Roger Kramer (1961-2012)--St. Louis area cycling organizer, advocate, blogger, journalist

Roger Kramer, 51, cycling blogger and founder of the Illinois Tour de Donut and the Tour de Stooges, passed away unexpectedly Saturday of a heart attack. 

Roger Kramer
Roger Kramer

Roger was a well known fixture of the bicycling scene in the St. Louis area.  His web page, Roger Kramer Cycling, has detailed information about many tours he rode, his thoughts about bicycling and giving back to the community, and his cycling blog--one of the best sources of information about bicycling in the region. Kramer was also a ride leader with B.A.B.E.S.--the Belleville area Bicycling and Eating Society and hosted the BABES web site for several years. Professionally, he was design editor for the Belleview News-Democrat.

Visitation is 4pm-7pm Tuesday November 6, 2012 at Targhetta & Wooldridge Funeral Home in Brighton. A prayer service will be held at 5 pm. Services are at 10am Wednesday, November 7, 2012.

A Roger Kramer memorial is planned for Nov. 24 in Belleville, with details to be announced via Kramer's Facebook page.


About Roger

On his web site, Kramer wrote about how he helped start--and later won--the Tour de Donut:

The Tour de Donut was conceived during the winter of 1988-89 in Mark Pace's living room in Staunton, Ill. Officers of the Mid-America Bicycle Club — Mark, Joe Booth, Ed Taylor and myself — were thinking of rides for the coming year.

This was in the midst of excitement about Greg LeMond's three Tour de France wins, and we thought about a stage race. Someone else talked about a breakfast ride. We then somehow combined the two into the Tour de Donut.

Mark truly was the "evil" mastermind of the Tour de Donut; my role in the founding of the Tour de Donut was more that of an enabler! Not only did Mark come up with the original concept of the Tour de Donut, but to make it even more deviant, he brainstormed that we reward people for eating donuts. OK, they're not exactly the healthiest food cyclists can eat, but we started to imagine how people would feel after eating a dozen donuts. That's how we decided to give a five-minute bonus for each donut eaten. 

Joe was skeptical about whether the event would take hold, but Mark and I thought the event was crazy enough that it might just find a following. Joe was the president of the club then, so he was the event's first race director.

Because we designed the ride to be a spoof of the Tour de France, it had to be run during that Tour. So in July 1989, the Tour de Donut was born in Bethalto, Ill. Karl Painter, of Staunton, was the first champion of the Tour de Donut. He had one of the slowest road times, but he ate 15 donuts to win the prize, a yellow jersey.

The following year, we moved the ride to Staunton, but we made the mistake of getting Hardee's to provide cinnamon-raisin biscuits for the event. They were good, but they sure were heavy. It was hard to eat many of them and still ride 30 miles.

We went back to donuts the following year, this time glazed donuts from Jubelt's Bakery, a prominent bakery in Central Illinois. That was the best move ever. They were great donuts — right up there with the Krispy Kreme glazed donut — and the bakery provided donuts for the race ever since.

Today, other bakeries provide more than 6,000 glazed donuts each year for the Tour de Donut.

Kramer takes the lead in the Tour de Donut
Kramer takes the lead in the Tour de Donut

I skipped involvement with the ride a couple of years in the early 1990s, and a guy by the name of Evan Williams of Kansas raised the bar to 25 donuts eaten. I returned to the ride in 1994 — no longer as an organizer — and finished a respectable third, but I wanted more. When I found out Evan wouldn't be riding in 1995, I decided this race was mine! There's no way I was going to eat 25 donuts, but I figured somewhere between 15 and 20 could win it. I managed to eat 15 donuts and finished the ride in two hours. The donut bonus took 75 minutes off my time. Another guy ate 25 donuts, but his road time was slow enough that he couldn't catch me.

I won the yellow jersey!

Kramer's obituary:

Family and friends are deeply saddened by the sudden passing on Nov 3, 2012 of Roger D Kramer, aged 51, of Belleville. Beloved son of Henry “Gene” Kramer, deceased & Jean (Yost) Kramer of Brighton, cherished brother of Wesley Kramer, deceased, Teresa (Bill) Parod of Evanston, IL and Karen (Dave) Brooks of Godfrey and adoring Uncle to Julius Parod, Ani Kramer, Lauren Brooks and Sereana Parod.
Born Jan 9, 1961 in Alton, Roger grew up on the family farm in Brighton and attended Southwestern High School and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He was an accomplished journalist, working as a design editor at the Belleville News Democrat for many years as well as teaching journalism at SIUE. His marvelous humor filled every aspect of his life; as an avid bicyclist he not only rode thousands of miles in the US and Canada but also founded the Tour de Donut and Tour de (Three) Stooges rides. His blog, Roger Kramer Cycling, records his passion about biking and “giving back” through educating and informing others about the sport. The terrain of Southern Illinois and surrounding region, which he tirelessly biked and hiked, were particularly compelling for Roger and beautifully shared through his writing. A passionate photographer, Cardinals fan, and constant observer of the nature and people around him, Roger’s view of the world delighted all who encountered it.
He will be remembered, too, for his profound Catholic faith and his remarkable kindness, generosity and good nature.