Joy of Cycling: Navigating the Northwest Suburbs

Photo credit: Benjamin Pecka

The Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is a series of parks and trails that revolve around the Twin Cities. Victory Memorial and Theodore Wirth Parkways make up an important part of that, and utilizing these pathways is key to navigating the Twin Cities on two wheels.

Each parkway plays host to many wonderfully scenic, wooded areas, and both are structured in uniquely vibrant ways.

Victory Memorial is made up of two perpendicular pathways that meet at Victory Flag Pole and a monument of Abraham Lincoln. Residential neighborhoods line the path on both sides with tall oak trees peppered along the lush, green corridors that stretch for miles. The parkway is mostly flat with a few inclines and declines, making it perfect for a casual cruise or an intense jam.

Victory Memorial extends to North Memorial Medical Center, leaving cyclists the option to continue on the Lowry Ave bike lane, or south towards Theodore Wirth Parkway.

Theodore Wirth Parkway is a much more secluded, winding path than Victory Memorial. It hugs the nearby golf course and darts in and out of thick forested slopes and slaloms. While it can be a bit more of a drudge to traverse than a few of the flat-ground trails around Minneapolis, like the Midtown Greenway, the beauty of this trail easily surpasses any other in the Grand Rounds. With fall around the corner these features will only be heightened.

Cycling traffic is usually light along Victory Memorial, with mostly experienced cyclists, several joggers and the occasional walker on the pedestrian side of the path. However, there are Pokemon GO hot-spots scattered throughout the trail. Some of the players do not watch for traffic on the trials and will stand in the middle of the lanes without paying attention. This is a small number of people, though, as the hot-spots are located on the grassy fields toward the middle of the parkway, leaving the trails mostly clear.

Theodore Wirth is also fantastic for avoiding traffic. Most of the trail features a broad path to the side of the road, with physically separated walking paths to keep the pace of cyclists smooth and steady. The path itself is relatively fresh pavement, with only a few short areas that can be a little rough. The only real impedance for Theodore Wirth is crossing over Highway 55 in Golden Valley. There is a clear cross-walk path and call buttons on both ends, but the light is most often red and traffic can be fast and heavy during rush hour.

The two parkways extend from suburban Robbinsdale to the picturesque Cedar Lake. From there, the Chain of Lakes takes control around Bde Maka Ska, and through Lake Harriet.

These pathways are not only a great source of exercise, or an opportunity to see beautiful scenery. They serve as a gateway for everybody to access broader portions of the Twin Cities. Mobility is crucial, and cycling is an effective way to traverse the city.

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