Jon Soder Keeps Riding

In 1994, Jon Soder was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. He remained active, controlling his diabetes with diet and medication. […]

Generic Article graphic with Access Press logo

In 1994, Jon Soder was diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. He remained active, controlling his diabetes with diet and medication. Part of his exercise regimen was bicycling. So when he noticed an ad in Diabetes Forecast for the 2003 Tour de Cure, held every June to benefit diabetes research, he signed up. He rode his two-wheeler on the twenty-five mile route, providing his own support.

The following year he joined the planning committee. By that time, his balance was affected by Diabetic Neuropathy and light tremors, similar to Parkinson’s. He now uses a cane or walker when he goes any distance.

To continue biking, Soder bought a three-wheeled bike, which he rode in the Tours de Cure of 2004 and 2005. The bike has hand-lock disc brakes and a chair-like seat with lumbar support. The rear wheels are canted inwards for less tipping. “I can even mount my cane on the bike,” Soder says.

Soder helped test the route for the 2004 Tour de Cure. “The other guys were in fancy riding suits. Then there was me in my parka,” Jon said, remembering the chilly day in April. His job was to see that the route was doable by others using three-wheelers. The 2004-2005 Tours began and ended at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, traveling along Minnehaha Creek, up the river, across downtown, and around the Lakes. To go fifty miles, a rider bikes the route twice. Next year’s Tour will offer an alternative fifty-mile route.

Because Soder was in the Navy from 1966 until 1993, he has a heart for other veterans with disabilities, suffering himself from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). “In 2000, the Vets Administration recognized that diabetes is linked to Agent Orange,” Soder said. He maintains contact with friends from his Vietnam river patrol duty. Ninety-five percent of them have diabetes. Jon helps many veterans learn of the link between Agent Orange and diabetes. He advises Vietnam Vets how they can apply for and receive help from the Veterans Administration.

Jon helped another Vet in the 2005 Tour de Cure create his own ADA (American Diabetes Association) Tour de Cure fund-raising website. He took a photo of the man and helped him to post it. Soder also maintains his own website, where photos of previous Tour de Cure events can be found. Jon’s supporters have contributed over $3,000 total for the 2004 and 2005 Tours.

After retiring from the Navy, Soder, his wife, Esmenia, and daughter, settled in St. Paul, where he began working for the Department of Transportation, most recently as Management Information Systems Supervisor.

As a sideline, Jon did food catering because he had been a chef in the Navy, acquiring the nickname, Monsterchef. Because of his disabilities he gave up catering, but still cooks for himself and for family gatherings. A favorite is Sauerbraten and the trimmings, a German pot roast whose gravy is spiced with gingersnaps. In 1992, he won a cooking contest in Duluth, judged by chefs from restaurants and casinos and cookbook authors. His apple oatmeal pancakes, with oatmeal replacing half the flour, won both the lite/healthy category, as well as the overall grand prize. The chef at the Black Bear Casino then asked him to teach his cooks how to make these pancakes in large quantities.

Because of recent balance problems and low blood sugars, Soder is now on disability retirement. He’s also switched from using a treadmill for exercise to using a stationary recumbent bike.

Still, he expects to volunteer again at the Tour de Cure booth of the Diabetes EXPO. “The EXPO was really impressive last year,” Soder said. “I was there the whole day. It was well laid out. I was surprised how big it was for the first year. I saw people I knew from work and my diabetes educator, who was testing people’s A1Cs (measurements of blood sugar levels over a three-month period). The other surprising thing was that although it was held last October, we signed up people for the Tour de Cure for this past June.”

This year’s EXPO will be held on October 15 at the Minneapolis Convention Center from 10 am to 4 pm. For more information, call 1-888-DIABETES or visit For Soder’s Tour de Cure Web site, visit

Jon Soder’s Oatmeal Apple Pancakes


1 large apple
½ cup Eggbeaters (or other egg substitute)
2 tablespoons Canola oil (or other low cholesterol oil)
1 ½ cups skim milk
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon (optional)
1 cup all purpose flour


Preheat a son-stick griddle or other non-stick pan to 350° F.

Peel and core the apple and cut into quarters. (You may leave the peelings on if you want.) Chop the apple into very small pieces and place them into a medium sized mixing bowl.

Add the Eggbeaters, Canola oil, milk and rolled oats. Stir the mixture just long enough so that the rolled oats are moistened by the mixture. Let this mixture rest for two minutes.

Add the baking powder, cinnamon, and flour. Gently stir with a wire whip just long enough to dissolve the dry ingredients into the batter. (A few lumps are OK.) Stirring too long will result in tough pancakes.

Spoon the batter for each pancake onto the preheated griddle, one large kitchen spoonful for each pancake.

Cook each pancake on one side until lots of bubbles form and pop in the surface of the batter.

Flip each pancake over and continue cooking until the center springs back when touched.

Suggested Toppings: Margarine, Sugar Free of Low Sugar syrup, all-fruit spread, or honey.


6 servings (10-12 – 5” pancakes)

  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself & others from the COVID-19 virus."
  • "Stay safe, Minnesota. Take steps to protect yourself, & others from the COVID-19 virus."

Many former refugees are helping to make Minnesota a better place for all. Learn how at
Take the Minnesota Disability Inclusion and Choice Survey