Each year, people come from all over to experience the Bike Ride to Rippey, or “BRR,” as most people call it. This year was a special year, however.
BRR celebrated its 40th year anniversary on Saturday, Feb. 4 when it started on Second Street in Perry, heading north towards the City of Rippey.
There was also a special rider in attendance. Dennis Hurley, who founded the event back in 1977 along with Jim Walstrom was in attendance and even made the 24-mile round trip ride on Saturday.
Hurley said that the idea first came when he decided he wanted to get a ski trip going back in 1977.
“He was having a meeting and I wait until he’s out of the meeting and I said ‘Jim, you know what I would like to do is get a ski trip going,’” Hurley said. “He said ‘you know what I’d like to do? I’d like to get a bike ride together in February and call it the Coldest Day of the Year Bike Ride.
The first year they had it, they placed an advertisement in an area newspaper with a picture of Walstrom with a bike in the snowbanks and they had 22 riders the first year. The second year, things dropped off a little bit.
“We thought, well advertising takes care of itself, so we didn’t advertise the next year, we had 12 (riders),” Hurley said.
Hurley thinks the ride is “great” these days and was even able to see that when he was making the trip in from Merle Hay Road.
“I’m coming off of Merle Hay onto the Interstate… and here comes a car, passing me, with two bikes on the roof,” Hurley said. “It sent a chill right down me. No kidding, I thought ‘this is great.’ Here in Perry has the second-largest bike ride in Iowa, probably, only under probably the biggest bike ride in the world.”
DeeAnn Doherty, of Johnston, was a first-time rider this year.
“Well, we’ve been just kind of researching what rides were available because we’re kind of new to riding, and this one popped up whenever we were talking to some guys, whenever we bought the bikes,” Doherty said. “And we decided we’d give it a shot because we’re going to try RAGBRAI this year.”
Doherty said she was hoping that BRR would be a good warm up for her first RAGBRAI.
She said she recently got into cycling because she recently had surgery and can no longer run.
“Now I am taking up riding, I absolutely love it and so we figured we’d give this a shot and see if we liked it in the cold too,” Doherty said.
She said that BRR had a “pretty amazing setup” and a “very amazing turnout” for its 40th year.
“This is really neat to see how many people enjoy this sport,” Doherty said.
Some people returned for the ride and brought their friends, who were first-time riders. Kurt Gray of Algona rode in his fifth BRR this year, alongside Bob Myers of Madison County, who was riding it for the first time.
Gray said that he keeps returning each year because you get to meet people and it’s a lot of fun. He said he does a lot of “fun rides” including RAGBRAI.
“It’s just kind of the first one of the year to get started,” Gray said.
Myers said that BRR has been a ride that has been on his list for a while.
“I enjoy riding, so I wanted to get out here and see what it was all about,” Myers said.
Bob Wilson, Director of the Perry Chamber of Commerce, said that the pre-registration numbers were up, as well as the day-of registration numbers and that he loved the turnout this year.
“The weather helped us, but it’s 40 years of doing something so crazy,” Wilson said. “It’s a bucket-list item. You’ve got to come out and try BRR and we’re proving it now.”
It was windy on Saturday, but the temperatures reached as high as 45 degrees. In the past, people have been treated to bitter cold weather and even snow some years.
Wilson didn’t have the hard numbers on registered riders yet on Saturday, but he said that they had about 650 pre-register and a “couple hundred” more on the day of the event. He said that they increased registrations this year by about 150 or 200.
After the ride, they had live music performances from Jason Walsmith from noon until 2 p.m. and Brad Seidenfed from 2:30-4:30 p.m. Friday night, they had a live music performance from Tony Bohnenkamp from 7-10 p.m.