University Avenue Color

September 21, 2014 § 1 Comment

Fun photos from Open Streets on St. Paul’s University Avenue, which was shut down to traffic but open to bikes, pedestrians, skateboarders, and a giant bear.

The first photograph is my favorite — purposely overexposed, unfocused, and dreamlike. Like a 1960s Polaroid taken in a desert town:

Overexposed and unfocused

Other favorites from the afternoon:


Cedar Lake Trail

September 19, 2014 § 2 Comments

The Cedar Lake Trail has some of the prettiest biking, running, and walking paths in the Twin Cities, and it offers prime real estate for exploring wildlife among the tall grasses and railroad ties.

This summer, the trail quickly became a favorite of mine, and it’s even more spectacular as the latest (and I’d argue the most beautiful) change in seasons settles into a groove.


May 21, 2014 § Leave a comment

Tonight’s Ride of Silence in St. Paul was a solemn and supportive gathering remembering those killed or seriously injured by motor vehicles while biking. Its leaders and participants spread a hopeful, safe message to both drivers and cyclists about the importance of sharing the road.

The Twin Cities is one of the most bike-friendly communities in the world, and with more people commuting on their bikes year-round, it’s especially important to obey traffic laws and treat one another with consideration and respect.

May you all have a safe and happy summer of cycling!

Bear Biking and Shanty Shimmying

February 9, 2014 § 4 Comments

It was cold, but there was a sauna. And a dance shack to boogie away calories. And a giant polar bear we navigated down the ice, so that kept us toasty.

I’m always incredibly impressed with the ingenuity of our local artists, and the Art Shanty Projects never disappoint. This year, White Bear Lake hosted the event and held steady the 21 ice houses that served as stages for artistic interactions with the public.

All ages crammed into the tiny Dance Shanty and got their groove on, including an older woman with a cane. Life doesn’t get happier than that.

Pedal Bear — the pictures don’t do her justice. Ten of us peddled across the ice while a little girl in the back tugged the pulleys to wag the bear’s tail and open her mouth when we emitted a collective ursine roar. A baby bear also made her way across shanty town, sometimes trailing her mother, but she often wandered off alone.

Architecture students built the Curling Clubhouse Ice Shanty, replete with a curling rink, lessons, brooms (well, mops, actually) and stones. Inside is a veritable history of the sport, with old photos and game rules. And a lounge. Forget Sochi. Go to the Curling Shanty instead.

The Elevator Shanty is the most clever, in my opinion. Wait in the office lobby (complete with New Yorker magazines) for the elevator to arrive. When the doors open, step inside, press your floor, and enjoy the ride.

Visitors decorated giant colorful puzzle pieces that made up one wall of the Jigsaw Shanty. As some visitors put pieces in place, others snuggled inside with smaller puzzles and teasers.

And then there were kites. And a giant zoetrope. And a town hall where you could submit a town rule (e.g., everyone should wear skates and take mandatory naps) and vote on one of several artistic town seals. And clay to make little animals to add to the Noah’s Art Shanty menagerie. And so much more.

I can’t say I loved all the shanties. The purpose or message of the Creep Shanty was lost on me, as was my patience waiting for the simulated dawn in the Sunrise Shanty. But I’m sure others loved those.

Hosted on White Bear Lake this year, two weekends of art shantying fun remain. Lace up your boots. Dress warmly. And go pedal that bear.

Kites and shanties and bears, oh my!

Kites and shanties and bears, oh my!

Vicious Potholes And Other Adventures in Biking

August 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

Sunny, temperate summer day in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Thought I’d take a little spin on my bike. Afterward, it got me thinking, dear readers, how you might benefit from my cycling wisdom. Herewith are my top 10 suggestions for biking, specifically the Gateway Trail from St. Paul to Stillwater (and back):

  • Listen to the voices in your head. When you start to think you should turn around because you’re getting thirsty and it’s a long way home, heed those whispers of common sense. My little 20-mile bike ride turned into 43 just because I got all goofy and competitive with myself and decided I needed to bike all the way to the end of the trail.
  • Bring water, food, and basic survival gear, like a sleeping bag so you can take a nap. Nearly four hours of biking is a long time. The water fountain at Pine Point Regional Park saved me — water that was actually cold and didn’t taste like pennies. And hail to the Dairy Queen in North St. Paul. I bought a cherry-dipped cone, in case you’re wondering.
  • Buy a bike rack and drive to the trail head. The Gateway Trail is lovely. It’s rustic and green, and a horse trail runs parallel to it. But getting to the start requires a trip along some neglected St. Paul streets. Which means potholes. Which means I need to get a bike with shocks.
Fields of cattails and wild flowers

Fields of cattails and wild flowers

  • Invest in a road bike. Riding my ancient, heavy mountain bike means most bikers whiz past me at blinding speed. So in reality, when I say I biked 43 miles, I should really count it as 86 because, you know, it was twice as hard. Right?
  • Wear a decent helmet. Preferably not one purchased in the ‘90s for rollerblading. Not that I know anyone who has a helmet like that.
Birchbark birdhouse

Birchbark birdhouse

  • Refrain from using RunKeeper to track your mileage. According to my little app, I biked 41 miles to Stillwater and 37 miles back. It certainly felt like it (see fourth bullet), but it was actually only 21.5 miles each way. At one point it inferred I took a sharp left to the Minnesota-Wisconsin border and turned around. You can’t trust apps in the forest, my friends.
  • Bring a camera. But don’t take pictures of this ludicrous snowman that hovers over North St. Paul like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
Menacing eyesore unless you're a 5-year-old

Menacing eyesore unless you’re 5

  • Don’t grip the handlebars for dear life. My hands are still numb.
  • Enjoy the loveliness you encounter along the way. You can’t beat the quiet and the smells of pine and sights like fields of wildflowers, birchbark birdhouses, and large windmills on the outskirts of the metropolis.
Wind turbine on the outskirts of St. Paul

Wind turbine

  • Smile at everyone you pass and say hello. They’ll do the same. Bikers are a friendly crowd in Minnesota and across the globe.
Almost home

Almost home


July 27, 2013 § Leave a comment


I could have sworn the forecast, though cool, called for sun. But well into my Saturday morning bike ride, the rain fell and the winds picked up. Thirty miles later, my hands were numb and my back full of mud. I have running gear for all seasons figured out, but biking? Not so much. Despite the conditions, I always get a kick out of crossing the Martin Olav Sabo bridge.


July 1, 2013 § 6 Comments


Been pedaling around on my old bike the last few days. It’s in need of a tune-up, but it still gets me places on beautiful days built for long rides.

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