Last weekend, Adam (our MHCC Program Coordinator) and I threw a couple backpacks into the back of “Mini Horse” a.k.a. the 1977 Mazda Rotary Engine Pick Up and joined 20 other classic cars on the first annual Ralleye de Valleye which took us from Hastings, MN over the river and into Wisconsin as we snaked our way through the absolutely wonderful “ABC” roads along the Mississippi River with stops along the way in Wabasha and Winona before stopping overnight in La Crosse, WI and heading north again the following day before ending the journey at StoneRidge Golf Club in Stillwater.
You might remember the past two years when Adam took the REPU on the “Walleye 1000” and this year, the “Ralleye de Valleye” took a very similar path, both in terms of route and also in terms of atmosphere. This event is all about enjoying the adventure of it all, without any pressure to “make up time” or otherwise stress about anything. Both Adam and I spent the weekend in awe of just how great these roads are and the fact that they’re practically right in our backyard. The route that was presented to us made the most of these roads, mostly following smooth ribbons of tarmac through breathtaking hills and valleys, with hardly any straight line or highway miles to dull the fun.
Along the way, there were numerous stops to get out and stretch your legs or grab a snack, and it felt great to end the first day in La Crosse, WI with a few hours to spare before dinner so we could unwind a bit, check emails, and edit some photos from the day’s journey. Although attendance was down a bit from past years with the re-brand, there was still a drool-worthy cadre of vintage, mostly European, machinery to look at throughout the day. Personal highlights for me were the quirky 1968 Saab 93, a gorgeous BMW E28 M5, and the organizer’s zippy 1964 Porsche 356 SC. We also had a lot of fun cruising with a BMW 850Cs with a 6-spd manual and a group of ’80s Porsches.
Throughout the entire weekend, the little blue REPU never had a single fault or misstep, and we entertained ourselves the entire trip with our ability to coax the 13B rotary under the hood into shooting fireballs on command, much to the amusement of the other rally participants who would occasionally find themselves behind us. Although I doubted Adam’s choice to spend so much time inside the loud and low Mazda pickup, it turned out to be a great vehicle for this trip, handling the thousands of corners we encountered with grace and never failing to make us both smile as we revved the tiny little engine out towards its redline.