People of all sorts, wearing jerseys of all sorts, riding bikes of all sorts, showed up Saturday morning outside the MCC-Longview Recreation Center to join in the 16th annual Tour de Lakes.
There were toddlers in trailers and kids on their own bikes joining older riders with a few years and mile on them. There were tandem bikes, recumbent bikes and even tandem recumbent bikes. Even the U.S. Air Force Cycling team came out from Whiteman Air Force Base for the ride inspired by the late Tom Logan, a longtime Lee’s Summit cycling enthusiast.
“It (has) become one of Kansas City’s premier bike rides in the metro,” said Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation Superintendent of Special Events Tede Price. “Last year we had 11 states represented and close to 900 riders.”
Logan noted the beauty of the area’s lakes while riding his bike and developed the idea of the ride, including coming up with the name, while riding with his friend Shari Krepps, said Diane Logan, Tom’s widow. Then Tom Logan died suddenly on July 1, 2001 of an aortic dissection while on a bike ride.
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“(Shari) knew exactly what to do,” Logan said.
The first ride in 2002, put on by Logan, Krepps, and a handful of volunteers, drew about 100 riders. It has been growing ever since.
Logan said her husband was fond of saying, “There’s nothing like a great bike ride.” With a sunny morning that started out with 60-degree temperatures and low humidity, it couldn’t get much better for getting out on two wheels and tackling one of the four routes of varying lengths.
“That was kind of his slogan to say,” said Dee Bowles, one of the Logan’s longtime friends and a supporter of the ride.
Dee and her husband, Mike, manned a support and gear (SAG) station on Longview Road as volunteers. Mike Bowles said he went to college with Tom at what’s now Truman State, and the two families have been good friends since. The Bowles have been a part of the ride since the beginning.
“Just good people,” Bowles said of the Logans before ringing a cow bell in support of the riders. “(Tom Logan) retired from Nike and just always rode,” even before cycling grew in popularity.
While the Tour de Lakes also draws its share of serious cyclists on high-end road bikes, it’s by no means a race. Price said it’s meant to be a leisurely ride with a group of friends, which is just the way Logan would want it.
“That’s how Diane started it in memory of her husband - just to come out and enjoy the ride on the lakes,” Price said. “I know I have a lady in her upper 70s here, and I know I have a kid that’s eight-years old that’s doing the 10-mile.”
With the parks department and sponsors helping run the event, riders got to enjoy food, water and sports drinks, and even games and giveaways at the SAG stops. It’s all part of the atmosphere that draws riders like Gary McEwen of Lee’s Summit, who has participated in the ride several times.
“I thought I might as well do some of these group rides, which I kind of enjoy,” said McEwen, an avid cyclist for 12 years. “I find it to be exciting, being with a big group. Also, I get a chance to catch up with some friends.”
This year’s ride featured a 10-mile course that circled Longview Lake, and a 32-mile course that added Raintree Lake. The 46-mile ride circled those two and Prairie Lee Lake; those riding the 63-miler also got a taste of Blue Springs Lake and Lake Jacomo.
Returning riders saw a slightly different course for the two longer rides due to road construction. Lakewood, a staple on the tour, had to be bypassed this year.
“We had to change two of the four routes this year because of the Colbern (Road) bridge and some of the other road construction,” Price said.
The ride even offered a bike jersey for sale, which some, including Logan, donned on the ride. It joined the sea of jerseys representing cycling teams, bike stores, other rides, several local universities and states like Arizona, Colorado and Texas. Even one with Croatia on it.
All of them gathered to help honor the memory of a man who loved a great bike ride.
“He’s looking down and saying, ‘This is pretty cool,’” Bowles said.