Suggesting road-riding routes could be this simple: grab a gazetteer, head to your favorite online map site or Google Maps, and plot a route. Better yet, just get on your bike and ride somewhere you’ve never ridden before. Leave bread crumbs if you need to.
Those are the methods most of us use to find new ways of satisfying, entertaining, and abusing ourselves on road bikes (or on mountain bikes on the road, if we’re into that sort of thing).
“Telling new-to-the-area folks about road rides is a bit more vague than telling them about mountain-biking routes,” says Ski Hut cycling guru Mick Dodds. “I just point people toward particular roads and tell them that a lot of possibilities exist.”
“There are so many roads north and northeast of town,” says former Duluth resident Patrick McEnaney. “I don’t even know the names of ’em, but I could show you on a map. It’s like a roadie’s dreamscape. Pick a distance or an amount of time, and just go. There aren’t too many dogs to chase you.”
Hard-core roadie Mike Weispfening, who lived in Duluth and Two Harbors for a long time before defecting to Ashland, WI (NW Wisconsin is littered with great road rides as well!), has maybe explored more northern-Minnesota and Wisconsin roads than all but a small handful of bike riders. Do not take his insight lightly:
“It’s a good time to be a road rider in and around Duluth,” Weispfenning says. “It’s kind of come through a re-birth. Not even very long ago, there weren’t nearly as many options as there are now. It’s hard to pick a favorite.”
“A lot of it depends on where the good pavement is,” says Ryan Nelson (Every summer a new section gets paved – check with the local shops (SKIHUT) to find out where the freshies are). Road riding is something that Sherie [his wife] and I have just started to delve into. Aside from the classic road routes, there’s also a ton of cool urban cruising (Lakewalk) if you have the right sort of bike.”
You should also consider some local paved bike trails like the Mesabi Trail, Gitchi-Gami State Trail and the Willard Munger State Trail (which includes the Alex Laveau Memorial Trail). These trails supply hundreds of miles of paved, car-free pedaling. Plus there are tons of great roads that intersect them.