As is always the case, the Annual Pink Ribbon Ride in Minnesota was a blast. This fifth year we had more people and raised more money than ever. So how much fun did you miss?
On Friday, it started with a broomball tournament and vintage snowmobile ride. These events were small as most people didn’t arrive until late in the day just before the welcome reception and Friday evening Silent Auction. As people registered hey were met with hors d’oeuvres and beverages. A couple of the Max Sled Team (myself and Randy Nemitz) were trail leaders, so we attended the trail leader meeting to go over safety and rules of the trail. My brother helped my group by being what they term a “sweeper”. The sweeper is the last rider in the group and helps anyone who is stalled, gets into an accident or otherwise need help. Friday is a night of anticipation along with fun activities to get everyone pumped up for the ride the next day.
People are given the opportunity to choose a group to ride in depending on their ability and comfort level. Groups range from the faster “Hooter Haulers”, to the mid-level “B-Cups” to the “Sight seers“. I led a “B-Cup” group.
Saturday morning is pretty early for sledder standards as the trail leaders needed to have their sleds in the front of their group row by 8 am. Snowmobilers are then allowed to line up behind their trail leaders for the 9 am launch. During this time, the sled decoration contest is held and judges vote on a winner for the contest. The trail leaders are given this opportunity to talk with their group and let them know the riding plans throughout the day. Each group is assigned a lunch time so planning the morning ride is important. I planned a couple of routes depending on how my group felt during the day. They are all dedicated snowmobilers and seasoned riders, but you never know how the day is going to go. With my brother and I wearing our Cardo Systems Scala Rider G4 headsets, we were ready to rock.
I took my group about 60 miles to the lunch stop. We did stop at The Locker Room Bar and Grill in Coleraine, MN, for a bathroom break and a warm-up. Alcohol is not allowed during the ride, so we had a soda pop to quench our thirst. After a short time we were back on the trail. Our lunch time was 12:30, but we arrived just before noon. We lost one couple in our group with a broken rear suspension spring, but they happen to live in the area and rode home to get a different machine and met us at the lunch location. We left the lunch location at around 1:00 and back on the trail. At this time we could have gone two directions; one way was about 30 miles back and the other was 60 miles back. My group wanted to ride so we took the longer way back.
As we got closer to the Sugar Lake Lodge where the event was held, we came across a snowmobiling family in need. A dad, mom and young daughter were stranded miles from a road. One of their snowmobiles broke a drive shaft and the track was locked up so it wasn’t able to be pulled. It was late in the day and the temperatures were dropping near zero degrees Fahrenheit, not a good situation to be in. Our group stopped and helped move the broken sled off the trail and the couple who had their own suspension troubles earlier in the day offered to bring this family to safety. The rest of the group headed back to the lodge. Al and Denise Lauer deserve a “Good Samaritan” award that day, although snowmobilers naturally help each other out and never leave anyone stranded. While most of the group rode about 120 miles, Al and Denise rode about 40 more that day.
Saturday evening was full of great food, drink and camaraderie during the banquet. We heard stories and laughed, we heard stories and cried, and I saw that I was riding with a bunch of guys wearing pink underwear. Yes, it was my group wearing the pinkies. During the banquet, prizes were given away and items auctioned off, all in the name of raising money for breast cancer patients. There are a lot of people in need, but the goal of the Pink Ribbon Riders is to help as many as we can with a monetary gift to help them offset some of the financial burden. You see, the Pink Ribbon Riders give the money to the patients themselves. There are plenty of groups who raise money for cancer research, but not many who raise money for cancer patients like the Pink Ribbon Riders do. Jody McKay and her small staff of helpers and volunteers dedicate so much time and energy to this organization that we cannot thank them enough for the work they do. Yes, this is a lot of fun for us snowmobilers, but on the other hand a lot of work for the organizers. I know talking to the snowmobilers throughout the day that we all appreciate it.
That weekend there were over 200 people who attended the event and we rose over $48,000. Not bad considering how small the event really is. We intend on growing it next year and we hope you can join us. I encourage every snowmobiler to go to a Pink Ribbon Ride near them and experience the excitement, camaraderie, and fun for themselves, and help our brothers and sisters cope with breast cancer. Here is the official Press Release about the Minnesota ride, and here is information on how you can participate in a ride near you..