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DALMAC founder Dick Allen dies, but his legacy lives on

Posted at 10:16 AM, Dec 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-31 10:17:56-05

LANSING, Mich. — Dick Allen, the founder of the Dick Allen Lansing to Mackinac bicycle tour, better known as the DALMAC, died Dec. 20 at the age of 88.

“Literally 1000s of people, we don't know how many, got on bicycles because of him,” said DALMAC Director Steven Leiby.

The first DALMAC started in front of the Michigan state Capitol when he challenged his friends to bike from Lansing to Mackinaw City.

“Dick started it so he could ride up to the bridge to do the bridge walk with Governor Milliken,” Leiby said.

Dick Allen, 1971, Michigan State Capitol
Dick Allen, 1971, Michigan State Capitol

He went on to advocate for bicyclists and promote bicycling as a healthy means of transportation and recreation. Starting in 1973, he organized the rides together with the Tri-County Bicycle Association. Now, more than 1200 people participate every year.

“His biggest legislative impact: there is a requirement that the Michigan Department of Transportation [needs] to spend one half of 1 percent of the road money on non-motorized facilities or non-motor improvements. And that's still happening…He didn't brag about it. But that was one of his accomplishments as a legislator,” Leiby said.

Allen, a Republican, represented Michigan's 88th House district from 1968 to 1972 and the 30th Senate district from 1975 to 1982.

Leiby said that biking was not always Allen's favorite sport.

“Dick's primary sport was downhill skiing… He was running to be in shape for skiing. And he got into bicycling because he had a bone spur didn't want to have surgery. Then he started bike riding and then discovered that people riding bikes in 1970 in this country were not treated really well on the road,” Leiby said.

During Labor Day weekend in 2022, DALMAC will offer six different rides of two-to five-day trips ranging from around 70 to 400 miles. The shortest route from Lansing to Mackinac is 281 miles.

Dick Allen and son Jotham
Dick Allen and son Jotham

“Because of his leadership lots of trails have been built in this state where people feel comfortable riding a bike or walking or running that wouldn't have had a place to go do that before… He was fun to be around, and he wanted bike riding to be fun.”

Leiby said Allen did not want a traditional funeral and that his family will get together in the summer to celebrate his life and asked others to keep Allen’s wife “Jo Ann and their children, Lester, Carri, and Jotham in your thoughts and prayers.”

Donations to the DALMAC fund can be made here while donations to the Michigan Trails and Greenways can be made here.

To find out more and watch the documentary on Allen’s background, visit this link.

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Tianna Jenkins

12:23 PM, Jan 12, 2021

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Tianna Jenkins

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