Moseying along the Mississippi

The Rhetoric Society of America conference this year is in Minneapolis.  Fortunately for me, the city has an extensive bike path system that is also well marked and apparently well-known as I was able to get directions to it from the hotel concierge.  Due to some mis-planning, I arrived earlier than I needed to so decided to make good use of the time to get in some riding.  I put my bike Friday together as soon as I checked into my room, put on my gear and asked the concierge about getting to the bike path and a place to eat lunch.  He directed me to the path as well as to Pracna, a cafe across the river on Main Street that offers outdoor dining, a large selection of brews and good lunch food.  As soon as I got onto the bike and started cruising toward the river I felt better.  It’s a bit of a headache to schlep the bike (even the folding bike) along with a bag for clothes, but in the end it’s always worth it.  I wove my way through a farmer’s market on Nicollet Mall featuring lots of CA-grown strawberries (I really wanted some but resisted) and some delectable local baked goods, then jogged onto Hennepin and across the bridge to Main St.  Turning right here, I was at the Pracna in a few minutes….

After lunch, I continued along Main Street to the Stone Arch Bridge, closed to cars, and crossed back over the river into the center of the city.  If you continue along the river, you’ll see the strikingly modern(?) architecture of the Guthrie Theater, a great regional theater where I saw a play that night.  Parts of the building stick out in various directions, there’s lots of blue glass and a small section up near the top of the building (the stage on which I saw a play was on the 9th floor) of yellow glass.  From the 9th floor, the view through the yellow glass up and down the river is certainly worth a visit. 

On another day, I rode down the river until the river trail intersected with the Midtown Greenway, an off-road bicycle “highway” that seems to go for a long way.  I rode it out to Lake Calhoun (about 7 miles), stopped at a bakery and then rode back, but the path seems to continue for many more miles. 

I enjoyed riding in Minneapolis as it seems to be a bicycle-friendly city.  Nicollet Mall, a street lined with restaurants and shops, is open only to buses and bicycles, and there are bike pathes marked on many of the major streets.  I enjoyed cruising through the farmer’s market on the day I arrived, but then found another on Saturday, set up right next to the Guthrie Theater, and there were organic farmers at this market.  There was even one guy who apparently brought his vegies to market on his bicycle! 

When it was time to pack up my bike, I found myself hoping for an opportunity to return to Minneapolis so that I could continue my exploration of this area by bike.  What’s out past Lake Calhoun?  Next trip.

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