Sunday, May 21, 2017

Across the Mississippi River on My Bike

Even though the weather was a bit rainy (that misty kind of rain that seems harmless until you find yourself soaked), I decided to take the opportunity to ride to REI to pick up a few things I need for my tour. Since it's Sunday, I figured there would be less traffic. Of course, I've nothing to judge it by, but there seemed to be quite a bit of traffic!  The REI I needed to go to was the flagship store in Bloomington (not Indiana). I Google mapped the route. It was 12.2 miles away. I wrote the directions out on paper and stuck them in my map case on my handlebar bag. I don't know why I bothered. I just ended up turning the route on on my phone. Actually, the written directions were working fine...until the road was closed. Anyway, the bike route over the Mississippi River was on Northern Pacific Railway Bridge No. 9. What was once a railway is now a railtrail!
Northern Pacific Railway Bridge No. 9
The Mighty Mississippi
Minneapolis truly is bike friendly. Where Google wanted me to go on Lyndale Ave., I actually ended up on a parallel road that was a "Bike Blvd". It was a residential street. Eventually, I did go back to Lyndale, but then there was a bike lane. Closer to REI, and near a major freeway interchange, the bike lane ended, but it was just a short bit.  REI was a mad house! Of course, the Anniversary Sale is happening now. I managed to get all the things I needed. The reason I went to this particular REI was because they had the Sea to Summit X series fry pan in stock. It goes with my 2.8 liter collapsible pot (the pot nests in the fry pan--my bowl and my cup nest in the pot--it's like the Matryoshka nesting doll of cookwear!). The MSR fry pan that I've had since I started touring is looking a little worse for wear. After waiting in the long checkout line, I returned to Tilmann and loaded my purchases into the small panniers on the front. I Google mapped the route back to Kyle and Mallory's. This time Google gave me another option that was slightly longer, but looked like it went through some parks. I thought, sure why not? Besides, I don't like to go the same way back! Since I was really relying on hearing the directions, I turned on my Buckshot Bluetooth speaker so I could hear them more clearly.  All was great until I started going through the first park. I was cruising along, listening to Google say, "Turn left...turn right..". Since I wasn't on a road, I just had to kind of guess what Goggle meant. Then Google said, "Make a U-turn". Well, crap! Okay, fine, I'll turn around. I went back, then Google said, "In 300 ft, make a U-turn." What??? Google, what do you mean!!! Well, I stopped and could not make heads or tails of where I was supposed to go. I just ended it, and started the route again. Then I could tell which way to go. It seems that Google does not differentiate between walking paths and bike paths. The bike path is not always right next to the walking path. Once I figured that out, I was able to go the way Google was telling me (even though she was wrong to direct me onto the walking path). Fortunately, there weren't any people walking at that point. The remainder of the ride home was pretty straight forward. Although, I ended up crossing the Mississippi on a different bridge (Franklin Ave). Once I was through most of the Univ of Minnesota campus, I knew the way back home. Total, I rode 28 miles. It would have been much more pleasant if it hadn't been raining, but I did get to cross the Mississippi River on my bike!

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