Took a quick trip up to Minnesota over the weekend, drove up on Friday and came back on Sunday, to ride Fat Bikes and hang out with the Swansons.
A little over a month ago when the trip was in the infancy stages of planning, it was cold as could be and there was snow everywhere in Omaha. As is usually the case it was even colder and snowier in Minneapolis, so the plan was to take the Fat Bike and ride some of the local MTB trails and the river bottoms while they were all snow covered. Nathan even managed to check out a Moonlander for the GF, this would be her first time on a Fat Bike and what a great bike to break your Fattie cherry on. I'm not sure she is adequately giddy enough in this picture, perhaps she was just over whelmed by all that rubber.
As the month turned into weeks, which turned into days, winter decided to exit a little early and all the snow decided to melt. Just days away from heading up to Minnesota, all of the trails in and around Minneapolis were closed, including the river bottoms, due to muddy conditions and it looked like we would be doing a more urban ride consisting of a tour of local breweries. In all actuality that didn't sound bad at all either, when life gives you hops you make beer right.
Not a bad view for an urban ride, more the skyline and less the back of Nathan's head but I suppose in it's own way some might find that a decent view as well.
If you've never been to Minneapolis, or you have been living under a rock and have never even heard of it, it's a big city; the greater Minneapolis area has a population of just under 7 million people. Being a big city I wasn't sure what to expect when we had to ride right into the heart of the downtown area to catch the light rail, as it turned out it was amazingly easy. There seemed to be bike lanes almost everywhere, even when there weren't it seemed to me that drivers at least were cognizant of bicycles and tried to give as much space as possible when we had to ride on streets without designated bike lanes. It was kind of refreshing to see that cars and bicycles can coexist on the same infrastructure, of course it was a Saturday morning and not a busy weekday also, so that might have played into the results as well. Regardless we made it to the light rail platform in one piece and just in time to catch the train.
At the very last minute, the night before to be exact, it was reported on social media that the river bottoms trail was open and good to go for riding, so it was decided that we would take advantage of that bit of good news and ride them. I've ridden a light rail train a few times before, mainly in Seattle, but I had never brought a bicycle on with me let alone a Fat Bike. Maneuvering these beasts around inside the cars took more than a little finesse and skill, all the stares we got made me feel like I had suddenly grown a second head or something. If you're an introvert looking for a way to break out of your shell, buy a Fat Bike, the number of people that will ask you about the bike will make sure that you have plenty of interaction with complete strangers.
The river bottoms did not disappoint, the initial downhill into the bottoms was pretty rad, if you didn't have to turn around and bike back up it, it would have been worth going down multiple times. Minneapolis has a plan in place to pave over the dirt trails in the river bottoms, I suspect in an effort to make it more accessible to everyone... it would be a shame to lose such a great natural place, perhaps not everyone needs access to everywhere if it means destroying the natural beauty of a place and replacing it with 10' wide concrete paths. Not to mention the up keep needed since the area is often under water as it is also the flood plain for the city.
Still no smile, she's gotta be smiling on the inside... you can't ride a bicycle with all that rubber, a bicycle that by it's very nature is a stupid idea to ride or own in a climate that doesn't have feet of snow almost year round but it just makes you grin from ear to ear because it's that much fun to ride. Is it possible that the Fat Bike bug doesn't bite everyone?
On the way back we stopped at the old Cedar Avenue bridge for a beer break, I don't normally drink beer but as they say when in Rome... plus Nathan broke out the good stuff so it didn't take too much arm twisting to convince me to have a cold one.
And that view... well okay, maybe not this one although it was a cool old bridge.
This view was a little bit better...
...but this one was pretty spectacular, it'd be hard to find a better view to ride a Fat Bike to and crack open a cold one.
Right Nathan... Nathan? Maybe he's just not that into swans.
Once we got done downing the Modus Hoperandi, had our fill of swans, old bridges and whatever Nathan was looking at; it was time to grab the bikes and head to Angry Catfish Bicycle and Coffee Bar and then to Busters and A Baker's Wife. The Angry Catfish has some really awesome bicycles and accessories and A Baker's Wife right next door had amazing pastries and baked goods, the smells were enough to make you salivate just standing outside. I however, took exactly zero pictures of either of those places and the things they offered and instead only have this picture of the two cows outside the bakery. I guess the beer must have gone straight to my head or I secretly have a cow fetish I should really talk to someone about. Either way not a bad picture in and of itself, you'll just have to imagine what the inside of Angry Catfish and Baker's Wife looks like or take a trip up to see them yourself... sorry, dropped the ball on that one but a trip up would be well worth it.
We also grabbed lunch at Busters, this is their Jalapeno Burger with Chipotle Cream Cheese and it was fabulous.
It also started the downward spiral into decadence, like this very tasty Plead the 5th Imperial Stout from Dark Horse Brewing Co. out of Michigan. Followed by a Million Dollar Bar from A Baker's Wife... which I also didn't get a picture of, man I was off on this day.
After we left Busters it was onto Fulton Brewing for a Worthy Adversary, also an Imperial Stout but this one was of the Russian variety but equally as tasty.
Leaving Fulton Brewery we headed back to the Swansons to grab some dinner followed by Glam Doll Donuts for dessert. Loved the place and the donuts were absolutely scrumptious, this one is the Outlaw - lemon cream cheese, cherry icing & brown butter crumb topping - did I mention it was delicious?
Here are some other great local brews that we tried... with all the food, sweets and beer it's a good thing it was just a short trip or the bike wouldn't be the only thing referred to as Fat.
Scored a sweet Cycle Works jacket as well from Nathan, tried it on and it even fit... well before the weekend it did, not too sure now.
Unfortunately the jacket wasn't the only parting gift, Minnesota decided to make the ride home just a little bit more interesting. However, even with all the snow it was a fantastic weekend, the Swansons were gracious hosts and are all around great people, would love to explore more of what Minneapolis has to offer in a bit dryer and warmer weather. It was an awesome trip and just what we needed, a little get away... and we won't even go into the air mattress incident, totally feel bad about it but not sure what happened there.