The reasons people cycle are as varied as the number of cyclists, but for five residents of Ft. Collins, Colorado, the purpose of making a 241-mile journey was quite simple — they rode in memory of their husband and father.
This year, 351 cyclists from 28 states and three Canadian provinces — British Columbia, Manatobia,and Ontario — arrived in Sedalia Thursday morning as part of the 16th annual Katy Trail Ride.
“This is the seventh year I’ve made the trip,” Renee Lance said. “My husband and I rode in the event for six years and my children and I wanted to do this one time together in his memory.”
Lance’s husband died last year after suffering a sudden aortic dissection.
“I have so many good memories of the trip, especially of all the people we met on the journeys,” Lance said. “I always say that for one week every year I am getting to spend time with my best friends.
“My husband worked for NASA and one year on the ride we looked up and saw the lights from the space shuttle chasing the space station in orbit,” she added. “We always talked about our own private viewing and sighting.”
Lance, her son Nick, and daughter Erica White, were accompanied on the trip by Erica’s husband Chris White, and Nick’s fiancé, Megan Parus, and her two dogs, Maddie and Maya.
“Nick and I have known each other since eighth grade,” Parus said. “We’ve ridden quite a bit in Colorado but this is the longest distance we’ve ever ridden together on one trip.
“We wanted to do this together as a tribute to Nick’s dad as a memorial for him,” she added.
The family planned to spend the night at Liberty Park in tents as about three-fourths of the riders do, according to Melanie Robinson-Smith, Katy Trail Supervisor for Missouri State Parks.
The Missouri State Parks and the Missouri State Parks Foundation host the Katy Trail Ride each June.
The trip began Monday at Frontier Park in St. Charles and will conclude Friday at Benson Center in Clinton.
“Each year we vary the route to allow the riders to see different locations throughout the state,” Robinson-Smith said. “We always stop in Sedalia though because we receive such a great welcome by everyone, especially at the Katy Trail Depot and at Liberty Park.
“Most of the riders sleep in the park in tents but we do have some who choose to stay in an area hotels,” she added.
“We will shuttle them from the park to the hotels and we have a truck that carries the tents and other gear for those who chose to sleep in the park.”
As part of the ride, participants are provided breakfast and dinner daily, in addition to other commemorative items and personal support including a mechanic who travels behind the riders and is available if there are any breakdowns along the route.
When the riders arrived in Sedalia, members of the Sedalia Convention and Visitors Bureau greeted them at the Katy Depot.
“We always have some special things planned for the cyclists when they arrive in Sedalia and during their stay,” said Carolyn Crooker, executive director of the Visitors Bureau. “It’s a way to highlight all we have to offer here.”
Lance said she has fond memories of all the rides she made with her husband along the Katy Trail.
“This one may be the last one that we get to make,” Lance said. “Today has been the best day of the whole week because the weather has been really nice and we’re looking forward to tonight and staying at the park together.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484