Mostly Hennepin County, MN
We met at The Depot, downloaded some coffee, and hit the mean streets of Hopkins. We were set up to head west and take in some gravel trails out to Victoria, but the warm weather and the quick thaw left the route sloppy and soft. We opted for pavement instead, with a little dirty rail-road detour leading into Minneapolis.
Urban Assault. The term was coined as a ride through the urban wasteland on a smooth tired mountain bike of sorts. We have altered that, because that’s what fashion and verbiage is for. So, we ride. We weave in and out of suburbia en route to the big cities.
Loaded up on CX bikes we are able to ride just about any type of road and path. Only when it’s gets real sloppy does it turn ugly, and you wish you had more tire.
The point of urban Assault, at least for us, is to not take the ride too seriously. Hammer some gears when the time is right, take a break when the scenery is good, and laugh a lot and find time to catch up with your riding pals. If you spy something that looks cool to ride…go ride it. If you want to check out a path or road you haven’t seen before, take the turn and check it out. This is urban assault, which is always an adventure.
We left the Depot at about 8:15 am. The trail system connects right at the shop and you can head just about any direction except straight south. We headed north from Hopkins, through St. Louis Park and eventually found our urban gravel stretch leading into Minneapolis. If you’re heading east on the Cedar Lake Trail toward the river you end up riding parallel with the railroad tracks for quite some time. there are actually two sets of tracks, but at some point, one ends and that is where we catch the gravel road that leads to the city. The road eventually ends, but you never get too far off the main paved trail system. When it ends, we grab our bikes, head up and over some concrete barriers, and hit the pavement again. Target Field is just about a mile further up and the River Road about one more mile past that. That’s where we are headed, and sooner than later it gets pretty busy out there.
Now the beauty of Urban Assault is that you never really know what you’re rolling in to. You can happen upon so many cool things, odd situations, fun scenarios, and you just make split decisions. Whether it’s a change of the unplanned route, or finding yourself at a dead end road…you get to make the choice where to go next.
On this particular day we rode right up on one of the largest St. Patty’s Day running races in the Twin Cities. Thousands of runners traversing through the city and along the Mighty Mississippi River. It was a sea of green from east to west and north back to south. Runners smiling, laughing, pushing, and finishing. We hung out for a bit near the finish line, cheered on some runners, took in the sights, and enjoyed the fresh air winding up off the river. The Clif bar guys were there with a tent hanging out some goodies…they stopped over by our group and gave us each a bar, assorted flavors, they came in handy later down the road. After a bit we decided to head east along the river road toward the capital city of St. Paul.
This is where urban assault gets fun. you choose the road, the path, a sidewalk or some singletrack trail that leads into some woods. There are scenic overlooks, people everywhere, places to stop and eat or grab some java, and plenty of options to change direction and course. We follow the river, and the river takes us places. Places we’ve been, places we want to go, and places we will go someday. you get to choose, and never is an urban assault ride a copy. Ever.
We pick our times to ride hard. We choose moments to chat and laugh. At some point in time some in a group may peel off and head home while others will stick together to the end.
Urban Assault means there are no real rules. The one rule is, keep it fun, don’t take yourself seriously, and never leave anyone behind. This doesn’t mean you can’t get dropped, but if the course changes, the ones out front wait for any stragglers, then make the change together. That’s the pact.
We make our way back to the Greenway, which is the central trail through the heart of Minneapolis. We head in the direction that we first came from and in about 20 minutes we will call it a day, a good day in the saddle. This section of the Greenway is flat and fast, so if it’s not too crowded, you can put your head down and work the legs. On a busy day, though, you have to be extra cautious about other riders, runners, and walkers. There is plenty of trail, but also a lot of people utilizing them.
So we chug back to the lot. Only one less than when we began. He peeled off in Uptown to get some food that his gal made…he didn’t invite us over. We don’t care, because Urban Assault takes the cares of the day away. Just like the bible says it should. Or something like that.
The Depot parking lot is where we say our last thanks and goodbyes. Then we move on with our day but completely embrace that today is a good day because we started it on bikes. Onward and upward.
The wonderful thing about Minnesota, and more specifically, the Twin Cities, is that there are trails and bicycle friendly roads everywhere. Once you get a handle on how things flow (including the river) you can get from one end of town to the other quite quickly via bicycle.