Presenting Active Towns: Cuyuna Trails Small Town Vibrancy

Today we’re presenting an episode from the Active Towns podcast! They discuss the transformation of a 5,000-acre stripped-out area of iron ore mines into a gold mine of opportunity and a community-wide activity asset that supports both a culture of activity and economic vibrancy for the small towns in the area.

Episode summary

00:00 | Intro
01:00 | Cold Open
02:49 | Start of the episode
05:34 | Overview of the property
11:50 | Intro of the initial Cuyuna team
17:34 | Size of the property
19:23 | Timeline of buildout
20:42 | Economic Impact on the communities
23:37 | Cuyuna website
28:46 | Family-friendly orientation
31:00 | All abilities facilities
34:01 | Women and girl riders rock in Cuyuna
40:43 | Paddlesports and other activities
44:58 | Active culture transformation
49:21 | Final thoughts
51:57 | Outro

Images

Cuyuna Lakes Master Vision.
The initial Cuyuna team.
The team in the field.
Bike-through cafe.
Family-friendly orientation.
All-abilities facilities.
Women riders in Cuyuna.
Paddlesports map.

Show notes

Watch the video version of this episode to get the full effect.

Helpful Links (note that some may include affiliate links to help me support the channel):
– Cuyuna website
– Ride The Range

Four Easy Steps to Support My Efforts:
1. Become an Active Towns Ambassador by “Buying Me a Coffee” or by pledging as little as $1 per month on Patreon
2. If you enjoyed this episode, please give it a “thumbs up,” leave a review on Apple Podcasts, and share it with a friend.
3. Subscribe to the podcast on your preferred listening platform and the Active Towns YouTube Channel
4. Pick up some Active Towns #StreetsAreForPeople Merch at my store

Credits:
All video and audio production by John Simmerman

Music:
Epidemic Sound

Resources used during the production of this episode:
– My awesome recording platform is Ecamm
– Adobe Creative Cloud Suite

For more information about my Active Towns effort or to follow along, please visit my links below:
– Website
– Twitter
– Newsletter
– Podcast landing pages
– Facebook
– Instagram

Background:
Hi Everyone, my name is John Simmerman.

I’m a health promotion professional with over 30 years of experience and my area of concentration has evolved into a specialization of how the built environment influences human behavior related to active living and especially active mobility.

In 2012 I launched the non-profit Advocates for Healthy Communities as an effort to help promote and create healthy, active places.

Since that time, I’ve been exploring, documenting, and profiling established, emerging, and aspiring Active Towns wherever they might be, in order to produce high-quality multimedia content to help inspire the creation of more safe and inviting, environments that promote a “Culture of Activity” for “All Ages & Abilities.”

My Active Towns suite of channels feature my original video and audio content and reflections, including a selection of podcast episodes and short films profiling the positive and inspiring efforts happening around the world as I am able to experience and document them.

Thanks for tuning in; I hope you have found this content helpful.

Creative Commons License: Attributions, Non-Commercial, No Derivatives, 2022

Advocates for Healthy Communities, Inc. is a nonprofit 501c3 organization (EIN 45-3802508) dedicated to helping communities create a Culture of Activity. To donate, click here.

Transcript

00:00:00:01 – 00:00:14:11
Aaron Hautala
And I’d suggest anyone do it is when you’re developing a trail ride with someone adaptive cycling and you can see a whole different world like, I mean, they don’t have the ability to get out and turn themselves around, you know?

00:00:14:24 – 00:00:15:14
Aaron Hautala
You know, it’s going to.

00:00:15:14 – 00:00:25:27
John Simmerman
Say, I mean, the flow’s going to be a little bit different. You can’t just you know, we’ll just bunny hop this and, you know, squeeze around that. I mean, yeah, you have to think, you know.

00:00:25:27 – 00:00:43:11
Aaron Hautala
You can’t you can’t do switchbacks. You’re going to do roundabouts. We have a cycling roundabout, which is really cool. And for beginning bicyclists, it provides them the safest step off of a paved trail they’ve ever met. And when people come off of that trail, the joy and hope on their face.

00:00:43:15 – 00:00:44:21
Aaron Hautala
You can feel it.

00:00:44:29 – 00:00:46:15
Aaron Hautala
It’s like, wow.

00:00:47:07 – 00:01:29:29
John Simmerman
Hey, everyone, welcome to the active Town Channel. I’m John Zimmerman. And that was Aaron Halter from the Cuyuna area in Minnesota, which is not far away from Brainerd, Minnesota. And we are having a discussion about a major cultural shift and change that they went through in that area when they transformed a large area that used to be mining and really turned it into a wonderful recreational area and activity asset for the area, for the region and many of the small towns in that area and really transformed it into a culture of activity.

00:01:29:29 – 00:01:52:15
John Simmerman
So this is a fabulous success story for these small towns, using physical activity and active mobility and riding bikes to help bring economic vibrancy to these communities. So without further ado, let’s get right to it with there. Aaron, it’s such a pleasure to have you on the Active Towns podcast. Welcome.

00:01:53:02 – 00:01:55:21
Aaron Hautala
Well, thank you for having me, John. I appreciate the time.

00:01:55:27 – 00:01:59:26
John Simmerman
Yeah, he you know, how cold is it up there?

00:02:00:21 – 00:02:02:15
Aaron Hautala
Oh, let’s not talk about that.

00:02:02:21 – 00:02:03:23
Aaron Hautala
I know. I know. Today.

00:02:03:27 – 00:02:08:23
Aaron Hautala
Today is a heat wave. I’m not kidding. A heat wave. Yeah, it was 34 degrees. Oh, my.

00:02:08:23 – 00:02:09:27
John Simmerman
Gosh. That is a heat wave.

00:02:09:27 – 00:02:13:16
Aaron Hautala
I know. Snow was melting. It was kind of felt like spring break.

00:02:13:23 – 00:02:15:10
Aaron Hautala
Yeah.

00:02:15:10 – 00:02:27:18
John Simmerman
So what do we do this to kick this off all have all just turned this over to you, let you introduce yourself, tell the folks where you are located and then we’ll dove in and talk a little bit about Kahuna.

00:02:28:06 – 00:02:54:07
Aaron Hautala
Okay, sounds great. John My name is Aaron Hautala. I my story is based in Cuyuna. That’s in Minnesota. It’s a mountain bicycling destination currently and it’s growing into a paddle sport destination where the on the headwaters of the Mississippi River, which is pretty cool from a location standpoint. And the real brief story of K1 is it was iron ore, destination mining and world War one and two.

00:02:54:07 – 00:03:21:23
Aaron Hautala
And then after the World Wars, there was opportunities to get minerals in different places in Minnesota that were less difficult to get. So the mining moved on and then it provided an opportunity of for the community from 1984 through today really to look at those open pits and to look at the resources and rethink it. And how can you take something that was manmade but turn it into a world class, human powered outdoor recreation destination?

00:03:22:21 – 00:03:37:22
John Simmerman
Fantastic. That’s that is great. And I met you and ran into you when you were sort of telling the tuna story at a conference in San Antonio a couple of years ago. What was the name of that conference? Again.

00:03:38:07 – 00:03:42:27
Aaron Hautala
I think it was the National Bicycling Tourism Conference, if I can remember.

00:03:43:01 – 00:04:18:18
John Simmerman
Yes, that’s right. Yeah. So it was great. It was it was neat to like be brushing shoulders with a whole bunch of event coordinators and and different folks that, you know, welcomed people into their communities and their regions. And especially like, you know, some of the the long bike rides. But then there was also, you know, locations, you know, there were like like Kahuna and a few others where they were like welcoming people into their their communities to do, of all things, ride bikes.

00:04:18:28 – 00:04:22:22
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. Yeah. It was pretty fun. Yeah, yeah.

00:04:22:22 – 00:04:34:22
John Simmerman
So so it’s interesting to. So you talk a little bit about or you mentioned about the history of this particular property. How big is this property?

00:04:35:08 – 00:05:08:11
Aaron Hautala
It’s about 5000 acres total. And it’s currently expanded a little to growing county land. So it’s about maybe 6000 acres total, but it’s not a huge chunk of land. And you’re looking at the map currently and in back in the mining days, which, you know, started in the 1900s through about 1984, all not all, but a lot of those blue dots that look like lakes are the actual pits that were dug in the ground to extract the minerals, to make steel, obviously.

00:05:08:22 – 00:05:14:12
Aaron Hautala
And then through time, when you turn the pumps off in a pit, water comes back. That’s.

00:05:14:22 – 00:05:15:24
Aaron Hautala
You know, was it rain?

00:05:15:24 – 00:05:52:15
Aaron Hautala
I guess it was the actual water table filled it back up. And what’s really cool about this now recreation destination is the cities of Crosby, Ironton, Kahuna, Traum, old Riverton. They were all built around the mine line because they walk to work basically. So it was really convenient to work there because you could walk to work. But what makes it outdoor recreation magic and I think just a golden formula is it’s all right in and right out now because of where they mined, which is now outdoor recreation resource and where you stay.

00:05:52:26 – 00:06:00:10
Aaron Hautala
So it’s like I’ve equated it to Summit County, take all of what Summit County in Colorado is, but just make it tiny.

00:06:01:09 – 00:06:01:25
Aaron Hautala
And make it.

00:06:01:25 – 00:06:08:26
Aaron Hautala
All right next to each other. So it’s very easy. I mean, you park your car, then you really don’t need it again until you leave.

00:06:09:08 – 00:06:23:09
John Simmerman
Hmm. Interesting. Interesting. So when we look at we’re looking at this map, that sort of grid that you see there with the pink color, is that are those like is that part of like a town? Is that the city street?

00:06:23:10 – 00:06:44:16
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, there’s exactly that. On the on the southern side of that map where you see the grid work closest to the, you know, the brown area, you can see that’s Ironton and then Crosby is the grid work that goes along side of the the natural lake called serpent. And then if you look up in the upper right hand corner, you can’t really see it.

00:06:44:16 – 00:06:47:13
Aaron Hautala
There’s a green trail, what looks like it’s leading to nowhere.

00:06:48:09 – 00:06:48:21
Aaron Hautala
And then it.

00:06:48:21 – 00:06:51:26
Aaron Hautala
Leads to a big yellow area. That’s the city of Kahuna.

00:06:52:13 – 00:06:53:04
Aaron Hautala
And then okay.

00:06:53:18 – 00:07:23:10
Aaron Hautala
And then the actual grid work that’s in the upper left hand corner, that’s the city of trauma hold. And then the little grid work that’s on the far left kind of bottom just above the brown area with the main Lake Sagamore there. And that’s the city of Riverton. So you could see all these little areas. And what’s what’s so amazing to live here is that you can cycle to any one of those, you know, and it’s just they’re all interconnected via paved trail or via mountain bike trail.

00:07:23:22 – 00:07:26:01
Aaron Hautala
Right. And you can navigate the whole thing.

00:07:26:20 – 00:07:36:10
John Simmerman
So I’ve I’ve been to Brainerd before visiting Chuck Marone with strong towns. Where is this in in relationship to Brainerd.

00:07:36:27 – 00:07:40:27
Aaron Hautala
18 minutes direct to the east of Brainerd. Okay, so it’s.

00:07:40:27 – 00:07:41:24
John Simmerman
To the east. Okay.

00:07:41:24 – 00:07:43:03
Aaron Hautala
Very, very close.

00:07:43:12 – 00:07:43:20
John Simmerman
Yeah.

00:07:43:28 – 00:07:44:10
Aaron Hautala
Yeah.

00:07:44:19 – 00:07:52:26
John Simmerman
Very, very interesting. Okay, cool. So this was circa when when when this all started.

00:07:53:21 – 00:07:56:13
Aaron Hautala
The whole idea for what this area would be.

00:07:56:24 – 00:07:57:02
Aaron Hautala
Mm hmm.

00:07:57:15 – 00:08:01:13
Aaron Hautala
1984 It’s from. From my from the people who were there.

00:08:01:20 – 00:08:03:04
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. There’s still.

00:08:03:10 – 00:08:28:00
Aaron Hautala
You know, thankfully, we could still chat with them. But when the last mining truck left it, it was the moment of, so what do we do? Right. And there was a lot of different ideas ranging from, We’ll just sit and wait, they’ll be fine. They’ll come back to, Well, we could be this to the brave and bold. And what was considered crazy idea in 84 was to have a silent spa destination for outdoor recreation.

00:08:28:00 – 00:08:28:07
Aaron Hautala
Okay.

00:08:28:10 – 00:08:30:07
John Simmerman
And silent sport.

00:08:30:24 – 00:09:04:21
Aaron Hautala
Good question. Silent sport to the founders was hiking, walking equestrian, cycling, paddling. You know, it just there wasn’t per se a motor because that’s what went into the actual management plan of this area was pretty much in the summer it was silent sports in the winter snowmobiles are and were allowed through on the mind legs. You can have a motorized boat, but you have to keep it within a certain speed and certain horsepower so it doesn’t turn into a you know, it’s not a jet ski destination if you.

00:09:04:21 – 00:09:16:23
John Simmerman
All right. Right. Gotcha. So it was, you know, along the lines of let’s try to mitigate the amount of noise pollution in this area. So try to lean into the silent sports.

00:09:16:23 – 00:09:28:14
Aaron Hautala
Got it. Yeah. And the theory behind that and I didn’t know this, but I asked through the years and you got to think of this whole areas, no trees, just red piles of dirt and holes in the ground.

00:09:29:00 – 00:09:30:07
Aaron Hautala
That’s all it was. Yeah.

00:09:30:09 – 00:09:58:06
Aaron Hautala
You know, there was no lakes yet because the water hadn’t come up. The trees have not grown yet. But the people that it was women I love saying it was women who led this forward and they wanted to do it to preserve, protect and preserve the land because the land did mean something. It helped get through two world wars and help their community be what it was and they didn’t want to see the land turned into a free for all or do whatever you want.

00:09:58:07 – 00:10:15:12
Aaron Hautala
They really wanted to protect it as almost a monument of what this community actually did through its heyday of mining. And they wanted silent sports because it was less invasive on a fragile landscape, because it’s fragile because it was blown out of the ground and stacked in piles.

00:10:15:19 – 00:10:15:24
Aaron Hautala
Right.

00:10:15:25 – 00:10:35:09
Aaron Hautala
So you you can erode it pretty quickly, if you know what I mean. And that’s why it wasn’t that they were, you know, mountain bikers in 1984 is that they want they didn’t want to see the overburden piles turn into ruts and, you know, fall back into the ground to become unsafe. Yeah, but it was a perfect marriage of timing.

00:10:35:09 – 00:10:35:21
Aaron Hautala
Got it.

00:10:35:21 – 00:10:51:27
John Simmerman
Got it. So and then we fast forward to 2013 and 2014. This trail map is this concept map is from 2014. And who’s this group of gents here? Look at look down at the map.

00:10:52:22 – 00:10:53:08
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, that.

00:10:53:08 – 00:11:18:19
Aaron Hautala
Was well, in 2011, the first trails opened, which was 25 miles of majority, two way mountain bike trails. The paved trail had been constructed at that point. So that network was already there, too. But we were at this point in the meeting having this audacious idea to say, oh, what can we expand? And moments before this discussion, the answer was, we’re done.

00:11:18:19 – 00:11:19:23
Aaron Hautala
There is no expansion.

00:11:20:29 – 00:11:24:01
Aaron Hautala
But through time and through community. Yeah, well.

00:11:24:09 – 00:11:44:11
Aaron Hautala
That was the first answer to expansion is we’re done. There was no more plant. It was 25 miles. You’re done. And you know, that was something we had to work through. But this is a meeting of the DNR, Steve Webber, who was the park manager at that time. He’s in the middle with the green khaki shirt. Father Clunker, Bruce Swanson is in the yellow shirt.

00:11:44:11 – 00:12:13:18
Aaron Hautala
He was the vice president of kind of Lakes Mountain Bike crew. Dan Hudson, who is within the Trail Solutions, is on the far left. And he’s really the person to thank for that master vision because he put his heart and soul into that like you wouldn’t believe I’m the guy leaning over like my back is sore already. And Joshua Rebennack, who I always say and he’s tired of me saying it, but the brains of the operation, because he’s an engineer by trade as well, he’s to my right in the black shirt.

00:12:13:18 – 00:12:23:21
Aaron Hautala
And then John Schobert took the picture, which I didn’t even know John was there, but I went through all these photos on the weekend and John was in another photo. So I know John was there and he took this photo.

00:12:23:26 – 00:12:26:23
John Simmerman
Right. Right. Would you when you’re behind the camera.

00:12:26:23 – 00:12:29:10
Aaron Hautala
You sometimes you get forgotten. Yeah.

00:12:30:01 – 00:12:38:07
John Simmerman
And then here, here y’all are on a precipice, looking out. So talk a little bit about what’s going on in this photo.

00:12:38:19 – 00:12:58:07
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. So this technically we call it the North Monument Unit. Now, I still call it the Marrocco unit because that was the original name. But we’re on a overlook that is just just underneath the overlook that’s now there on the center trail. And this is the very first time that we had the DNR staff out there to say what.

00:12:58:07 – 00:13:00:03
Aaron Hautala
If what if we were able.

00:13:00:11 – 00:13:20:16
Aaron Hautala
To expand trail out here and what Nick starts, he’s the one with the orange shirt on the far right. He is now. He’s a DNR employee now he’s a trail maintenance specialist, but he’s pointing back to where all the 25 miles of current original trails are. So you can see that what looks like a mountain range, it’s overburdened piles of trees now.

00:13:20:27 – 00:13:38:01
Aaron Hautala
But, you know, that’s the former tailings are not tailings, but the overburden, it was a waste dirt that they couldn’t turn into steel. That’s where the 25 miles of trail were at that point. And we were to the north of it, and that’s why it’s called the North Menominee Unit now. And Nick is pointing at the South Menominee unit.

00:13:38:15 – 00:14:05:08
Aaron Hautala
And again, it was I was told in the beginning that we’d never have trail out here. It would never happen. We don’t have access. And then just last week, the North Menominee unit was finally finished. Where the DNR connected reconnected. Two lakes that had been disconnected during a road during the mining era put in a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists and now has a crown like German jewel of that whole unit.

00:14:05:21 – 00:14:13:22
Aaron Hautala
So it’s these kind of photos help you appreciate how far we came from. Yeah to get get to where we are today so you imagine.

00:14:13:25 – 00:14:31:06
John Simmerman
The original 25 mile. Yeah so and then this was the that concept map from 2014. How, how true to this concept map is the final built out version and how many total miles are we talking about now?

00:14:31:24 – 00:14:39:10
Aaron Hautala
The the total mileage right now is about 70 miles of one way, one direction, single track a direction I guess I could call it.

00:14:39:11 – 00:14:40:24
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, yeah, I.

00:14:40:24 – 00:15:03:05
Aaron Hautala
Was told that reason that’s unidirectional. You don’t have to say one way. But anyways, what. What hasn’t completed is only two things. And there’s a section on the Paradise Point which the DNR does not have land access to that could develop an expert trail center right within the rally center, kind of in the middle of the whole thing.

00:15:03:14 – 00:15:12:08
Aaron Hautala
Okay. And that and then there’s a unit called the Black Wolf Unit, which is to the south of it. It I’d point out it, but I can’t.

00:15:12:23 – 00:15:14:05
Aaron Hautala
Right. Yeah. But it’s.

00:15:14:05 – 00:15:43:19
Aaron Hautala
It’s kind of in that same rally center zone. And then there was a desire for the North Menominee unit to have a much larger loop. But due to private landholdings still being private, that wasn’t possible. And, and what I tell people is, you know, at this point, I don’t know that those developments will be for cycling. You know, there’s there’s a chance they could be for hiker specific trails and maybe should be because 70 miles of single track is a lot.

00:15:43:19 – 00:15:59:14
Aaron Hautala
When the hikers have zero miles for for what they have or maybe they will turn into adaptive trails to give our adaptive cyclists more miles. You know, when you get to 70, you start rethinking, okay, what are we doing and why are we doing it, you know?

00:15:59:21 – 00:16:00:00
Aaron Hautala
Right.

00:16:00:03 – 00:16:05:17
Aaron Hautala
And it’s a nice place to be. Or it might be nothing. It might be just what it is today. We’ll see. Right.

00:16:05:25 – 00:16:33:21
John Simmerman
So you’ve mentioned the Minnesota DNR, a couple of times, the Department of Natural Resources, and talked a little bit about land, some of the land being private and some of the land being public land or DNR land. How when we look at this complex, the entire area here, how many acres are we talking about and then how many acres is actually left that’s developable into into trail systems?

00:16:34:04 – 00:16:54:27
Aaron Hautala
That’s a great question. It’s it’s 5000 acres kind of like the whole area where most of the water is and where you see most of the trails. Now, if you get rid of those holes in the ground or which are now mine lakes, you have about 25, 2500 acres, of which that’s really kind of what we were able to develop or look at.

00:16:55:08 – 00:17:17:08
Aaron Hautala
But I mean, it starts to shrink incredibly fast from there. I think when when you actually take what you could develop on because of private holdings, because it’s a precarious state, man, and it has boundaries. But believe it or not, there’s still private land holdings owning within it because when my when when mining ended mining said we don’t want it will sell it.

00:17:17:08 – 00:17:44:16
Aaron Hautala
And immediately while different people could buy different things and it didn’t become a state rec area till many years later and the state has for now decades acquired parcels to make it whole. But they still have more work to do when you remove the water. And then if you take out the private land owning holdings all the trails currently in a where the way they flow, they’re about, you know, 700 acres of land that we’re currently working.

00:17:44:16 – 00:17:50:28
Aaron Hautala
And so it sounds mass of. But when you break it down, it’s like it is not massive.

00:17:51:00 – 00:17:52:14
Aaron Hautala
Right? Right. You know, pretty.

00:17:52:14 – 00:18:21:08
John Simmerman
Impressive for 70 miles of of singletrack. So right to your point earlier. So that’s that’s really fascinating talk about the original vision and especially back in 2013 2014 and what was like the timeline. And you know, all whenever you have a project like this, there’s there’s like, you know, scoping and you’re like, okay, well, this is going to take X number of years to build.

00:18:21:09 – 00:18:23:03
John Simmerman
Now, talk a little bit about that.

00:18:23:20 – 00:18:29:06
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, well, the first part was even, how do you I just started shooting off at the hip.

00:18:30:08 – 00:18:30:15
Aaron Hautala
Because I.

00:18:30:15 – 00:18:53:04
Aaron Hautala
Didn’t know how to move anything forward. And I learned real quickly, you’ll never going to do anything without a plan. And kind of the most important thing we ever did was to sit down, work with the land manager, work with the county, work with and work with them. But trail solutions and put together what a plan could be because the state couldn’t move anything forward on a whim that wasn’t going to happen.

00:18:53:19 – 00:19:19:08
Aaron Hautala
And then at the same time we went from kind of purpose built trail system to purpose built town. And how can this outdoor recreation destination help build the downtown? Because from that point in my career, I was coming out of a downhill ski culture where we would go skiing, but kind of the most fun was after skiing and staying in the village and just hanging out in the village and having fun.

00:19:19:20 – 00:19:47:21
Aaron Hautala
And we started to transition our conversation as a mountain bike club with our community to say, and how do we build out the village? How do we make this the best possible experience on trail, on water and in town? And that started a pretty robust discussion of why do we need that and how important is that? But we worked together to to figure that out and to put a plan together to build economy.

00:19:47:21 – 00:19:54:10
Aaron Hautala
Because if, you know, if this money no one gives money just to build bike trails, usually they don’t do it just because it’s a good old time. They do it because.

00:19:54:10 – 00:19:54:28
Aaron Hautala
They have.

00:19:55:06 – 00:20:19:06
Aaron Hautala
Certain expectations of what those bike trails might be. And going back from when I first started helping with the crew in the community, it was 2011 through today. We’re now well over 30 new businesses that have started. And it’s not just all cycling specific businesses. I’m proud to say that like we got one of the coolest brand new grocery stores in our community that no town outside should have.

00:20:20:20 – 00:20:21:17
Aaron Hautala
And the locals.

00:20:21:17 – 00:20:39:00
Aaron Hautala
Love it, you know, not every local is going to look at a bike business and go, Oh, I’m so excited I can go get a bike I don’t want, you know, but when all of a sudden they have, you know, brand new super one grocery store that is just perfect for them and they have a better variety, a better pricing.

00:20:39:08 – 00:20:40:15
Aaron Hautala
Okay, now it makes sense.

00:20:40:15 – 00:20:41:12
Aaron Hautala
I like this.

00:20:41:16 – 00:21:02:29
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. Or when it is, hardware came back to town because now there was reason to be here and they can get their hardware without having to drive out of the town. I mean, that’s a big deal. And then like you’re showing, these are the cycling specific videos where the pink phone was virtual and they have the they have the best one thing of everything you never knew you needed until you walk in the store.

00:21:03:07 – 00:21:12:11
Aaron Hautala
This one is like, yeah, it’s just like a highly curated experience that you would never would have thought about until you walk in there. And then I’ll send you have a serious problem. You have to buy it all.

00:21:12:18 – 00:21:15:29
Aaron Hautala
Because it’s it’s so cool. Yeah. And, and.

00:21:16:00 – 00:21:35:12
Aaron Hautala
Then the next one that was on there was Hudson, which was a new bike cafe basically that opened, but it isn’t biking. Only a lot of Ironton locals I see. And they’re enjoying it because it’s their space, you know, it’s our space. It’s not siloed to one user group. And what’s cool about it is they have garage stores on either side.

00:21:35:12 – 00:21:40:14
Aaron Hautala
So you can ride your bike right through, park it inside and right out the other side if you want. So it’s.

00:21:41:08 – 00:21:42:13
Aaron Hautala
Wow, you’re doing a.

00:21:42:13 – 00:21:43:01
Aaron Hautala
Little different.

00:21:43:06 – 00:21:52:02
John Simmerman
Yeah, yeah, doing a little different. And so that those most of those photos were those from the different towns or was that from Ironton?

00:21:52:02 – 00:22:13:01
Aaron Hautala
Crosby Ironton is a lot of what we’re showing there, but everything happened in Crosby first because it looked like it was the most ready to go. Now, Ironton is actually the closest to the trailhead. And now Ironton starting to happen with the donut shop with the bike cafe. A new restaurant started, a candy shop is opening and now Deerwood is getting into the action.

00:22:13:01 – 00:22:31:02
Aaron Hautala
And they’re the farthest way away from the whole town. They’re connected via a paved trail, but now they have a brand new dental office that is just incredible. They redid their, you know, like the old motor lodges when they redo them and make them cool. That happened. Yeah. You know, there’s going to be a new clinic in Deerwood.

00:22:31:02 – 00:22:37:02
Aaron Hautala
So you’re seeing like, okay, it’s expanding way outside of our immediate impact.

00:22:37:10 – 00:22:37:19
Aaron Hautala
Yeah.

00:22:37:22 – 00:22:58:16
John Simmerman
And that’s and this is the website Kuna dot com and there’s we had to play this because there’s some really cool winter cycling video here. Talk a little bit about, you know, this branding and and this whole concept. It’s the same, same, you know, logo that you’re wearing on your your vest there.

00:22:58:24 – 00:23:15:07
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. Well, the whole concept behind Unicom was I was at Europe like a key presenter, keynote presenter in their travel thing in Europe on Caixinha. And then I had a, I had a person from Scotland and then a person from Morocco and they all asked me, So how do I get to Q and A, how do I do it?

00:23:15:23 – 00:23:17:04
Aaron Hautala
And I didn’t have an answer.

00:23:17:18 – 00:23:21:00
Aaron Hautala
And I’m in communication, right? I do this for a living and.

00:23:21:00 – 00:23:37:09
Aaron Hautala
I, I didn’t have anything to share with them. So I came back and built K Unicom to provide the answer to people of how to get here, how to do it, how to have an experience and how to have a great time because we know how. So why wouldn’t we tell everybody else how? Right and.

00:23:37:19 – 00:23:37:27
Aaron Hautala
No.

00:23:38:25 – 00:23:48:19
Aaron Hautala
The winter side of it is because maybe people aren’t familiar with Minnesota. No, they are. And they know we have winter and they they probably think we have polar bears.

00:23:48:25 – 00:23:50:03
Aaron Hautala
We don’t. But we.

00:23:50:03 – 00:23:56:27
Aaron Hautala
Do it. We do have winter. And I will say it here and I’ve said it for ten years. If there’s anything we can own.

00:23:57:10 – 00:23:57:18
Aaron Hautala
Yeah.

00:23:57:27 – 00:23:58:26
Aaron Hautala
It’s winter.

00:24:00:00 – 00:24:00:16
Aaron Hautala
And. Yes.

00:24:00:17 – 00:24:09:06
Aaron Hautala
And we and we can prove that we can make winter incredibly fun and that video kind of shows it like we know we know how to have fun, not just get through.

00:24:09:16 – 00:24:19:23
John Simmerman
Yeah. So you mentioned it’s kind of in your wheelhouse of what you do professionally. So tell us a little bit about your day job and what you’re what you’re doing.

00:24:20:11 – 00:24:54:12
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. So I’m advertising agency owner, if that’s what we want to call it, you know, communication, public relations of storytelling giant. And we help local community is basically rural they’re always Rod Sims but give a rural community the support and strength they need from a communication, planning and development point of view that they don’t usually get. And now it’s turned into do it occur, you know, a lot more economic development through outdoor recreation where communities are calling us into their county or into their town to say, hey, we’re at the front end of this and can you help us?

00:24:54:12 – 00:25:18:07
Aaron Hautala
And I can. And the cool news is there’s one county we’re helping in Minnesota where we’re not doing anything, mountain biking. We’re developing completely different outdoor recreation because that’s what their land provides and that’s what their people and their visitors want. So it doesn’t have to be mountain biking, but the same process and principle apply, you know, and that’s that’s been a fun it’s been a very learning experience.

00:25:18:07 – 00:25:23:06
Aaron Hautala
You know, it’s like there’s no real if you find the book on how to do this, send it to me.

00:25:23:13 – 00:25:28:14
Aaron Hautala
Otherwise it feels like kind of writing it as we go.

00:25:28:14 – 00:25:59:09
John Simmerman
So one of one of the things that I think is so incredibly important and and yes, we, we, we started off our conversation, as Chuck would say, by talking about the weather. That’s a good Midwestern thing to do is to talk about the weather right off the bat. Yeah, off the front and and so yeah, I mean, some of these images of, you know, being out there in the environment, in the snow, I mean, it’s just a matter of wearing the right type of clothing.

00:25:59:09 – 00:26:14:15
John Simmerman
And that’s kind of the joke that we talk about in active towns all the time with active mobility is that there is no such thing as bad weather. There’s just bad clothing. I mean, you you can if it’s the snow’s flying or if it’s a chilly day, it’s fine, dress appropriately and go out and have a good time.

00:26:15:03 – 00:26:30:09
John Simmerman
We’ll talk a little bit about this. You know, this concept of, you know, this area being such a driver for economic vitality and vibrancy and the fact that it doesn’t just shut down in the wintertime.

00:26:30:29 – 00:26:34:24
Aaron Hautala
Right. And the reason why it doesn’t shut down is because we don’t leave.

00:26:36:02 – 00:26:36:26
Aaron Hautala
So it’s so.

00:26:36:26 – 00:26:56:27
Aaron Hautala
We had to make it vibrant year round. And that’s the goal is like, how do you find the best possible experience regardless of the season? And for that winter cycling, I mean, when we started it off, we didn’t have a trail that looks like that. I mean, that is groomed single track through mechanical devices that did not exist 12 years ago.

00:26:57:08 – 00:27:18:26
Aaron Hautala
And our mountain bike club was faced with we had snow showers packing snow, and that was going to work for about four miles of trail. And we said, hey, we want 40, right? Because because we want to write it all ourselves. Yeah. You know, and we want other people to come too. And we had to innovate and develop strategies and equipment that did not exist.

00:27:19:07 – 00:27:44:19
Aaron Hautala
And the DNR give them credit, they let us do it. They worked with us to allow it because they in the beginning they said no motorized grooming and okay. And if that’s the future, we’re not doing anything. But then again, working together, building relationship, building clarity and understanding. We were we were able to do it and develop because if you don’t have a groomed trail in the winter, nobody’s coming because you can’t ride it.

00:27:44:29 – 00:27:45:18
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. And.

00:27:45:27 – 00:27:55:18
John Simmerman
And I’m pausing on this, this particular photo because I think it speaks to the other side, which is the importance of engaging entire families.

00:27:55:18 – 00:28:06:13
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. You hit it on the head there. And that was we were criticized for that in the beginning that we built out community to be so beginner.

00:28:06:13 – 00:28:07:10
Aaron Hautala
You know why so.

00:28:07:10 – 00:28:37:05
Aaron Hautala
Much beginner trail? Well, because it was to build economics. It was to be a place where the strider bike through the mom or dad could find the trail either together or on their own. And as we built out that 70 miles, we aired on building the expert trail we did not have right? And now and now, ten years later, we have a well-rounded experience that honestly still leans beginner on purpose.

00:28:37:15 – 00:28:38:17
Aaron Hautala
And we’re proud of that.

00:28:39:13 – 00:28:43:25
Aaron Hautala
So when it’s used as an insult, we go, Thank you. I will.

00:28:43:25 – 00:28:49:25
John Simmerman
And in my world, it’s what we call, you know, building an environment for all ages and abilities.

00:28:50:07 – 00:29:08:06
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, exactly. And it’s just like with gravel cycling, you know, I mean, the beauty of gravel cycling is you don’t have to do anything. You just have to put it out together. Right? It isn’t a gravel in our neighbor, our neighbors to our east. Akin in a King County has in Minnesota probably the lion’s share of gravel roads.

00:29:08:06 – 00:29:16:04
Aaron Hautala
So we have a 40, 75 and 100 mile gravel century route that we didn’t have to do anything other than record a ride with GPS Road.

00:29:16:04 – 00:29:18:18
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, yeah. You know, gravel work. Yeah.

00:29:19:00 – 00:29:44:03
John Simmerman
I love it. And I’m going to pull up a couple more family photos here, too, because I think that this is, you know, one of the things that we can do in our communities is look at ways where we can engage entire families through active mobility and active living and, you know, normalizing, you know, for for the entire family of getting on a bike.

00:29:44:03 – 00:30:06:16
John Simmerman
And and it doesn’t have to just be for recreation, but the more often that you in, the more comfortable you get on a bike, the more that you’re able to bleed this through. And you had mentioned it earlier, too, for those people who are like living in these towns, in these areas, they can literally ride to the trailhead from their door, from their house, you know, from their actual doorstep.

00:30:07:03 – 00:30:33:14
Aaron Hautala
Right. Yeah. And what we’re seeing now with our Sagamore adaptive cycling trails, so they’re they’re built for the adaptive cycles, the 3 to 4 wheel cycles, which is great because up to this moment we had zero miles for them. Now they have seven plus miles and bicyclists are obviously allowed on it, too. And this trail footprint is allowing families to recreate together.

00:30:33:15 – 00:30:57:08
Aaron Hautala
When I say families, I’m not talking mom and kids, I’m talking grandparents, mom and kids. And the grandparents are allowed because they exist and they’re really cool. They can do the pedal assisted bicycles so the grandparents can hammer out seven miles without sweating it and they’re riding with the grandkids that can do it as well. And they’re in one place where three generations can actively redecorate together.

00:30:57:21 – 00:31:01:29
Aaron Hautala
That’s magic. That’s the secret sauce right there if you’re looking for it.

00:31:02:03 – 00:31:28:02
John Simmerman
Absolutely. And I and I think that this also fits into that category of all ages and abilities, because, again, as you mentioned, all ages, the grandparents can be doing this as well as because of the you know, what we’re seeing with the adaptive cycling here. Truly all abilities as well. Yeah. And now and talk a little bit about the specific of this type of trail because I think that this is a different footprint, a little bit wider in the trail, correct?

00:31:28:15 – 00:32:03:17
Aaron Hautala
Oh, yes. The the true like green. We have white circle, adaptive and green circle adaptive and this probably four feet wide. Okay. Because it it has to be. Yeah. I mean the the bicycle, the tricycle, the quad cycle, the adaptive cycle is much wider. And if it isn’t, it’s not safe for them. Right. You know, and it was really and I’d suggest anyone do it is when you’re developing a trail ride with someone adaptive cycling and you can see a whole different world like, I mean, they don’t have the ability to get out and turn themselves around.

00:32:04:06 – 00:32:05:19
Aaron Hautala
You know? You know, it’s going to.

00:32:05:19 – 00:32:16:02
John Simmerman
Say, I mean, the flow’s got to be a little bit different. You can’t just, you know, we’ll just bunny hop this and, you know, squeeze around that. I mean, yeah, you have to think know.

00:32:16:02 – 00:32:33:25
Aaron Hautala
You can’t you can’t do switchbacks. You’re going to do roundabouts. We have a cycling roundabout, which is really cool. Yeah. And for beginning bicyclists, it provides the safest step off of a paved trail they’ve ever met. And when people come off of that trail, the joy and hope on their face, you.

00:32:33:25 – 00:32:36:20
Aaron Hautala
Can feel it. It’s like, wow.

00:32:37:03 – 00:33:03:22
John Simmerman
Yeah, yeah. So one of our biggest challenges is, is really making sure that riding a bike is not just a dude. Activity is getting more and more women, you know, engaged in doing this. And, you know, here we are, two dudes talking about this, but you sit through a whole bunch of photos of of women cycling. Why why is this significant for Kona?

00:33:04:19 – 00:33:05:21
Aaron Hautala
Because women do.

00:33:05:21 – 00:33:09:04
Aaron Hautala
It and they deserve it. I mean, that like.

00:33:09:11 – 00:33:29:18
Aaron Hautala
It isn’t just a guy’s sport and it’s not just a Caucasian sport. It’s an everybody’s sport. And what we learned real quickly is if we want women in Kaduna, we want families in Kaduna, we want multiethnic groups in Kuna in the best way to help communicate that is to show them in Kaduna.

00:33:29:28 – 00:33:30:10
Aaron Hautala
You know.

00:33:30:10 – 00:33:53:05
Aaron Hautala
And we really wanted to photograph them, you know, I don’t care who them is, just we want them to show them having their experience because that’s, that’s what we want. And it’s bringing all people together really, and having there’s different trials for every one of them and they get to create their experience. You know, we’re not going to tell them how to do it.

00:33:53:05 – 00:33:58:22
Aaron Hautala
We’re going to provide the portfolio. Here’s the options right now. Choose your own adventure. Yeah, yeah. You know.

00:33:59:11 – 00:34:06:17
John Simmerman
Yeah, that’s good stuff. What have we not talked about yet that you think we should cover?

00:34:06:17 – 00:34:17:12
Aaron Hautala
That’s a great question. I think you’ve actually covered a lot of it. I mean, the main question I usually get asked is, well, how do I do this in my town?

00:34:18:18 – 00:34:19:03
Aaron Hautala
You know?

00:34:19:03 – 00:34:41:19
Aaron Hautala
And it’s it’s it takes persistence and it takes relationship. And it doesn’t have to take decades at time, but it might. But if you’re not building relationships with everybody, if you have silos, it won’t work. You have to reach. You have to I call it the silo busters. You know, you got to get the chamber out of their silo.

00:34:41:19 – 00:34:47:17
Aaron Hautala
The economic development out of their silo. Yeah. City council out of their silo. County commissioners out of their silo.

00:34:47:28 – 00:34:49:06
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. Even.

00:34:49:15 – 00:35:10:01
Aaron Hautala
You know, different user groups that you might not agree with. Yeah. You got to get out of our silos and it’s like, okay, here’s our hands. Now, how do we do this? Because if you’re not working together, someone’s working against you. And it won’t happen in a far better off to work together. Yeah, yeah. But it takes. It takes time.

00:35:10:01 – 00:35:35:01
Aaron Hautala
It’s harder, but it works, right, you know? And none of us should be. We have to look at ourselves in the mirror. None of us should be going after a land grab. Well, we got to beat so-and-so to the punch here, right? Like that’s a wrong goal. That is not what, you know, outdoor recreation should be about, is it should be about people recreating even if they don’t have a tool to do it on, right?

00:35:35:25 – 00:35:41:04
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. Why do you have to buy something to recreate? You shouldn’t have to buy a thing. You should be able to sit there and enjoy it.

00:35:41:19 – 00:36:11:18
John Simmerman
So one of the things that that that I try to emphasize with the Active Towns podcast in the Active Towns movement is the fact that there should be a nice transition of, you know, recreational cycling facilities and the blending of active mobility and using a bike to to, you know, meet our daily needs. And you’ve mentioned it a couple of times where, yeah, it’s convenient.

00:36:11:18 – 00:36:49:06
John Simmerman
We can literally just ride from our doorstep and go out, talk a little bit about that because I think that oftentimes is there in certain cities, you know, you get, oh, well, that’s just the recreation. That’s just for recreation, right? We drive else for everything. Talk a little bit about that and how we can hopefully, you know, marry the two of yeah, it’s way easier to just jump on the bike and you know, go go as a family to to school, to work to the restaurant and being able to seeing bikes as something more than just recreation.

00:36:49:25 – 00:37:27:05
Aaron Hautala
Right. And that’s 100% right. Because even in our own town, it was I was at a People for Bikes conference in Indianapolis and it was positioned of how are you providing active transportation via walking or bicycle or wheelchair to your community regardless of your outdoor recreation. And that’s what we’re currently working with, the City of Crosby in Ironton is developing basically recommended routes for people to get to the grocery store, to go to the doctor, to get to the dentist, to yeah.

00:37:27:05 – 00:37:47:04
Aaron Hautala
If they want to hit the paved trail, they can. Yeah. If they want to go on the mountain bicycle trail they can. And in the early beginning, there was some feedback of, well, nobody locally is going to do that. But as soon as we actually made our sidewalks, I think they were before eight feet wide and now they’re about 12 or 14 feet wide.

00:37:47:17 – 00:38:01:06
Aaron Hautala
All of a sudden you see you start to see locals using it when they had a safe, protected route. Right. Because you don’t. Yeah, you can ride on the state highway to get to the hospital. I might need the hospital if I.

00:38:01:06 – 00:38:03:16
Aaron Hautala
Ride on a state highway. Right. You know.

00:38:03:25 – 00:38:14:20
Aaron Hautala
And then once you provide a recommended designated signed, this is where we want you to be. It’s magical how they show up and use it right.

00:38:14:20 – 00:38:15:09
Aaron Hautala
You know, and.

00:38:15:09 – 00:38:33:11
Aaron Hautala
It has to be safe because if it’s not safe, people won’t use it. You know, just because you have, you know, a Chevron painted on the road doesn’t mean it’s safe. Yeah. Yeah. And it’s and it gets touchy because people are like, well, how? There’s no end to what you need. And I said, Well, it’s not just me.

00:38:33:27 – 00:38:38:15
Aaron Hautala
There’s other people that don’t have the ability to even own a car.

00:38:38:29 – 00:38:39:09
John Simmerman
Right?

00:38:39:29 – 00:38:49:08
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. I mean, are we considering them because we should be. I mean, there’s people that might not have enough money to own a bike. Right. But could they walk it?

00:38:49:17 – 00:38:51:01
Aaron Hautala
Right. Right. You know.

00:38:51:16 – 00:38:53:03
Aaron Hautala
And the answer is yeah.

00:38:53:08 – 00:39:26:21
John Simmerman
And and to your point from earlier, too, is with the development of some of the additional trails as being walking only trails and hiking trails, opportunities to be able to get into nature are, you know, is it’s critical for for health and wellbeing and and being able to have access especially if you happen to live in one of these towns to a rich experience of, you know, getting into nature, especially a nature such as this that’s healing, healing from being previously, you know, a mine site.

00:39:26:29 – 00:40:03:15
John Simmerman
So it’s just pretty impressive. So one of the things that I noticed is that when we were looking at that map of all the different lakes, that there’s some potential, you know, water, recreation potential, too. I’m going to pull up a video here and press play, but I’m not going to turn the sound up. I’ll just let you sort of, you know, talk through this because the map is going to come up and you can kind of narrate, you know, what’s going on here and what’s the what’s the opportunity that exists in kind of activating this the water space.

00:40:04:01 – 00:40:28:23
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. So right now we have I mean, I think there might be 29 lakes. I could be wrong on the total number but with a couple little portages and signs as to where to go and where you’ll go, we could end up connecting pretty much all of those mine lakes together into at least a full day, if not a multiple day paddle portage ing adventure zone.

00:40:29:03 – 00:40:52:09
Aaron Hautala
And again, the big one in Minnesota that has national to international street cred is the boundary waters up in Ely. Yeah, and people know what that is. Well, welcome to the baby boundary. Waters, this is a little mini me little cutie pie. Yeah, but for, you know, do a straw poll, there’s a lot of people that aren’t going to want to wander all the way into the back country, the boundary waters.

00:40:52:09 – 00:41:11:27
Aaron Hautala
They won’t, not as their first step, but they could do this. And guess what? They’ll have cell phone reception throughout it. They can connect to social media. They’re within town. I mean, they’re almost in city limits still. So if they want to get back in the same day or get a cocktail later, they can, but they will have a similar.

00:41:12:09 – 00:41:37:03
Aaron Hautala
I’m out there with wilderness. And what that does, it’s I called that area, our rec area, my behavioral health coach. It allows you to reset and we have too much stress growing on us for too many reasons. And if we don’t find ourselves in a reset exercise our body, it isn’t good for the human race, physically or emotionally.

00:41:37:07 – 00:41:54:19
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, and that’s another opportunity where now you could do you can ride 70 miles on a single track, you could go on a 100 mile gravel ride, and you could do a more multi-day paddle, portage ing adventure in the same area. And you’re still in the same area, right? You don’t have to go somewhere else.

00:41:54:27 – 00:41:55:04
Aaron Hautala
Yeah.

00:41:55:22 – 00:42:01:07
John Simmerman
Yeah. It’s good stuff. And I see here equestrian specific trails could be a possibility as well.

00:42:01:24 – 00:42:16:27
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, it’s finding the right route because yeah, you could give them a trail. But is it a good trail? You know, we don’t just want to provide a trail. And what learning about equestrian is they, you know, they want to do a loop. They don’t want to just go two miles to a dead end and come back and look at the same thing, correct?

00:42:17:07 – 00:42:17:20
Aaron Hautala
Yes.

00:42:17:20 – 00:42:41:05
Aaron Hautala
Just just like me, honestly, on cycling. So it’s like how do you how do you provide each user group the best possible experience and have all of the user groups working together for good so that one one group doesn’t negatively impact another user group? Yeah. And that’s the hardest possible work you could do. But when you do it, sit back and watch it grow like crazy.

00:42:41:15 – 00:42:44:26
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. Because people, people are finding themselves in it and they’ll love it.

00:42:45:05 – 00:43:00:27
John Simmerman
Yeah. And so here, here’s the call to action. It sounds like there’s a lot of work yet to be done in this area so folks can email it info at K Unicom and you all will get them connected and.

00:43:01:00 – 00:43:02:07
Aaron Hautala
I’ll get them connected.

00:43:02:07 – 00:43:03:20
John Simmerman
Find out a way to help out.

00:43:04:05 – 00:43:30:02
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, it’s all I mean the state helps a lot it without the state it wouldn’t exist but the state requires it’s a good word requires volunteer support. Right. Like you don’t get something unless you give something. Yeah. It’s not what what can Kahuna do for you. It’s what you can do for Kahuna. And if you’re really into this paddle portage ing and that’s what you want to be a part of, I’ll get you connected and you can help make it happen because that’s okay.

00:43:30:02 – 00:43:30:14
Aaron Hautala
You know, our.

00:43:30:14 – 00:43:32:17
John Simmerman
Equestrian or the walking trails.

00:43:32:20 – 00:43:37:06
Aaron Hautala
Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. It’s people power in the best possible way.

00:43:37:09 – 00:44:14:08
John Simmerman
Yeah, yeah. Good stuff. Talk a little bit about how this has helped transform the the environ. And and I talk about a culture of activity a lot and I talk about how cities and towns and communities can can absorb loosely, shape their the trajectory of their community and and transform the culture of the area into being a culture that, you know, does embrace physical activity and active mobility and things of that nature.

00:44:14:13 – 00:44:20:06
John Simmerman
Talk about the transformation that’s taking place, you know, over the last 20 years in this area.

00:44:20:28 – 00:44:43:01
Aaron Hautala
Well, I think the best example to answer that is in the beginning, there were probably less than this many cyclists here. There was a handful that really loved it and had amazing vision and got it rolling. And now the kind of lakes mountain bike crew alone has over 300 active members or 300 members and probably 100 active members.

00:44:43:13 – 00:45:11:04
Aaron Hautala
So you talk about an exponential growth and then outside of I mean, you take a 60 mile radius of Kuna and Brainerd, cross-legged, Breezy Point, Bemidji. I mean, it’s impacted all these different areas. And for a mom from a community wellness point of view, it’s incredibly hard to tell anybody. Go be active. You’ll like it, right? It doesn’t it doesn’t work.

00:45:11:12 – 00:45:34:18
Aaron Hautala
Right. But what, what, what? Cycling, at least in my opinion, everyone has their own and they’re allowed it. But like on these adaptive trails that really provides an opportunity for equality of people can try it. And if you don’t have the leg power in the beginning, you can try an e-bike. And if you have that experience and don’t like it, that’s okay too.

00:45:34:18 – 00:45:55:21
Aaron Hautala
But I think I think a large percentage of people may come out of that experience and go, well, that’s not what I thought it would be. I kind of like that, actually. Yeah, you know, and that’s how it starts. I mean, that’s how it started for me. It was I had that a little rush on a mountain bike that reminded me of downhill skiing.

00:45:55:29 – 00:46:19:15
Aaron Hautala
I have not touched my skis since 2011. They’re still in the same spot because I took all that energy and put it into how do we make that here? Right. It’s different, but how do we make it here? And the main thing I caution everyone is like if if you’re looking to do anything like this, it’s not about replacing or displacing or changing.

00:46:19:15 – 00:46:31:24
Aaron Hautala
It’s about how do we together make this happen, you know? And it’s not about creating an us and them, it’s about creating a we, right. You know, and that’s the real thing. And it’s hard. It’s not an easy thing to do. Yeah.

00:46:32:12 – 00:46:32:28
Aaron Hautala
You know.

00:46:33:06 – 00:46:55:02
Aaron Hautala
But if you go into it with that filter and frame, you’re going to have a better chance of achieving real results and sustainable versus a flash in the pan. And what we didn’t want this to be was one chapter that had a beginning, a glorious midsection, and then an end. Because we have had too many of them already.

00:46:55:05 – 00:46:55:12
Aaron Hautala
Yeah.

00:46:55:13 – 00:47:15:01
Aaron Hautala
You know, it’s like. And this isn’t the deal. This is not the thing. Yeah, but it’s this supportive thing that can make health care better, that can make education better, that can make our, you know, major manufacturing stronger, and give this a place that people want to live but not get so out of control that they have to move because they can’t afford to live.

00:47:15:03 – 00:47:25:21
Aaron Hautala
That’s not the goal. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s not the goal. You know. So it’s complicated, but it’s, you know, as as folks approach this, be thoughtful about it and be kind.

00:47:26:18 – 00:47:54:06
John Simmerman
And I like to to, you know, frame this to it’s you mentioned that, you know, in the beginning there was like, you know, X number of quote unquote cyclists and, you know, you’ve been successful when it becomes just a normal activity for entire families to do. And they wouldn’t identify themselves as cyclists. They would just say no, we’re just people and we enjoy, you know, riding a bike.

00:47:54:07 – 00:48:18:10
John Simmerman
We enjoy getting on our bikes as a as a family, as a family unit and and doing stuff. And, you know, when it’s you know, when it’s safe and inviting, as you mentioned earlier, you know, we’ll get on our bikes and we’ll do that for a utilitarian trip. You know, we’ll ride in the summertime to the ice cream shop or something, you know, that sort of thing where it’s not an us versus them.

00:48:18:10 – 00:48:24:13
John Simmerman
It’s like oh no. This is just like it’s inclusive of everybody in the community all ages and abilities.

00:48:24:26 – 00:48:31:23
Aaron Hautala
Yeah. And that’s where families help create that I think. Yeah. Because it’s hard to argue families having fun.

00:48:32:03 – 00:48:35:22
Aaron Hautala
It’s like, yeah, you know what part of that know what we like and.

00:48:35:22 – 00:48:57:08
Aaron Hautala
What people have seen is that there was I would I think decades is a fair word where decades of people left and didn’t come back. And then also now they want to get back. Right. And I’m hearing people say, you know, thank you. I grew up here. This is what this is what we all felt. That could be right.

00:48:57:08 – 00:49:01:26
Aaron Hautala
Thank you. And I’m like a resurging pride. I like this. This all.

00:49:01:27 – 00:49:03:07
John Simmerman
Work. That’s good, you know.

00:49:03:20 – 00:49:09:16
Aaron Hautala
And that’s that’s bigger than bike trails, that’s creating a sense of place and a sense of peace.

00:49:09:21 – 00:49:09:29
Aaron Hautala
Yeah.

00:49:10:18 – 00:49:15:13
Aaron Hautala
And it’s. You’re always rowing the boat, though. You can never take a day off, by the way.

00:49:16:14 – 00:49:16:20
Aaron Hautala
You.

00:49:17:00 – 00:49:38:23
John Simmerman
Absolutely. I try to emphasize that with folks around the globe as well, is that, you know, this is this is hard work. This is not a sprint. It’s definitely longer than a marathon to you have to use a running event analogy is this is like a never ending ultra marathon so just keep moving one foot in front of the other.

00:49:39:03 – 00:49:45:23
John Simmerman
So good stuff, Aaron. Thank you so much for joining me on the Active Towns podcast. It’s been such a joy to connect with you.

00:49:46:12 – 00:49:51:10
Aaron Hautala
Well, thank you for making time for me and I’m very grateful to see you again. Spend some time with all y’all.

00:49:52:16 – 00:50:08:21
John Simmerman
Thank you all so much for tuning in. I hope you enjoyed this episode with Aaron and if you did, please give it a thumbs up. Leave a comment down below and share it with a friend. And if you haven’t done so already, I’d be honored to have you subscribe to the channel. Just click on the subscription button down below and ring that notification and go right next to it.

00:50:09:07 – 00:50:38:10
John Simmerman
That way you can customize your notification preferences and I’ll be back next week with another episode. So until then, this is John signing off by wishing much activity, health and happiness. Cheers. Also sending out a very big thank you to all my amazing active towns ambassadors who are directly supporting my efforts through Patreon Buy Me a Coffee, the YouTube super chats and super things, as well as buying things from the active town store and making donations to the nonprofit.

00:50:38:18 – 00:50:50:07
John Simmerman
Every little bit helps and is greatly appreciated. Thank you all so very much.

About Ian R Buck

Saint Paulite, podcaster, and teacher. Ian gets around via bike and public transportation. "You don't need a parachute to skydive; you just need a parachute to skydive twice!"

Articles near this location