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Cycling In The Cities: Free Parking At The Fair

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Ouch. I felt that. I still feel it in my quads and toosh. Yesterday I logged 24 miles, give or take. Probably more when you consider I got lost on my way from downtown Minneapolis to the State Fairgrounds. Each year WCCO provides shuttles for staff to get between our station and our booth at the fair. I had the grand idea that I could ride my bike instead. I thought traffic on I-94 would be brutal and clearly I would beat the shuttle. But no such luck. They got there in 30 minutes. My 7 mile ride took me about and hour. Thankfully several new friends on twitter were really supportive of my bike-to-the-fair plan. Some sent me directions, tips, even personal maps! What they didn’t know is that I am extremely directionally challenged. Everyone said, “Oh just hop on the University of Minnesota’s Transitway. It’s easy!” Ok. Here’s the thing: I didn’t go to the U. I spend very little time over there. So, no. Not so easy. The light rail construction on University Avenue near TCF Bank Stadium got me all turned around and suddenly I was staring straight at a dirt road filled with construction workers. Thank goodness for the GPS on my iphone. I don’t think I would be alive without it. Also, @CharlieQuimby. I haven’t met him but when I was convinced I was lost I sent him a direct message on twitter and he guided me to safety. I found the illusive Transitway and what a strange, cool thing it is. It’s a 2-lane road with a bike path part of the way. Only buses and bikes are allowed to use it. Talk about David and Goliath. It was full of fair shuttle buses and I felt like David. As I pedaled away dreaming of all the fair food calories I was earning, shuttle bus after shuttle bus buzzed right by me. It was a little scary at first. The buses felt pretty close but I prayed they were used to sharing the road with cyclists. And I won’t lie. I was totally judging all those gluttonous, lazy people who were kicking back in those air conditioned buses. I felt completely superior. And jealous.

The Transitway shoots you right onto Como Avenue. I’m sure there’s a less congested way to get to one of the 3 bike parking lots at the fair but I just went with the flow. I parked my bike in the corral at Gate 6. It’s free to park your bike and the corral was packed. As I walked to the WCCO booth I felt really proud and really gross. Thankfully I brought a spare outfit. There’s a restroom in our booth for WCCO employees where I was able to freshen up a little. And I rewarded myself with an $8 London broil sandwich. It was delish!

After a few hours of showing moral support for all the people who worked much harder on the show than I, it was time for my commute home. I hoped on Cyclopath.org. It’s a geowiki: an editable map where anyone can share notes about roads and trails, enter tags about special locations and fix map problems – like missing trails. In a nutshell, it’s awesome. It suggested the best way home to south Minneapolis was to back-track the way I came in. I was sure there was a more scenic route along the river to the creek but I was way too tired to explore. I got turned around again at TCF Bank Stadium but eventually I found my way to the Stone Arch Bridge. As @CharlieQuimby told me, “Cyclists don’t get lost. They just find another way.” Ain’t it the truth, Charlie. As I’ve said before, I’m a girl who doesn’t like to hit the road without a game plan. Yesterday’s plans didn’t work as I’d hoped but, hey, I made it! Sometimes that’s all that counts.

Angela Keegan Benson is the Assistant News Director at WCCO-TV and a mother of two. On August 1, 2011 she began her quest to live one full year as a bike commuter. Follow along as she figures out how to mesh the cycling culture with the demands of parenthood and an affinity for 4-inch heels. And yes, she’s committed to sticking it out through February storms. For more Cycling In The Cities, follow @Angela_Keegan on Twitter.

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