Sunday was a day of firsts! For both Dylan and myself, but mostly for me. The 4th Annual Ride for the Rhinos was Dylan’s first time at The Wilds. For me, it was my first freeway group ride, first twisties, first 80+mph trip.

herd of Southern White Rhinos
thumbs up while we queue up

AND, we got to do all of those firsts while supporting the Ride for the Rhinos fundraiser supported by the Columbus Zoo, The Wilds and Iron Pony. It was great to see 600+ riders and pillions support by getting involved with the largest motorcycle rides to benefit protected animals species in the world!

With a ride route of 80 miles one-way, this was my first real “long ride.” Not only was it a 160 mile round trip, there were sections where we went 80 miles per hour. This ride was maybe the third time I had been on the freeway in the first place, and now I was going 80 miles per hour with my group of at least 100 other riders!

The Wilds is a former longtime mining operation turned one of the largest conversation areas in North America. It is home to many worldwide endangered animals, including the white rhino and the greater one-horned rhino, for which the ride proceeds are raised. During the open-air safari, you can see many of the animals throughout the 10,000 plus acres of land. Much of the land is also dedicated to increasing habitat for local species, as well.

the Road King and Honda CB500

The Wilds is home to one of the largest herds of white rhinos in the world and they have been instrumental in re-population efforts and gene-pool diversification. In 2018, three white rhinos calves were born at The Wilds! In addition to their animal efforts, The Wilds is dedicated to humans, as well. There are several programs for Veterans who suffer from PTSD, as well as educational programming for children.

the queue up area where we go into groups of about 100 to take off to The Wilds!

I didn’t ride Bernadette and for good reason. The two or three other times I had ridden her on the freeway made me uncomfortable. She is a 360cc machine with a petite body and older tires. My weight plus her weight is not enough weight.

So, instead, I rode the 1972 Honda CB500 and felt WAY better on the freeway, let alone going actual freeway speeds! Bernadette is more of a “leisurely Sunday stroll” size motorcycle, and the CB500 can really keep up. Dylan rode the Harley Road King, so he obviously had no problems fitting in or keeping up!

Taking this ride was important to me for several reasons. One, obviously, was supporting the conservation efforts. I used to work in the industry with goals of working in conservation, education, and protection. While I no longer have a direct occupational connection to this area of expertise, I was stoked to be able to mix one of my “new” passions with one of my old, and ongoing, ones! The Columbus Zoo and The Wilds are two of my favorite places in Ohio and Columbus/Cumberland are blessed to have them right in our backyards. If you’ve never been to either, you should definitely make a trip. Both locations, convenient for bikers, have great routes out of Columbus whether you want to ride the freeway or take back roads.

Dylan and I as we arrived to check in for the ride

Another reason I wanted to do this ride was to challenge myself. I hadn’t gone over 60-65 mph in any sustained manner on Bernadette. I don’t think I’ll be pushing her to 80 mph, but riding a larger motorcycle was definitely eye opening on the speed side. I had always had an inkling that I wasn’t afraid of “going fast.” Or even afraid of riding on the freeway…. I just needed a formidable steed. I have been riding the CB500 for a few weeks now and am quite comfortable with it. I also think Dylan feels a little less worried about my ability to “keep up” now that he’s seen me in action in the group ride!

Dylan and I after the ride, atop the hill at The Wilds!

This group ride has also made feel more comfortable riding in groups. This opens the doors for me to go on group camping trips, specifically women’s camp outs where Dylan would not be able to be my security blanket riding behind me and telling me I’m doing great (via our in-ear communication devices).

After all, after this ride, I am starting to believe my own little voice in my head that says “You can do this, you’re doing great!”

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