The cyclists began arriving not long after dawn. In short time the parking lot outside MCC-Longview’s recreation center was a sea of colorful jerseys and bicycles, everything from multi-thousand dollar racing machines to humble neighborhood cruisers.
All of them had come here early on the morning of June 28 for one purpose – a great bike ride. Which is just the way Tom Logan would have wanted it.
The Tour de Lakes, though, has grown into more than just a great bike ride over the past 13 years. It has become a lasting legacy to Logan, a Lee’s Summit cycling enthusiast who died in 2001 while enjoying the activity he loved so much. In the years since, the event he envisioned has gone from a small gathering of his cycling friends into one of the biggest organized bicycle rides in the Kansas City area.
“I am really amazed, and I’m amazed it lasted 13 years, said Shari Krepps, who has been involved with the ride since its beginning. “I can’t believe it.’
Logan was fond of saying, “There’s nothing like a great bike ride,” and he was especially fond of riding around the many lakes around Lee’s Summit. So were Krepps and the many other friends who rode with him. Logan had the idea for an organized ride encompassing the area’s five lakes – Longview, Raintree, Lakewood, Blue Springs and Jacomo.
“He was out training with Shari and he said, ‘You know, this city has such beautiful lakes and we need to take advantage of it,” said Diane Logan, Tom’s widow. “And he even had the ride named Tour de Lakes.”
On July 1, 2001, Logan was on his bike when an aortic dissection, a rare and often fatal heart disorder, took his life. Krepps took it upon herself to make sure Logan’s idea, and his memory, would live on.
“I just got the feeling that we should get together and put together a ride,” Krepps said, “so I just threw together some information on a flier and handed them out. It got through the biking community and we had 100 come out that year.
“And from there it just kept growing.”
About 850 riders showed up for the 2013 Tour de Lakes, but rainy weather forecast for last weekend kept the number down to 712 this year. Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation has taken over most of the organizing, and several sponsors have signed on to help with the expenses.
Riders now have the choice of four different routes: a 10-mile loop around Longview Lake, a 32-mile ride around Longview and Raintree, a 56-miler to those two lakes and Lakewood and a challenging 64-mile trek that takes in all five.
But the driving force remains Logan’s friends and family. They make up the majority of the volunteer manpower needed for the registration tables and the rest stops along the ride. And most of those 120-plus volunteers, Diane Logan said, are former friends of her late husband.
“We have such wonderful volunteers,” said Logan, who is also an avid cyclist. “All I do is contact them and they all line up and sign up every year.”
The friendly and hard-working volunteers are a big hit with the riders, Logan said, as are the food-laden rest stops, the post-ride picnic and the traffic control provided by the Lee’s Summit Police Department.
But it’s the lakes that really keep them coming back.
“People come from all over and they cannot believe the beauty of these lakes and the beauty of the area,” Logan said. ”A lot of people have not experienced this area before.”
J.P. Shores was one of them. Shores, who lives in Olathe, Kan., and takes part in numerous races and group rides, said the Tour de Lakes has become a can’t miss event for him.
“You can have all your bells and whistles before the ride and after the ride, but if you don’t have a good route, people don’t come back,” Shores said. “This is one of the top rides.”
Which is why so many people showed up with their two-wheelers on a cloudy and sometimes rainy morning. Like Tom Logan, they, too, believe there’s nothing like a great bike ride.
“What a way to honor Tom and keep his thoughts and who he was alive,” Krepps said. “It’s truly wonderful.”