Bicycling.com named Minneapolis the number one bike-friendly city in the U.S., and aimed to tell readers why a place with frigid temperatures earned the top spot among urban bicyclists.
Patrick Stephenson, a Minnesota bike enthusiast and the director and co-founder of 30 Days of Biking, an international initiative that encourages people to bike every day in April and share their adventures online, told us the secrets of biking in Minnesota and how people can join the bike movement for commuting, leisure and fitness.
Top Four Reasons to Bike in Minnesota and Beyond
1. You learn to love the full range of seasons.
Minnesota bikers aren’t afraid of making friends with the elements – from surprise snowstorms in April to 90-degree heat waves in August. The recent boom in fat tire biking (a specialty bike with thick tires) is evidence of how cyclists embrace the elements. “When I first started biking in the winter, I rarely came across other cyclists on roads and trails,” Patrick said. “Now winter biking is everywhere and growing! Winter’s not really an excuse to hang up your bike anymore; it is more of a challenge and, for me, inspires self reliance.”
2. The culture and community are unmatched.
The Twin Cities bike community is a special breed of road warriors, and a lot of it stems from their need to be adaptable when facing the range of seasons. “Among many bikers here, there’s this ‘just do it no matter what’ attitude,” Patrick said.
“The range of bikers in Minnesota is impressive. There are messengers, commuters, mountain bikers, roadies - there’s even a bike polo group,” Patrick shared. “If you bike around enough, it’s hard to not eventually find your way into a community. Everyone belongs here.”
3. There are trails and scenery for everyone.
The Minnesota State Trails system offers cyclists endless beauty to explore and rugged trails for bikers seeking adventure. Finding the perfect trail outside of Minnesota is easy with mobile apps such as MapMyRide, the app that allows riders to choose from existing routes or create their own route and share with friends on social networks.
“For me, while I do have my favorite trails and routes, it is all about just getting out there and biking,” expressed Patrick. “Right now I love a street that takes me through a quiet community and is parallel to a bustling city area. The more you ride, the more areas you get to explore.”
4. The 30 Days of Biking Challenge.
Patrick started 30 Days of Biking in 2010 after a friend tried to get him to do yoga. “I wasn’t really interested in yoga but biking was a childhood passion and something I wanted to be active in,” said Patrick. “I started to bike to work and a friend of mine joined me for a month. We shared our rides on social media – and it just took off.”
Now in its fifth year, bikers across 48 states and 100+ countries are participating in the 30-day challenge by making a pledge and sharing their biking journeys on social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Snapchat and Instagram with #30daysofbiking. For every 30 pledges, a bike is donated to a child in need through Twin Cities non-profit Free Bikes 4 Kidz.
To celebrate, Verizon strapped Patrick with an HTC RE Camera to capture the first few rides of 30 Days of Biking and inspire more people to join the Minnesota Bike Movement.