Where there was once a desert, an oasis now blooms

Break the Cycle participants going for a group ride.

This article was written by Jeffrey Schmidt and Amanda Dobbs

What was once a bicycle desert has begun to bloom like an oasis. Historically, Northsiders have had less access both to the cycling community and bicycle shops. Many leaders in the community have been planting seeds to empower cyclists. Those seeds have grown into shoots that are breaking through the spring soil. This bicycle season there are many cycling related activities for people to enjoy, as well as new access to local bicycle shops that can support their needs.

Break the Cycle is bringing cycling education opportunities to BIPOC people interested in learning more about cycling. The P3 ride (pizza, pedals and professors) involves enjoying a community bike ride that ends with dinner and educational opportunities to learn about routine bicycle maintenance. The bike professors will meet participants where they are at and help them get to where they want to go in the cycling community and the cycling industry as well. Visit BreakTheCycleMN.com to learn more about programming, and upcoming rides and events.

Cycle Sisters is ready to roll and has community rides planned for this season. According to their Facebook page, “We are Ladies who ride/bike together in North Minneapolis and support local businesses! Come ride with us!” Cycle Sisters spends time familiarizing and educating all people who identify as women (with a focus on BIPOC residents) on bicycle culture. They cover: how to ride, where to ride, and what tools are needed to become a safe, avid rider. Cycle Sisters provides group rides with local business destinations to promote mental and physical health and economically strong communities. Rides are welcoming and fun for all skill levels. Follow them on Facebook to find out more about dates and times of upcoming rides.

Just a short time ago, the Northside had no bicycle shops, whereas there are over 30 shops in Minneapolis. The reality of living in a bicycle desert affected many in our community. Community members had to travel too far to get their bicycle related needs met. Broken bicycles would pile up in garages and some neighbors even had to take buses with their busted bikes to get the essential bicycle services other communities enjoy. Now, thankfully the seeds planted through many years of community organizing and dedication have come to fruition.

Venture North at 1830 Glenwood Ave. N is a Black-owned bike shop that also offers artisanal coffee drinks for patrons from the coffee shop located in the store. This longtime Northside business closed in January 2020. Kennis Littleton was approached by Redeemer Center for Life to head up the project of re-opening Venture North and keep it from closing for good. This bicycle shop is seeking donations to “continue the mission to empower the youth and cyclists of this community and to see the health and joy that bicycling offers.” Visit their Facebook page to find links to their Go Fund Me if interested in donating. The shop is vibrant and bustling with activity. Visit them Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Camden Cycles is coming to 1420 Dowling Ave. N! This woman-owned bike shop specializes in repairs and cycling education for the community. Camden Cycles will offer refurbished bicycles and new bicycle parts/accessories. With some of the best trained mechanics in the nation, Camden Cycles is excited to get people riding. They offer affordable repair services, drop off/pick up service, consultations and community classes. The owner has an extensive background in youth community education and is excited to get more kids on bikes and empower them to be excited about riding and wrenching. The brick and mortar is currently open by appointment. Contact Camden Cycles at Info@CamdenBicycles.com to make an appointment. Camden Cycles is a full-service repair shop that offers suspension work, wheel building, restorations and custom builds. The shop’s grand opening is tentatively set for Memorial Day weekend. Stop on by and check out Northside’s newest bicycle shop!

Whether you’re new to the sport, brushing an old trusty bike off for the first time in a while, or a seasoned cyclist – there is sure to be something for you at any of these wonderful additions to the North Minneapolis cycling community. What an exciting time to see the Northside cycling community grow!

Note: Get geared up for the Tour de Camden bike ride set for July 16 starting at Creekview Park – more info coming soon.