By Tim Erickson
We motorcyclists are a caring bunch. On any given summer weekend, there seems opportunity to come together as a riding community and support numerous causes – fundraisers for individual people, support for armed forces or law enforcement, and other events with a purpose. Look no further than a dealer or motorcycle food hot spot to see organized ride flyers with come one, come all and support messaging.
MMM participated in the 8th Annual Ride for Hope July 23. MN privately held Lube Tech, an oil and fuel company headquartered in Golden Valley, MN, is the event’s sponsor and its owners and long-time employees the founders. The Ride for Hope beneficiary is the Autism Society of Minnesota, a 501c organization benefitting Minnesota families affected by autism with non-medical support: education, advocacy and other financial assistance. It’s heartwarming to be part of a greater good, more so on rides that boast 100% of proceeds donated. This ride, like numerous others, has sponsors that cover all the expenses and the donated
giveaways means $0 overhead.
I hopped aboard our Victory Octane loaner, eschewed the stormy afternoon forecast thumbed the starter button and piloted to the Zimmerman, MN rendezvous. I couldn’t resist liberal twisting of the throttle to make use of the bike’s addicting, quick-revving midrange pull. Accelerating to highway speeds from stoplights is quick and thrilling aboard the relaxed, yet sporty cockpit. Slabbing it up Highway 169 at the posted 65 mph revealed adequate, if not surprising, wind protection from the small bikini fairing. The chassis was so confidence inspiring on routine corners the peg feelers bottomed out frequently.
Upon arrival I paid a $35 registration fee and shelled out another $20 for raffle tickets to prize giveaways including Twins and Wild tickets, hotel suite stays and more. I was told I could pick a bag if my ticket was drawn, and wouldn’t know its contents until opened. I liked my odds.
I waited in line for a short stack of pancakes, scrambled eggs and bacon and poured a black coffee. The hearty VFW breakfast was the catalyst to pre-ride conversation after I identified another solo participant at a nearby table. The ride comradery was instant. I learned quickly he was fresh from armed forces service, and participating in his first charity ride aboard his first bike. We continued to make small talk over clean plates and a second cup of coffee until the ride organizers signaled we were moving out.
The well planned circuitous route, supported by both road-guards and sheriff deputies, took off toward Santiago. I was late mid-pack, where I had a sea of rumbling V Twins ahead of me and several dozen headlamps visible in my mirrors. The 120-mile route followed backroads to planned stops in Santiago, Foreston, and Princeton before wrapping up in Big Lake. At least that was the plan.
After a prize giveaway and social stop in Santiago at Bailey Ray’s Road House, we motored on to Foreston for lunch. While feasting on the roasted ham, fresh rolls and cheesy hash browns, the sky opened up. The relentless rain and strong storm caused drainage to back up and water to pool, but my spirits were not dampened. We remounted after our initial weather delay and marched on to Princeton, but riders were soaked – rain gear or not – by the time the slow-moving motorcade arrived to the Finish Line Café. Ride organizers reduced the pace due to the weather, ensuring everyone arrived safely. Perhaps knowing the barriers to get soaked riders on the move again, the ride leaders decided the ride would complete at the Princeton stop and people could leave at their own pace.
While drinking a warm up cup of coffee and walking the silent auction in squishy riding boots, I decided I had to leave as the high bidder on a new Jason Mitchell fishing setup and hoodie for several dollars less than retail. People redeemed wet raffle tickets in exchange for the prize packs, but my luck was as lousy as the day’s weather.
Just as it was at breakfast, the participants were jovial, pleasant and generous. Charity rides are just that – an opportunity to give back. The 2016 Ride for Hope raised $13,504 in spite of the weather and the shortened route. I started to think about the impact motorcycle riders have statewide every year. I was part of one day, one ride. And to date, this charity has received $63,371 from its 8-year history.
It had been years since I participated in a large group event. The weather was terrible – but without this organized ride more important to me and to the charity than the forecast, it put me and 61 other bikes on the road that may not have otherwise been ridden that day, for a purpose.
For more information on the Ride for Hope and additional event photos, check out www.rideforhopemn.com. You can also learn more about the Autism Society of Minnesota at www.ausm.org.
A great resource for a calendar of motorcycle rides, many of them for a charitable cause, visit www.cyclefish.com or look at the calendar of events right here in MMM!
We’d like to thank Victory Motorcycles for loaning MMM a fresh Octane for a few days before and after the Ride for Hope. See the full review on page 6.