by Bruce Mike and Bill Bassett
As the weather gets colder I get anxious about getting more rides in. One of the best late season rides I’ve ever been on is the Swan Ride. This is an annual ride that takes place the first Sunday of November. This year that will be November 6th.
Here’s the history of the Swan Ride as far as the ride founder Bill Bassett knows it. The very first “Swan Ride” occurred in 1994. A small, select group of friends, led by Doug & Sherry Marsh, rode our motorcycles south along the Mississippi river in mid-October to see a collection of Arctic Tundra Swans near Alma, WI. There we learned that part of the country lies along a migratory path to winter nesting grounds in the Southern states for the big birds. Big as in up to a 6+ foot wingspan. Big as in able to attain 50-mph continuous flight speeds for many hours at a time. Big as in having been sighted as high as 27,000 feet altitude. Big as in flying as far as some 3,000 miles, twice per year. See why Tundra Swans are so impressive?
At any rate, the model for future “Swan Rides” was born on that chilly day back in October, 1994. Since then, breakfast has grown from donuts & coffee to an all-you-can-eat pancake affair with fixins’, still free! Lunch has always been quality hot comfort food, perfect for hungry bikers on a fall day.
Historically, in all the years of the Swan Ride, it’s never been rained-out. It did snow one year early in it’s history, but the 15 or 20 attendees present that day simply drove their cars, rally-style, over the designated route to see the Swans! While the temperature at the beginning of the ride can often be “chilly,” it always seems to warm-up to a pleasant enough temperature for the well-equipped rider to enjoy. Sometimes, it’s even down right warm!
The ever-later arrival of winter in the Arctic has caused the great birds to migrate later each year, hence the date of the ride has also migrated from mid-October to it’s present first Sunday of November. Seems the freezing of the lakes and ponds they live on denies them their food sources, thereby stimulating migration South. Perhaps there’s something to be learned there for us all.
This is a great group ride with experienced riders and the route is a thing of beauty. Last year the ride started at Fury Motorcycles in South St. Paul. We will have ride information on the MMM® Facebook page and you can get more information at motoprimo.com or by calling 952.465.0500.