Under bright, blue skies and crisp, cool temperatures, families and friends brimming with excitement cheered on the individual cyclists and participating teams as they crossed the finish line on Sunday, Oct. 23, at the 10th annual Tour de Jefferson Bike Ride.
Hosted by the Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, the Tour de Jefferson offers three different bike routes 15, 38 and 50 miles, beginning and ending this year at the JEDCO Conference Center located at 700 Churchill Parkway in Avondale.
Riders were charmed by the beautiful scenic tour through two parks, Bayou Segnette State and Jean Lafitte National Park, while coasting along the Mississippi River Trail past bayous and moss-covered oak trees.
“This was awesome. The weather was perfect and it is right here in my backyard,” said Phil Hebert, a resident of Marrero and Assistant Director of Facilities at Children’s Hospital. “I completed the 50 miles with little effort. The police support was great and it is always fun to participate with my fellow cyclists.”
Hebert is a member of Team KMA (which stands for Kick Multiple Sclerosis A**) and consists of 10 riders. He also said that he trains with Eddie Delgado, a Terrytown resident and member of the Peake Cycling Team, one of the more competitive teams participating at the Tour de Jefferson.
“We always participate in the Tour De Jefferson to demonstrate our support for the advocation of cycling in Jefferson Parish as well as the entire metropolitan region,” said Carey Holle, a 54-year-old competitive cyclist and member of the Peake Cycling Team since 1997. “I have enjoyed being a competitive cyclist for over 27 years, and we are honored to show our support for Peake BMW’s commitment to an event we believe benefits our community. In part, our support of the Tour De Jefferson and Peake BMW are at the very core of our motivation to ride the 50 mile route.”
Another member of the Peake Cycling Team, Matt Rinard, a local artist with a gallery in the French Quarter, has participated in the Tour de Jefferson for the past five years.
“I completed the entire 50 miles averaging about 25 miles per hour which is a standard ride for most of the experienced cyclists in our area. It is a fun ride and a great venue to see friends and racers from this region,” he said. “Everyone takes their time at first, but towards the end of the ride, it gets more spirited when inevitably one or two cyclists want to be the first riders back to the parking lot.”
Since 2011, Peake BMW has been the presenting sponsor for the annual event. Since its inception in 2006, the Tour de Jefferson Bike Ride has been expanding and promoting healthy lifestyles in our community.
“Health is one of the main reasons to ride in an event like this,” said Carla Julia, a Harvey resident and member of the Westbank Social Riders. “Biking is easy on your joints. You can meet people and you can have your whole family come out and enjoy the fun.”
Julia along with her two fellow cyclists of the Westbank Social Riders Club cruised through the finish line of the Tour de Jefferson with glee.
“This was a great ride with absolutely beautiful weather,” said Julia. With an estimated 500 riders, this premier cycling event was created to raise awareness of the State and National parks in Jefferson Parish, while giving people from the east bank an opportunity to explore the picturesque landscape on the West Bank.
Throughout the last 10 years, the routes have changed to accommodate the increase in attendance. This year, with the 15, 38 and 50-mile course, recreational and competitive cyclists of all ages enjoyed an adventurous ride through Jefferson parish with periodic scenic rest stops providing tasty snacks and drinks for all participants.
“The Tour de Jefferson is fun and a great thing for the citizens of Jefferson Parish,” said veteran rider, Terence J. Alost from Baton Rouge. “The ride is great for everyone from the most serious cyclists who want to race the route to kids, and even the elderly that go at a slower pace.”
Everyone who participated were encouraged to “wear their flair,” and creatively decorate their bike helmets, shirts, bikes and other gear to celebrate the decade anniversary of the Tour de Jefferson.
Helmets dressed up in feathers and crazy costumes were just a few of the spectacles among the adult and youth riders. The youth riders must be at least 13-year’s old to complete the 38 and 50-mile loop. Finally, at the Tour de Fin party, riders who completed the tour relaxed in the festival-like atmosphere with food and drink provided by local restaurants and businesses at the JEDCO Conference Center.
Good food, fun music, and even sports massages were given to the riders. As it grows each year, the Tour de Jefferson continues to evolve and delight their riders with its scenic adventure ride through Louisiana’s heartland.
“The Tour de Jefferson unifies the east and the west banks of Jefferson Parish by bringing community members together and building awareness about the recreational opportunities that the west bank has to offer,” said Todd Murphy, President, Jefferson Chamber of Commerce. “Every year we review the routes and the event as a whole to make improvements for the following year.”