Bike Ride

We’re Biking into the Land of theVoyageurs in June, To the International Border, and Gunflint Lodge

The Voyageurs were robust and impetuous French fur traders  who paddled their canoes, sang their songs and left their mark on the history  of what are now Canada and northern Minnesota.

We’re going to bike this June through the land and among the waters where those rollicking Frenchmen  roamed, places whose names now evoke their passage and their explorations—Grand Marais, Pigeon River, Grand Portage and more.

The format  of this 35th annual Jaunt With Jim will be altered somewhat this year because of special opportunities available to us to enjoy the lake country as  modern Voyageurs, except that these will travel with short pants and water bottles.

The dates are June 12-19. We’ll begin by biking along the most absorbing of all of the seascapes of the North Shore drive of Lake Superior, from Tofte to the Canadian Border. We’ll camp for three different nights in Grand Marais, and then ride the Gunflint highway into the interior of the Boundary Waters Canoe country of the Superior National Forest.  There we’ll spend two nights at the renowned Gunflint Lodge on the shore of Gunflint Lake, part of the original route of the Voyageurs.

To do this we’ve made arrangements with the management of the Gunflint Lodge to reserve  virtually all units of the lodge for our use under special discount rates. These include 22 of its immaculate and tastefully furnished lakeside cottages, offering from one to four bedrooms that can accommodate from to 2 to 12 people. Also available to us are bunk houses normally used by canoeing parties in the Boundary Waters but for June 16th and 17th  also offered to our group.

The Gunflint segment of the ride departs for two nights from our customary practice of camping overnight in city parks or on the school campus of communities en route. We will be tenting the rest of the trip, for three nights in Grand Marais, one in Tofte and the other in Grand Portage near the Canadian border.

Tenting by a group our size is not available at the Gunflint Lodge or any similar facility on the Gunflint Trail. We certainly want all who have biked with us through the years—plus newcomers —to share in this experience. In order to do it fairly and to allow you choices, options for our stay at the Gunflint will be provided in the registration form below.

This is the route:  June 12, pre-ride tent camp at the Birch Grove school on the south edge of Tofte, a 5 to 6 hour drive from the Twin Cities. We’ll park our cars there. Parking information will be provided later to all who register. June 13—Ride to Temperance River Gorge then to Grand Marais. June 14—to Grand Portage near the Canadian Border. June 15—Ride back to Grand Marais. June 16—Down the Gunflint Highway to Gunflint Lodge. June 17—Gunflint Lodge—canoe, hiking  tours, biking to end of Gunflint Trail. June 18– Return to Grand Marais. June 19—Ride to Tofte.

The distances between overnights this year are shorter than the average of previous rides and generally will be around 40 miles, the Gunflint Trail ride being closer to 50. In each case we’ll recommend scenic extensions of up to 15 and 20 miles. These will obviously be devoured easily by the high energy stars of our group. The North Shore is always lovely but the ride from Grand Marais to Grand Portage is spectacular. The Conductor believes the nearby casino at Grand Portage  will present scant temptation to the few casual gamesters in our number. As a bonus: When you’re riding beneath the forested cliffs of the great Lake Superior headland, the lupine season will be in full glow, spreading the hills with purple, white and vermilion.

In the arithmetic that follows here, please remember that the five meals included  at the Gunflint Lodge are equivalent to the cost of the catered meals  normally provided by civic and service groups on our ride. Registration for the ride will be $165, which covers services of the duffel bag shuttle truck, the Penn Cycle maintenance van and other  services we receive in the communities and schools.. The traditional t-shirts will be distributed the morning of the first day along a detailed daily itinerary.

Camping is not feasible on the Gunflint premises. The total cost of two overnights in the communal bunk houses at the Gunflint Lodge is $15 per person. Nearby showers will be available.  The per person cost of the lakeside lodge accommodations will be $25 a night, $50 total, a huge reduction from the lodge’s normal summer prices.  The cost of five meals at the lodge will be $37. This means the total cost for your two-day stay at the Gunflint Lodge, with de luxe cottages and all meals plus free access to its fleet of canoes, will be $87 per person, tax included. If you prefer a bunk with meals and all the other services included, the cost will be $52.

We want these choices to be offered fairly in a way that will help you to arrange for lodge partners if you choose. In all of the cottages, individual privacy is assured. All of the multiple units have at least two bathrooms with showers and, in some cases, Jacuzzis. The lodge offers eight cottages with one bedroom each. All have one king bed that can accommodate a single or a couple. For understandable reasons, couples will be given preference, but there is ample space in the rest of the cottage to accommodate singles. The lodge has four cottages with two bedrooms that can accommodate four to eight people. From there it has cottages with from two to four bedrooms that can accommodate from six to 12 people. Your registration form includes the usual contact information plus space to indicate your lodging preference–cottage or bunk. It will also ask you to indicate whether you wish to share a cottage with friends and to identify them so that we can align as many people as possible with their friends. Please recognize that there may be a surplus of that type of reservation. If decisions have to be made in that regard, the postmark of your registration will be governing. If consultations by email or phone make sense, we’ll do our best to accommodate you. The lodge management will not be involved in the allocation of rooms. But there should be enough space  to accommodate all of you who choose a cottage. We also should have some flexibility once we’re into the ride.

Your registration should include a check for $165 made out to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, and a check for either $87 to Gunflint Lodge, or $52 to Gunflint Lodge, for lodging and meals, depending on which of the lodging options you choose. The bunk accommodations are simple but comfortable and close to the center of lodge activity.

We’ll be arriving at the lodge by early to mid afternoon on June 16, a Tuesday. The lodge’s canoes are available to all riders free of charge during our stay. The next day is completely open. One of the prime options is a guided canoe trip with two manageable portages to Ham Lake, and a lakeside lunch. If you haven’t experienced a portaged canoe trip in the lake country, this one’s perfect as a starter.  An option is a guided nature hike to the heights above the lake. Another is a bike ride to the end of the Gunflint some 15 miles away. Or you can simply enjoy the lodge ambience and it’s the lakefront.

We’re going to be camping three separate nights on the campus of the Cook County high school above Lake Superior, and have our breakfasts there. Because of relatively early arrivals, we’ll have plenty of time to explore this historic town where the Voyageurs once traveled, and to dine in some of its numerous and sociable  lakeside cafes. The ride from there to Grand Portage will give you an opportunity to spend time at the site where the  great nine-mile portage began for the  Voyageurs on their journey up the Pigeon River. En route we’ll pass the storied Naniboujou Lodge beside the great sweep of Lake Superior, where gangland figures from Chicago of the 1930s were said to have dodged the FBI as well as the IRS.

Our only pursuers are the gulls of Lake Superior


Here is my (our) registration for the 35th Jaunt With Jim bike ride, “Echoes of the Voyageurs.” Enclosed are checks of  $165 to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures and $87 or $52 to Gunflint Lodge for accommodations and meals June 16 and 17. I (we) prefer cottage or bunk (circle one) accommodations. (If cottage, indicate whether you prefer to share the accommodation with friends, and list their names. Mail to Jim Klobuchar’s Adventures, P.O Box 47063, Plymouth MN 55447.