A Brief History of Cycling in Minnesota

1869

Minneapolis’ first velocipede– a fancy French term for a 50-pound, human-powered, two-wheeled land vehicle – is introduced outside the opera house by Professor Sexton, a ‘scientific velocipedist’.


1892

On a trail in Independence, Iowa, Minneapolis’s John S. Johnson becomes the first man to break the two-minute barrier on a bicycle. Johnson becomes one of the very first famous American racing cyclists.


1896

Bicycle use is booming, with some 30,000 cyclists in Minneapolis alone. The city responds by paving the first of the Harriet Lakes cycle paths, paying for the new gear by selling mandatory bike tags for 50 cents. Fine for non-compliance? $1 ($25 today).


1903

Henry Ford makes a deal to sell his “Ford mobiles” of Stephen Tenvoorde’s bicycle shop in Saint-Cloud. After a decade, Ford opens a state-of-the-art plant in St. Paul, the automobile becomes widely available, and Minnesota’s first cycling boom comes to an end.


1956

Howard Hawkins and Art Engstrom buy Hazel Park Cycle Center on the east side of St. Paul. As they expand, they change their name to park toolwhich would become the largest manufacturer of bicycle tools in the world.


1967

For the benefit of youth hostels, 27 people start the first 100 kilometers Iron Man Bicycle ride in a parking lot near what was then called Lake Calhoun. Only seven finishes.


1974

Minnesota DNR is converting an unused railroad to a paved bike path. The almost 50 miles Heartland State Trail is Minnesota’s first rail-to-trail conversion.


1989

Opening by Gene Oberpriller, former BMX racer and bike courier One on one bike studio in a basement on Washington Avenue in downtown Minneapolis. When the city closes the upstairs massage parlour, One on One expands, becoming the first of many cafes/bike shops in the Twin Cities.


1990

After his third victory in the Tour de France, Greg Le Mond moved to Minnesota to be closer to his wife Kathy’s family. The LeMonds are investing in a new restaurant in Edina called – wait for it – Scott Kee’s Tour de France.


1992

As rail traffic on the 29th Street Rail Corridor slows, a handful of biking weirdos are beginning to share ideas about converting the corridor into a paved bike path. The core developers are starting to call themselves the Downtown Greenway Coalition.


1999

Louis Moore and Walter Griffin form three black women for the 500-mile AIDS Ride from Minneapolis to Chicago. They have so much fun doing it that Moore and Griffin found the Major Taylor Cycling ClubMinnesota’s first black cycling club.


2002

The Stupor Bowlthe annual bike courier race in town, adds a degree of difficulty by doing all check-ins at local bars and suggesting manic cyclists have a drink at each.


2005

by Steve Flagg Quality bike productsmanufacturer of gruff range of bikes, strikes a handshake deal clarifying naming rights with an upstart craft beer company. Surly Brewing delivers its first keg free to Flagg’s shop to meet its end of the bargain.


2007

The third phase of the Downtown Greenway ends with the unveiling of a $5.1 million suspension bridge dedicated to bicycles. The bridge is named after the bridge’s champion in Congress, Representative Martin Olav Sabo.


2010

Nice ride Minnesota debuts in Minneapolis, with 700 bikes for rent available at 65 solar-powered kiosks.


2016

View of the mounds Kelly Catlin, who started life as a hat-trick with underdeveloped lungs, won a silver medal in the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics. That same year, Catlin and his team won the first of three consecutive world championships.


2016

A few days before his death, Prince is pictured for the last time: dressed in purple, riding around Paisley Park on his bicycle.