R.I.P. Kenilworth Trail

This may be slight deviation from normal, but the end of the Kenilworth Trail is coming today (May 13, 2019), which is a bike path that has featured highly in my life. Whatever you think of the light rail that will be built in the corridor for the next three years, it will destroy one of the most highly used bike paths in the US so that suburban commuters can get downtown faster and bypass Minneapolis. That’s what the light rail is doing, it’s routed through the far west side of Minneapolis through one of the least populated portions because it’s faster than taking it through Uptown and down Nicollet, which might actually serve some Minneapolitans.

I estimated today that I’ve ridden portions of the Kenilworth trail over 10,000 times in the last 20 years. How did I get to that number:

  • Bike commuted downtown for 13 years, 2x per day, ~200 times (yes I biked all winter for many of these years. ~5200 rides.
  • For 20 years, from April to November, I generally ride to do daily errands: trips to Vertical Endeavors, Target, Walgreens, Punch Pizza, Barnes and Noble, Whole Foods, Lunds, Byerly’s, etc. On weekends it’s probably 4 trips per day, weekdays and extra 0.5 trips per day. ~7290
  • For 10 years estimate 30 trips downtown to Twins games, fireworks, restaurants and brew pubs in the evenings per summer: ~300
  • Probably another 1000 rides for fun and exercise with the kids, dog and friends

So in the past 20 years, I’ve ridden portions of the Kenilworth trail approximately 13,790 times. That’s likely an underestimate if anything.

There’s a lot of memories on that trail. I used to rollerblade with a Burley with two kids (in the 2-6 range) in it around Cedar lake. One time I’m not sure what I was thinking but I was swinging the kids side to side for fun. I got a bit to aggressive and flipped the Burley on it’s side and proceed to crash myself. Luckily, the kids were fine, and I escaped with minor roadrash.

I used to run our dog, Callahan, down the path to get him some quick exercise. I would ride my bike, he would run alongside, he was very well behaved. One day though, as I was riding back down the path, I slipped the leash over my handlebar by accident. Callahan abruptly stopped to do some business, and in these cases I usually just dropped the leash. This time though when I dropped it, it caught the handlebar and pulled the front wheel sideways. I took a header over the bars and somehow landed it on my feet, jamming my hip and causing future arthritis. These were my only two crashes on the Kenilworth.

A number of friends and I would go brew pub hopping in the evening for many years. We’d ride to Northeast and hit a few pubs and ride back, often without lights. There’s nothing like riding the Kenilworth at night with no lights, it’s pitch black and you can barely see the path. One night, and I swear this is true, after turning off the path and passing the Cedar Lake South Beach around 1AM, there were about 30 naked teenage girls getting ready to go skinny dipping. It was like riding past Ulysses’s Sirens, except that there was one older lady standing under the streetlight with a clipboard, likely ensuring the Sirens earned their skinny dipping merit badges.

It’s funny but there are a lot more stories simply about riding and walking down an amazing urban bike path. These don’t exist in other cities, and now it will no longer exist in ours. I filmed my last ride down the Kenilworth, it’s not the greatest, but this is what is now gone: