Red Wing offers varied bicycling opportunities
When customers leave the Red Wing Bicycle Company, owner Andrew Petersen wants them to be prepared, be courteous and be safe, so they enjoy every ride as much as possible.
Petersen, who opened the store two years ago, is happy to work with cyclists to make sure they are ready to take care of emergencies that might arise on a cycling trip.
One of the quickest ways to ruin a trip is to get a flat tire, said Petersen. "The easiest way to avoid a flat tire is to ride on properly inflated tires."
The range of tire inflation should be printed on the side of each tire, and Petersen recommends filling the tire to the middle or upper part of that range.
"If the tire is underinflated and you hit a pothole," Petersen said, "the tire deforms and pinches the tube and tears or cuts it."
Plan ahead and be prepared
Flat tires do happen and Petersen recommends an emergency kit that contains a patch kit or a spare tube and inflation device, as well as a tire lever. He said it is easiest to just replace the damaged tube and then inflate the tire with a hand pump or a CO2 inflator.
Petersen carries his emergency tools in a small bag that fits under his seat. He transfers the bag from bike to bike, as long as each bike has the same size of tire.
In addition, Petersen recommends carrying water, especially for longer rides, and energy bars or some other type of snack.
Weather conditions also play an important part in bicycling, so he recommends checking a weather report and taking along a raincoat or other clothing, depending on the conditions. He also encourages using a taillight for visibility.
Two other items he suggests taking on bike rides are spare cash for emergency purchases and a cell phone to call for help, if needed.
Share the roads and trails
Cyclists often share trails with walkers and runners, so Petersen encourages a sense of common courtesy among all users.
He recommends staying to the right, as motorists do on roads, and using a signal to alert walkers when approaching them from the rear.
"You are going three times the speed of a walker," he cautions, "so a verbal 'On your left' or a bell really helps. Sometimes people can't hear, because the wind is blowing or they have earphones in. Slowing down and passing with care is always a good idea."
On roads, courtesy and care are critical. "Be sure to signal any turns, and don't whizz through a stop sign," he said. "The best thing is no surprises."
Area offers cycling variety
Petersen, a member of the Community Recreation Joint Powers Board, is excited about the variety of biking opportunities in and near Red Wing.
He often bikes the Cannon Valley Trail, which runs 20 miles from Red Wing through Welch to Cannon Falls. He also likes the local stretch of the Goodhue Pioneer Trail, also called the Hay Creek Trail, which he said runs seven miles and goes from the Pottery Museum to Hay Creek Campground.
"If you are comfortable riding on roads," he said, "you can go three miles in any direction from downtown Red Wing and be on good cycling roads."
Petersen said there are several roads west of town which can become loops and some can be connected with the Cannon Valley Trail. He also likes Highway 61 south toward Lake City which is part of the Mississippi River Trail, a 620-mile bike route that goes from Lake Itasca to the Iowa border.
"Going toward Lake City, there are multiple turns which can make loops back to Red Wing," Petersen said. "You can also ride around Lake Pepin by going south through Lake City, to Wabasha, across the bridge to Nelson, and up Highway 35 in Wisconsin."
Riding on streets or highways requires "a lot more mindfulness," said Petersen. "You have to be more aware of the terrain, potholes, and traffic."
Petersen also enjoys riding on gravel country roads. "They are secluded and offer a different view of the country. You need to be extra careful because motorists might not be expecting a bicycle out there."
Mountain biking has gained popularity, and Petersen, a member of R.A.M.B.O., the Red Wing Area Mountain Biking Organization, said Memorial Park is an excellent place to ride dirt trails. "Memorial Park has a lot of variety and trails for every ability level of rider."
Petersen said that cycling safety should start with children. Teaching kids to watch for cars, stop at intersections, and pay attention, can make them comfortable on a bike. "Bicycling can open a whole new world for them," he said.