The 14th annual running of the Tulip Ride on Sunday just outside Seattle, WA looks to be the biggest year yet and with good timing.
What started out as a casual ride among Microsoft employees now commands several hundred participants and a fund-raising opportunity for the American Red Cross and Seattle Humane Society. In addition to entry fees, all money donated by Microsoft riders is matched by Microsoft.
"These charities are especially important this year in the aftermath of the Oso mudslide that displaced many families in the Pacific Northwest," said ride founder Jeff Henshaw. "Both organizations will have representatives at the ride and we look forward to hearing from them as we ride to support them."
Rescuers recovered another body from the March 22 Oso mudslide last week and on Monday raised the death toll to 41. The mudslide buried dozens of homes along the north fork of the Stillaguamish River and several people remain missing.
Henshaw said so far the 2014 Tulip Ride, which MotoSport sponsors, is on track for record attendance and if the weather holds up he fully expects to surpass last year's more than 300 motorcyclists who showed in wet weather. New this year are sponsorships enabling anyone to donate money by sponsoring one or all riders. The Acting Outlaws - actresses and motorcycle enthusiasts Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer - return to help bring awareness to the charitable angle.
Riders can expect a slight change to the route this year which again starts in Redmond at Blazing Bagels. But instead of stopping once along the way, the Tulip Ride heads straight to Roozengaarde Tulip Farms in the Skagit Valley.
"In past years we stopped once along the way taking away time that people would rather spend enjoying the tulip fields and the miles of colorful blooms," Henshaw said. "This means more time in the saddle and at the tulip festival."
Radio and television coverage is expected and Henshaw said he has no plans to scale back on the size or popularity of the Tulip Ride which he deliberately schedules at the end of April as a way to welcome Spring and start the riding season. The Roozengaarde Tulip Farms accommodate thousands of people daily so the Tulip Ride has plenty of room to grow.
Safety is always of utmost concern and the only difficulty Henshaw said he encounters with organizing such a large ride is reminding everyone to stay alert, take the ride at a comfortable pace and watch out for one another.
"It's not a race and it's OK if the pack breaks up a bit along the way," Henshaw said.
The 14th annual Tulip Ride starts 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Blazing Bagels, 6975 176th Ave. NE in Redmond, WA. Riders can meet as early as 8 a.m. for free coffee and discounted sandwiches and specialty drinks at Blazing Bagels. Several registration levels are available and pre-registration is encouraged which also comes with a discount compared to on-site registration.
Written By: AndrewT