Sketching and Traveling by Bicycle, Bus and Train


Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Bicycle Times Issue #33, published in February 2015. Words and illustrations by Ken and Roberta Avidor.

The road trip is an American tradition, but does it always have to be by automobile?

My wife Roberta and I have been car-free for years, but until recently, we were more inclined to travel out of town in fossil fuel-gulping, CO2-gassing jet planes and rented cars. Then we sold our three-story house in Minneapolis and moved to a loft in the Union Depot, a newly-renovated train station in downtown Saint Paul’s Lowertown district. Moving to a transit hub with easy access to local and long-distance buses and trains opened up a new world of travel options for us. We planned to travel by bus throughout Minnesota and record the sights and our experiences in our sketch journals.

We’re fortunate to have a regional bus company, Jefferson Lines, with regular service to the Union Depot. Like Amtrak, Jefferson requires full-sized bicycles to be boxed up. However, they treat folding bicycles as regular luggage as long as they weigh less than fifty pounds.


Brompton to the Rescue!

We purchased Brompton folding bikes, which are lightweight and sturdy. Brompton also has a good selection of bags and accessories; we packed our bikes into Brompton B-bags. We packed our clothes in garment bags that Roberta made and draped them over the bikes inside the B-bag. This helped protect the bike. We packed our art supplies into our Brompton S-bags, which attached to the front of the bike frame.

Traveling by train, bus and bike has facilitated sketching, our favorite pastime. When train and bus service returned to the Union Depot, Roberta and I decided to travel throughout Minnesota and record the sights and our experiences in our sketch journals and on our blog.


Bound for Duluth

Our first bus/bike/sketching excursion in Minnesota was to Duluth from the Union Depot via Jefferson Lines’ “Rocket Rider” bus. Jefferson Lines buses are a great way to travel without a car, clean and comfortable with plenty of legroom. We biked and sketched along the Lakewalk, a paved trail with lots of great scenery. Along the Lakewalk, we stopped to sketch at Leif Erikson Park, Congdon Park and Lester Park. We sketched a thick fog rolling in on the deck of Fitgers Restaurant. We also found a lot to sketch in Canal Park—the famous lift bridge from the deck of Grandma’s restaurant and the fishing boat turned-snack shack called Crabby Ol’ Bills. The Duluth Depot has many historical items to sketch, and there were many attractions in Duluth we did not have time to sketch.


On to Pipestone!

We chose Pipestone for our next Minnesota sketching excursion. It was our first trip to the little city, and we were pleasantly surprised to find it had many visual attractions as well as some unique architecture to sketch. The city gets its name from the red quartzite Native Americans have quarried and carved into ceremonial peace pipes (calumet) for hundreds of years. There are several fine old buildings in Pipestone built with the distinctly ruddy stone. We sketched the sights around town and in the nearby Pipestone National Monument. We also sketched the activities staged for Pipestone’s “Paranormal Weekend.”

We stayed at the Calumet Inn, a nice landmark hotel with a lot of character. It is rumored to be haunted by a ghost named Charlie who once worked as a handyman in the Calumet Inn until a fire on Valentine’s Day 1944 transported him between the worlds of the living and the dead.


We biked several blocks north of the hotel to the Pipestone National Monument. The monument is a treasure trove for artists with a waterfall tumbling over towering pillars of red quartzite and vistas of restored prairie. In the visitor center, craftsmen carve pipes and other items out of quartzite.

Pipestone is also a great place to bike even if you don’t bring your own. Rental bicycles are available for $5 a day at the Ewart Community Center. The Casey Jones State Trail begins on the edge of town near the big grain elevator and runs straight and level through the cornfields. In the distance, bicyclists can see the towering wind turbines of Buffalo Ridge.


We look forward to traveling by Jefferson Lines to other destinations throughout Minnesota and throughout the Upper Midwest.


Listen Up! Issue # 33 Staff Playlist

BicycleTimes 33_16

We discovered that our staff’s musical tastes run the full gamut, so we decided to create a Spotify playlist to celebrate the launch of Issue 33. Give us a spin!

What are some of your favorite songs this month? Here are some from our recent staff discussion:


Stephen Haynes, Art Director // Song: “Sterile Vision” Artist: Neurosis

One of my all time favorite songs from one of my favorite bands. Powerful and touching, bordering on collapse, “Sterile Vision” is a testament to the reach and influence of this band and remains an  inspiration to me after 20 years.


Justin Steiner, General Manager/Chief Photographer // Song: “My Sweet Annette” Artist: Drive-By Truckers

Set to a rollicking rhythm, there’s something about the innocence of this song’s deception and its underlying guilt and excitement that strikes a chord with me.


Maurice Tierney, Publisher // Song: “White Winter Hymnal” Artist: Fleet Foxes

The dark days of childhood captured perfectly in one line… “Turn the white snow red as strawberries in summertime.”


Eric McKeegan, Tech Editor // Song: “Snow” Artist: Mark Sandman

Led by Morphine frontman by Mark Sandman (RIP), Treat Her Right was a blues rock band that managed to get a lot right in a genre that can go so very wrong. “Snow” is a simple song about crap weather and love, two things I know all too well.

Manu Chao - Mister Bobby Promo - 1 Front

Karl Rosengarth, Quality Control // Song: “Mr. Bobby” Artist: Manu Chao

This homage to Bob Marley—which channels the spirit of the reggae legend—burrowed into my ear hole, latched onto my brain and won’t let go.


Jon Pratt, Circulation & Partnerships Director // Song: “A Forest” Artist: The Cure

I really dig The Cure’s earlier albums: Seventeen Seconds, Faith and Pornography. The dark, atmospheric “A Forest” is one of my all-time favorite songs.


Trina Haynes, National Sales Manager // Songs: “Avant Gardener” and “Anonymous Club” Artist: Courtney Barnett

Songs about anaphylactic shock and a carefree club; I enjoy the melodies and the deadpan singing style!


Gary Boulanger, Editor in Chief // Song: “Just Because” Artist: Jane’s Addiction

I’m always a sucker for meandering guitars and a steady bass. Their live version from ‘Later with Jools Holland’ is even better.

Editor’s note: To make sure you’re part of the cool kid’s club, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.



Bicycle Times Issue #33 is here – Take a peek inside


Photo: Justin Steiner. Rider: Karl Rosengarth. Bike: Breezer Greenway Elite

Bicycle Times Issue #33 has mailed to subscribers and will be available on newsstands soon. In this issue we feature $1,000 Bikes for Work + Play, interviews with Ben Harper guitarist Michael Ward and Santa Cruz custom guitar maker Jeff Traugott, plus our regular awesome product reviews.

All this and more, now available through paper and our digital editions. Print subscribers should start receiving their copies next week. You can always visit better book stores and bike shops to buy a copy, or order one online now.

What’s inside


Ignorance is Bliss: A suicidal urge to cycle a game reserve becomes a five-day odyssey into Africa’s Nyika National Park in Malawi. Words and photos by Logan Watts.


Couch Potater to Fifty Stater: How a retired university professor found cycling, love and friendship. By Murray Fishel.


Drinks With: An interview with Michael Ward, a guitarist for Ben Harper and Gogol Bordello who brings his Ritchey Breakaway bike on tour around the world.


Vintage Velo: A custom Gary Fisher mountain bike built for Grateful Dead guitarist Bob Weir and our Staff Playlist, a group of tracks that inspire us to ride.


… And They Ride: We chat with Jeff Traugott, one of the most sought-after custom guitar builders in the world and and a cyclist in Santa Cruz, California.


Made in Taiwan: We tour the factories of some of the largest component makers in the industry, and meet the people that build your bikes and components. By Gary Boulanger



$1,000 Bikes for Work and Play: We ride a very diverse group of six bikes that hit right at the magic $1,000 price point. We were surprised at what we found. By the Bicycle Times staff.

Plus: reviews of the latest from Niner, Brompton, Bike Friday and more.


Video: Jinja Safari outfox the cops

To celebrate #33, our Music Issue, we’re publishing clever videos that combine great music with cool bikes, plus some dreamy bearded fellows to boot. Here’s something from the Australian band Jinja Safari.

Editor’s note: To make sure you’re part of the cool kid’s club, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.

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