David W. Willkie, grandson of 1940 presidential candidate Wendell Willkie, developed the Five in 50 Ride as a tourism opportunity to support Rush County's annual Willkie Days festival weekend, promote local businesses, and encourage active living and physical fitness in Rush County. The ride showcases the beauty of Rush County and its historic covered bridges.
The inaugural ride in 2018 attracted 208 cyclists from 7 states. This year, we are eager to expand the ride to offer more cyclists a memorable experience, while also raising dollars to support Rush County and the preservation of the historic covered bridges.
The ride is planned to start at the beginning of the Willkie Days Parade. Rest, support and gear (SAG) stops will be located in each town on the 50-mile route as well as at several covered bridges.
Following the ride, participants and guests are invited to attend the "Live at the Levee" free concert at the Riverside Park Amphitheater featuring Gaelic Storm.
Community members are invited to cheer on riders throughout the course, and riders will have the opportunity to vote on the town that demonstrates the best of Rush County hospitality after the ride.
Proceeds from the ride will support the Rush County community via the Rush County Community Foundation. All monies raised will be matched $2 for $1, maximizing the possibilities! Grant dollars from the Foundation fund new programs and projects to benefit Rush County, nonprofit organizations serving Rush County,and ensure that Rush County's rich heritage, including our covered bridges, remain preserved.
The "Five in 50" is the brainchild of David Willkie, who organized the event in 2018 as a way to honor his late mother (Virginia), an avid Rush County bicyclist. The grandson of Wendell Willkie, David is the principle of Willkie Ventures, a specialty finance company based in Rushville. He is a former staff member of U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar. David is an endurance athlete and bicyclist.