One thing I do not miss about South Florida – the lack of safe biking trails. Miami, being the urban jungle that it is, is less than friendly towards bikers and one feels that they take their life into their hands every time they pedal up. Despite the fact that there are never ending, gorgeous waterways that beckon to be ridden along and generally good weather year-round, I always feel an acute sense of apprehension in embarking on a bike ride. “Sharing the Road” literally means “Sharing the Finger” and I have been run off the road by errant drivers too many times to count. The speeding, lengthy pelotons that dare drivers to do risky things to pass them don’t represent a good example for the majority of responsible riders (hell, they scare the shit out of me too) but on average, drivers are inexplicably angry to see a biker on their right. And given the fact that most scenic routes along the water combine passage for both motorized and non-motorized vehicles alike, a fun, safe and enjoyable ride is never a guarantee.
In rural Minnesota, however, they get it. There are miles and miles of protected, scenic track. From the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource website:
°Minnesota has more miles of paved rail-to-trail bikeways than any other state.
°Total recreational trail system (private, state, grant-in-aid): 25,000+ miles
°State trails: 14 Trails @ 1,328 miles; 523 miles of this are paved
°Minnesota Trail System
Bicycle paths: 523 miles
Cross-country ski trails: 1,792 miles
Hiking trails: 1,867 miles
Horseback riding trails: 1,011 miles
All-Terrain Vehicle Trails: 1,314 miles
Off-Highway Motorcycle Trails: 625 miles
Off-Road Vehicles (e.g., jeeps or trucks): 11 miles
Snowmobile trails: 20,335 miles
°State Forest roads: 2,000+ miles (these roads often double as trails)
JG and I have begun to explore the myriad of trails our town provides, essentially trading ocean waves for amber waves of grain (and corn, holy cow there is a lot of corn around here!). First up is a trail that weighs in at about 33 miles round trip, door to door. Here are some pictures from our initial jaunt about two weeks ago, including the peach pie that jumped into our lap at the turn-around point: