Park Board considers new Downtown bike race

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February 16, 2004 // UPDATED 2:56 pm - April 24, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Park leaders are floating the idea of a Grand Rounds bike race in 2005 -- an event that could start and end in Downtown, traversing the city's scenic perimeter.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will also consider creating a pilot off-road bike trail system in Theodore Wirth Park this year.

Park Board President Jon Olson said bike race discussions are in the very early stages, but said, "It could be a world-class event."

(Minneapolis added a bike race in 2003. The Great River Energy Bicycle Festival held the third stage of its five-stage Nature Valley Grand Prix in Downtown, a speed chase wherein cyclists raced around a loop that circled Peavey Plaza. The event will return to Downtown July 11.)

A Grand Rounds bike race could run 36 to 50 miles, depending on where it starts or finishes, said Jill Andrews, a Park Board planner recently assigned to the project.

As Olson envisioned it, a race could start at Boom Island, move along the Mississippi, careen along Minnehaha Creek trail, loop the Chain of Lakes, and wind around Wirth Parkway, Victory Memorial Drive and Northeast to end on Nicollet Island.

People with questions or interesting in helping brainstorm the Grand Rounds race should contact Andrews at 230-6400.

Andrews has also worked on an off-road cycling pilot project. Tentative plans got support at a community meeting at Wirth Chalet earlier this year, she said.

The staff will recommend opening off-road bike paths this year north of Highway 55, west of Wirth Parkway and the Wirth Golf Course, she said. The Park Board is expected to vote in March.

The year-long pilot project will evaluate whether the Park Board can have a sustainable, safe and low-maintenance trail that both challenges off-road cyclists and protects the environment. It also is an effort to reduce unauthorized trails.

The Minneapolis Off-road Cycling Advocates helped start discussions and will help maintain the trail, a Park Board media release said. If the pilot project succeeds, the Park Board would consider creating a trail network, where appropriate.