Tag Archives: Gary Sjoquist

Save the date: May 15 high school mountain bike racing team information mtg for student-athletes & parents

Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Team blogsite CVMTBT Team Director & Assistant Coach Griff Wigley at GBM Northfield Activities Director Tom Graupmann and Assistant Coach Griff Wigley with MTB poster at Northfield High School
I’ve had my Team Director hat on this past week, putting up a new website for the Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Racing Team (also a Facebook page and a Twitter feed).

I also started plastering posters around the area promoting the first information meeting for student-athletes and parents: at misc retail locations, eg, GBM; with Activities Director Tom Graupmann at Northfield High School); at ARTech High School and the ALC; and at area bike shops FIT to be TRI’d, Mike’s Bicycle Shop, and Milltown Cycles.

It should be noted that this team does not yet exist! So this meeting is for those student-athletes (and their parents) who might be interested in joining this new team.  Details:

WHEN? Tuesday, May 15, 7 pm

WHERE? the Northfield High School cafeteria

Gary Sjoquist, Founding Chair of the Minnesota High School Cycling LeagueGary Sjoquist, Founding Chair of the Minnesota High School Cycling League and QBP’s Advocacy Director, will be presenting. Head coach Sue Welch and I will be there as well.

CVMBT-poster-May15-mtg

Help spread the word by downloading and printing out this poster (DropBox link) and putting it up in public places.

The QR code in the lower right corner of the poster links to the Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Racing Team website.

You can call me Coach. Northfield will soon have a high school mountain bike racing team

The Minnesota High School Cycling League held their first Leaders’ Summit last weekend. I attended both days (Head and Assistant Coach licensing) along with Northfielder Sue Welch, Community Coordinator for the Cannon Valley Velo Club.

Gary Sjoquist Austin McInerny Michael Hayes Sue Welch, Michael Hayes, Griff Wigley, Austin McInerny

Gary Sjoquist, QBP’s Advocacy Director, organized and hosted the event at their Bloomington headquarters.  Austin McInerny, (NorCal High School Cycling League, Berkeley High School Mountain Bike Team) did the classroom instruction on Saturday. Michael Hayes, Colorado Rocky Mountain School, conducted the skills training (in the classroom and on the bike) on Sunday.

Austin and Michael were impressive instructors: very thorough, great storytellers, well-organized, interesting, and funny. Gary treated us royally with breakfast, lunch and even dinner on Saturday, with ample snacks throughout each day and happy hours at day’s end. The only disappointment: it rained all day Saturday and on and off on Sunday so the end-of-the-day-rides had to be cancelled.

I’m pretty enthused about all this. Sue and I will soon host a community info night in Northfield for interested student athletes and parents.

See my album of 27 photos (large slideshow recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Minnesota has a new high school mountain bike racing league. Help needed now to form a Northfield area club

Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Libby Hurley and colleagues at the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) booth Minnesota High School Cycling League 2012 schedule Josh Kleve
The Minnesota High School Cycling League held their Kick-Off Open House at QBP’s HQ last Sunday night. About 100 people attended.

Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house
Gary Sjoquist, QBP’s Advocacy Director, hosted the event and presented the detailed plans in two separate sessions. Here’s the 31-minute audio:

Click play to listen or download the MP3.

Gary said that the League’s first initiative is to form a high school mountain bike racing league in here in MN. Other cycling sports might be supported at a later date but that the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) believes that mountain biking is the ‘T-Ball’ of cycling.  The League’s events will be open to individual student riders but organizers also believe that forming high school teams is the best way for students to learn the skills and how to ride safely.

Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House
Organizers helped the attendees meet each other in geographic groups to facilitate planning. I got together with some guys from Cannon Falls and Red Wing at the meeting and we’re exploring the possibility of forming a Cannon River Valley regional team, to include those towns plus Faribault and Northfield.

On Wednesday, I discussed all this with Northfield High School Activities Director Tom Graupmann and ARTech High School teacher Joe Pahr who both expressed interest and support for the idea. It would be a club sport like the NHS ski club, with no expectations of financial support from the schools.

I’m looking for others interested in helping to get an area team formed. The immediate goal is to get interested adults to attend the Leaders’ Summit, held in Bloomington on April 21-22.

This event is for parents who want to become head coaches, assistant coaches, or ride leaders for the new league. It’s a two-day school on how to work with high school-aged youth, how to teach young riders the skills necessary to become racers, information on Wilderness Training and CPR (both required to be a Head Coach), and is part of a required curriculum to become a licensed MN league coach. We’ll also do a little skills work outside, so come with bikes, helmets, ready to ride.

Interested? Got questions? Attach a comment here or contact me.

Gary Sjoquist, a man on a bicycle mission, with a company where you’d like to work

Gary Sjoquist, Hans Rey, John Gaddo, Jeff Verink QBP HQ in Bloomington, MN Gary Sjoquist, Griff Wigley
He’s not a Northfielder, but if you care about bicycling for yourself, your kids or your town, you should know what Gary Sjoquist is up to.

QBPI met Gary over beers in Crosby, MN a month ago (left photo, blog post here). He’s the Director of Advocacy for Bloomington, MN-based QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), one of the largest bicycle parts distributors in the world.  He invited me to take a tour of QBP’s headquarters and yesterday I took him up on his offer. (Photo album below.)

MORC MN Mtn Bike Series 2011 Trips for KidsMinnesota High School Cycling League
Among his Minnesota-related activities, Gary co-founded Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists (MORC) "a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to safeguarding the future of mountain biking in Minnesota… " One of MORC’s projects, which Gary has worked on for over ten years, is the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trail Network that opened a month ago in the Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area. The Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival is what got me hooked on mountain biking and spending more money than I’d ever imagined at Milltown Cycles.

Gary’s the director of the Minnesota Mountain Bike Series, a non-profit organization that, besides hosting the races, uses the entry fees to fund:

  • Trips for Kids, "which provides inner city kids the opportunity to experience mountain biking on our Minnesota trail system." 
  • The new Minnesota High School Cycling League, "a newly formed Minnesota State High School League-sanctioned sport that begins competition in September of 2012."

Nationally, Gary’s the Director of Government Relations for the Bikes Belong Coalition:

Bikes Belong CoalitionBikes Belong Coalition was formed in 1999 as the national coalition of bicycle retailers and suppliers working to put more people on bikes more often. U.S. bicycle companies recognized that they could accomplish more for bicycling by working together than by working independently. From helping create safe places to ride to promoting bicycling, we carefully select projects and partnerships that have the capacity to make a difference… Additionally, we operate the Bikes Belong Foundation to focus on children’s programs and bicycle safety.

For more on his work, see the 2008 Bike Radar article, Interview: Gary Sjoquist, advocate.

As you’ll see in my photo album, QBP’s headquarters and distribution center is not only huge, but spectacular. And it’s got a reputation as a great place to work. Their Career and benefits page has the details on why.

See my album of 30+ photos, the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Former Northfielder John Gaddo and Hans "No way" Rey dazzle the crowd at the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival

Hans Rey, Griff WigleyAs I got ready to dig into my plate of lasagna at Maucieri’s in Crosby last Friday night, in walks Hans “No way” Rey, “considered the world’s leader in extreme mountain biking… a former trials riding world champion, a showman, a stuntman and an adventure mountain biker.”

He was the featured stunt rider for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival, brought to the event courtesy of GT Bicycles, with financial support from MORC, IMBA, and Bloomington, MN-based QBP (Quality Bicycle Products), one of the largest bicycle parts distributors in the world.

Gary Sjoquist, Hans Rey, John Gaddo, Jeff VerinkHans is a god, even in my world of motorcycle trials, so I was thrilled to be invited to join him and some other mountain bike industry guys for dinner and beers. In the photo, L to R: Gary Sjoquist, Advocacy Director for QBP; Hans Rey; John Gaddo, Inside Sales rep at QBP; and Jeff Verink, sales rep with GT Bicycles and the talented master of ceremonies for the Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Festival.

While chatting with John Gaddo, I learned that he grew up in Northfield.  Many locals might know his dad, long-time general manager at the former WCAL-FM. John mentioned that he was also a trials bicycle rider but I had no idea the level of his skills until he teamed up with Hans for the bicycle trials exhibition on Saturday night.

See my album of a dozen photos of the John Gaddo bike trials exhibition, view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

See my album of 28 photos of the Hans Rey bike trials exhibition, (and photos of Hans signing posters and speaking about his Wheels 4 Life non-profit), view the large slideshow (recommended), or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:I think Northfield should feature a bicycle trials exhibition by John Gaddo, right on Bridge Square, during the Milltown Cycles 4th of July criterium. How about it, Ben Witt?