I am a runner. An ellipticaller. A stair stepper. An any-other-cardio-than-biking kind of girl. But there has been something on my list of healthiness activities to share with you that crossed my comfort zone. I put it off for an entire month however September has started which means the weather is going to start getting cold. I haven't rode a real bike since I was a little girl. The only thing close to it I've come is the stationary bike at the gym which, as I recently learned, is NOT the same.
On Saturday, September 3rd, some friends and I decided to give Nice Ride a try. Have you heard of this? Surely you've seen people rockin' green bikes all over the Twin Cities? Let me be candid here and share that if it weren't for wanting to share with all some fun new things to do, I probably wouldn't have tried this... and would have missed out.
From the site, here is how it works:
Nice Ride is a non-profit organization, and anyone can become a subscriber. Simply take a bike when you need one, and return it to any station in the system when you arrive at your destination. It's quick, easy and affordable.
Quick, easy and affordable = YES! You walk up to the Nice Ride pay station and slide your card in, much like you would at an ATM machine. With a few quick touches on the screen, a little slip of paper prints out a 5-digit code and your receipt. Next to each bike is a keypad where you punch in your 5 digit code. A green light appears and the bike unlocks. In less than 5 minutes, you have a bike!
The only downside to Nice Ride is that your bike does not come with a helmet so if you have one, you should bring your own. I did not have one but luckily, one of my friends had an extra.
With almost 100 locations to select from in the Twin Cities, I checked out the Nice Ride online map to find one most convenient for our group. We met at the Lake Street & Humboldt Station in Uptown because it was close to the Midtown Greenway path that cuts through Minneapolis and goes all the way to Minnehaha park.
I hopped on my bike and it was just like riding a bike! I wobbled a bit, grabbed a fence near by to catch my balance but then, all my bike riding skills came flowing back and I let go of the fence. My face lit up and I grinned from ear to ear, I was riding a bike! We rode about 2 blocks north and came up on the Midtown Greenway -- I'd driven past it before but never really paid attention to what it is. I've been missing out!
The Midtown Greenway is very flat, smooth and paved path on a former railroad corridor. I felt like I was on a secret path deep within the city but that only certain people knew about. We rode for awhile and all of a sudden found ourselves by the Midtown Global Exchange building - I couldn't believe we had rode that far already! There was a cute little coffee shop that had been built into the side of the wall which would be a perfect place to stop and have some coffee but since we had just started, we decided to keep going.
There were beautiful little stopping points all along the Midtown Greenway. Some had benches, others had signs with information about the immediate area and even others had been planted with beautiful elaborate gardens.
We rode the Midtown Greenway for 5 miles and eventually hit Minnehaha Park where we decided to turn around. Had we decided to keep riding, we could have crossed the street and jumped on the paths at Minnihaha Park. I never realized how interconnected everything was in Minneapolis & St. Paul - I'm pretty sure I could get lost in my own world within the paths!
The girls and I ended up making our way back to where we started and completed what turned out to be an 75 minute bike ride. It was a peaceful, simple bike ride with one bridge in the middle going over Hiawatha Avenue that gave us all a little extra umph in our peddling.
For the adventurer in you, instead of biking down the Midtown Greenway, you could instead do one of the already mapped out tours Nice Ride has published! Select from tours such as:
The cost for my 75 minute bike ride was less than $10 dollars. You can rent on-the-go, like I did, or you can also purchase longer subscriptions if you plan on using Nice Ride often.
(Source - subject to change without notice)
I wore my Polar heart rate monitor to see what kind of activity I got and while it was a fairly causal "workout" for me, it was still a great way to get up and moving without having to be at the gym or running.
And my favorite part about it was that I got to spend the morning with friends, having conversation, observing the city we live in and discovering new things I'd never known before.
I learned a lesson during my bike ride. Originally, I had told myself I'd just ride once and be done with it. Just ride long enough to be able to write an post here, share my experiences and move on. Instead, I found myself wanting to stay on the bike. I wanted to find new paths, continue exploring and experiencing the Twin Cities like I had never done before. I never thought I'd enjoy being on a bicycle, but a Nice Ride changed my mind.