Eighty-eight degrees and sunny may sound like the perfect summer day–but it can make for a sweaty bike ride! Riders gathered on August 8 near Cycles for Change’s St. Paul shop for our last Frogtown/Rondo ride of the season. The route for the ride was co-created by C4C’s new youth apprentices finishing up their 8-week summer program–and they all helped bike marshal the ride as well, as ride leads, corkers, and sweeps.
Under the hot August sun, about 40 riders convened–half of them youth. The group set out for a slow ride from University to Charles to Dale to Marshall to Grotto and back to University. Riders crossed bike/ped bridges over I-94 on Mackubin and Grotto, and stopped at Victoria and Blair on the East side of Frogtown Park and Farm to listen to C4C youth apprentice Sukie talk about the history of the Frogtown neighborhood. Did you know it was once a swamp and home to millions of frogs before the swamp disappeared and German settlers arrived? Sukie expressed his love of this neighborhood for its cultural diversity.
After hauling up probably the only two hills in Frogtown and tooling along a little path that runs from the Rondo library to Carty Park, riders completed a 5 mile ride. Upon returning to the starting point, C4C youth apprentice Zahkia addressed the group about the history of the Rondo neighborhood and the destruction I-94 created. Riders enjoyed chicken wings, cornbread, and mac and cheese from Hickory Hut while being mesmerized by a special guest–a 6-week old puppy sleeping in a puppy carrier.
For the last ride of the year, Slow Roll St. Paul connected with the Lower Phalen Creek Project, which helped bring an Indigenous focus to the bike ride on the East Side. MN Native Food Perspectives catered and served delicious cedar tea, wild rice, and fry bread. Sharon Day, Anishinaabe elder and executive director of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force, visited the group of riders near the shores of Lake Phalen and talked about the cultural importance of water to Indigenous peoples, particularly to Indigenous women. She outlined the truth that water is a life giver, and because women also give life they are the keepers of the water. Melanie Kleiss and Mishaila Bowman of the Lower Phalen Creek Project followed, adding to the importance of water in communities.
With this in mind, riders kicked off on the ride route, which followed the proposed daylighted sections of Phalen Creek. The creek historically flowed freely out of Lake Phalen, but was diverted entirely underground in a large storm pipe. The Lower Phalen Creek Project works to restore portions of the creek back above ground, which would then restore and stabilize stream banks, while bringing amenities to the East Side community. After riding along the Bruce Vento Trail, then down through a wooded ravine, riders took a quick break to catch their breath at a restored prairie decorated with a public art installation.
Once back at Phalen Lake, participants finished off the night and the Slow Roll St. Paul season with some words from Wakíŋyaŋ and Thorne LaPointe and Crystal Norcross. They shared the relationship between water and Indigenous people, and the connection between life and water. With that, they ended the evening, along with the Slow Roll season, with a Lakota water song and closing prayer.
Thanks again to all of our outstanding partners for making Slow Roll St. Paul the success it was this year! It was great to learn about all of the incredible work organizations are doing in our community, and even better with a belly full of food from local restaurants. Make sure you stay connected to everyone that helped shape this year’s Slow Roll St. Paul:
- Model Cities
- Frogtown Farm
- iPho by Saigon
- Indigenous Roots Cultural Center
- Mañana Restaurant y Pupuseria
- Sylvia Fowles
- Pilgrim Baptist Church
- Urban Farm and Garden Alliance
- Golden Thyme Coffee
- East Side Freedom Library
- 15 Now Minnesota
- Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha
- Cajun Life
- Cycles for Change’s Summer Youth Apprentices
- Hickory Hut
- Lower Phalen Creek Project
- Indigenous Peoples Task Force
- Native Food Perspectives
And a special shout-out to our amazing crew of bike marshals! We couldn’t have done it without all of you showing up week after week to help keep our riders safe. Thank you!