The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hawkeye fan’s memorial bike ride reaches ten-year anniversary

At each ride, Mark Lebeck’s friends and family catch up and share memories of Mark over drinks at his favorite places in Iowa City.
Jordan Barry
Attendees arrive at George’s in downtown Iowa City during the tenth annual Mark Lebeck bike ride and bar crawl in Iowa City on Saturday Oct. 28, 2023.

Mark Lebeck had many qualities that made him stand out in a sea of Hawkeye fans, with bright blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, an infectious smile. But most of all, his intense passion for all things Hawkeye sports.

His wife, Christy Lebeck, said he used to stretch before watching any Hawkeye game because he would be up cheering so often. His son, Hayden Lebeck, said he remembers him as being the loudest fan in their section at football games, and maybe even the entirety of Kinnick Stadium.

When Mark Lebeck died of an unexpected aneurysm in March 2014, his loved ones knew they had to find a way to commemorate him in a way that is as special as he was.

This desire was how “Lude Ride” was created. Every year since 2014, Mark Lebeck’s friends and family have met up in Iowa City and biked to various locations Lebeck liked to frequent, including the Hilltop Tavern and George’s Buffet. This year marked the 10th year of the Lude Ride.

Mark Lebeck, whose nickname in high school was “Lude,” was a diehard Hawkeye fan who owned the same seats in section 130 of Kinnick Stadium from 1999 up until his death, when they were transferred to his wife, Christy Lebeck.

When Mark Lebeck died at 45 years old, he had received two master’s degrees from the University of Iowa and was working on obtaining his doctorate in industrial hygiene.

His son, who was 8 years old when Mark Lebeck died, said he cherishes his memories of his dad as well as the stories shared with him by his father’s friends at the rides.

Hayden Lebeck, named after iconic Hawkeye football coach Hayden Fry, is now a first-year student at the UI studying chemistry. Hayden Lebeck said his dad is the source of inspiration for a lot of a person as his dad.

“He was one of the best people that anybody can ever really talk to,” Hayden Lebeck said. “I aspire to be like him because everybody loved him.”

Two of Mark Lebeck’s friends, Brad Dunlap and Kirk Fellows, plan the entire ride each year, including where the stops are, the route to get to each stop, and spreading the word to Mark Lebeck’s friends and family. Generally, the ride takes place on a Saturday in mid-September to early October.

Dunlap said it has been easy to keep the tradition going for so long because Mark Lebeck meant so much to his loved ones.

“At the end of the day, it’s not that hard to pick a Saturday and to find a few places around town and make it happen,” Dunlap said. “[Fellows] and I both take the mindset that it doesn’t have to be perfect, we just have to do it.”

Fellows said the ride has been a way to stay in touch with Mark Lebeck’s family and to make new connections with people who also loved and cared for him.

Christy Lebeck said the ride has built a strong connection between her and Mark Lebeck’s loved ones, and they’ve helped her through many tough times, including raising her son without his dad.

“People lose hope in humanity all the time, like people don’t help other people,” Christy Lebeck said. “That is not my experience. They’ve always been here for me [and] they’ve always been there for Mark.”

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About the Contributor
Isabelle Foland
Isabelle Foland, News Editor
Isabelle Foland is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication and minoring in Spanish. She is a second-year news reporter at The Daily Iowan, reporting mainly on Iowa City City Council. She is from Missouri Valley, Iowa and has reported for her hometown paper prior to her time at The DI.