After 25 years raising money for people with HIV and AIDS, ride could be last for MN man

Bill Middeke is gearing up to bike 150 miles in two days for the Red Ribbon Ride this weekend. But his heart is filled with mixed emotions as he approaches a major milestone.

"A little emotional if it is going to be my last one. This will be my 25th year. It's been a major part of my life," said Middeke.

The Eden Prairie resident went on his first AIDS ride in 1999, after his best friend from his Air Force days tested positive for HIV.

Over 25 years, he has biked thousands of miles, first in the Twin Cities, Wisconsin, Chicago AIDS Ride and the Heartland AIDS ride, then in the Red Ribbon Ride, raising thousands of dollars to help people living with HIV and AIDS in the process.

"The camaraderie. These people, they're all here for a good cause and they're supporting each other. I've made some good friends who keep in contact year-round. It's not just at the ride," said Middeke.

Middeke says he became known as the "duck guy" for handing out rubber ducks on the ride for luck.

"I didn't realize how much it had stuck until one year I stopped at a lemonade stand when I pulled up, a kid said ‘Mom. Dad. The duck guy is here,’" said Middeke.

But at 75 years old, Middeke says he's the oldest cyclist and is considering making this year's ride his last.

"It's a constant asking for funds and so it gets a little tiring after a while," said Middeke.

Middeke says over the years, he's raised $148,000, but he set a goal of $150,000, so he could still come back next year.

In the meantime, he'll be grateful for all the memories he's made while continuing to be committed to the cause.

"I'm very glad I got started. It's been very important, and I will miss it when I do stop," said Middeke.