For the first time in over 30 years, the Park Board is closing parkways and roadways to motorized traffic for a Minneapolis Bike Tour along the Grand Rounds Scenic Byways.
On Tuesday, Mayor R.T. Rybak visited Theodore Wirth Park to help launch the bike tour, which will take place on September 16. He cycled into the community center parking lot wearing a helmet, shorts and a Bike Tour t-shirt and shook hands with Park Board Superintendent John Gurban, who was among a handful of Park Board affiliates in attendance.
“We’ve needed an event for every season,” he said, sitting on a stationary bike parked in front of a microphone onstage. “Now we have the bike race.”
The tour consists of two routes: a 15-mile trail around Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet, and a 41-mile trail that winds around Lake Nakomis, up the Mississippi River and into Northeast. Both paths start and finish at Parade Field near the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and have water stops along the way.
Jon Olson, president of the Park Board, Frank Quilici, president of the Foundation for Minneapolis Parks, and Erik “The Bike Man” Saltvold joined Rybak onstage to talk about their hopes for the Bike Tour.
“It’s a tour, not a race, so everyone can compete and have fun in it” said Saltvold, whose bike company will provide safety and training tips during the event. He spoke about the importance of wearing a helmet and praised Minneapolis for having so many miles of bike trails.
Participants must register and sign a waiver to join the bike tour. The cost is $30 for adults; $10 for kids aged 5-12; and free to those under 5 years old. Proceeds will go toward the Foundation for Minneapolis Parks. Cyclists will start riding between 7 and 8:30 a.m. and can go at their own pace along one of the two routes. The tour will wrap up with food, merchandise and entertainment at Parade Field.