked in Denver for years I have an idea of how much more gear I will need to bike there; studded tires, extra thermal undies, over booties, etc. When does winter cycling end? I see a lot of lakes. Mosquito problems? Twin Cities Bicycle Club I know of, any other fun clubs in my area? I am a life member of the LAB and the UMCA. I was a USCF official many moons ago. The wife and I both need to know if your buses are bike friendly? Thanks for any help.
    Both the light rail and buses are equipped for bikes. I have two employees who commute year round about 3 miles each way into the St. Paul downtown. I live about 35 miles north of the downtowns and ride until the snow stays on the ground. Lots of paved trails and more and more bike lanes every year make it more common then even a few years ago.

    Mosquito's in the metro are not much of a problem, they are a bit more so where I'm at. The metro Mosquito control district is very engaged in making the 7+ county metro livable! That said I got bite about ten times today, (I was near Forest Lake out in the country) No drought here, 8+ inches over normal and 70 degrees must have lead to a hatch.


    The Hiawatha bike club http://www.hiawathabike.org/ is also active in the south metro,

    http://www.minnesotacyclist.com/ is also a good source of info

    Let me know if need more info, and welcome to Minnesota!

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fastr Pastr View Post
    One of the LBS techs said he gave up the studded tires because the roads are cleared really well.
    That's how it was in Winnipeg too ... lots of people on the forums talked about using studded tires in the winter, and I couldn't figure out how putting studs on your tires to ride on dry pavement in the winter would be of any benefit.

    I rode through numerous winters in Winnipeg, and never used studded tires ... never felt the need! Come winter, I would switch the tires on my mtn bike to knobbies, and flatten them to about 30 psi, and I was good to go.

    Here are some shots to get you psyched up about riding in the winter.
    .
    Attached Images Attached Images

  8. #8
    One Hep Cat Joe Dog's Avatar
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    I agree on studs - they were mandatory when I lived in Anchorage but I doubt you would need them in Minneapolis. Even the paths get plowed clear here (your tax dollars at work!).

  9. #9
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Except there are some days when I wear studded shoes. We get a thin coat of ice over about half the road, and you can't see it to know where it is. So the road's been plowed and iced, but there will be a patch where it's melted and refroze, or the sun hit it for a while and then went away....I don't really know why. But walking my dogs in the winter there are certain days where I'd slip on invisible ice if it weren't for my ice cleats. So I imagine studs would be good for days like that....

  10. #10
    `````````````` CaptainCool's Avatar
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    I lived in southeast last year, a mile or two from downtown Minneapolis. We had a few big snowstorms in February I think that dropped a foot of snow each. But there were maybe five or six days total where I couldn't bike. I'm on 28mm slicks, considering some knobs for this winter. Side roads are iffy though. The only time I flat out fell on ice was turning onto a side street at 1am. And the last half block to my apartment was like biking through playground sand.

    I think the snow was only bad from about January to early April. I'd expect about the same this winter.

    Coldest temperatures last winter were about -20F plus windchill.

  11. #11
    Gorntastic! v1k1ng1001's Avatar
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    mosquitos aren't bad in most parts of minneapolis

    I never needed studded tires but it probably isn't a bad idea

    Minneapolis is pretty bike friendly town and there are a lot of great road and mountain rides.

  12. #12
    Twincities MN kuan's Avatar
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    For the most part, just dress like you would in Denver with some extra underwear. For regular runs to the store and such I just dress like I'd be going out for a walk in the woods. Platform pedals, lobster gloves.

    Here's a nice site http://mplsbikelove.com/forum/index.php

    I always try and get people who move here to get into cross country skiing. We have a fantastic XC ski culture here, subculture really. Very cool.

    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post

    Oh ... and when was the last time you experienced -40C/F?
    Hey it doesn't get that cold here. Don't try and scare people! Up in Hibbing and Eveleth maybe, but not here. I don't know how they survive up there in that kind of cold.

  13. #13
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Ken,
    I don't live in MSP but visit fairly regularly. I got my first taste of cycling there with the ABCE Event in September 2006. I had a great time and was very, very impressed with the cycling infrastructure as well as the general accessibility. We rode from New Brighton up on the NW side, down near the airport and back up through St Pauls. We rode on dedicated bicycle paths, on road paths, side streets, and major roads. Several of the people I rode with are dedicated commuters and ride year round.

    I think if you can adapt to the weather it would be a great place to live.

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  14. #14
    Squirrel solveg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kuan View Post
    Hey it doesn't get that cold here. Don't try and scare people! Up in Hibbing and Eveleth maybe, but not here. I don't know how they survive up there in that kind of cold.
    40 below windchill happens, though. I know I've seen 30 below actual temp.

    There are a couple weeks mid-winter where it won't get above zero, and -20 is pretty common. The winters have been remarkably mild for the past 10 years, ever since that first el nino they made a big deal about.

    We have a great week long festival, held mostly outside in the middle of January. Being outside in the cold is nothing to be afraid of as long as you learn how to dress and aren't afraid of looking unfashionable.

    Here's a link of playing tennis when it's 17 below: http://www.northern.usta.com/news/fu...114&itype=1363

    From Wikipedia:

    The warmest temperature ever recorded in Minneapolis was 108 F (42 C) in July 14, 1936. The coldest temperature ever recorded was −41 F (−40 C) in January 1888.[2]
    Last edited by solveg; 10-21-07 at 10:05 AM.

  15. #15
    The Nova King
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    There are bike racks on our buses, the one thing you need to be aware of, especially being from cali, is the intense cold. Not from the temp, but the wind chill will own you.

    I recommend.

    Underarmour (never have enough)
    Can of compressed air. (For the pressure in your tires.)
    A hat that covers your ears (wool is amazing)
    Something to protect your eyes, goggles with a strong tint are nice, you could go snow blind (seriously) and the cold is no fun.

    Something to cover your mouth and nose. (not cotton, it iches and you get a nasty rash)
    A good pair of gloves.
    Decent boots with alot of insulation (steel toe optional)
    Cell phone
    And a therm filled with coffee, hot chocolate, etc, any hot drink.
    and glove warmers, you can get 'em at fleet farm, they sit by your palms and keep your hands warm, they're like 2/1$ so its a really good investment.

    Thats about it, PM me if you have any questions.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone. The weather I can deal with in stages. I have the gear now to go down to 10 to 20 degrees F for short rides, longer will call for buses and cars. Understand where I am now it reached 76 today and we get maybe 10 days a year that give frost on the ground. An inch of snow in town might happed once in 100 years. By next winter I will be equipped for whatever. Denver roads were not so well maintained and crashes on the many hills were inevitable without studs. I will simply have two sets of wheels for my bikes. My wife will be up there next month and was delighted to hear about the bike friendly transit. Fastr Pastr is right about bike friendly culture in this area. All of the buses can hold up to 7 bikes, 3 in front and 2 in each wheelchair position. Levi Leipheimer lived a kilometer from me until recently. My town has 130,000 people and 7 bike shops. We dropped a murder conviction on the last driver who killed a cyclist. Oh, and I get maybe 5 mosquito bites a year.
    This space open

  17. #17
    Poser hjeand's Avatar
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    First MinneapolisBikeLove.com is not a good site. It is the local site for Critical Massers. Unfortunately, we have a large population of punks who protest (god knows what) with their bikes. We have a nice, but deteriorating trail system. Apart from the Greenway (which has its own problems) the MUPs are breaking apart from frost heaves and the government doesn't do anything to repair them. There has been a lot of gang activity where they knock bicyclists off their bike and beat them until they pass out as a sort of initiation. One biker was even killed in south Minneapolis this summer from this. The local media is not bike friendly, Joe Socheray, Katherine Kersten, Bob Sansevere, etc have all come out against bikers and egg motorists into thinking of us as annoyances that shouldn't be given any respect. The season for most of us who don't 'winter cycle' lasts from about late March to late October. 494 and 35 is in Bloomington and you will be cut off from the rest of the twin cities via bike from there unless you take a lot of busy rodes. You can take your bike on the light rail from the airport or Mall of America which are both in Bloomington.
    It's sad to say that the once great Minneapolis known for its bicycling culture is quickly declining. (Sorry for the shot of reality, but it's another cold, gloomy Monday morning here. We've only had two days without rain this month....)
    Hjeand
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  18. #18
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    Ken, there's not a great deal to add here, as I concur with most of what's being said. The weather can certainly be a bit of a shock, but with a closet full you'll adapt and acclimate. The big thing there is the wild swings in extremes. 90* and sunny to half a foot of snow in 48 hours twice in one week is an example I remember from a few years back.

    The cycling scene is pretty full with folks of all stripes. Try the Mn Ironman (local challenge ride) to see most of them. TCBC is the biggie as far as recreational clubs goes with well over a 1k members and some weekends over a dozen rides. Smaller recreational clubs exist and there are a number of racing clubs on http://www.mcf.net/. Troll around on those sites and get a feel. Also, PM ScotGore as he's quite active in the cycling community and lives in the south metro. Keep up with the questions.
    Mike
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  19. #19
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    If you don't mind putting your bikes on a rack and traveling a distance there are what I consider some of the best bike trails in the country. You can go in just about any direction out of the city and find great paved trails. I am partial to the Paul Bunyan trail. It runs from Brainerd to Bemidji which includes beautiful country, lakes, camping and small towns with shops and eateries along the way. Also someone mentioned earlier about cross country skiing which many bikers do in the winter and the Minnesota Ski trails are phenomenal. Personally I ice fish and ride my bike in the summer so I am in good enough shape to drag my fish house a mile or so out on a lake. I love Minnesota and winter is the best part. Welcome

  20. #20
    Senior Member ultimatekiwi's Avatar
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    Winter cycling is a lot of fun! But also sometimes scary until you're used to identifying the different types of snow/ice/road-salt mixtures which you can and can't ride successfully through. After a while, this grainy, brown, icy, nasty mush from hell accumulates on the side-streets (as I believe someone has already mentioned), which is absolutely deadly. I have heard of two schools of though when it comes to riding during winter:
    1. Use big chunky knobbies so that you have some traction on that snow
    and
    2. Use skinnier road tires that cut through the snow and actually grip onto the road surface below.

    I trust the 1st theory more. BUt there's some different ways to look at it for you. I rode to school often, but I have to say that I'm not really thinking about MN winter too much right now, as I'm taking a gap-year off before college and am currently solo cycle-touring in sunny New Zealand, and am currently in the town of "Te Puke" (I'm not making the name up, either) being a migrant worker, pruning Kiwifruit orchards. So while you're having fun with all of that winter stuff, I'll be sunning myself on beaches or struggling up Arthur's Pass, or something like that. One suggestion which I also mentioned in that other thread discussing the merits of cycling in MN is to take up cross-country skiing as a way of keeping fit over the winter if you don't cycle. I skied to my friend's house a couple of times, and once skied to school. But that relies on the roads NOT being plowed, as you can imagine. The cars pack it down really nicely so that it's perfect for skate-skiing--you fly along, passing cars spinning their wheels! But it's TERRIBLE for your skis when you inevitably find that single patch of exposed asphalt, and I only did it because my skis were cheap and old, and I'm young and irresponsible like that. And you're NOT going to get any down-hill skiing to speak of, as MN is as flat as a pancake. I think they actually did a study on Nebraska where they calculated it out if they enlarged a pancake to the size of the state, that the pancake would, indeed, be hillier. WOW, getting side-tracked in a major way. Good luck!

    Oh and here's my blog's address, if anyone's interested:
    www.wellspokenkiwi.blogspot.com

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