Louisiana native rides Tour du Rouge to honor fallen friend

Adam Butler Ducote
Adam Butler Ducote poses with family members as he crosses the finish line during the Tour du Rouge's stop in Gonzales last week.

The Tour du Rouge started in 2009 with the intent of raising money for, and then riding through, Gulf Coast communities affected by major weather events such as Hurricane Katrina.

I became interested in the Tour du Rouge because I care deeply for the people and cultures of southern Louisiana, my ancestral home, and I want to do something to give back to the place that bore me.

On May 3-8, I rode my bike from Houston, Texas, down along the Gulf Coast, up to my hometown and then back down to New Orleans.

As part of this effort, I raised $2,500 for the American Red Cross and their efforts to support areas hit by these devastating storms.

As some of you may know, this was my third year participating in the Tour du Rouge. It's easy to return to an event with such compassionate goals, kind volunteers and dedicated participants.

The people I've met in past years make every moment worth it and every pedal stroke that much easier. In fact, one of those people and his devotion to this cause was a major catalyst in my return this year.

The first year I did Tour du Rouge, I showed up on day one not knowing a soul. On the brim of my cycling cap were the words "Austin, Texas," and that's all it took.

Within minutes of showing up and only moments before the start of the tour, I'd been adopted by a group that included Chris Trevelise and his dad, Jon. Jon served on the board that helped plan the tour, and the ride had become an annual trip for him and Chris to spend time together.

We rode together most of that trip and after the tour, we all stayed in touch. My second year with the tour, we did the same.

I decided to skip what would have been my third consecutive year to prioritize my race schedule, and that was the year tragedy struck.

In the weeks leading up to the 2014 Tour du Rouge, Jon was struck from behind by a car while riding his bicycle.

He remained in a coma with no brain activity for about a month until his family decided it was time to let him go. He was only 68 years old.

It would have been his sixth Tour du Rouge, and I know that he had a lot more in him. Jon Trevelise was a fun, generous guy and this year, I rode the Tour du Rouge to honor him.