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


  1. I looked forward to checking out your blog and pictures when I returned home from the ride. What a fun way to remember the ride! It was a pleasure to meet all of you and to share the road and this unique Minnesota adventure with you. I hope you can all come again sometime.
    Rhonda Plautz Linner ( the rider with the painted gray shirt and skirt)

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