In 2001, about a dozen motorcycle enthusiasts working at Microsoft decided they needed a break from the intensity of developing their company's latest innovation - Xbox. The Seattle-area riders played hooky one Friday and rode 90 miles north to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

It turned to into such a great day they all agreed it must be done again. Little did they know...

Twelve years later, the now-named Tulip Ride, is a massive motorcade of bikers from all parts of Washington who participate in the yearly trek, now on the weekend, for a cruise along some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest, and to raise money for charity. The event's popularity outgrew the city of LaConner a few years back so organizers coordinated with Tulip Town. Then one year, the Tulalip Tribal Police appeared when the number of bikes impacted traffic and provided a police escort. The same officers have helped out every year since.

Benefits Charity

The Tulip Ride benefits the American Red Cross and the Seattle Humane Society. All money donated by Microsoft riders is matched by Microsoft. Last year, the ride raised $3,000 for these charities and organizers this year are hoping to double the amount. The public can donate without participating in the ride.

"For 13 years, the Tulip Ride has offered Pacific Northwest riders a great way to kick off the riding season while supporting local and national charities," said Jeff Henshaw, Tulip Ride Founder. "This year we expect to be one of the largest organized rides of the season."

Last year, 186 bikes participated and Henshaw believes if the weather holds, their numbers could hit 450-500 this year. The Tulip Ride has only been postponed once as a result of inclement weather.

"The Tulip Ride focuses on a fun, relaxed ride that is inviting to all riders on all types of bikes," Henshaw said. "Our diversity and beautiful route through the Puget Sound area in springtime is the perfect way to ring in the 2013 riding season."

Kickstands are up at 9:30 a.m. April 27 at Blazing Bagels, 6975 176th Ave. in Redmond.

Other Rides Scheduled this Weekend

Leesburg Bikefest April 26-28: Dubbed the World's Largest 3 Day Motorcycle and Music event, the Leesburg Bikefest in Leesburg, FL features hundreds of vendors, eight stages and more than 50 bands.

Rally at the Corner April 26-28: Inaugural ride in Payson, AZ hosted by the Motorcycle Association of Arizona features camping, live music, games and a poker run.

Boston's Wounded Veteran Run April 27: Inspired by Cpl. Vincent Brodeu who was critically injured in Iraq, the Wounded Veteran Run helps fund housing modifications for disabled veterans.

Midwest Bike Fest April 27: This self-directed ride in St, Charles, MO benefits head injuries and autism.

New Breed Rally for Rupert's Kids April 27: Ride in Shelbyville, IN raises money for Rupert's Kids a non-profit for young adults too old for the youth social services and too young for adult services.

Houston Ride for Kids April 28: Ride for Kids benefits the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and features numerous rides throughout the country during the year. This weekend kickstands are up in Houston.

Cancer Sucks Motorcycle Run April 28: Donations from this Dixon, CA ride benefits a family fighting cancer as well as the American Cancer Society.