Raised as an active Midwestern farm boy, Jim Jensen didn’t let the challenges of a demanding job and a health scare derail his love of the outdoors.
“I accepted a job promotion with my company and moved to Arizona in 2006,” says the co-founder of the San Tan Shredders mountain bike club. “As a ‘traveling salesman,’ my job created a perfect storm of bad eating habits, and almost no opportunity to exercise. It took a toll on my physical health.”
When a co-worker suggested mountain biking to get fit, Jensen quickly discovered the trails of San Tan Mountain Regional Park near his home in Queen Creek. On one of his rides, he met park ranger Adam Martell, who became a regular riding pal along with other bikers who formed an informal group. “Within two to three months, we had 45-plus people coming out to ride with us.” Jensen and Martell ultimately gave the group a formal name: the San Tan Shredders, which has since grown to more than 1,250 members. Basic membership is free, and events are organized through the Meetup website.
“Our mission is to invite the community to get active, enjoy nature while meeting other like-minded people, improve mindset, reduce stress and relieve the body of anxiety,” Jensen says. The mission seems to be working. In 2016, when Jensen was diagnosed with a rare, life-threatening blood disease, doctors credited his healthy lifestyle with keeping death away.
The club, which is most active in the East Valley, also gives back to the community through bike skills classes, safety clinics, kids’ events and volunteer trail maintenance work. In early 2023, the Maricopa Trail + Park Foundation awarded STS and San Tan Regional Park with a fully loaded toolbox for easier access to hand tools used to mitigate trail erosion, trim vegetation and repair damage from heavy use.
The club embraces the motto No Rider Left Behind. “There is nothing ‘typical’ about an STS member,” Jensen says. “They come from all walks of life, abilities, backgrounds and ages. It’s the good laughs, good people and good food that bring together everyone.”