Friday, June 17, 2011

Day 7 of the Ride: Big Fork and return to Black Duck: 51 Miles

51 mile route from Big Fork back to starting point of Black Duck, Mn

This Post Authored by Bob and Andy:  Friday, June 17, 2011

Today we completed the last leg of the seven day/eight night journey, logging 402 miles with an 80 mile day as our longest.  The seven Californian Mafia, as we were labled, felt satisfied and rewarded that we completed the challenging ride, with only two flat tires and no long term injuries evident among us.  We are confident that the lingering back spasms, sore thighs, and numb buttocks, will eventually fade.

Kudos to our inspirational  Minnesota host, Scott Peterson, who is turning 76.  He completed all legs of the ride, with nary a complaint.   He should be a role model to us all when we approach our 80s.  Scott was not the oldest rider, (there were a couple of 80 yr. olds.) but he did it with two artificial knees.  One rider was recovering from cancer.   Dan said it well, that the common factor amongst this diverse group was determination.

The trip far exceeded our expectations.  We initially signed up for the ride, just expecting a challenging  bike ride amongst ourselves.  What we found was a deeply layered event with a 37-year history of diverse and interesting individuals with incredible stories. What unfolded to each of us as we rode for hours, meeting and exchanged stories with these Mid-Westerners was a rich understanding of a unique bond shared by these people.  They generously let us into their circle  to share the pleasures of their unique annual  jaunt.  We discovered first hand, what is known as ‘Minnesota Nice’, an apparent trait of those in the state, that extends a warm and welcoming auara  to outsiders and to each other. 

We found that most in the group have returned to the “Jaunt with Jim Klobuchar” multiple times (many 10, 20 and 30 times).  We heard stories of several marriages that were result of meeting on the ride, several sets of twins participating, many life long friends that invite each others weddings and attend funerals of those who have passed .

We have learned much about long distance bike riding and much about this North woods Minnesota vacation area.  The lack of crime is amazing compared to L.A.  During the ride, no one ever locked a bike although some were worth thousands of dollars.   Lap tops, cell phones and cameras  being charged were left unattended overnight in unlocked schools, or parks  while we slept in tents.  It's nice; Minnesota nice.

As a group we recounted the names of the many new friends we made - people that will surely be attending next year's ride.   They initiated us into their informal group with the traditional  toe nail painting of the new men's feet, in honor of a fallen rider.  They also  invited us to join the in several other Midwest rides including a Wisconsin ride, and the Iowa RAG Ride, which we are considering for next year.

Veterans of this annual  ride said this was one of the best regarding weather.  There was no rain on any riding day, but it did rain on day-5, our rest day in international Falls and again a  few hours after the event concluded on day-7. It is said that the Californian’s  brought the weather with them.

We hope that in years to come, the 37th annual  “Jaunt with Jim”, will be remembered as the year of the Californians  invaded Minnesota.  We had a blast and will remember the trip fondly.  Please leave a comment and pass the link  onto others who attended.

Bob, Dan, Andy John T,  Rick, John M and Scotty

This passage authored by John T:

Our Final Day of Riding

We awoke in Bigfork on Friday morning to find our tents drenched by a thick ground fog, with the result that we were forced to pack them away wet.  Following our often unsuccessful attempt to find fresh garments to don, we ate a breakfast that was long-delayed due to a malfunctioning stove in the high school cafeteria.  After first wandering around Bigfork in a state of confusion about our route, we then set out on our final day of riding.  Unfortunately, we somehow missed the giant mosquito that we had been told was exhibited in Bigfork.

The weather and winds remained favorable (a blessing attributed by some to the presence of “the California boys”), and the final 51 mile stretch of our journey was completed without incident.  John T. upheld the Fish Hook prestige by being among the top 10 to reach Black Duck.  Reluctant to fly home with painted fingernails, John set out to purchase some fingernail polish remover, but finding no store in the town that might sell it he instead sat next to another customer who is having her hair done in the town’s lone salon while a young beautician removed the polish (and described growing up as one of 13 children on a nearby farm).

By the time Scott arrived in Black Duck all of the tents had been dried out and repacked, and we began our return by car to Scott’s cabin.  After having had no rain whatsoever on any of the six days that we were riding the bicycles, it started raining almost immediately after we were all in the cars and on the road for the approximately 100-mile trip.  At Park Rapids (in the rain) we returned the bicycles that had been rented by Rick, Bob, and John.  We found it to be a bit surprising that (at least in this part of the world) you can rent a high-quality hybrid bicycle for $10 per day.  Dan theorized that word has not yet reached northern Minnesota that price increases have swept the rest of the country.

Upon arriving back at Scott's idyllic lakeside cabin we met Judy, his nephew's wife, and her son Nick.  In a meager attempt to communicate our gratitude, we treated them to dinner at their favorite restaurant.  Everyone fell asleep early, and Scott drove us to the airport the following morning.

Californians with Jim Klobechar, tour organizer

The Bridge at Wirth, Minnesota: population 454

Our fearless leader, Silverfish

Pat, our trusty bike technician, logged over 40 flat tires for the trip

oops, look both ways next time
Glove Tan lines

At the termination of the ride, Ellen and two others take off for Omaha for another 550 mile adventure

With any luck we'll be back next year with more Californians

Day 6 of the ride: International Falls to Big Fork: 80 MILES!!

This Post authored by Andy:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

We awoke to grey skies to begin the longest ride of our 7-day trek – 80 miles today from International Falls to Big Fork. We all unexpectedly set new personal bests for one-day of bicycling after reading an optimistic  itinerary that told us to plan for a 65 mile day. Luckily it was a cool overcast day with no rain.  Today and numerous planned stops with drink and food topped by ice cones in Eppie.  Scott Peterson was recognized at our final dinner tonight as the most diligent cyclist.

Over the course of six days, we made many new friends and found the Klobisher riders to be a close knit group that looks forward to the “Jaunt with Jim” much as an annual family reunion.  Much to our delight, these folks are a diverse and talented group.  They taught us much about bicycling – there were many types of cycles from folding bikes to road bikes to recumbents and trikes.  Top of list was John Murrin’s three-speed antique Road Show bike.

Tonight we rest for our final leg back to Blackduck and our vehicles that take us away from our new friends and as great adventure comes to an end.

80 mile route from International Falls to Big Fork

Big Fork, Minnesota, population 464

Morning orientation at International Falls
Singing tribute to Jim Klobuchar

Flying High

Dan's backside

Big Fork River

Bob and Dan at big Fork

Double decker outhouse...take the high road

Finally a Big Fork sighting

John departs a day early to meet with his parole officer
Scotty, gets awarded the determination award... 76 yrs old...400 miles

Danc'n Dan

OMG...NOT THE CHICKEN DANCE...what happens in Minnesota...

Dan has issues after 80 Miles in the Saddle

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day 5 of the Ride: A Day of Rest in International Falls, Minnesota

Andy stops by the local bike shop and adds some accessories to his bike

This Post is authored by Dan:
Thursday, June 1, 2011

73 miles later, we arrive at Smokey Bears Park at International Falls Park.  The tents are west up in the shadows of Boise Paper mill.  And the din of the factory is so different than the frogs and flowers from the day before.  The big city brings different sounds and smells, but the town has one very good coffee shop. Politics and coffee are shared wit Jim   Klobaushar, our trip organizer and fearless leader with whistle.  The first rain of the ride begins around lunch, and now we know we want good weather for tomorrow’s ride is rumored to be 80 miles rather than the listed 65 miles.

International falls is the home of legendary Bronco Nagurski.  A Museum in his honor is next to our tents so we all take a looksee. Tourism is alive and well as we all take a boat ride on Rainy River in Voyager Par.  It reminds me of Arcadia, Maine.

We next take in Boise Paper Mill, which really made us feel like we’d been through the mill.  The green hard hats, Safety glasses and headphones brought certain grittiness to our gentle California nature.

Hoping our unshaven mugs and suspect body odors would suffice, we headed for the 
Canadian border.  We rode our sore bodies into Canada to the ‘Rendezvous’ Restaurant for dinner. What a revelation, aching joints and muscles suddenly became one with the bike, we to a man felt better.

 Upon returning to camp we were met by the initiation crew.  Ten years before, a woman rider was killed while training for the ride.  Ever since, in her memory the initiation has always been to same:  painted toes for the new riders.  Our toes and nails have brought out an intense desire to ever do dishes again.  The smell of nail polish wafts across the park and all is well.  Tomorrow bring on the 80 for we are the brotherhood of the Fish Hooks.

Watercolor of Koochiching County Courthouse in International Falls

Koochiching County Courthouse
or tails?

John and Rocky

Boat ride and tour of Voyageurs National Park

Tour of the  Boise Paper Mill in International Falls

Cyclist tour of Paper Mill

Rick and John at the Canadian Border

At the Canadian Border with the Long Beach Press Telegram

Wood for the Paper Mill in Canada


Initiation of the Californians

What happens in Minnesota stays in Minnesota

Don't Ask

Don't Ask

Campfire sing along, help me Rhonda!!