Biking For Work in St. Paul

I biked almost 15 miles today. I didn’t mean to, it just sort of happened. It started as a quick morning bike ride as exercise of sorts. Not that I usually exercise. Anyone who reads this blog knows that I’m usually sedentary man, with occassional bursts of exercise so rare they require blog updates. But I recently landed a freelance job to rewrite the trail guide I helped put together five years ago, and that means lots of biking. So I set out this morning for a quick ride to get back in the saddle.

But after I got back to work and started looking at the calendar and the beautiful spring day outside (finally!), I decided I couldn’t put off checking out the trails. I had work to do. I fear tonight and tomorrow my leg muscles will let me know how stupid I am. I also have a decent sunburn to prove the fact.

But despite the aches and pains, I had a lot of fun. I discovered the Twin Cities five years ago when I did the research for the trail guide. And now I get to rediscover the Twin Cities. Part of the fun is that there have been a lot of changes in five years. Back then downtown St. Paul had a pretty pitiful trail system. Harriet Island had some decent trails and there was a small trail on the east side of downtown, but nothing incredible. The trails in Minneapolis were a lot more impressive.

But now Upper Landing Park should be opening this summer, and paired with the Samuel Morgan Regional Trail which runs all the way from Crosby Farm park to that east side trail, downtown St. Paul has a really nice riverfront trail system. With a bit of work around Fort Snelling, I think you could bike from Minneapolis to St. Paul on one side of the river and back on the other side. You couldn’t do that easily five years ago.

It’s all part of the riverfront redevelopment that’s been happening in St. Paul. That and condos galore. I’m not sure how I feel about the condos, but if they make more trails and parks possible, they’re OK. Whoever had a hand in opening up all this riverfront space to trails deserves a big pat on the back. St. Paul now has a riverfront to be proud of, from Upper Landing Park and the Science Museum paths to Lower Landing Park to the Wabasha Street Bridge and Harriet Island.

The Head House is actually one of the cooler buildings along the river. It’s a narrow concrete building that rises six stories. It was originally a grain elevator built in 1931. It isn’t exactly an architectural treasure (it’s ugly), but it’s still cool. Apparently it’s being turned into a restraunt and interpretive center. That’s not a sure thing, but it would be pretty cool. You can check out a number of new developments along the river in St. Paul at the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation.

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