In June, We’ll Frolic Among Lakes and Legends
Among the biking clans of Minnesota the towns of Ashby, Park Rapids, Osakis and Walker evoke a special kind of affection and gratitude. All of them are ports of call for three of the pioneering paved trails that revolutionized biking in America.
They also re- introduce us to one of the historic sagas of western Minnesota’s geography—the passage of the great glacier that carved out Minnesota’s prodigious lakeland, and later gave rise to the explorer legends of Leif Erickson’s Vikings.
So we’re going to overnight in some of those towns on the 39th annual Jaunt With Jim bike ride this coming June 7 to 14 of 2013. It’s one that will carry a special dedication to a man whose work and vision elevated the lives of thousands of bike lovers and created lasting friendships among them. It also undoubtedly saved lives by turning many of those people in the direction of a better and enduring way to preserve their health and the new horizons it brings.
The late Terry McGaughey was a godfather of the bike trail idea in Minnesota and certainly its most tireless advocate. For years he haunted the legislative halls, chamber of commerce offices and the city councils before the idea and the financing took hold. So we will feel his presence this June throughout our ride but especially on the Bunyan, Heartland and Central Lakes trails that are part of his—and his colleagues– legacy to biking in America.
Have some of us been there before? Of course. In Ashby the townspeople planted a tree to commemorate one of our visits and opened the doors to the school gymnasium when a cloudburst made the standard portable biking tent look glumly inadequate. One year they also rolled a full sized piano down main street to our campsite and invited us to join in a community sing of their Scandinavian folk songs. If you couldn’t speak Swedish or Norwegian you lip-synced the lyrics, fooling no one but delighting our hosts. From Park Rapids we have explored the headwaters of the Mississippi and in Walker’s spectacular Leech Lake we got involved in an intramural naval battle, courtesy of Mitch Loomis’ yacht club’s whimsical skippers.
But the one constant of any visit to this part of America is the diversity and splendor of the countryside—its lakes, forests, the sweep of its farmland, its open skies and its legends, from the Vikings of Norway to the rowdy lumberjacks of a later vintage and another time. And from there we can lift ourselves all the way back to the French explorers who with gusto sang their bawdy songs paddling upstream and trying to figure out a way people could survive in this inland wilderness, much less reach it.
When you think of it that way, it’s actually done quite well, Minnesota, as a prosperous land, diverse, inventive, welcoming the tongues of a dozen lands to its relative stability and innovation; and above all to the beauty of its preserved forestland and waterways. When you think a little deeper there are not many places in America that will offer the shifting geography we will experience on this ride in June, even including the edges of the mining country when we spend a night in the lovely town of Crosby and its beautified lakes in the midst of what is still called the Cuyuna Range.
And you’re invited, to extend our ride’s tradition that began in the mid-1970s. It was a time when American biking had barely graduated from the years of the occasionally revered Schwinn balloon tire bicycles that gave you about seven miles an hour with a favoring wind, assuming you @) would walk any hill above five degrees in elevation and (b) carried enough adhesive to tape the wounded tires.
But on this ride, not a whole lot of things change beyond the scenery and the good will of the pedalers, who represent an age span, believe it or not, from the 20s to the 80s. We camp on the school grounds of the towns where we overnight. We average about 130 to140 folks on the road, take most of our meals together, ride somewhere around 65 to 75 miles most days and have showers and breakfast at the schools. We, leave around 7:30 a.m. after the notorious lost and found announcements that always produce a few blushes; plus a brief review of what’s ahead. We also remind ourselves of the sensible rules of the road: enjoy the countryside but don’t do it riding two or three abreast in open traffic. Most of the riders have been doing this for 15, 20 and 25 years with safety and the joy of discovery no matter how many times we have come this way or seen this shoreline. And it’s always a thrill to share it with friends—including friends from10 or 12 other states. So it’s a revival (NOT a race) as well as a bike ride. We genuinely welcome new folks, who never have had trouble getting acquainted with this chummy crowd. Penn Cycle will again provide its expert mechanics and accompanying van to handle bike repairs; and John Witt once more will give us his usual expert service in hauling our duffel bags from site to site.
This newsletter provides forms for your registration and your contact information; it includes cost, timetables and daily itinerary. The cost of $190 per person includes the cost of some of the school facilities including camping that are passed on to us, the daily duffel bag transfers, the morning to night availability of Penn Cycle mechanics and van that have furnished us with such noteworthy services for nearly 20 years, t-shirts issued to our riders the morning of the first day, and contributions we make to the communities for their generous cooperation and good will. The breakfasts at school usually come to $6 or $7 per person and the dinners, which we arrange with local groups, restaurants or service organizations, usually around $10 per person.
In this letter you will find a registration form that will provide space for your contact information—address, phones, email, etc. which we’ll need to be sure we know how to reach you if there are any questions. And you’ll receive additional as the departure time nears.
You’re not going to be stampeded with incidental data beyond what you’ll need to join us and to give you the maximum opportunity to enjoy the ride. A week before we head for our first overnight in Long Prairie, you’ll receive a small packet of information that will include driving routes to the site, the location of the school parking lot where you’ll leave your cars for our return a week later, and color coded ID tags that will make it easy for you to identify your duffel when we arrive at out overnight location each day. You’ll also receive on the first morning of our ride a detailed description of each day’s route, and approximate distance plus our scheduled food stops. For your financial planning purposes you can figure the approximate costs of our breakfasts and lunch at $6 or $7 each and $10 for dinners.
The town of Long Prairie where we begin the ride doesn’t make the newscasts every day but it’s a delightful departure town with an active school system and a pride of community. From there we’ll skirt the shore line of Lake Osakis, pause in town for midmorning snack then head for the Central Lakes bike trail which will take you through the amiable villages of Garfield, Brandon and Evansville and then to our first overnight in Ashby, where we’ll celebrate suitably with a steak dinner. From Ashby we ride the roads that evoke both the legends and lore of the Vikings of nearly a thousand years ago, the even earlier paths of the great glacier, and ride for miles beside the shores of the one of the most photogenic of all Minnesota waters, Ottertail Lake. After which we ride on to our overnight in Frazee, a town we’ve visited several times but this year will be able enjoy its hospitality overnight.
From there we’re headed for the Heartland bike trail launched by our friends in Park Rapids years ago in an initiative that helped fuel the cross country bike ardor in middle America. To get there we first pass through a fascinating stretch of prairie country remote enough—and interesting enough—to attract the individualism of the Amish folk, whose now- familiar carriages we’re very likely to encounter. Returning to woodland we’ll lunch in an attractive cabin retreat and then on to Park Rapids and the Heartland for the final 27 miles into Walker. Over the years we’ve acquired scores of friends here, not the least of which is the marvelous Walker high school, which will again be our host for two nights. That will include for those interested an evening yacht-and-dinner snack cruise on the widely photographed Leech Lake and the traditional farewell dinner at the Legion. From there’s it’s Terry McGaughey’s Paul Bunyan Trail to Pequot Lakes and our eventual overnight in Crosby, fondly remember by scores of our riders; then a much anticipated ride to Wadena, so warmly recalled from the days when we camped in the park. It is a town that has gamely come back after a devastating tornado two years ago, and whose busy high school will be our final port of call before we return to our departure site in Long Prairie.
Yes, please add me (us) to Jim’s “Saluting the Pioneers” bike trip. Complete this registration form, include a check for $190 per person made to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures and mail to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, P.O. Box 47063, Minneapolis MN 55447. I (we) understand that neither Jim Klobuchar nor Jim Klobuchar”s Adventures can be held responsible for injuries or illness incurred during the trip. For those interested in the yacht cruise and light box dinner on Leech Lake include a second check for $25 made out to Walker Area Community Center for Youth. All who register will receive in postal mail, in late May or early June, color coded ID tags for your duffel and instructions how to reach our June 7 pre-ride camping site and car park at the Long Prairie school.
Here is my (our) registration for the June 7-14 JAUNT WITH Jim bike ride. “Saluting the Pioneers.”
And we’ll see you in Long Prairie! If you have questions feel free, You can you reach me at 763 258 1371 or firstname.lastname@example.org.