Riding for Life

A solo bike ride has become a fundraising mission


It was 4 a.m. on a cold November morning in 2002. Spencer Lueders had been riding a borrowed Cannondale bike on the Booty Loop, a nearly three-mile lap through Myers Park streets, since 8 a.m. the previous day. "Four more hours in the saddle to go," he told himself.

Lueders wasn't pulling a Forrest Gump on wheels, riding just to ride. He had a purpose: the first ever 24 Hours of Booty—Lueders's twenty-four hour ride to raise money for cancer research.

Fast forward to 2008.

The purpose of the fundraiser remains the same. So does the location, the Booty Loop—so-called for the masses of, ahem, shapely walkers, joggers, and bikers who use the route.

But now Lueders has company. In 2007, the participant count topped 1,300, from skilled teams to any Joe or Jane with a ten-speed. Last year, the event raised more than $750,000 for the Lance Armstrong Foundation and other local cancer research efforts.

It all began with Lueders's passion for biking. Tall and with the slender frame of a seasoned bicyclist, he says he inherited the pedaling gene from his father. In the early 1990s at the University of South Carolina, Lueders was putting in about twenty hours a week on the bike. With a family, a law practice, and running a successful nonprofit, Lueders now says he's lucky if he gets five hours a week.

These days, it is not about the bike for Lueders, thirty-seven. It's about using the bike for a higher calling. Growing up in Dallas, Lueders was a big fan of Armstrong, who's from nearby Plano. Lueders became one of the many touched by Armstrong's story of beating cancer and returning to professional cycling. And like that, inspiration begot inspiration. 

Lueders has never had cancer. No one in his family has had cancer. But he urges people to "wake up! The stats tell us that cancer is going to affect us one way or another. I just wanted to do what I could to help out."

Since he made that first ride, 24 Hours of Booty has raised more than $1.5 million for cancer. This year, Lueders hopes to raise more than a million dollars.

The ride begins on July 25. Info: 24hoursofbooty.org.