Written by Michael Heyes - November 2015
Back in 1996 there were few choices if you wanted to do a group ride on New Years Day. At the time, the only ride like that in Indiana was The Polar Bear ride in Kokomo. I thought it would be nice to have a local ride so we wouldn't have to make that long drive there and back. So I thought 3RVS should put on its own ride as a thank you to club members and the general public. Now look where we are; there are several New Years Day day rides in Indiana.
My thinking was to have a free ride as a thank you to members, and as a publicity vehicle for the club to recruite non-members. Kathi Heyes, Phil Snider and I talked about the ride and worked out the general details. Phil would develop a route in city limits, starting at Franke Park. Anne Stratton, touring director at the time, volunteered to head up the ride/details.
The first Chilly Challenge started from one of Franke Park's parking lots. It was very cold, a lot of snow and ice, and we weren't expecting many more than a handful of riders. Someone made a (one) pot of chili, some hot chocolate, and it was served from the back of a pickup truck. So then some riders came. Then more. And more. We ended up with about 30 riders I think altogether. And one pot of chili. So I gave Karen Walker $20 and asked her to get some chili from Wendy's. She and some others made the chili run while the rest of us went on the ride through town.
Only a few pictures survive documenting the ride. Some of those are on this page. Click on the image for a larger version of each.
After the ride we stood around in the cold outdoors eating chili, drinking hot chocolate and laughing about what we had just done. No warm building to go into, sit down and warm up, just hot chili and hot chocolate. I can see some long time members in the pictures, including Steve Souers, Gene Dixon and Marilyn Bash. Off camera was Karen Walker and several others who didn't ride but helped out while we were out riding.
Everyone had a good time and the ride was judged a success, so we've had it ever since. It was simple, pretty low-key, and free. Just the way I like rides :) The first few started at Franke but it eventually moved to where it is now. I'm very glad this tradition has continued!!