Author Topic: Expanding cycle touring in agricultural areas  (Read 1450 times)

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Offline MNRider

Expanding cycle touring in agricultural areas
« on: October 14, 2012, 07:17:50 am »
I live in the Red River Valley, a rural area of western MN and am lucky to have access to a huge network of well paved rural farm to market roads. These roads are designed for heavy farm equipment and loaded produce trucks, primarily sugar beets in this area. Because of this most are wide, heavily paved and well maintained. Outside of a few weeks in the spring and off and on again in the fall, the roads are very lightly used by traffic and almost not at all by cyclists. I find this unfortunate as this is beautiful country, flat to gently rolling, with lots of small rural communities filled with local restaurants, stores, and seasonal shops and stands. I often ride 75-100 miles seeing a vehicle only every 5 to 10 minutes and stopping in a small town every 15-20 miles. During 3/4 of the warm months it is ideal recreational cycling. There are college cities with active cycling communities within an hour or so in every direction, and the nearby lakes region is teaming with cyclists during the summer, but few people seem to have discovered this untapped region.

Any idea how to get the ball rolling on promoting this area as a cycling destination or at least a stop along the way for tours from the plains to the Great Lakes?
« Last Edit: October 14, 2012, 07:20:37 am by MNRider »
Those who say it can't be done should stand aside for those who are doing it

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Expanding cycle touring in agricultural areas
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2012, 09:22:54 pm »
Your description sounds very much like the Des Moines Iowa area.  Lots of lightly traveled county roads with most of the car traffic handled by the interstates and main state highways.  But we also have the advantage of a VERY extensive paved bicycle trail system.  Well over a hundred miles of paved trails all accessible from Des Moines.  Maybe close to two hundred miles of paved trails when you include some of the surrounding areas too.  Paved trails promote bicycling.  On several weeknight evenings during the summer there are dozens and dozens and dozens of riders on the trail going to a bar located right next to the trail.  Its a very popular stop.  I'm not sure how many of these riders ride on the roads.  I suspect many do RAGBRAI.  But I would classify them as "casual" bicyclists.  But they are riding so that is good.

Your main problem with western Minnesota and cyclists is you have no people.  You live in a rural area.  You have small towns that support farmers and farmers living in your area.  No people.  No cyclists.  The vast majority of your state's cyclists live in Minneapolis because that is where all your people live.  Just like Des Moines has the most cyclists in Iowa because most people live in Des Moines.  You have very good roads to ride on.  But you can't expect people to take a vacation to your area to bicycle.  You have no tourist attractions either.  No national parks.  People don't visit small rural farming communities.  Unless you find a way to get lots of people to move to your area of the state and set up an extensive trail system, you are not going to have any cyclists.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Expanding cycle touring in agricultural areas
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2012, 10:57:03 pm »
My buddies have spent over 30 years riding and touring all over central and eastern Washington state.  It has been great--lots of farming towns and even desert areas.  We too have found roads with virtually no traffic just by looking at maps and asking locals.  I have enjoyed learning the personalities of these little towns.  We have also done some of the same in parts of Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  It didn't take any traditional "attractions" to get us going, just a map and a spirit of adventure.  The attraction is, as most on this forum know, the exploration itself. 
May the wind be at your back!

Offline RussSeaton

Re: Expanding cycle touring in agricultural areas
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2012, 11:45:18 am »
My buddies have spent over 30 years riding and touring all over central and eastern Washington state.  It has been great--lots of farming towns and even desert areas.  We have also done some of the same in parts of Oregon, Idaho and Montana.  It didn't take any traditional "attractions" to get us going,

Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana?  I think the Cascade mountain range and the Rockies run through those states.  Lot of National and state parks in those states.  I'd classify those as "attractions".  And the reason you were cycling in those states.  The person who started this thread was tryiing to get people to rural Minnesota.  He needs some "attractions" like the mountains which are in all of the states you listed.