MINNEAPOLIS – Mother Nature was kinder to local motorcycle riders in 2015 than she has been in many past winters. Temperatures were moderate for the annual I-Cycle Derby rally on New Year's Day.
This was the 67th annual event, according to organizers, without ever having a cancellation or postponement. That makes it the longest, continuously running motorcycle event in the country.
A rally, not a race, the riders were timed as they left Roy's Motorcycle Repair Shop on Snelling Avenue South, then wound their way down a predetermined route through Minneapolis and Saint Paul before returning to Roy's.
"The event has been run because bunch of motorcyclists were, like, tired of sitting around through the winter and said, 'well, what's the coldest day of the year? New Year's Day! Let's go riding!', said Kevin Kocyr, I-Cycle Derby Rally Master. "The idea is it's a timed road event. And it is not a race. It is held on public streets. You are actually penalized for going too fast."
The riders are given written directions of the route of each of three legs. The idea is to finish the tour by an average speed of just 17-18 mph. The cycles in the rally ranged from big road "hogs" to smaller street bikes and even a 1964 vintage Vespa scooter. Two of the cycles included sidecars for passengers.
Riders of any legal age were invited to participate with a $10 entry fee and a take a chance on a few items offered in a raffle. $500 was raised for "Eddie's Road", a charity that benefits children who have suffered from child abuse.
"Eddie's Road was put together right after the death of Eddie James, who was the head of Team Strange, who is putting on this event," said Lisa Erbes, Team Strange President. "We started Eddie's Road as a memorial to him. He was a victim of child abuse and his life was turned around by some of similar programs to what we started. So, that's why it's become our cause."
The 20 riders in the 2015 edition of the Derby tucked themselves into layers of warm clothing, since they were about to create their own wind chill on the ride. Twin Cities pedestrians and motorists were treated to the unusual scene of dozens of motorcycles moving up and down winter thoroughfares.
One of the riders in 2015, as he has been for 10-11 years was Victor Wanchena, Publisher of Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly magazine.
"You know, it is just a great tradition," said Wanchena. " I love motorcycling. Been a long time motorcyclist and it's a wonderful way to ring in the New Year."
It was another wonderful year for Rich Reed of Eden Prairie. He won the I-Cycle Derby for the 3rd consecutive year. Second Place went to the Mankato owner of the vintage Vespa scooter.