When we arrived at the registration site around 9:45, we found there were already quite a few other bikers there. This event gets bigger and better organized every year and this is the first time we've ridden by ourselves--not as part of a much larger group. We did see some familiar faces of people we knew from work out on the ride, so it wasn't like we were riding with a bunch of people we didn't know.
This year's route went through Fillmore, Winona and Olmsted counties--about 132 miles total. It was nice to travel some familiar roads and also ride down some new ones we've never been on before.
Our best reception was in Fountain, Minnesota--a small town in Fillmore County about 6 miles from where I grew up. The good folks of Fountain actually had their main street blocked off so bikers could park right on the main drag.
We also had a stop in Rushford, Minnesota--a town hit by a devastating flood only a year ago. It was strange to sit at the Kwik Trip and eat our lunch remembering last year's pictures of the same Kwik Trip store almost completely covered by flood waters.
My odometer turned over to 10,000 miles just outside of Rushford!
There is a large Amish community in Winona County near St. Charles, Minnesota and my best memory of today's trip was riding past the residence where the Amish families were having their Sunday worship and fellowship......seeing all those buggies parked along the driveway and waving to the little Amish boys in their white shirts and dark vests and trousers waving back at us!
By the time we got back to Rochester, the sky had completely clouded over and there were even a few sprinkles falling. We decided it would probably be best to head for home ASAP, but by the time we got halfway there, the sprinkles were getting more frequent and heavier. About 4 miles from home it was pretty much pouring and had been for a while as the pavement was pretty wet. In addition to the discomfort of wet clothes, rain spotted eyeglasses and windshields, the greater danger is losing control on slippery pavement when only on 2 wheels. Fortunately, we made it home without any mishaps.
We just heard on the local news that there were about 1200 bikers on this fund-raising trip, but no mention of how many dollars were raised for Ronald McDonald house. I will post that amount tomorrow as soon as the information becomes available.
Monday Update: Here are the results of yesterday's ride (an excerpt from today's local newspaper)
• 1,200 riders raised a record $104,392 this year.
• Rider participation has nearly quadrupled since the first official Cruise in 2001, when 340 riders raised more than $14,000.
• In eight years, the event has raised more than $500,000.