• Posted Oct 10, 2012
This was originally posted as a news item, but I felt it more than 'just a news item'. There was another story that needed to be told.

Special to BIKEIOWA

Have you ever heard a speech that changed the way you think? the way you look at things? the direction of your life? I can only think of one speech in my life, so far, where I can honestly say that I left with a different perspective on life.

If was in February of 2003. Gary Sjoquist was the featured speaker at the RAGBRAI kick-off meeting. I'm not exactly sure how I got invited as I was still a 'renegade ragbraier' at the time. I do remember having BIKEIOWA stickers there to hand out. I did not know Gary from Adam that day, and he probably still does not know the affects his speech had on me.

Gary was a full time advocate for bicyclists and our rights and he spoke about how he had got interested in mountain biking, trail work and then
morphed into an advocate by increasing awareness and getting more folks on bicycles. was in its infancy stages, but there were already hundreds of events that were being posted each year. At that time, it was just another way to find another party ride to go on!

Less than a year later, in February 2004, Senate File 2032 was introduced by Iowa senator John Putney. It was anti-cycling legislation that was proposing the removal of cyclists from four-lane roads where cycling trails lie adjacent. All of the sudden I found myself picketing at the State Capital on my trusty Univega, heading up a mass email campaign, distributing flyers and meeting with members of the State Transportation Committee (read the recap). Eventually the bill was dropped, but not after several meetings, and hundreds of cyclists sending letters, emails and called their legislators.

As of a result of that experience, BIKEIOWA started to post more News and Features on bicycle advocacy, trails, funding, and was for Iowa to become more bicycle-friendly. The Iowa Bicycle Coalition was also born during this time from a bunch of individuals who banded together to stop some stupid anti-cycling legislation.

Things happen when one gets involved with a sense of passion. Looking back, I know I made a difference, but what could BIKEIOWA have accomplished with a full-time effort versus just a few hours each evening? Looking back, would Grimes still have passed the Bike Ban if 100 cyclists would have shown up versus 12? Would Crawford County
have rescinded their county-wide bike ban if over 100 cyclists did not show up and ride in protest in 2008? Would the small Iowa communities who are embracing Iowa's world-class Trails system be as engaged if it were not for RAGBRAI and their economic boost over the years?

Thank You Gary for that hour long speech in 2003. I hope you have given your passion through words and actions to thousand of cyclists like myself over the years thus changing the 'gears of advocacy' to pedal a little easier... Congrats to your induction to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Well deserved. Well played.

Mountain Bike Hall of Fame induction ceremony

(as told by Gary J. Boulanger) A highlight of Interbike for me continues to be the annual Mountain Bike Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where the core bicycle industry icons gather to celebrate those who’ve contributed to our fascinating sport. This year, two large conference rooms in the belly of the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas were filled with family, friends and well wishers to witness the induction of Bob Woodward, Monte Ward, Gary Sjoquist, Ruthie Matthes, and Dave House on September 19.

Since the inaugural induction of 10 pioneers in 1988, 125 individuals and nine groups have entered the Hall of Fame, curated by Don and Kay Cook, based in Crested Butte, Colorado. This year New Belgium Brewery provided the liquid, while the crowd provided the ambiance.

About Gary

After catching the mountain bike bug in 1986, Minnesota resident Gary Sjoquist, a motorcycle racer at heart, turned his passion into a vocation by 1998, when he became the bike industry’s first full-time advocate. Hired by Quality Bicycle Products, Sjoquist took his experience nationwide, co-founding Bikes Belong in 1999, which led to the formation of the National Bike Summit in Washington, DC the following year. A tireless worker, Sjoquist has also launched a Trips For Kids chapter in Minnesota, and recently became director of the Minnesota High School Cycling League, under the umbrella of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA). Both he and his wife Connie continue to race and ride the trails of their home state, many created by Sjoquist. Google Search

  • Author: ss
  • Posted By: ss
  • Modified: Oct 10, 2012 by ss






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