Riding for the kidsPublished 5:16am Monday, June 17, 2013 Updated 7:19am Monday, June 17, 2013
Paul Buendiger sat clad in leather chaps and vest on Thursday afternoon, a large black boot resting on his knee, taking in the heat as he planned his next motorcycle trip — a 6,200 ride from Otter Tail County to the Atlantic, Pacific and back.
When asked how old he will be while completing the trek, his answer came without hesitation.
“Twenty eight,” he said, grinning under the mustache stretched across the corners of his mouth. “Mentally, at least. Actually, I’m 64.”
Buendiger will take 8 days — about 15 to 16 hours a day — to ride from Minnesota to Lake Michigan, Jacksonville, the Gulf of Mexico and San Diego before making his way back home. Between the coasts, he will attempt to join the “Iron Butt Club” and pass 2,353 miles over 53 hours.
He calls the ride “Loco Logo” — “loco” for how he describes himself and the latter standing for lake, ocean, gulf, ocean, which is a description of the trip. The ride is an effort to raise money for Dreams for Kids, a local chapter of the Minnesota Make-A-Wish Foundation.
This trip will be his third for the charity. In 2011, he rode 2011 miles to Montana and back. His second trip, dubbed “Mex-I-Can,” was a drive up to the Canadian border, down to the Mexican border and back. In the two years, Buendiger and his wife, Kaie, raised $22,000 that helped the foundation grant a number of wishes.
A retired truck driver with 50 years of motorcycle experience, Buendiger said endurance trips have helped keep him active during his retirement. Taking up a cause for kids gives him more of a reason to make use of his time.
“I decided to have the kids as incentive for me, for mental support to keep going,” he said. “You just have to forget about time and distance and enjoy the moment. I love riding motorcycle, so when that sun rises on the first morning, I’m ready to go.”
For Kaie, however, life home alone is never easy. The two try to talk over the phone at each stop Buendiger takes, but that isn’t always easy. Still, the two stay positive.
“It’s gratifying when you see the kids and meet them,” Kaie said. “Just as long as he comes back safe, then it’s all worth it.”
The Buendigers raise money at rallies and rides as they share their passion for bikes with a tight knit group of enthusiasts. Both said representing such a positive community, despite the negative image bikers have had in the past, is another important aspect of the ride.
“We meet an awful lot of real good people. I can walk up to a group of biker guys and gals I don’t know, ask for a donation and they’ll open up their wallets,” Buendiger said. “I appreciate the trust people have in me that I’m doing what’s right with the funds I raise.”
Buendiger has a number of places to stay along the route, but will mainly stay in motels as he runs out of energy. After $1,000 of his own money, new back wheel and a sore backside, he will return home having done his little part for the local community.
“I just love riding motorcycle. I love the wind on my face, the heat of the sun on my back, the freedom of riding,” he said. “I like a challenge. If people think I’m crazy for some of the things I think are a challenge, well, so be it.”
Buendiger will start the trip on July 12. A rally will be held for his return on July 20 at the Pioneer Grounds in Perham.ꆱ