I've been on 28 Jim K. rides and all have been truly memorable. I have learned more about Minnesota on these rides than any other activity I know of. Jim's early rides were summarized in his daily columns for the Star and Trib and he always mentioned the towns we stayed in as well as many that we passed through. I grew up in Illinois and doing these rides has really helped me and some of my children who ride appreciate what a great state we have. I don't know when Phyllis Kahn started riding on Jim's tours but she certainly has become a big promoter of bike trails in the state and this should be a shared legacy of Phyllis and Jim.
I did the ride for 25 years, beginning in 1976 for the purpose of getting to know Minnesota after having moved here from Illinois. I certainly did that and, further, my son joined me for several years on the ride which made it very special. Before Jim retired he would write an article for the Tribune every day while on the ride. I never understood how he did this but the articles were great for communicating human interest stories of the riders and bringing to life the cities and the townsfolk who welcomed the riders. Our going through many of these towns and then the big city journalist writing about them certainly, in some ways, transformed them. This is especially true of the Iron Range cities.
I couldn't be more supportive of an effort to name "The Jaunt with Jim" a Minnesota treasure. I have long maintained that Jim Klobuchar and his annual bike rides chronicled in the Minneapolis Star did more to promote bicycling than anything else. As a veteran of all the early rides, 1974-1990 and a few since then, I can honestly say they changed my life. As a still-avid bike rider I credit whatever fitness I enjoy at age 64 to bicycling. Further, it is impossible for me to travel without memories of the towns and highways, some gravel, and the people in rural Minnesota. My fellow riders remain among my closest friends. Jim Klobuchar himself remains a friend and inspiration to this day. My gratitude to him for creating his wonderful rides is boundless. Please persist in any way possible to bring recognition and immortality to "The Jaunt with Jim."
~Phil Fabel, Robinsdale, MN
The "Jaunt with Jim" Klobuchar Bike Ride has encouraged community, promoted long-distance biking and offered opportunities to explore Minnesota for thirty-two years. Newspaper columnist Jim Klobuchar started long-distance biking in 1974 and wrote about his ride in the Star Tribune. People started calling/writing in wanting to join in on the ride and so the Star Tribune sponsored the bike ride in 1975. It was one of the first public long-distance bike rides and continues today. Each year, hundreds of people of all ages, all levels of experience and from all over the world have attended the bike ride.
~Andy Wilhide, Minneapolis, MN
It began as a physical fitness challenge for ordinary people in 1973 -- well before these sorts of physical fitness things were common -- putting Minnesota in the vanguard of, arguably, one of the most important national trends in the second half of the 20th-century. Jim's idea was to get people out of the Twin Cities and into the smaller towns and countryside of outstate Minnesota. This was before we were told to call it "greater" Minnesota. As a result, thousands of bicyclists have visited, camped in, explored, taken shelter in and come to know a much fuller, more deeply understood Minnesota. At its height, in the mid 1990s, nearly 300 bicyclists whirred through Minnesota places we knew only from weather reports on the evening news. From Aitken to Zumbrota, Ortonville to Stillwater, La Crescent to International Falls, Lutsen to Pipestone and all over the Iron Range, the Ride has criss-crossed Minnesota and made place names become as alive as the people in them.
~Doug Wilhide, Minneapolis, MN
For me, personally, the "Jaunt with Jim" opened up an entirely new avenue of adventure from the seat of a bike. It wasn't until 1993 that I joined Jim's Jaunters on my first weeklong adventure, and I've made every one since. Besides the enjoyment of seeing parts of Minnesota I would never have visited on my own, the company of friends who year after year make this Jaunt with me, are the best people on any bike ride. They truly are the reason I return year after year. My former wife, J. B., first rode with Jim in 1989, and that ride encouraged her to organize a bike club in Hibbing, Cycle Mesabi. The club just concluded its 17th year of twice-weekly rides for fun and exercise. In addition to our rides, the club put on six century rides in support of a Hibbing summer celebration during the middle '90s. On a more personal note, the exercise of biking 2,000-3,000 miles a year helped my survive a heart attack in 1997. I doubt I'd be writing this, if it had not been for the strengthening biking gave my heart before my attack. I've come to look forward to each June for 14 years now to be on the road again with Jim and those wonderful folks who ride with him each year. As long as the Jaunts continue, I'll ride them.
I've had the privilege of riding thousands of bicycle miles with Jim, and those experiences have had a profound effect on my life. I'm sure he has no idea of the vast number of interpersonal relationships that have come about only because of his remarkable idea years ago -- before anyone else was doing it -- to build a rolling community of people who love spending time on the open road with others who share that enthusiasm. To echo the sentiments of a mutual friend, I feel deeply indebted to that man for introducing me to something which has been so good in my life. Amen. We'll miss the columns, but we can still rejoice that the man is still among us.
J with J was sort of the original weeklong ride -- maybe original in the whole country. No one did that sort of thing thirty or forty years ago. I think RAGBRAI started around the same time but that was just gearing up in the seventies. Nick Coleman started TRAM many years after Jim started his ride. Of course, that one has grown also but I've always thought of it as sort of an imposter ride. Not the real genuine thing. Over the years, there certainly have been thousands of people who have gone on J with J and the tentacles of the ride have spread throughout the state with lots of little subgroups forming. I think the impact on bicycling in the state is major. Probably someone else would eventually have done what Jim did but -- he did it and they didn't!
~Jim Bassett, Cannon Falls, MN
I first joined Jim Klobuchar's bike rides around Minnesota in 1984 and have been on most of them since. This has meant seeing countless corners of the state including the Range, Duluth, Bemidji, Breckenbridge, Lanesboro, Pipestone, Warroad, Itasca, Osakis, Otter Tail, Canby, International Falls and points too numerous to mention, all from the seat of a bicycle as part of a moving village on wheels. Most amazing was the hospitality, tinged with wonder, of the many host communities. While Jim wrote for the Strib or even initially for the Tribune (or was it
the Star?) one might have thought it was due to the possibility of a write-up in the big city paper. But in later years, without the possible publicity, the wonder and affection between riders and host communities has remained. We riders reminisce about them all ... from the days that we carried everything, including tents in packs on our bikes for 100 miles straight into the wind, to today's more leisurely truck-escorted entourage. And yes, a school gymnasium with about 100 of your best snoring and smelly friends is sometimes a relief from a wind-blown and rain-swept tent!
~Phyllis Kahn, Minneapolis, MN
One of the many wonderful things that has struck me about the Klobuchar Ride is the people you meet. You can be riding with someone who digs ditches and someone who does pediatric neurology and never know which is what until sometime after the ride, because it is not important. What is important is that you are enjoying the ride, the countryside, and the group of people with whom you are riding. The ride has brought together people from the country and the city, from all different walks of life, and of different ages. We have formed lifelong relationships with people who without this ride never would have touched our lives. I treasure that.
~Kathy Craddock Tande
Great ... MN 150 nomination. One addition to consider is that there is a large community of Minnesota bikers brought together by the Klobie ride. The addition is that a fair number of the riders are out-of-state or out-of-country visitors. This last year Hungary and Russia were represented and, of course, Indiana, Massachusetts and Wisconsin.
At a dinner at one of the stops, the Chamber of Commerce hosted us at a local restaurant and Paul Bunyan spoke. One of the volunteers from the community was recognized for his efforts to find financing and champion the building of the Paul Bunyan and other trails. I talked to this gentleman after dinner and he told me the following. The main users of the trails and surrounding recreation areas are walkers, bikers, skiers and snowmobilers. The biggest spenders are walkers followed by bikers, skiers and a distant fourth, snowmobilers. The trails have changed the area businesses from seasonal to year 'round. In fact, one of the tongue-in-cheek complaints is that the business owners don't have any downtime for vacations. Trail-related businesses started out with things like bike shops, small food stops, hardware stores renting bikes, helmets, roller blades, etc. and then expanded to sell these items. Then some entrepreneurs started stretching the boundaries and opened book stores, antique shops and upscale restaurants. In fact, he said that the most expensive and very successful restaurant in the area is on the Paul Bunyan trail. They soon discovered that bikers read books and eat with gusto.
The Klobuchar ride has made it possible for us to meet great people from all over the state. They come from all walks of life and share at least one common wheel spinning in our heads. Spending days outside, challenging yourself, overcoming obstacles. Each ride has deepened relationships and increased my appreciation for people who have worked hard to make bicycling part of our state's transportation plan. Every town we travel through makes us feel welcome and helps in many ways as most marvel at the idea of people spending so much time each day on a bicycle. Many of us make them wonder whether they might try the same thing one day. All in all, I believe this ride is an important part of the fabric of our state and deserves recognition.