The Nice Ride bikes just opened up for the season in my home city of Minneapolis. I bought an annual pass last year and was hooked! For those of you who don’t know, Nice Ride (https://www.niceridemn.org/) is a public bike rental system that enables users to check a bike out of a station, and then deposit it at any station wherever their destination may be. The stations are strategically located throughout the city which makes them very convenient to use.
Not only do I run Helo LLC, but I also have a full time job which involves a daily commute. Typically it’s a 30 minute walk, but biking cuts it down to about 10 minutes. Lots of people I know use the Nice Ride system for commuting. You might be reading this wondering why doesn’t Jake just ride his street bike into work. Truthfully, I don’t want to mess around with paying for indoor bike storage, worry about someone stealing my bike, dealing with clipless pedals, etc in the morning. Nice Ride eliminate all that, plus they’re comfortable to ride.
They have flexible cost structures including a single ride for $3, a 24 hour pass for $6, a 30 day pass for $18 and a 1 year unlimited pass for $75. If you’re commuting, the 1 year pass is definitely the way to go.
The bikes themselves aren’t the sexiest two-wheeled vehicle in the world, but they are functional. They’re built to take abuse, and appeal to a wide range of audience and uses. Nice Ride bikes are what I would describe as a three speed cruiser. They have an adjustable, comfortable seat as well as a basket on the front that perfectly holds a six pack of beer (read the brewery rides section below). With lights on the front and back you’ll be legal day and night. They have wide tires with minimal tread, which enables them to handle a variety of terrain.
Rides to Check Out:
Start by checking out the station map: https://secure.niceridemn.org/map/
Brewery Tour: Since they changed the brewery laws to enable breweries to have an onsite tap room, the number of microbreweries in Minneapolis has exploded. A great way to spend a Saturday is to bike from brewery to brewery. You can start at the Nice Ride station right next to Surly. From there you are a quick pedal (5 mins) east to Black Stack Brewing and Lake Monster Brewing. Next pedal 3 miles West to Insight Brewing (there’s a Nice Ride station about a block away). Next I’d recommend crossing over the Mississippi via the Hennepin bridge. Make sure to get a picture of the iconic Grain Belt Brewing sign. Head towards the Target Field, home of the Twins and deposit your bike at Nice Ride station at 5th Ave N. and 4th St. N. From here you can explore several breweries including: Modest, Fulton, Inbound, and The Freehouse. The world is your oyster. If you’re craving oysters after all that biking and drinking stop by the Smack Shack for their fresh Blue Points.
The Lakes of Uptown:
One of the defining features of Minneapolis is the chain of lakes which include Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. There is a fully paved dedicated bike trail that surrounds each of these lakes. Check out a Nice Ride from the station at Lake Calhoun Park, and take it North around Lake of the Isles. The Isles offers spectacular views of the lake as well as mix of old and modern architecture of the surrounding houses. As you complete the loop around the Isles, you’ll find yourself back at Lake Calhoun. Pedal along the one way bike trail until you see the sign for Lake Harriet (about half way around Calhoun). You’ll pedal up a hill to get there, but it’s definitely worth it. Depending on the date and time you might be able to check out a concert at the band stand. You can check out the schedule here: https://www.minneapolisparks.org/activities__events/music__movies/music_in_the_parks/lake_harriet_park_schedule/
Harriet is typically less busy than Calhoun, and more peaceful. They serve food and drinks (including ice cream and beer depending on your mood) at the food stand next to the band shell.
Head back to Calhoun to complete the rest of the way around the lake and you’ll end up right back at the Nice Ride station to return your bike.
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