I haven't been up in the lakes area of Minnesota...ever...and really had no idea what to expect when I visited Brainerd, MN this past weekend.  Here is what I thought was going to happen though (and my biggest fear)...that there would not be a decent coffee shop around.  I was wrong but I also learned a thing or two about Minnesota Nice...and I've got a challenge for Rochester.

Here's the backstory to get you up to speed on my last three days (just in case you don't follow me on Facebook or Instagram):  It is still up for debate on what hit our car by Lake Mille Lac on Friday night.  We didn't exactly see it so it could have been a deer or...Big Foot.  ;)  We only know that there was a big BANG.  We eventually were able to pull over and there is now a nice dent in my car but the real damage (and what hurt my tender heart) was that my precious bike was pretty messed up.  This was also the bike that I needed in less than 12 hours for the Paul's Bacon Ride - which was a 45-mile bike ride coordinated by Ragbrai.

Because of the little accident, Saturday morning was spent with a lot of questions.  Will I find parts to fix my bike?  Will I even be riding?  Will I just be sitting in a coffee shop all day reading "Girl Wash Your Face"?  So many questions and we just had to wait to figure those out until the bike shops opened.  (You can check out pictures of the injured bike and entire ride here)

Sidenote: We did try fixing the bike ourselves but when a rim is bent from a deer butt (or Big Foot butt), it is pretty hopeless.  Actually, it didn't even move when two of us adults stood on it to try to bend it back so we decided to leave this to the professionals.

We ended up visiting three bike shops in the Brainerd, MN area.  We struck out on the first two - Life Cycle and Muddy Bikes.  They didn't have a rim for my road bike but I will say, they had amazing personality and were so willing to help us.  I left those stores disappointed but also optimistic...and I think it is because of how kind and helpful the guys were in those stores.

The third store, Easy Riders Bicycle & Sports Store, not only had the parts that I needed but they let us test drive a few new and amazing fat bikes.  Their store is awesome and their staff was again, friendly, courteous, and probably could have been working on something other than my bike.  They immediately helped us out though and were my saving grace on Saturday morning.  I left all of those stores telling myself, "I should hang around cycling people more.".

It gets better though.  All of the towns that I went through on Saturday (Nisswa, Pequot) and everyone on the Paul Bunyan Trail were so friendly!  I only counted 2 people on the entire trail that didn't say "hello" to me.  Two.  This was out of hundreds of people that we saw and several stores that we visited.

All of this Minnesota Niceness actually made me a little sad that I'm not seeing more of this Minnesota Nice in Rochester.  Yes, we have a degree of Minnesota Nice and there are some very nice people here.  But, why don't we have more smiles on our trails?  Why aren't we giving more "hello's" and "have a good day" as we are on the sidewalks and seeing people in stores?  Why isn't the Minnesota Nice oozing out of us?

I've got a challenge for Rochester - let's make Minnesota Nice ooze out of us!  I'm thinking that we have it in us to show just as much, if not more, Minnesota Niceness than Brainerd, Mn.

Got any tips on how to spread the Minnesota Nice in Rochester or a store that is doing an amazing job of that already?  Tell me on my Facebook page (click here) or Instagram (click here) and I'll check it out myself!

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