Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City motorcycle rider killed on I-29 had set out on final cross-country ride

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THE family of Michael Roberge, a Winnipeg man killed in a motorcycle crash Saturday evening in North Dakota, say the trip was supposed to be his final cross-country ride.

"He and his friend went to Prince Edward Island one year. The next year, they rode to Vancouver Island, also down to the Mexican border," said Doreen Gowler, Roberge's mother. "This year, he told me it was going to be his last big ride because his shoulders were starting to bother him,"

"That's what makes this so difficult, so hard. I just can't believe it."

His family say Roberge, who worked as a trailer mechanic and went by the nickname Squirrel, was on his way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota at the time of the accident.

Roberge, 42, was driving his 2009 Yamaha motorcycle south on Interstate 29 Saturday night, a North Dakota Highway Patrol spokesman said.

He drifted off the road into a ditch and was ejected from the bike eight kilometres south of the Grafton exit.

Authorities pronounced Roberge dead at the scene before transporting him by ambulance to the Unity Medical Center in Grafton.

The incident is still under investigation by the highway patrol.

"I always had a fear that something could happen someday, and I always thought if it did, probably it might be speed," Gowler said.

Roberge's brother, Gordon, said his brother was an outgoing person whose main passion was motorcycles.

"He's been riding bikes for 25 years, since he was 18. He had a lot of friends and would do anything for anybody, no matter what circumstance," Gordon Roberge said.

"He was just so popular. Ever since word got out, it's been really overwhelming how many people have said what a great guy Mike was and just funny stories that they'd had with him. It really speaks to the type of guy he was."

"The thing is, he died doing what he loves best. So that's not a bad thing, I guess, if he has to go," Gowler said, tears filling her eyes.

A funeral is being planned for Aug. 18, but no details have been finalized yet.

katherine.dow@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 7, 2012 A4

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