Riding in any weather
FORT DODGE – Richard Simpson may have wished for a drier day for the 14th annual KGLO tractor ride. The rainy weather took some of the shine away from his rather unusual tractor.
His 1962 Farmall is covered with chrome – including the pedals, gearshift lever and front steering rod.
“I like chrome,” Simpson said.
Simpson, of Algona, drove one of the roughly 100 tractors that are touring the countryside June 15 through June 17.
His machine had required a lot of work.
“I was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the midget car races about eight years ago,” he said. “I saw this rusting in the weeds. It didn’t look like this.”
Since chrome-plated tractor parts aren’t standard, Simpson sends the parts to Sioux City to have them plated.
All the tractors in the ride start out from Fort Dodge at the same time, but then split into five groups based on how fast they can go. The ride went through Duncombe, Webster City, Woolstock and Vincent on June 15, continued south of Fort Dodge on June 16, including Lehigh, Kalo, Otho, Callender and Moorland.
Kennedy Park was the scheduled destination for June 17.
The light rain may not have been the best, but it’s been worse in the ride’s long history, said Laurie Jansen.
“We’ve been in 100-plus degree weather, or downpouring,” Jansen said. “Last year we had tornadoes. Sometimes we’ve had to cut it short.
“The weather doesn’t bother them at all. Rain or shine,” she added.
“You have to be nuts to drive a tractor in the rain,” said Robert Rudenbeck, of Buckingham.
Rudenbeck, his wife Ethel Rudenbeck, and their grandson Michael Frisbie are regulars on the ride.
“He’s been coming on this ever since he was a baby,” Ethel Rudenbeck said. Frisbie is 12 now.
Their 1964 Deere was a working farm tractor for 14 years, before the Rudenbecks had it altered with a large passenger platform on the back.
Frisbie is a fan of tractors himself, and is restoring another John Deere for a 4-H project.
The fun of the ride is “Just all the tractors,” he said. “And you meet different people.”
Jim Joynt, of Clear Lake, and Don Sapp, Mason City, are also old veterans of the ride. June 15’s weather didn’t phase them.
“This is tractor riding weather,” Joynt said.
“It’s typical,” Sapp added. “You have to be prepared.”
Sapp has been coming to this ride since it started. Every year they tour a different area, he said.
“It’s different, you get to see some different country at 12, 13 miles an hour,” he said. “Plus the fellowship.”
All the riders said they attend other tractor rides too, that let them see other sites.
Simpson, for instance, has been on rides up in the Black Hills and along the Mississippi River.
Driving the tractor itself, he said, isn’t as much fun as driving the 1955 pickup truck he uses to haul it with. That truck has a Corvette motor.
“I still farm with my son, and drive a tractor all the time,” Simpson said. “It isn’t the fun of driving a tractor. It’s just visiting with all the guys. Every year you meet new guys.”
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