Keeps Blue River Bicycle Club Rolling
John Coats admits he is more of a spectator than a competitor when it comes to cycling.
“I am a downhill guy. I like to go to the top of the hill and ride down,” John, general manager of Audi Shawnee Mission in Shawnee, says jokingly.
However, John is an enthusiastic supporter of the fast-growing sport, and his dealership helps sponsor the Blue River Bicycle Club in southern Johnson County. The club, formed in 1994, is one of the oldest and largest in the region.
“The sport of cycling as a whole is growing at a rapid rate,” club president Leo Esposito says. “Kansas City is a fantastic place to cycle. The area is becoming more bike-friendly with the addition of bike lanes, cycling equipment has gotten much better, and we’ve even seen the rise of major cycling events locally such as the Dirty Kanza.”
Cycling is a natural fit with the sporty image of the Audi brand, John says.
“After speaking with one of our customers who is also a passionate member of the club, I realized right away that this is something that we would like to be a part of,” he says. “Our support of the Audi Cycling team brings together a great group of people and fits well within the Holman Automotive culture. We are happy to have them as part of what Audi Shawnee Mission is doing in Johnson County.
The Blue River Bicycle Club has approximately 60 members, from ages 14 through their mid-70s, representing a range of riding disciplines and skill levels.
“We don’t have a formal mission statement other than that our goal is to promote the sport of cycling and support anyone who is interested in learning more about cycling and how to ride responsibly,” Leo says.
The sport has become as diverse as the riders, with members focusing on road, mountain biking, cyclocross, gravel or other types of riding. The racing culture is a big part of the club, and competitive members have been successful in major races in Missouri and Kansas, as well as regionally. However, beginners can get as much out of club membership as seasoned racers do.
“Membership is 100 percent open to anyone who wants to join,” Leo says. “We really pride ourselves on embracing diversity on all scales. We have never turned anyone away who has reached out to us about becoming a member.”
The club holds rides every Thursday night and Saturday morning from March through September along with annual and quarterly meetings. Leo encourages anyone who is interested in learning about cycling to check out the club website, BlueRiverBicycleClub.com.
Cycling can become expensive, with the cost of today’s high-tech bikes running into the thousands of dollars. Leo emphasizes that, if someone is interested in getting involved, the club will find a way to make it happen. He appreciates the generous support from Audi and the club’s other sponsors: Elite Cycling, Seigfreid Bingham, Cuore and Massage Envy.
“Purchasing and maintaining bicycles can be expensive, so the sponsorships are really helpful,” Leo says.
John also is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community. Audi Shawnee Mission has been a success since it opened two years ago, and it recently broke ground on a new a building at 6601 E. Frontage Road in Merriam, which he expects to open in the second quarter of 2019.
“I see the cyclists go by my house in their Audi uniforms, and it’s very impressive,” John says. “We will continue to look for new sponsorship opportunities as our business grows.”