Summer Cycling 2014: A road trip for intermediates


If you're looking for more of a challenge than our beginners' road trip is able to offer, consider taking our intermediate trip out to Summit Brewing Company in St. Paul. Last year, we took you to Lake Minnetonka for beach-going, good eats, and a stop at the local brewery. This year we're cutting out the fat and heading straight for the brewery.

Located about 12 miles from downtown Minneapolis, St. Paul's prized craft-brewing company is the perfect place to relax after a long ride with friends.

Intermediate trip: Summit Brewing Company Path: West River Parkway, South Mississippi Boulevard Distance: 12 miles from downtown Minneapolis (one way) Estimated Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

See also: Summer Cycling 2014: A summer road trip for beginners

How to prepare:

Hydration is the most important factor for any long bike trip, especially on hot summer days. Hydrate well for this trip and bring a water bottle. The well-maintained canopy on West River Parkway will provide shade for most of this ride, but there are spans of bike path where you're stuck without cover, so consider using sunscreen.

Stay hydrated throughout the trip, especially if you plan on having beer

Stay hydrated throughout the trip, especially if you plan on having beer

Make sure your bike is in good riding condition for this trip. You want good wheels and tires, working brakes and shifters, and greased moving parts. As always, if you're unsure about your bike, bring it to a shop and ask. You may want to bring a spare tube or a patch kit on this ride in case you get a flat. There are several bike shops along West River Parkway near the University of Minnesota campus, but once you're past Lake Street they become pretty scarce.

How to get there:

To start this trip, make your way to West River Parkway (not to be confused with East River Parkway on the other side of the river). From downtown Minneapolis, you can hop on the trail just behind the Guthrie.

Take the trail east toward St. Paul for a little over five miles. Eventually the parkway will veer to the left, turning into Godfrey Parkway. Take a left at that fork, and head into the heavily shaded path that takes you across the river on the Ford Parkway bridge.

Take a left onto the bridge and cross the river. Once across, you'll need to make a left at the first intersection, and another left at the bottom of the hill to head south on the bike trail that follows South Mississippi Boulevard.

South Mississippi Boulevard eventually turns into Shepard Road, but the bike trail that follows it remains uninterrupted. Keep on it until you hit Elway Street and hang a left. Bike up the hill, turn right at Montreal Avenue, and in roughly 1,000 feet Summit Brewery will appear on your right.

Alternative route:

For a slightly longer, more scenic ride, you may want to consider taking the trails inside the Hidden Falls Regional Park. You'll notice entrances to the park all along South Mississippi Boulevard. But be careful, as with all the heavy rainfall lately, the trail has been closed due to flooding. So if you want to take this route, you'll have to wait until the water levels recede.

Once in, take the trail that hugs the river east, past Watergate Marina, Upper Lake, and Crosby Lake. The trail will eventually spit you out right at Elway Street. Head straight on Elway up the hill, hang a left at Montreal, and Summit will be on your right.

What to do there:

Summit Brewing Company is the second largest brewery in Minnesota. In 2012, they produced more than 112,000 barrels of beer. They offer tours of the brewery throughout the week, where you can see the inner workings of the operation and try a variety of beers. However, reservations are required and they fill up quickly. Check out their frequently asked questions page to learn more.

If you go on a Friday or Saturday, the taproom is open from 4 to 9 p.m., and you can order pints, seven-ounce samplers, or beer flights.

Outside they have a large, well-shaded patio where you can sit back and relax, play beanbag toss, or grab a gourmet meal from one of the many food trucks that rotate serving there every weekend.

Next trip: The Renaissance Festival (expert)

Huzzah! The Renaissance Festival is back in August, and we're going to show you how to bike there. The trip is 30 miles from downtown Minneapolis, so gather some nerdy friends and don't be surprised if you spot a Khaleesi or two.

L-R: West River Parkway, the path to the Ford Parkway Bridge, the Ford Parkway Bridge

L-R: West River Parkway, the path to the Ford Parkway Bridge, the Ford Parkway Bridge

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