Preparing for a bicycle trip
A safe place to start
Get a sense of what riding 10 to 20 miles feels like either locally or on a segment of the Mississippi River Trail or North Star Route. Use a local off-road trail and compare that with your ability to ride with vehicular traffic. A safe place to start would be to bicycle on paths or trails in your local areas or some of the off-road North Star Route or MRT segments.
What type of bicyclist are you?
Bicyclists vary widely in their abilities and preferences for a riding environment. These definitions are compiled from MnDOT and other sources:
Type A (Advanced)
Advanced cyclists are confident bikers, who can navigate heavy or high speed traffic. These riders often travel at speeds more than 14 mph. In a route, advanced cyclists typically seek directness, speed and minimal interference. Because they often move at high speeds, they may prefer to be on road and to avoid sharing paths with pedestrians, strollers, dogs and other slower moving users.
Type B (Basic)
Most people fall into the basic cyclist category. Basic cyclists are comfortable interacting with some traffic, but prefer some separation from motor vehicles. These riders are often teenagers, or new or occasional adult riders who understand basic bike safety and ride at speeds from 8-14 mph. Basic cyclists will look for routes that are either shared use paths, or on roads with lower traffic volumes, lower speeds, or provisions such as bike lanes and wide, paved shoulders.
Type C (Children, off-road)
These cyclists may be children or inexperienced riders who are uncomfortable mixing with traffic. They feel safest on paved bicycle trails, very low volume residential streets or streets that are clearly marked and designed to accommodate bicyclists, or with supervision on slightly busier routes.
Preparing for your ride
We recommend you are always prepared for changing conditions, no matter how long or how far you plan to ride. Here are some things to think about before your ride.
- How to pack - We suggest you always carry necessities such as drinking water, tools and proper clothing. Adventure Cycling Association, one of North America’s bicycle travel organizations, has a complete list of what to take and how to pack.
- Is my bike equipped? - Most bicycles will work just fine for bicycling the entire length of the MRT. Those riding the two gravel sections in Aitkin County within the Mississippi Crossings Destination Area may want tires suited for a gravel road (wider than narrow racing/road bike tires).
- Safety first - Before you ride, at minimum, always perform a safety check to make sure your bicycle is in safe working order. We recommend the League of American Bicyclists’ A, B, C quick-check. If you don't perform your own maintenance, take the bike to your local bike shop for a safety check and tune-up.
- Training - In the rush to purchase some items you will need on the trip, do not ignore the need for training. Adventure Cycling anticipates many questions as for those embarking on their first bicycle tour in its Bike Touring 101.