Searching for the beach in the woods.

Searching for the beach in the woods.

This past weekend, my friend Zachariah Schaap planned a bachelor party for me (hashtag #pachelor, if you want to see the pictures). We ran from zombies at The Walking Dead Escape, stayed out dancing and grooving till 3 a.m., and walked all over downtown Minneapolis. The best part, though, as you might guess from the title of this blog, was that we bicycled the afternoon away.

At 1 p.m., I met up with Zach and my friend Matt at Target Field, in the midst of Twins traffic, and we rode from the North Loop to Minnehaha Falls to home, on a wandering route with a few detours, in no rush — soundtracked by a playlist that Zach had arranged for maximum meaningfulness.

Our first detour was the mudslide spot on West River Parkway, where 6 to 8 feet of mud beneath the University of Minnesota Medical Center had cascaded and sent 100 yards’ worth of trees and brush into the Mississippi River, closing the Parkway and “narrowly” missing two cars. We got as close as we could and examined the slide. I wasn’t, to be honest, that impressed by the sight, and took no photos. C’mon, hospital mud, make for better Instagrams.

Our second detour was a spot on the river bottoms, where we threw stones into the water and admired each other’s throwing form.

Our third detour was the Mississippi River overlook at the end of Summit Avenue, in St. Paul. Zach, Matt and I are all experienced cyclists, but none of us had brought water, or even a bottle for our cages. How’s that for failed expertise? So with our mouths already dry, we drank up as much from the water fountain as we could handle(bar), then pedaled onward.

Next, I led the guys from the overlook to Quixotic Coffee, in Highland Park, via an old favorite route of mine, on Fairview Avenue and Highland Parkway. We drank cold press and ate savory croissants from Patisserie 46, and I briefly dozed in my chair, with the summer sun on my face.

Finally, around 3:30 p.m., we reached Minnehaha Falls, and it was insanely impressive. Usually, Minnehaha is a gentle, picturesque sight, but the rainstorms of late have turned it into a raw beast who’s like, “Hey, guys, here’s a reminder of how powerful nature is.”

The water’s not so much falling from the fall-tops as gushing from it, like a hose on high. After ogling the falls, we descended to the creek — now more like whitewater rapids — and followed it to its end at a pond that attracts swimbathers. I took off my shoes and waded into the water, in a section that was very rapidy, just to feel the force of the waterfall from far away. It was lovely.

Before we left the Falls, we were joined by my friends Pete and Johnny, and with a place called White Sands Beach in mind, we set off. Fortunately, we didn’t know exactly where the beach was, so that meant stopping at random spots along the Parkway and running down steps and jumping (with our bikes outstretched in our arms) over logs and fallen trees. Like cyclocrossers, or adult-sized children. When we finally found the beach, it was flooded in, just like everything else along the river. Covered in new bug bites, and not even a tad disappointed, we rode back to downtown Minneapolis.

Zach later told me that, as we biked together that afternoon, he realized that he was smiling in a purer and happier way than he had in a long time. That’s biking for you. Pure happiness.

Enjoying the falls.

Enjoying the falls.

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