It was a windy start to a hot day on Saturday when more than 100 bikers took off From Washington and headed to Riverside for a 35-mile round trip for the 5th annual Rock ‘n’ Ride.
Susan Van Osdol, an organizer for the event, said the idea for the event came from Dave Friese and Mike Van Osdol, who both lost their wives to cancer and were looking for a way to memorialize them. Kim (Thomason) Friese passed away in 2014 and Karen (Ronfeldt) Van Osdol in 2010.
Friese said the idea for the bike ride stemmed from his late wife’s love of riding. The pair originally met at RAGRBRAI and kept up the tradition of riding together until they began having children. Friese said seeing the community come out and support the event made him proud.
“It makes me really, really proud of our community (and) the way they’ve supported this,” he said. “It’s a good cause. It just makes me super proud.”
Karen Van Osdol, an avid runner, inspired the 5K that has also become part of the annual event. Her husband, Mike, said when he was approached by Friese about starting an event that would raise money for cancer research in honor of their wives, he was on board immediately.
“The intent for the event is to keep growing and supporting more and more families, and obviously to research and find a cure, but also to support families that are battling cancer right now,” he said. “They’ve got enough to deal with, so helping with some of those things is what it’s about.”
He said that the event is in its fifth year and growing steadily, which is “an amazing thing” because it shows all the love the community has for its members. “For a small town to have this kind of support ... there’s a lot of good hearts in this community,” he said.
Supporting cancer patients and their families has become their mission as they have expanded to honor other as well. Perry Rich, of Washington, died in 2016 and was honored at the ride.
His sister, Stephanie Rich Dacey, drove in from out of state to attend the event. Seeing the numbers for the ride grow every year gives her a comfort in knowing her brother’s memory is not forgotten.
“It’s nice to come home to,” she said.