Since the early-afternoon presentations were all going to be over my head (eigen this, partial differential that), and Minneapolis’ weather was a sunny 52°F, I punted on lunch and went biking. I had hoped to do a quick ride over to the St. Paul side, return and shower for the late afternoon session.
Hoped. I was doing fine until I got past the University of Minnesota. There was a detoure at a five-way intersection. I didn’t realize this, and rode several miles, getting progressively more confused when I couldn’t find myself on the map, either. Naturally, the “Y” chromosome suppressed any desire to ask for directions. Based on the sun’s position, I knew I was heading east, and continued that way until I ran into a freeway or something I recognized… like Como park.
My connection to the next trail was confounded by “wrong way” signs on the paved bike trail and “one way/wrong way” signs on the roads, and I eventually got suckered into after-school traffic. Teenagers are bad enough drivers when they’re not in a hurry to go wherever it is they go after school. After crossing I-35, I ducked down a residential street where I could cross I-35 again and head towards St. Paul for an excellent anaerobic workout of accelerating hard to avoid being run over by the Insane Car Posse and braking hard because the lights were untimed. Adding to the excitement was missing the first two chances to cross the Mississippi. The third, Smith Street, was a great climb across the river to the freshly-paved, relaxing highway 13 continuing to Mendota Heights.
For the third time in the day, I was orienteering challenged, missed an unlabeled turn and was heading towards Alberquerque… though I figured it out by the time I was at Fort Snelling State Park, a beautiful park located smack dab under Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport’s flight path. Planes taking off roared overhead every two minutes or so.
Back on track, I followed two “major” bike aterials. The Minnehaha bike lane was to the right of traffic. Unlike other areas, it was well-timed and had few red lights and predictable drivers, thus very enjoyable. It terminates near Lake street, which I didn’t realize was “state road 3.” Very busy. I followed this to Park, another fast road, but on the left, that took me into downtown proper. I ended the day with 39 miles and a surprisingly high 1,450′ of elevation gain.
This is the last biking I’ll do on this trip because the presentations scheduled for today and tomorrow are all pertinent.
On the flight out, I sat next to a Minneapolis couple eager to return in time for the Packers-Vikings (home) game. After they waxed on the great time in Seattle, I asked them about restaurants and things I shouldn’t miss while here in town. They didn’t offer any suggestions or description on truly local cuisine. The only specific recommendation was a Chinese place called “Ping’s.” I was immediately skeptical because of some preconceived notions I have on the correlation of geography and cuisine. For example, the prospects of getting good, fresh salmon in Austin are about as low as finding good barbeque food in Seattle, jambalaya in Boston, etc. Given Minneapolis’ central location and relatively light Asian population (compared to, say, San Francisco), the notion had been bantered about jokingly, in the same way you’d talk about taking a coworker to Dixie’s to “Meet the Man” or get verbally abused by Dixie herself. Of course, when we stumbled upon the the pink awning, we had to go. The food was okay, but definitely a couple of notches low on the desired spiciness scale.