Aug 26, 2011

Lake Minnetonka LRT Trail and Reflections on the LHT

Friday gifted me with a solo ride and a new trail to explore. Well, kind of a new trail, I think.

I saw a regional trail when I was in Excelsior a few weeks ago and could not place what it was, so I checked a map afterward and discovered the Lake Minnetonka LRT (LM LRT) trail. I think I actually rode on a small portion of this that I blundered into once in Hopkins, but I never really followed it past Hwy. 7, so today was for exploration.

The trick to finding the LM LRT from The Depot (a well-known destination on the way) is 8th Ave. So in Hopkins. There's a light at 8th and Hwy. 7, so it's an easy crossing. Here's a gmap of the route from the Depot Coffee House to LM LRT. There are also regional trail signs pointing the way as well. North on 8th Ave. So brings you to the trail crossing. Once you are on the trail, it's a as easy as following the yellow brick road.

The LM LRt is a crushed limestone trail, but the surface is hard and relatively fast. The photo at right gives some feel for the surface of the LM LRT (and just how "Mad Max" the front end of my Long Haul Trucker is at the moment). The trail in Hopkins is annoying because it cuts diagonally through town, so there are stop signs and alley crossings everywhere, but once you are out of town it opens up into a more rideable situation.

The trail extends all the way to Victoria, but I made it only as far as Excelsior. With my morning start time, I hit Excelsior in time for lunch. It's about 22.3 miles from the house to the Port of Excelsior. Riding into a head wind in the morning, I was glad for a lunch break and some time contemplating the shores of Lake Minnetonka.

The ride home always seems faster; I think that's because you know where you are. Nonetheless, the miles ticked by on the way home, and I was aided somewhat by the tailwind (my luck is such that I generally have headwinds both directions, but today I had only a slight cross wind on the way home - it's good to be me today).

All told, my ride was 44.8 miles according to Garmin. The Long Haul Trucker was more than up to this. It didn't blink at the crushed limestone and road steady and true on all the surfaces encountered. I've been riding this bike since I got it on July 1, so by now I've got some cable stretch and ghost shifting going on with the rear derailleur (that's a new bike issue, and has nothing at all to do with the LHT or Surly bikes). What I appreciated today was another thoughtful little detail on the LHT that my other bikes have been lacking - the barrel adjusters for the derailleurs are located NOT at the rear derailleur, but instead at the place downtube shifters would be located (in other words - within easy reach while riding). Brilliant. I was able to pfutz around with the barrel adjuster and entirely eliminate the ghost shifting problems while I was riding out to Hopkins this morning, and enjoyed crisp predictable shifting for the rest of the ride.

One other point on the bike. I got a "good deal" on some Surly racks and installed them about a month after getting the bike. I like that they are so sturdy (way more than I need, honestly). But, they are heavy. The front rack in particular is a beast. It makes the front end noticeably heavier. The logic was "I have a touring bike, so let's get it tricked out so I can tour if I want to". The reality is that on everyday rides, I kind of resent that front rack, but it looks wicked cool and really bad ass, so I keep it on the bike as my penance for vanity.

While the bike was up for the ride, we need to do some work on the engine. I was not whipped at the end of the ride, but the thought of doing another 60 miles (i.e. a Century) would have been daunting. I need to get more diligent about throwing in some longer rides or this Century thing is never going to happen, it's as simple as that.

That said, this route is VERY manageable for a newer cyclist. The Depot is about halfway between MPLS and Excelsior, so there's a very nice built-in rest stop at the mid way point both out and back. The trail itself is flat and surfaces are good, so don't feel that this is beyond your abilities. What's more, this route is almost entirely on dedicated bike trails. The only "on street" riding was in Hopkins and Excelsior, and both are very manageable even for novice cyclists.

The Cicadas have been singing for a week now and the State Fair is on, so that tells that summer is coming to a close. If you have not made it out to a new trail this season, now is the time to get out there. You won't regret seeing something new, guaranteed.

1 comment:

  1. You've not done a century yet? I'd have thought that there were many under your belt...